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Special Educational Needs

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Help and support is available for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to provide them with an education and proper health care.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) is the legal definition used with children who show learning difficulties or any disabilities which make it harder for them to learn - especially during their schooling.

Fortunately, specialist teachers and voluntary organisations can provide extra help and alternative care for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

As a rule, their learning capabilities are measured as a comparison with the majority of other children or young adults from the same age group to determine their capacity to learn.

SEND usually affects a child's ability to learn the national curriculum by recognised and traditional study methods.

Therefore, these children and young people may need specialist help in many areas including;

Special Educational Needs Support Service

Support for Parents

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Support ServiceParents should find extra help and support from the SEN co-ordinator (abbreviated to SENCO) at the nursery or educational facility where your child is being schooled.

Your local council can offer you further advice with SEN support if your child does not attend any of the traditional types of school, college, or nursery.

The Information, Advice and Support Service in your local authority provide valuable information for parents and to disabled children and young people with Special Educational Needs.

Support for Your Child

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities may be entitled to;

Note: Support continues until or unless your council changes it to an EHC plan for those who got support before September 2014.

SEN Support for Children Under 5

The kind of Special Educational Needs support which is available for children under 5 could include;

There is additional SEN support for children under 5 years old at most nurseries and playgroups. All childminders and nurseries registered with Ofsted, should follow the framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This ensures an increased level of support exists for children with SEND.

Note: You are recommended to talk to your doctor or health adviser if your child does not attend nursery school and you think they may have SEND.

SEN Support for Children between 5 and 15

Any time you feel that your child (aged 5 to 15) needs SEN support with the following situations, you should talk to the school teacher or the SEN co-ordinator.

People in Further Education from 16

It is wise to contact the college ahead of time to ensure the facility of Further Education (FE) meets the needs of your child. Extra help is available from the college and your local authority.

Education Health and Care Plan (EHC)

The purpose of an Education, Health and Care Plan is to identify and then provide increased help and support for small children and young people who are under 25. They are the ones mostly likely to benefit further from the extra support that the Education, Health and Care plan offers above the basic Special Educational Needs.

Requesting an EHC Assessment

Your local authority can carry out an Education, Health and Care assessment if you make a request, or the EHC plan may be requested by the person themselves while they are between 16 and 25 years of age.

Note: EHC requests may also be made by family friends, doctors, health care visitors, or teachers.

After a request has been made, it takes around 16 weeks for the local authority to decide whether they will carry out an EHC assessment. If an Education, Health and Care assessment is carried out, you may need to provide them with;

Steps for Creating an Educational Health Care Plan

  1. Your local authority creates a draft EHC plan and then sends a copy to you.
  2. You are given 15 days to comment (including whether you prefer your child to attend a specialist needs school or a specialist college).
  3. Following that, the authority has a maximum of 20 weeks to give you the final EHC plan.

If You Disagree with the Decision

You are allowed to challenge your local authority about several different outcomes including;

Note: You can also appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal if you are unable to resolve the problem with the authority.

Personal Budgets for Your Child

A personal budget may be available for your child. Personal budgets allow you to suggest how to spend the support money. Essentially, there are several different ways, or combinations, that you can use your personal budget. The 3 ways are;

  1. direct payments to your own account so you can buy and manage the services yourself
  2. 'notional arrangements' whereby an arrangement between you and your local authority or school lets them hold the money for you, but you decide how and where to spend it
  3. a third-party arrangement where you choose someone else who is appointed to manage the money for you

Children with Support Before September 2014

If your child got support before September 2014 they will move to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan before;

This process should happen at one of the planned reviews or when your child changes to another school. Your local council will inform you which one will happen. Your child should be receiving SEN support already if they got help through;

Support when Your Child Leaves School

A 'transition plan' is drawn up in Year 9 for children who have a statement of special educational needs. This helps to plan continued and future support after your child leaves school. Your child may request an EHC assessment if they consider needing more help than they are getting at the school or college.

SEND Help and Advice

Contact a Family helpline or Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) for further help and advice about children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities SEND.

Family Helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 3555 (Monday to Friday: 9:30am to 5pm)

Independent Parental Special Education Advice
Telephone: 0800 018 4016
Find out about call charges in the United Kingdom.

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND); UK Rules Updated 2017