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SEN Support in Schools


Children in a classroomEarly-year settings, schools and post-16 institutions such as colleges and sixth forms have a duty to identify and support children and young people who have Special Educational Needs (SEN). This means that if you or your child has SEN that has not previously been recognised, the educational setting that you or they attend should have measures in place to help you identify them.

In order to do this, educational settings should assess each pupil’s current skills and levels of attainment upon entry and make regular further assessments. These assessments should seek to identify pupils who are making less than expected progress.

Once SEN is brought to the attention of the educational settings – whether this occurs as a result of their own assessments or arises from elsewhere - they must put support in place*. This support is called SEN support. Th support should be relevant to the specific needs of the child or young person. The SEN Code of Practise 2015 is a government document which outlines how educational settings should work with children and young people with SEN. The Code of Practise refers to four broad areas of need:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Sensory and/or physical needs

It’s important that the unique needs of each child and young person are understood so that the right support is put in place, and these categories are a helpful guide. A child or young person can of course have needs falling in more than one area. The expectation outlined in the Code of Practise is that educational settings have a plan for how to deal with each of these areas of need and to ensure that their staff have relevant training and are equipped to respond.

Importantly, it can take time to get the right support in place for a child or young person. The support should be regularly reviewed and adapted to ensure that it is most relevant and effective. The school usually follow a process called Assess, Plan, Do, Review in order to do this.

In schools, there is a teacher responsible for coordinating the identification and support processes for children and young people are they are called the SENCO. There is not someone called a SENCO in further education colleges but there should still be a professional responsible for all the duties a SENCO usually undertakes.

Schools must publish information about how they support pupils with SEN. You should be able to find this information on your/your child’s school's website. There should also be a policy setting out how the school includes disabled pupils in the school's activities. If you are a parent or carer and your child receives SEN Support, the school must inform you.

In cases where schools have taken relevant and purposeful action to identify and meet a pupil’s needs and the pupil is still not making the expected progress, the school should consider requesting an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. This is the first stage of the process of getting an Education, Health and Care Plan.

If you have further questions or concerns about the SEN Support that you or your child is entitled to or receiving, and you live in the borough of Lambeth, please get in touch.

*note that this does not apply to some independent schools.