Children with special educational needs (SEN) have needs or disabilities that affect their ability to learn. Special educational needs aren’t always a lifelong problem; some children only need support for a short time. Just because your child is learning more slowly than others doesn’t mean they have special educational needs.
Stages of support in school
There are different stages for helping children depending on each child's needs. If their needs are severe or complex they may go straight to the assessment stage.
The stages are:
This was known as early years / school action and school action plus
High Needs Funding
Educational settings are able to apply for more financial support from the High Needs Panel
Education, health and care plan (EHCP)
What to do if you are worried about your child's progress
If your child is at school or nursery, always speak to your child’s teacher first if you think your child is learning more slowly than they should. They will let you know what they are doing to address your child’s area of weakness. (If your child isn't in an educational setting yet, then contact your health visitor or GP.)
If your child doesn’t progress despite well-targeted teaching, you or the teacher should speak to the person in your child’s school or nursery responsible for special educational needs (the SENCO).
If your child has a medical problem that affects their learning or access to education, discuss these issues with the school who will work with you and any relevant health professionals to implement an effective health plan. A medical condition such as diabetes is not considered to be a special educational need and support will be provided by the educational establishment. The Local Authority has guidance policies for supporting pupils with medical needs in school and these can be found on the Local Offer web site.
SEN support in school
Every school (including academies) is required to identify and address the special educational needs of the pupils that they support.
• Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with special educational needs gets the support they need - this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people's special educational need
• Ensure that children and young people with special educational need engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have special educational needs
• Prepare and publish a SEN information report (DFE guidance) this can be found through the school’s website, and also a link is on the Local Offer for each school.
SEN support in school has four stages
Identifying a child as needing SEN support after carrying out clear analysis of the pupil's needs
Parents must be notified when their child is to receive SEN support although parents should have already been involved in the assessment stage. The school, in consultation with parents and pupil, should agree the adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour along with a clear date for review.
The class or subject teacher remains responsible for the pupil on a day to day basis with the support of the SENCO if required. Any intervention delivered by other school staff should be closely monitored by the responsible teacher.
The effectiveness of the support and interventions and their impact on the pupil's progress should be reviewed in line with the agreed date. This evaluation will include the views of the pupil and their parents and feed back into the analysis of the pupil's needs and the next steps.
If the school feel they need additional resources to help them support your child they may request this from High Needs Funding. How and when they should do this are explained on the High Needs Funding pages.
If you do not believe that the educational establishment is working effectively to support your child's progress, you should in the first instance speak with the class teacher or SENCO to discuss your concerns. If this does not resolve your concerns you should follow the school's complaints policy and contact the head teacher, the SEN governor, or chair of governors depending on the school's policy.
Information and Advice Support Service (IASS) can also help.