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SEN support

A group of young school children are sitting on the floor around their teacher. Some of the children have their hands in the air, ready to answer a question

We can help you with information and practical advice about options for getting more Special Educational Needs and Disabilities support (SEN support) for your child at their mainstream school or college.

Schools, nursery schools and colleges should identify pupils who may be having difficulty and decide whether SEN support is appropriate.

A child does not need a medical diagnosis to be recognised as having Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Identifying Special Educational Needs

Schools should regularly assess each pupil’s current skills and levels of attainment. These assessments should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress to decide if they have SEN and so need SEN support.

Teachers make adjustments so that they can meet the wide range of needs for all the children in any given class, this is known as differentiation.

A school will only recognise that a child has SEN if they need further adjustments or support on top of differentiation. A disability which creates barriers to education may also be the trigger for additional support.

SEN is not always about a child’s academic attainment. Some children may have other barriers to learning.

The says that where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.

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SEN support in schools

Pupils who continue to face challenges in their learning, despite receiving high-quality teaching, are likely to need additional strategies, or different provision, in order to meet their needs.

Any special educational provision in school is called SEN Support. The purpose of SEN support is to help children and young people progress.

SEN support is any education or training provision that is ‘additional to or different from’ that made generally for others of the same age in mainstream schools in England.

SEN support in school can take many forms including:

  • extra help from a teacher or teaching assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with the child or young person in a small group
  • observing the child in class or at break and keeping records
  • helping the child to take part in class activities
  • making sure the child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and getting them to try something they find difficult
  • helping the child to work with other children or play with them at break time
  • supporting the child with physical help or personal care such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing
  • advice or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, and therapists

A child may have needs in a number of areas. Schools should plan how to deal with each of these areas of need, and ensure that their staff have relevant training and are equipped to respond.

The SEND Code of Practice refers to 4 broad areas of need:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory or physical needs

You can find out more about each of these areas of need in Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice.

If the child has a disability the setting must put things in place so that the child can assess learning and take part in everyday activities, this is called making reasonable adjustments.

You should be involved in any discussions and planning about what support your child is receiving. This means you should know if your child has been identified as having SEN and know what support is being put in place to help them. You should also have been able to give your views.

Sometimes you may be the first to notice that your child has SEN. If you think your child needs SEN support in their nursery or school, talk to their teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). For colleges you will need to talk to Student or Learning Support, and information as to how to do this should be on the college's website.

Deciding whether to put SEN support in place starts with identifying:

  • the desired outcomes
  • the expected progress
  • the views and wishes of you and your child

See further advice about SEN support in schools:

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The SEN support Graduated Cycle

SEN Support is provided in a graduated cycle of assess, plan, do, review.

Through this cycle, actions are reviewed and refined as the understanding of a pupil’s needs and the support required to help them progress increases. This is known as the graduated approach.

Assess: Identifying and assessing SEN

The teaching staff, working with the SENCO, should assess a child’s needs so that they give the right support. They should involve parents in this and seek the child’s views. Sometimes schools will ask for advice from a specialist teacher or a health care professional. They should talk to the parent about this first.

The SEND Code of Practice says that schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent.

Plan: Planning the required support

This part of the cycle involves discussing, planning and agreeing what SEN support will be put in place based on information gathered during the assessment phase. The planning should involve the child, parents and school staff who know the child well.

The planning process includes agreeing targets for the child in order to focus attention on key areas. The targets should aim to support the child to work towards their long-term outcomes.

Where other professionals are working with the child, they should also contribute to planning.

Teachers and support staff who work with a pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any strategies that are required.

A date for reviewing progress should also be agreed.

Do: Putting the support in place

The planned interventions should then be put in place. The class or subject teacher retains responsibility for the pupil’s day-to-day teaching and works closely with any specialists, teaching assistants and support staff. The SENCO supports the class or subject teacher. A child may be supported by a teaching assistant, but they will work under the direction of the class or subject teacher.

Some pupils will be involved in interventions to develop the core curriculum areas of literacy or numeracy, or to improve other key skills such as communication, social and emotional skills or motor skills.

This might be a difficult time for you, while waiting to see what impact the support will have. Remember the continuous 4-stage cycle of SEN support means that your child’s progress and the support they are receiving should be reviewed regularly, and changed when necessary.

You can talk to your child about the support they have, to try to find out what’s working for them or whether there is anything they are finding difficult. This will be useful information for the review.

Review: Reviewing the progress and impact of the support

The SEND Code of Practice says that schools should meet with parents or carers at least 3 times per year.

Review dates should be agreed at the planning stage. The parent and child should be involved in the review and planning the next steps.

Reviews should take place to check the child’s progress, assess what difference the interventions have made and inform the analysis of the child’s needs.

If the review shows a child has made good progress, this may mean they no longer require the additional provision made through SEN support. In such cases, the child is likely to be taken off the SEN register and instead will be monitored to ensure progress is sustained through high-quality teaching.

Others may not have responded to the help given, in such circumstances it should be decided what can be done next. This could involve other professionals such as the , the or outreach. The decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time and should always involve the child’s parents.

Reviews also provide the opportunity for you to share your thoughts on the difference the support is making, and the views of your child.

Repeating the cycle

After each 4-step cycle, the process should begin again to ensure continued promotions of the child’s learning and wellbeing.

Where the pupil is still not progressing, despite the school having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify and meet the pupil’s needs, the school should consider requesting a statutory needs assessment for an (EHCP). Parents are also entitled to make such a request.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

The college and the student together should plan any changes in support. Support for all students with SEN should be kept under review, whether or not a student has an EHC Plan.

Parents should have clear information about the impact of the support provided and be involved in planning next steps.

All help should be ongoing throughout education. This means there will need to be more than 1 cycle of graduated approach.

If your child has an EHC Plan, the local authority must complete an at least once every 12 months.

The SEND Code of Practice says that schools should:

  • use their ‘best endeavours’ to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need - this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • name a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision, the SEN Coordinator or SENCO
  • tell parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish a SEN Information Report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children

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My Support Plan

The My Support Plan (MSP) is available to use with children and young people who have identified SEN and receive SEN support in school. It can be used for anyone who has a number of professionals supporting them and would benefit from coordinated support.

The MSP is a non-statutory document which can be used flexibly to support the holistic needs of the child or young person and their family. It also helps all who work with them. The different sections of the MSP can be used to gradually build a fuller picture of the child or young person as needed.

If at a later stage a request for Educational Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) is made by the school, the MSP is completed, reviewed and sent to the Local Authority with supporting evidence.

The majority of children with an MSP will not need to move on to a request for a statutory EHCNA.

The SEN support detailed in an MSP will be through access to delegated educational funding, Bands 1 and 2 of the , and through services available through York’s Local Offer.

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