Many children will experience some kind of difficulty in learning at some time during their school life. Most will receive the help they need from their nursery/school/college. Some children may need extra or more specialised help.
A child has Special Educational Needs if they have learning difficulties or a disability that needs special educational provision. In most cases the special provision that is needed can be made within a mainstream school. For a small number of children and young people with the most complex needs, it may be agreed that a special school would be most appropriate for their needs.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (0-25 years) 2015 states that:
“A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
A child of compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
- Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or
- Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or post 16 institutions
A child under compulsory school age has SEN if he or she is likely to fall within the definition above when they reach compulsory school age or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.
Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 – that is ‘… a physical or mental impairment which has a long term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities’”.
This definition includes children and young people with long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and cancer. Children and young people with such conditions do not necessarily have SEN but where a child requires special educational provision over and above the adjustments, aids and services required by the Equality Act 2010, they will additionally be covered by the SEND definition.
Schools must also have regard to statutory guidance re: supporting pupils with medical conditions (DfE 2014).
As a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs or a Disability, there will be essential questions which you will have and that must be answered by your child’s school/setting. Some of these important questions may be:
- How does the school know if my child needs help?
- What should I do if I think my child has special educational needs?
- How will the school know how well my child is doing?
- How will I know how well my child is doing?
- How will the school know that what they are providing is helping my child make progress?
- How will the school staff support my child and how will the curriculum be matched to their needs?
- How will the school support me to support my child’s learning?
- How is the decision made about the type and level of support provided to my child?
- What extra-curricular activities are available for my child? How will they be included in activities outside the classroom, including school trips?
- What support will be available for my child’s overall well-being?
- What specialist services and expertise are available to the school?
- What training have the staff working with my child received about SEND?
- How accessible is the school – indoors and out?
- Who should I contact if I have any questions or concerns?
Your child’s school should be able to answer these questions. Some of this information may be on the school website or you may need to book an appointment with the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo).
You and your child, where possible, will always be fully involved in decisions made about your child and you must be included in any decision to place your child on SEND support. Pupils who have SEND support will receive support which is additional to and different from support which is normally available to the majority of pupils. This support should be shown in a provision map, which will detail all of the support your child receives.
The school will adopt a four part cycle called the graduated approach which uses the process of Assess, Plan, Do and Review.
Your child’s progress should be continually assessed and monitored to make sure that the SEND support always matches your child’s needs and is effective.
The school receives an amount of money for pupils with Special Educational Needs. This amount is not for named pupils, but may fund up to £6,000 of additional support to meet a pupil’s needs.
The following are some of the ways the school may allocate this funding:
- Extra resources
- Specialist equipment
- To provide small group support
- To purchase a specialist programme
- To enable your child to share a teaching assistant with a small group
- To provide some individual support from a teaching assistant (1:1)
- To provide time for staff to make/create work or interventions for your child
Depending on the needs of your child and the context of the school there may be other ways in which the funding is spent.
The Nottingham City Schools’ provision maps identify a range of interventions and support that you and school may feel are appropriate for your child. These interventions are not exhaustive – there may be additional interventions that you and the school may feel are appropriate. Click the link to Nottingham City Provision Maps
The impact of the support and interventions your child receives will be reviewed on an agreed date and you will be involved in this process. Support may be changed depending on the progress your child is making.
In exceptional cases, where the school is putting in support which costs more than the funding they have available in school, they can apply to the Local Authority for extra funding called “High Level Needs (HLN)” funding.
To apply for HLN funding the school, with your permission, will submit information about your child’s needs and the provision that the school is making to meet those needs.
The HLN panel which is made of LA support service staff and school SENCos will need to agree with the school, that additional funding is required, and the amount of that funding. The funding is reviewed on a regular basis, taking into account any changes to pupil’s needs and the progress that the pupil has made.
The school may indicate to you that they are applying for additional funding, but it should not affect the amount of support your child receives; it is up to the school to ensure that your child’s needs are met.
HLN funding may be provided for children who are on SEND support, they do not need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to access this funding.
An EHC plan is a detailed plan that brings together a child or young person’s educational, health and care needs into a single legal document.
Only a very small percentage of children and young people with SEND require an EHC plan.
If despite effective implementation of the Graduated Approach to Support for Children with SEND your child continues to struggle to make expected progress, you and/or your child’s educational setting may decide that an application for an EHC needs assessment is required.
Who can make a request for an EHC needs assessment?
A request for an EHC needs assessment may be made by:
- A parent
- A young person over the age of 16
- A school or setting
- A social worker for a child who is looked after by a local authority
Further information and documents about the process can be found on the Local Offer website at Education Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments and Plans