Accessibility Statement
Skip to main content
Chat icon Chat with us live

Children at School


Information for parents regarding Special Educational Needs

What can I do if I think my child has a learning difficulty at school?

If your child is at school, talk to your child's teacher or head teacher. There will be a teacher at your child's school who has a special responsibility for children with special educational needs, the SENCO. The school will tell you the name of that teacher.

All mainstream schools provide special help for children with special educational needs.

You are an active partner with your child's school. The school should tell you about your child's progress, listen to your concerns and work with you to make sure that your child gets a proper education. When your child starts school, or moves to a new school, you should tell his or her teacher about all the special help that has previously been provided by other schools, or by health or Social Care and Health.

Many problems can be sorted out easily, especially if they are dealt with quickly. But in some cases, if your child has special educational needs, the school may call in outside specialists to help.

Different schools help children with special needs in different ways but from September 2014, all maintained schools must prepare an SEN information report which is published on their website.  This must include the following information:

  • the kinds of SEN that are provided for
  • policies for identifying children and young people with SEN and assessing their needs, including the name and contact details of the SENCO (mainstream schools)
  • arrangements for consulting parents of children with SEN and involving them in their child’s education
  • arrangements for assessing and reviewing children and young people’s progress towards outcomes. This should include the opportunities available to work with parents and young people as part of this assessment and review
  • arrangements for supporting children and young people in moving between phases of education and in preparing for adulthood. As young people prepare for adulthood outcomes should reflect their ambitions, which could include higher education, employment, independent living and participation in society
  • the approach to teaching children and young people with SEN
  • how adaptations are made to the curriculum and the learning environment of children and young people with SEN
  • the expertise and training of staff to support children and young people with SEN, including how specialist expertise will be secured
  • evaluating the effectiveness of the provision made for children and young people with SEN
  • how children and young people with SEN are enabled to engage in activities available with children and young people in the school who do not have SEN
  • support for improving emotional and social development. This should include extra pastoral support arrangements for listening to the views of children and young people with SEN and measures to prevent bullying
  • how the school involves other bodies, including health and social care bodies, local authority support services and voluntary sector organisations, in meeting children and young people’s SEN and supporting their families
  • arrangements for handling complaints from parents of children with SEN about the provision made at the school

What is the Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice is a guide for schools and LAs about the practical help they can give to children with special educational needs. It recommends that schools should identify children's needs and take action to meet those needs as early as possible, working with parents. The law says that all state schools must have regard to the Code of Practice. This means that, when schools decide what they should do for children with special educational needs, they should always consider what the Code says. The Code gives guidance to schools but it does not tell them what they must do in every case. School teachers are skilled professionals who can judge how best to help your child. But, whatever they do, schools must not ignore the Code of Practice.

The Code recommends that schools should deal with children's needs step-by-step or in stages, matching the level of help to the needs of the child. The school will talk to you and together you will decide which stage is best for your child. The school will also decide what this involves and what should be done to help your child progress. In most cases, special help at an early stage will allow your child to make good progress and he or she will not have to move on to the next stage. But if the school decide that your child needs a particular kind of special help, perhaps the help of a specialist form outside the school, he or she will not have to go through the early stages first.

A graduated approach to meeting your child's needs

The Code suggests that schools have a graduated approach called SEN support.  There are four stages of SEN support which are are:

Stage 1

Assess: Your child’s difficulties must be assessed so that the right support can be provided. This should include, for example, asking you what you think, talking to professionals who work with your child (such as their teacher), and looking at records and other information. This needs to be reviewed regularly so that the support provided continues to meet your child’s needs. That might mean getting advice and further assessment from someone like an educational psychologist, a specialist teacher or a health professional.

Stage 2

Plan: Your school or other setting needs to agree, with your involvement, the outcomes that the SEN support is intended to achieve – in other words, how your child will benefit from any support they get – and you need to be involved with that. All those involved will need to have a say in deciding what kind of support will be provided, and decide a date by which they will review this so that they can check to see how well the support is working and whether the outcomes have been or are being achieved.

Stage 3

Do: The setting will put the planned support into place. The teacher remains responsible for working with your child on a daily basis, but the SENCO and any support staff or specialist teaching staff involved in providing support should work closely to track your child’s progress and check that the support is being effective.

Stage 4

Review: The support your child receives should be reviewed at the time agreed in the plan. You can then decide together if the support is having a positive impact, whether the outcomes have been, or are being, achieved and if or how any changes should be made.

For an example and more information Link to Adobe PDF file

What if I disagree with the school?

If you are not happy with anything the school does when dealing with your child, you should first talk to the teacher responsible for special educational needs or your child's class teacher or subject teachers. You may also talk to the Head teacher. Sometimes misunderstandings can arise and it is important that you co-operate as much as you can with your child's school in any discussion about your child's special needs. You may find it helpful to write down your worries before a meeting and, if you want to, you can take a friend or relative or your Named Person with you. A Named Person is someone who will help you to express your views and offer you support whenever you need it. You may also find it helpful to talk to other parents, Your child's school should be able to give you the names of local voluntary organisations and parents' groups that might be able to help.

The school will have a policy on how it handles complaints. You can find further information about school complaints on the Council's website if you are still not happy after using going through the school's complaints procedures,