Here you will find some questions we are often asked. It is useful to look here before contacting us to see if you can find the answer to your question.
Please use the drop down headings to find answers to related questions.
Does my child have special educational needs (SEN)?
A child (birth-16) or young person (age 16-25) has a learning difficulty or learning 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/her from making use of facilities generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.
Some children and young people have a learning difficulty or disability but do not have SEN if they do not require special educational provision to meet their needs.
If the learning difficulty or disability means a child or young person needs educational provision that is different or additional to what is normally provided then they have special educational needs.
Please contact the SEND Partnership Service (SPS) if you would like to talk about your specific concerns.
Further information can be found in the SPS factsheet SEN Support.
Does my child need a diagnosis in order to receive support?
A child or young person should receive support based on their individual needs. It is not a requirement to have a specific diagnosis to receive educational support.
As a guide, there are four broad areas of need identified in the SEND Code of Practice 2015:
Communication and interaction
Cognition and learning
Social emotional and mental health
Sensory and physical needs
Children and young people often have needs that may change over time or fall one or more of the areas.
A child or young person’s educational setting should make reasonable adjustments to support their needs if they are not making expected progress. Some needs can be met by making simple adjustments, others may require more specialist support.
Further information can be found in the SPS factsheet SEN Support.
What support should my child be getting?
If a child or young person is identified with a learning difficulty or disability that requires special educational provision, their education setting must use their best endeavours to secure that provision. Special educational provision is educational training or provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for others of the same age. If the education setting the child or young person attends can arrange the provision from within their own resources, i.e. finances and expertise, this is known as SEN support.
What is SEN support?
The purpose of SEN support is to remove any barriers to learning by giving children and young people extra help to make progress and achieve their outcomes. The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says that SEN support should follow the graduated approach; a cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review to decide the needs of the child, plan what actions to take to, do the agreed actions, and monitor whether the actions have worked by looking at the progress the child has made. You must be told about the support and be involved in making any decisions, including when the support plan will be reviewed.
If the education setting cannot meet a child or young person’s needs i.e. they lack the expertise or funding to identify the child or young person’s needs or implement the support they require, then it may be necessary for the LA to carry out an Education Health and Care needs assessment.
Further information about the graduated approach can be found in the SPS factsheet SEN Support.
What can I do if things aren’t working or go wrong?
If you, or your child or young person are unhappy about the support being provided you can discuss your concerns with the class teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). You and your child or young person’s views, wishes and feelings must be considered and decisions should be made together. The SEND Partnership Service can help you prepare for a meeting.
If a child or young person is not making progress even when support has been put in place, then the support may need to be reviewed to make changes and plan the next steps. Sometimes it may be useful to involve other professionals to investigate the difficulties as the child or young person’s needs may not have been fully identified.
If the child or young person has SEN and may require special educational provision which cannot be met by their education setting, or the education setting is failing to provide adequate SEN support, then it may be necessary to make a request for an Education Health and Care needs assessment.
If you still have a problem or haven’t been able to resolve the issue you might be able to make a complaint. If you want help to understand these procedures, or require impartial advice about possible ways forward, please contact us.
What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan?
An EHC Plan is a legal document which sets out the education, health and social care needs a child or young person has, and the support that is necessary to meet those needs to help the child or young person achieve what they want to in their life. The Local Authority (LA) have a duty to secure the provision specified in an EHC plan to ensure that it is delivered by the education setting.
An EHC needs assessment is the first step which may result in an EHC plan being issued.
Further information can be found in the SPS factsheet EHC Plans or by watching the Infographic here.
What is an EHC needs assessment?
The EHC needs assessment is a detailed look at a child’s educational, health and social care needs and the provision they may need in order to achieve their outcomes. A child’s parent, the child or young person’s educational setting, or a young person can make a request to the statutory SEN Team at the LA for an EHC needs assessment.
Within six weeks of a request being made the LA must decide whether the child or young person may have SEN and if it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made in accordance with an EHC Plan.
If the Local Authority refuse to assess they must inform the parent or young person of the reasons and of their right to appeal against the decision to the SEND Tribunal.
If the Local Authority agree to carry out an EHC needs assessment, they will seek information and advice about the child or young person from a range of professionals and must include you and your child or young person’s views. The timeframe for completing the needs assessment is within 14 weeks of the LA receiving the request.
Further information can be found in the SPS factsheet EHC Needs Assessments.
What happens after the EHC needs assessment is completed?
Once the EHC needs assessment is complete, the LA must decide whether to issue an EHC plan or that it is not necessary for the provision to be made in accordance with an EHC plan.
If the LA refuse to issue an EHC plan, the parent or young person must be informed of the reasons and that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
If the decision is to issue an EHC plan, the LA must first send a draft plan to the parents to consider and make any comments. Once the draft plan has been checked and agreed, the LA should then carry out a consultation with the school the parents have expressed a preference for. Within 20 weeks from the request for a needs assessment the final plan should be issued naming the school or educational setting.
We have a team of Information and Advice Officers who can help you understand what an EHC plan is, who needs one and how to request one. They can support you through an EHC needs assessment to make sure you understand everything that happens along the way.
Can we change what’s in written in the EHC Plan?
For new EHC plans at the draft stage you can request changes to ensure the plan accurately reflects the child or young person’s SEN and the provision required to support those needs. When you receive a draft plan it is important to check that it describes each and every SEN of your child or young person and that there is a corresponding provision specified for each need.
For existing EHC Plans, changes can be requested through the Annual Review process.
What is an Annual Review?
An existing EHC Plan must be reviewed within every 12 months through the Annual Review process. The Annual Review is all the steps taken by the LA to look at the progress the child or young person has made and decide whether the EHC plan is still appropriate, needs to be amended or should be ceased. Having yours and your child or young person’s views is an important part of the review.
You must be given two weeks’ notice of the annual review meeting and everyone involved will be asked to share their views. After the meeting the education setting will send a report to the LA about what was discussed and if any changes are being requested. The LA must then make a decision and will tell you if there are any changes they want to make to the plan. The annual review is not complete until the LA have notified parents of their decision. If you or your child or young person do not agree with the LA’s decision or the changes they are suggesting then you have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
If it has been less than a year since the last review but your child or young person isn’t making expected progress or their needs have changed a lot since the plan was last agreed then you can request an Early Annual Review.
Further information can be found in the SPS factsheet Annual Review of an EHC Plan.
If you need additional support our Information and Advice Officers can help you check the contents of an EHC Plan.
How do I challenge a decision by the LA about my child’s SEN?
When a decision is made by the LA, they must notify the young person or child’s parent in writing of their decision, the reason for that decision and their right to appeal against the decision.
The first step to resolving a disagreement can be to discuss your concerns with a Senior Inclusion Officer in the statutory SEN Team.
You may decide to participate in mediation which is a confidential meeting with the LA and an independent mediator to try and reach an agreement about the issue. You do not have to mediate, but must consider it and obtain a mediation certificate from a mediation advisor before you can register an appeal.
If these steps do not resolve the issue then an appeal can be made to the First-tier SEND Tribunal if a young person or the parent of a child does not agree with a decision made by the LA. The SEND Tribunal is a legal body and will investigate the evidence of a case fairly to decide whether the LA followed the law in making its decision. The SEND Tribunal may then order the LA to take certain actions to resolve the issue.
To discuss the appeals procedure please contact SPS with further information about your specific case.