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What is Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support?

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SEN support is support that is additional to or different from that generally given to other children and young people of the same age.


SEN support helps children and young people identified as having special educational needs to make good progress.




A child/young person’s special educational needs could be related to:

  • communication and interaction – for example, where children and young people have difficulty
    making sense of language or understanding how to talk and listen to others
  • cognition and learning – for example, a slower pace of learning, difficulties with organisation and
    memory skills, or a particular difficulty with literacy or numeracy
  • social, emotional and mental health – for example, difficulty in managing relationships with other
    people, or behaviour that affects a child/young person’s health and wellbeing, or prevents them from
  • sensory and/or physical skills – for example, visual or hearing impairments, or a physical need that
    requires additional support and equipment


Who decides that a child/young person should receive SEN support?

For some children SEN support at school will follow on from extra help they have received at their early years setting. For others it will start at school because their need for additional support has become clear as they get older or as the expectations of them change.


All educational settings make regular assessments of pupil progress. These assessments seek to identify any pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances. School must use their best endeavours to make sure all children/young people with SEN get the support they need.


All schools must have a special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) who is responsible for arranging and coordinating extra help for pupils with SEN. The SENCo works with class and subject teachers to plan and deliver support.



How are parents/carers involved in the SEN support for their child?

Schools should involve you as soon as it is felt that your child may have a special educational need and could benefit from additional or different support at school. The school should talk to you about your child’s needs and seek your views about those needs.


Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has some special educational needs. If you
think your child may need SEN support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the school SENCo.



How does SEN Support work?

How much help and the type of help your child is given will be based on their individual needs, and decided
through a process called Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

  • Assess: This starts the process by assessing analysing your child’s needs and what support they might need
  • Plan: A plan is made about what support to give your child, when it should be given and what outcomes it should achieve
  • Do: This means putting into practice the support that is in the plan
  • Review: A review of how things are working and if the outcomes are being achieved. The review will inform and lead on to the next plan and the cycle continues as long as your child needs the extra support.


What will SEN support look like?


The school should draw up an SEN support plan, involving you and your child, focusing on the outcomes your child needs and wants to achieve and detailing how the school will help them to achieve these. The school should give you clear information about the extra help your child is getting.


SEN support may look different for each child/young person as support will be tailored to meet individual needs.


SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • Developing and delivering a learning programme
  • Extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • Making or changing materials and equipment
  • Working with a child/young person in a small group
  • Helping a child/young person to take part in class activities
  • Using strategies to make sure a child/young person has understood what they have been asked to do and how this relates to their learning
  • Helping a child/young person to play with other children
  • Supporting a child/young person with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing


How is SEN support monitored?


Your child’s school will regularly review your child’s progress and should let you know at least three times a year how your child is progressing and what the next steps for their learning will be. This should be in addition to scheduled parents’ evening meetings.


The school must also provide a report at least once a year on your child’s progress.


If your child does not make the expected progress with the help and support that is in place then the type and in some cases the level of support may be changed. The school may also decide to seek further professional advice about your child’s needs.



What if a parent/carer feels that SEN support isn’t working?

If your child has been on SEN Support for a while, but they are not making progress at school, you should discuss this with the SENCo at your child’s school.


If you feel that your child needs help above and beyond what the school can provide from its own resources you or the school can make a request that the local authority starts a statutory needs assessment. Only a small minority of children move onto this higher level of special educational support.


If a request is made to the local authority they will look carefully at and consider the SEN support that has been in place for your child and the assess, plan, do, review cycle.

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