Children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Many children will get some extra help at school, perhaps with reading or handwriting, without being described as having special educational needs (SEN).
If your child needs more help and support at school which is additional to or different from the support made generally available for other children or young people of the same age, they will get something called SEN support.
This could be because they have a learning difficulty or disability, a physical/sensory disability, difficulty with communication or need extra support to help them learn because of with their social, emotional, or mental health
Schools must tell you if they have decided your child has special educational needs and you should be involved in their support plans and processes all along, as should your child, especially as they get older
How much help and the type of help your child is given will be based on their individual needs, and decided through a process called Assess, Plan, Do, Review.
The first stage in the cycle is assessing your child or young person needs within their current education setting focusing on progress and attainment.
This should include meeting with you to obtain your views and the views of your child or young person. Gathering advice from external services such as Educational Phycologist, Speech and Language services, Occupational Therapy and specialised outreach teachers is also required.
The SEND Code of Practice is clear that schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent or carer.
The second stage is where support for your child is planned and here the teacher and SENCo explores and agrees with you and your child or young person what support and interventions they will offer based on what your child needs to be able to do.
The plan can also include how parents and carers can be involved in supporting this process.
It should be clear what outcomes are expected from the support strategies and a date for reviewing these to check that they are working. Normally a date is given for once or twice a term.
All teachers and support staff including teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors should be aware of this support plan.
The support plan should be recorded, and a copy given to you, so you know what has been agreed and what support is place.
The third stage of the graduated approach is 'do'. This is where the setting gets on and puts the agreed support in place with the help of the SENCo, class or subject teacher and if required a teaching assistant.
The SEND Code of Practice states that 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 special educational needs.
The fourth and final stage is a very important stage in the cycle which is the review. This is where the education setting will evaluate the impact and quality of the support and decide on any changes that may be needed.
The stage involves looking at what has worked well, what has not worked as well as expected and what can be done next to try and help your child/young person make better progress.
If your child does not make the expected progress with the help and support they have planned, things should intensify, perhaps bringing in an expert or planning different support.
Every child is different and sometimes school may need to try different ideas before they find what works best for your child or young person. If a setting in unable to offer a particular strategy that you or your child requests, it’s important to ask what they can offer instead that will help to achieve a similar outcome to meet your child’s needs.
SEN support can take many forms, including:
If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), head teacher or contact RIASS.