Special educational needs (SEN) can affect a child’s ability to learn. However, SEN is not always a lifelong problem. Some children only need support for a short time. Just because a child is learning more slowly than others doesn’t necessarily mean they have SEN.
Stages of Support
There are different stages for helping children with SEN, depending on each child’s needs. If their needs are severe or complex, they may go straight to the assessment stage. The stages are:
- SEN support in school
- Statutory Assessment
- Education, Health, and Care (EHC) Plan
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 doesn’t progress despite well-targeted teaching, you or the teacher should speak to the school or nursery’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).
If your child has a medical problem that affects their learning (or access to education), you should discuss these issues with the school or nursery. They will work with you and any relevant health professionals to implement an effective health plan. Medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma are not considered a special educational need or disability, and the educational setting can provide support. Northamptonshire County Council have guidance policies for supporting pupils with medical needs in school here.
What the SENCo Will Do
The SENCo will work with your child’s teacher to assess whether your child has special educational needs (SEN). They’ll do this by talking to you and your child and looking at your child’s work, progress, and behaviour. This is not the same as a formal education, health, and care assessment.
If the SENCo thinks your child has special education needs:
- The school or nursery must tell you if they think your child has special needs and about what action they plan on taking
- They will put SEN support in place and closely monitor your child’s progress
Northamptonshire County Council’s SEND Descriptors state what SEN support should be delivered.
SEN Support in School
Schools and academies are required to identify and address the special educational needs of the pupils that they support. They must:
- Use their best endeavours to make sure a child with SEN gets the support they need.
- Ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in school activities alongside pupils who do not have SEN.
- Prepare and publish an SEN Information Report, which can be found on the school’s website.
What SEN Support in School May Include:
SEN support in school has four stages:
- Assess: Identifying a child as needing SEN support after carrying out a clear analysis of the pupil’s needs.
- Plan: Parents must be notified when their child is to receive SEN support. Parents should have already been involved in the assessment stage. The school (in consultation with parents and pupil) should agree with the adjustments, interventions, and support being put in place. They must also be informed of the expected impact on progress, development, or behaviour, and have a specified date for review.
- Do: The class or subject teacher remains responsible for the pupil on a day-to-day basis, with the support of the SENCo if required. The responsible teacher should closely monitor any intervention delivered by other school staff.
- Review: 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 should include the views of the pupil and their parents. It should inform the analysis of the pupil’s needs (and the next steps).
If the school needs 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 Northamptonshire County Council’s High Needs Funding webpage.
If you believe the educational setting isn’t working effectively to support your child’s progress, you should discuss your concerns with the class teacher or SENCo. If this does not resolve your concerns, you should follow the school’s complaints policy and contact the headteacher, the SEN governor, or chair of governors (depending on the school’s policy).
When working to resolve disagreements with education settings, it might be helpful to consider a more formal disagreement process. To discuss this option, contact IASS and ask about Global Mediation (who are commissioned to provide disagreement mediation services).
Additional Support and Information