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SEN Support in Mainstream Schools

This information is about the support that mainstream schools should provide for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).

What is SEN support?

Every child or young person with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age. Schools must identify pupils who have SEN and need extra help through SEN support. Schools should involve parents in this process.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children and young people achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school.

SEN support can take many forms, including:

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

Most children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability will attend mainstream schools.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they: achieve their best become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training

(SEND Code of Practice section 6.1)

If your child is receiving SEN Support you should be informed and involved.

The duties on schools to make SEN provision

The SEND Code of Practice says mainstream schools must:

  • 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
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO.
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time 

(SEND Code of Practice section 6.2)

What help or support can you expect school to provide?

Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You should be able to find your child or young person’s schools SEN information report on the schools website. You can also ask your child or young person’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The information published should be set out in clear, straightforward language, updated annually and any changes to the information occurring during the year must be updated as soon as possible.

The information required is set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 and must include:

  • the kind of SEN the school provides for.
  • policies for identifying children and young people with SEN and assessing their needs, including the name and contact details of the SENCO ( Special Educational Needs Coordinator).
  • arrangements for consulting parents of children with SEN and involving them in their child’s education.
  • arrangements for consulting young people with SEN and involving them in their  education. 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 moving between phases of education and in preparing for adulthood…
  • the approach to teaching children and young people with SEN
  • how adaptations are made to the to the curriculum and the learning environment of children and young people with SEN
  • the expertise and training of school staff and how specialist expertise will be available.
  • 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, including listening to the views of children 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

(SEND Code of Practice section 6.79)

Who decides what SEN support your child or young person will get?

The SEND Code of Practice says

Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.

(SEND Code of Practice section 6.17)

The school should then decide if your child or young person needs SEN support.  The school should talk to you and your child about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child or young person has some special educational needs. If you think your child or young person may need SEN support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the SENCO or headteacher.

A graduated approach

The SEND Code of Practice says

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.

(SEND Code of Practice section 6.44)

When your child or young person is identified has having SEN, the school should be able to identify the extra support your child or young person needs in order to make progress, put this support in place, and regularly check how well it is working using a graduated approach based on the following four steps.

Assess

Teaching staff should work with the SENCO to assess your child or young person’s needs, so that they give the right support. They should involve you in this and, where possible, seek your child or young person’s views. They should talk to you about this first and should take any concerns you may have brought to their attention seriously. Schools can and should involve specialists, such as educational psychology or speech and language therapy, to provide further advice and support if your child continues to make little progress or work at substantially lower levels than expected.

Plan

If the school decides that your child or young person needs SEN support it must tell you or your young person directly if they are over 16. The school should agree the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and a date for progress to be reviewed with you or your young person. The school should draw up a plan, involving you and your child, focusing on the outcomes your child needs and wants to achieve and detailing how the school will support them to achieve these. Schools should record details of the actions they are taking under SEN support.

Do

Your child’ or young person’s class or subject teacher is usually responsible for the work that is done with your child or young person, and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved. The school should tell you or your young person who is responsible for the support your child or young person receives. The SENCO will usually works with class and subject teachers to plan and deliver support, and keep a record of this. Everyone in school who works with your child or young person should be aware of their needs and the plan in place to address them.

Review

The school should review your child’ or young person’s progress, and the difference that the help your child or young person has been given has made, on the date agreed in the plan. You and your child or young person should meet with school at least three times a year and be involved in the review and in planning the next step. If your child or young person has not responded to the help they were given, the review should decide what can be done next, which should be recorded in the records. This may include more or different help.

It is up to schools to decide how to keep their records but they should be able to provide clear and accessible information to you about your child’s support and progress. SEN support meetings should be in addition to scheduled parents’ evening meetings. The school must provide a report at least once a year on your child or young person’s progress.

If, following a period of time at SEN Support stage, your child or young person is still not making the expected progress, you, your young person if over the age of 16 or the school can ask for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

Where you can find out more:

You can find out more about SEN Support by:

  • looking at the SEN Information Report on the school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • looking at the Local Offer, which the way in which all local authorities are statutorily required to provide accessible information about services in your local area who offer support for children and young people with SEN and Disabilities (SEND)
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice
  • contact SENDIASS Torbay for independent information, advice and support.