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Torbay SENCo Handbook


This document should be read in conjunction with the SEND Code of Practice, Jan 2015.

The SENCo is responsible for the daily implementation of the SEN policy and the specific provisions made to support pupils with SEN including those with Education Health Care Plans. They should ensure the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date.

The SENCo will work with the head teacher and the governing body to ensure the school’s responsibilities are met under the Equality Act [2010] with reference to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements. They will also work with the head teacher and governing body to advise on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget, other resources, and the graduated approach to providing SEN support to ensure the needs of pupils are met.

The SENCo works closely with, and is a key point of contact for, parents, other educational establishments, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals and independent and voluntary bodies. They will be aware of the Local Offer and provision within it and must be able to work with other professionals to provide a supportive role to families to ensure pupils with SEN receive appropriate support and that the teaching is of a high standard. The SENCo will also liaise with possible providers of the next stage of education for a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and ensure both they, and their parents, are informed of options to plan a smooth transition.

The SENCo will provide professional guidance to colleagues and where looked-after children have SEN, the SENCo will liaise with the designated teacher.

If you are finding some of the terminaology confusing please take a look at our Glossary of SEND acronyms and terms.

When does a learner have a Special Educational Need?

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 or a young person 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 facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

For children aged two or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers.

For a child under two years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind. 

The SEND Code of Practice states that:

The majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges (as set out in the information on identification and support in Chapters 5, 6 and 7). Some children and young people may require an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment in order for the local authority to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan (EHCP). (SEND CoP 9.1)

The purpose of an EHCP is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. (SEND CoP 9.2)

When does an SEND learner become ‘High Needs’ or need an EHC Plan?

High Needs funding is available when the resources normally available to the school have been exceeded. The normally available resources include:

  • £6,000 per year of support from the school budget.
  • Services readily available to the school that do not have to be separately funded by the school. You will see the SEND services listed in the sections which follow. 

EHC Plans are for learners with High Needs who, despite the school having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the SEN of the learner, have not made expected progress. Only a small number SEND learners will require an EHC Plan. Not all assessments for an EHC Plan will lead to an agreement to create a Plan. In Northumberland all funding and services and *resources are available to SEND learners whether or not they have an EHC Plan: an EHC Plan does not lead to additional resources.

*One exception: an EHC Plan is needed to access a specialist school place.

A Graduated Approach

The SEN Code of Practice 2014 defines a ‘Graduated Approach’ as:

 “a model of action and intervention in early education settings, schools and colleges to help children and young people who have special educational needs. The approach recognises that there is a continuum of special educational needs and that, where necessary, increasing specialist expertise should be brought to bear on the difficulties that a child or young person may be experiencing.(SEND CoP Glossary of Terms)

Please see the Torbay’s Guidance and Descriptors for SEND Support (A Graduated Response) for more information.

You may also findthe following send resource webpages useful:

Policy, procedures and guidance.

Related National legislation and guidance:

Related local Policies, procedure and guidance:

 - This strategy sets out what Torbay will aim to achieve through partnership arrangements between the LA, educational settings, parents/carers, children and young people, other agencies and services in health and social care, including adult services and the voluntary sector.

Torbay’s Accessibility Strategy 2017-2020 - This strategy details how we will support schools in meeting the needs of disabled pupils in Torbay and raising their attainment. The purpose of the strategy is to ensure that accessibility of the curriculum, the physical environment and information for disabled pupils is central to the delivery of services. The strategy aims to provide information and a framework to help schools create individual accessibility plans.

Torbay’s Guidance and Descriptors for SEND Support (A Graduated Response) - This document provides a set of minimum standards for High Quality Teaching and SEND provision. It sets out what schools/settings are expected to provide from their delegated funds (i.e., Element 1 and 2 funding) for children and young people with SEND. 

Torbay Educational Psychology Service, Portage Home Visiting, Early Years and Advisory Teacher for SEN: A guide for schools and other users  - This booklet outlines what these service users can expect from them and gives examples about the best way to use these services.

Guidance Criteria for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)  - This document sets out Torbay Local Authority’s expectations for a graduated response to children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and includes criteria for considering whether a child/young person’s needs should be met from within the school/colleges resources for children/young people with additional needs, and/or whether the Local Authority should undertake a statutory Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment. The document includes guidance for making requests for EHC needs assessment for children and young people with SEN.

School websites

Each school should publish the following documents and links on their own school's website:

Information and resources that can be found on the Torbay Council Website.


 Bold text Landing or Record pages
 ■ Solid bullet point  document attached (these will be downloadable in word if not hyperlinked)
 Underlined hyperlinked
 Open bullet point  document attached to sub record denoted by bold text on right hand column

 Information for Parents

 SEN Provision – definition

 SENDIASS Torbay – how to access the service

 Torbay Parent Carer Forum

 Disagreement resolution and mediation

  • Service leaflet for Parents
  • Service leaflet for children and young people

Definition of Service

  • Service Referral Form
  • Service User Guide 2019-20 for Educational Psychology Service, Portage Home Visiting Service, Early Years & Advisory Teacher for SEN
Statutory Assessments Forms for requesting a statutory assessment
  • Parental Request Form (RSA/AppA)
  • Young Person Request Form (RSA/AppA&F)
  • Early Years Setting Request Form (RSA/ApB)
  • Educational setting Request Form (RSA/AppB)
  • Views of the child or young person (AppF including One Page Profile)
        Guidance Documents
    • Guidance Criteria
    • Requesting a Statutory Assessment – information sheet for parents
    • Torbay's Guidance and Descriptors for SEND (A Graduated Response)
    • Early Years Setting Request Form (Guidance)
    • Educational setting Request Form (Guidance)
    • One Page Profile guidance
      Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans         Person Centred tools
    • Important to / for
    • Relationship Circle
    • Good Day / Bad Day
    • What’s working / what’s not working
Annual  Reviews
  • Annual Review form
  • Post 16 Annual Review form (from Y11 onwards)
  • Preparing for Adulthood prompt sheet (Y9 - Y11)
  • Preparing for Adulthood prompt sheet (Post 16)
  • Request for amendment form
  • Personal Budget form
  • Professionals contribution to reviews form
  • One Page Profile template
  • One Page Profile Guidance
  • Special Educational Provision (SEP) referral form
        Review information and planning guides         Person Centred Tools
    • Important to / for
    • Relationship Circle
    • Good Day / Bad Day
    • What’s working / what’s not working
Outreach Services Referral Forms, parental consent forms & Service Protocols for:
  • ICT from WESC 
  • Mayfield
  • VI from WESC
Placement in Mainstream Schools
SEND Inclusion in Early Years
  • Link to SEN Early Years Resources webpage on the Local Offer
  • Terms of reference for ALFEY Panel
  • ALFEY funding request form (part 1)
  • ALFEY funding request form (part 2) 
  • ALFEY Funding form (part 2) – guidance notes
  • ALFEY - part 2 checklist
  • Change of hours application form
  • Disability Access Fund (DAF) application form
  • Disability access Fund information sheet
  • Enhanced Transition Support 
  • SEND and Vulnerable Children’s Forum Bulletins
  • Practice Guidance for setting SENCOs
  • Making a request for EHC needs assessment info
        Forms and Records Forms
    • ILDP
    • ILDP guidance
    • On-going diary of ILDP targets
    • ILDP review
    • SEND Assessment summary form
    • SEND Assessment summary guidance
    • SEND register
    • Transition Plan Template
    • Open Ended activity sheet
    • Transition document
Local Offer
Preparing for adulthood         Additional information:
Mental capacity
Help us improve with feedback
Educational Psychology
Other services and support

 Early Help

 Supporting Families

 Team around the family (TAF)

 Integrated Youth Support Service (IYSS)

 Childrens Learning Disability Health Team

 Young carers

 Youth Service

 The Assessment Resource Centre (ARC)

 Special educational needs and disability (SEND)

 Direct Payments

 Family Group Conferences

 Reducing Parental Conflict


SEND Policies
SEND Updates
  • Torbay’s SEND Newsletters 
  • Self Assessment Storyboards
  • SEND Strategy Action Plan Updates

Correct as of September 2020

SENCo Bulletins

SENCo Bulletin May 2021 - to include:

SENCo Bulletin January 2021 - to include:

SENCo Bulletin October 2020 - to include Preparing for Adulthood (PFA) (primarily aimed at secondary and post 16 provision SENDCOs), Primary Secondary transition in COVID times, and:

SENCo Bulletin July 2020 - to include:

SENCo Bulletin April 2020 - to include:

Role of the Senco.

The SEND Code of Practice (Jan 2015) sets out in detail how different bodies should fulfill their duties for learners with additional needs. The role of the SENCO is a pivotal role from preschool through school-age to further education and preparing for adulthood.

The key paragraphs in the Code are:

  • The role of the SENCO in pre-school / Early Years settings, paras 5.52-5.54
  • The role of local authority Area SENCOs for pre-school settings, 5.55-5.58
  • The role of the SENCO in schools, 6.84-6.94


The national Code of Practice changed the legislation in 2014 to include both SEN and Disabilities. Previously it had been SEN only. The Code still refers to the role as a ‘SENCO,’ but also puts emphasis on working with the headteacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements for learners who are disabled.

The 2014 SEND Code SENCOs:

  • Must be a qualified teacher working at the school
  • New to post must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASC)
  • Are most effective if they are part of the school leadership team
  • Provide professional guidance to colleagues and works closely with staff, parents, potential next providers and other agencies
  • Should be aware of the provision in the Local Offer
  • Can be shared by a number of small schools
  • Should have sufficient time and resources to carry out key responsibilities.

National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASC)

In September 2009 it became law for every new SENCO in a mainstream school to gain the Masters-level NASC within 3 years of taking up the post.  

What is a SENCO?

A SENCO is the champion for all learners in their school who have a special educational need and/or disabilities. They are an advocate for ensuring the needs of learners are met. The role is varied, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. There are many aspects to the job but the most important priority is to ensure that the needs of the learner are at the heart of all decisions made - breaking down, where possible, barriers to learning to accelerate progress. A SENCO is not an expert in all areas of special educational needs or disabilities but they are the coordinating professional within the school/setting and must be tenacious in working with professionals, within and beyond the school, to best meet the needs of the learners in their care.

A SENCO must have understanding and empathy for children with SEND and for their families, be honest about what is and what is not being provided and above all, demonstrate a commitment to improving outcomes and doing the very best for the learner.

The SENCO will lead on:

  • The IDENTIFICATION of children with special educational needs in the school;
  • Ensuring there is HIGH QUALITY TEACHING for learners with SEND
  • Developing effective SEND PROVISION for learners, in-school and through external support
  • TRACKING and MONITORING the outcomes for learners with SEND and reporting this to senior leaders and governors.

The key responsibilities of the SENCO may include: 

Working with the Head Teacher, senior and middle leaders to ensure that learners with SEN are given a high priority in all decision-making.

  • Working with the head teacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements
  • Working with the Head Teacher and other teachers to identify barriers to learning and develop effective ways of overcoming those barriers.
  • Advising on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget and other resources to meet pupils’ needs effectively
  • Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school/setting’s SEN policy.
  • Being the first point of contact for teachers, teaching assistants and parents when concerns arise. This is a crucial part of the role as it ensures the SENCO is made aware of emerging needs and can act quickly where concerns arise.
  • Working closely with teachers in school to support the identification of learners with special educational needs.
  • Liaising with the relevant Designated Teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN
  • Meeting and liaising with families and with children and young people with SEND to support them and to understand their views and use this information to improve and develop provision for SEND.
  • Advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support
  • Co-ordinating provision for children with SEN.
  • Monitoring, assessing and reviewing the outcomes for all SEN pupils within the school.
  • Ensuring that records of all pupils with SEN are properly maintained and up to date.
  • Liaising with and requesting support from services external to schools such as Outreach, specialist teachers, Educational Psychologists or relevant health and social care professionals. (Whilst this means completing and submitting forms/requests this responsibility lies firmly with the SENCO and time additional to PPA should be given to assist with this as well as identified admin support).
  • Being a key point of contact with external agencies, especially the local authority and its support services.
  • Liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned.

The SENCO should have status in school. Status is a combination of your role/position and credibility. In some schools the SENCO is part of the Senior Leadership Team. 

Understanding the SENCO role 
SEN Operational Tasks SEN Development Plan Tasks SEN Monitoring and Evaluation Tasks
  • Annual Reviews
  • EP meetings
  • Termly SEN reviews
  • Meeting with SEN governor
  • Access arrangements
  • Transition planning and meetings
  • Support Staff meetings
  • Annual Report to Governors
  • Meetings with other professionals
  • Attendance at SLT
  • SEN Support discussions with teachers
  • Meetings with parents to discuss reports from outside professionals (EP, SALT etc.)
  • Record Keeping
  • SEN report to governors (Annual / termly – as determined by your school governing body)  
  • Update SEN Information Report (Annually)
  • SEN Parents meeting to focus on transition
  • Complete NaSENCO
  • Training for staff
  • Other SEN development tasks as identified by Ofsted, SLT or SEN Audit
  • Review RAISEonline
  • awareness of termly data tracking analysis
  • Work scrutiny with teachers and pupils (KS3?)
  • Observation -of SEN children in class of targeted intervention groups
  • Review of implementation plans (EP/EHCP/ISPs etc.) with class Teacher and setting of new targets
  • Monitoring of impact of SEN intervention groups
  • Review SEN Register

You may also find the SENCO Checklist template in the downloads section on the right hand side of this webpage useful.

Whole-school SEN coordination: 

A SENCO has the ultimate responsibility of managing and coordinating the well-being, learning and education of all SEN pupils in their school. A SENCO is required to be adaptable and deal with tough and sensitive situations in the face of adversity.

SENCOs must be aware of any changing SEND legislation, practices and policies and potential funding changes that could affect the standard of education for learners with SEND. SENCOs are also responsible for the whole-school improvement of outcomes for pupils with SEND. SENCOs, in conjunction with the Head teacher, are responsible for the development and monitoring of the school’s SEND policy to ensure it is suitable for the learners with SEND and is providing them with the best opportunities to meet their needs.

Strategic planning: 

SENCOs should be involved in leading the development of the school’s priorities for SEND, setting targets to improve outcomes for learners and identifying the actions that need to be taken to achieve them. This can be as part of the whole school development plan, or in a separate plan for SEND. In order to do this, SENCOs need to be involved in the self-evaluation process so that they are clear about what is effective in the school and what needs to be improved. This can be through analysis of pupils’ assessment information, observation of classroom teaching and scrutiny of teachers’ planning and pupils’ work, discussion with pupils and their families, an audit of staff’s professional development needs and a review of the impact of any school-based intervention. Where SENCOs are not able to fulfil aspects of this monitoring work directly, they can receive information from other leaders to inform their planning.

SEN Funding: 

Schools are provided with allocated delegated funding to use specifically for their pupils with SEND, this is called their Notional SEN Budget. Each child with SEN is entitled to receive up to £6,000 funding from their school per year.  A SENCO should know the school’s funding arrangements and have a role in the monitoring process to ensure that funding is being deployed appropriately and is having a positive impact on pupils’ outcomes. 

For more information please see our SEN funding for Children and Young people in mainstream Schools, Academies and Free Schools webpage.

Monitoring and evaluation: 

A SENCO must carefully and regularly monitor the school’s SEND practice and policy. This is to ensure the educational needs of all SEND learners are met and are provided with the best opportunities for maximising their individual educational potential. The SENCO should also liaise with the nominated SEND Governor to ensure that the governing body fulfils their responsibilities in relation to learners with SEND.

Leading and training staff: 

SENCOs have the important task of improving the knowledge and understanding of the professionals, parents and governors within school to meet the needs of learners with SEND. A better and clearer understanding of a pupil with SEND will help both SENCOs and the relevant staff of the school to ensure that each learner is provided with suitable special educational provision where necessary.

What should parents/carers expect from a SENCO?

SENCOs need to demonstrate commitment to working in partnership with the school/external agencies and other professionals. The SENCO is responsible for implementing any plans or provisions agreed for the learner. 

Parents expect to be kept well-informed about the provision for their child and should be invited to regular review meetings where they can discuss how things are going. In school, the SENCO is expected to advocate on their behalf to ensure everyone who regularly works with their child knows how best to support them.

The SENCO is not expected to be an expert in every aspect of SEND. Learners can present with a wide range of different needs at different levels and no individual can be a specialist in every area. However, it is the job of the SENCO to liaise with the relevant professionals to better understand the needs of each learner and to co-ordinate the appropriate support and provision. The SENCO must have a thorough knowledge of the SEND Code of Practice and other relevant legislation so that they are fully aware of the school’s duties and responsibilities.

Continued Professional Development (CPD)

Here are a few suggestions for continued professional development for SENCo's (in no particular order):

Making Requests for Statutory Assessment.

A college/school/pre-school setting must demonstrate that its has taken purposeful, relevant and sustained actions using the graduated approach prior to submitting a Request for Statutory Assessment (RSA). Children/young people eligible for an EHC needs assessment will usually have been supported from within the provisions Local Offer and with resources already available to them over a period of time, 2 – 3 assess/plan/review cycles, graduated approach.

Actions taken by college/school/pre-school setting to differentiate the curriculum, provide quality teaching and additional targeted intervention to meet the child/young person’s need will be evident in provision maps, individual targets and evidence of having implemented advice from specialists. There must be clear demonstration of identification of SEN, school based intervention and progress made.

Please visit the Statutory Assessment webpage for more information. Guidance criteria, Request for Statutory Assessment (RSA) application forms and guidance notes, including the checklist of evidence required, is all available on the Statutory Assessment webpage.  

The SEND / EHCP Panel will generally only recommend that a full EHC needs assessment should be undertaken if they are satisfied the child/young person’s difficulties are severe, complex and long standing and have not been resolved despite a range of well planned interventions.

For more information about the process please see The Education Heath and Care (EHC) needs assessment process webpage.

Annual Reviews

Annual Reviews must be held at least once a year for a child over the age of 5 and every 3 to 6 months for a child under the age of 5. This must be on or before either the original plan date or date of last annual review whichever is the soonest.

The Annual Review is a legal requirement to check the appropriateness of all sections of an EHC plan.

The Annual Review process involves the collection of up-to-date reports from everyone involved in identifying and meeting the child or young person’s needs and an Annual Review meeting, all of which inform the Local Authority of the necessity and effectiveness of the EHC plan and concludes with the Local Authority’s resulting decision to either maintain, amend or cease the EHC plan. 

Therefore key purposes of the information provided within the Annual Review meeting report are to ensure that:

  • the child or young person’s aspirations, which may change over time, remain central to their EHC plan;
  • the child or young person’s relevant personal and family circumstances, which may change over time,  are taken into account;
  • the child or young person’s presenting needs are being properly monitored and any new needs arising or original needs ceasing to exist after the creation of the original EHC plan are taken into account and adequately described and understood;
  • the child or young person’s needs are being met through appropriate and timely provision;
  • the type and delivery of provision is an efficient use of local authority resources;

unless the child or young person has already met all of the outcomes and therefore no longer requires the protection on an EHC plan.

Annual Review Timeline for Schools

Annual Review forms and guidance can be found on the Annual Reviews webpage.

Involving parents/carers and pupils.

The principles underpinning the Code of Practice state the importance of the child or young person, and the child’s parents, participating as fully as possible in decisions, and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions. 

Parents can find impartial and useful advice and services available on the Local Offer website.

Pupil and parent views

It is good practice to gather children, young people and parental views with respect to the SEN provision. A variety of methods can be used such as a focus group, interviews, comments gathered at reviews or parental questionnaires.

Person Centred Tools

One Page Profile guidance - Guidance notes for completing the One Page Profile form using person centred tools. 

Other Template Worksheets

Organisations to refer parents to: 

Leaflets that are available:

Links to other key agencies/documentation:

Further information and resources that can be found on the Torbay Local Offer 

links to specific services:

These links take you directly to webpages that contain informations about how to refer including referal forms where applicable.

Other useful information and resources:


Torbay's guidance on using part-time timetables - Good practice guide for Schools and Academies including consent/notification form.

For a word version of the form only, please look in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this webpage.