What is SEND support?

Every child with special educational needs and/or disabilities should have access to SEND support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEND support is to help children and young people achieve the outcomes of learning objectives set for them by the school in conjunction with parents and pupils themselves.

Your child’s process should be monitored throughout their education. This progress should be reviewed on a termly basis. To review this information, you can arrange a meeting with the school Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo) as an addition to parents evening.

Every school must publish a SEND Information Report about the SEND provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the schools SENDCo for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The Local Offer published each Local authority also sets out what support it expects early years settings, schools and colleges to make for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

SEND support can take many forms, including:

  • Differentiated curriculum
  • Extra time to complete tasks
  • Access to assistive technology
  • Higher level of support (ranging from verbal prompts to physical interaction such as small group work)
  • Scaffolded lesson plans
  • Sensory or movement breaks
  • Initiated and monitored peer interactions
  • Access to specialist teachers
  • Access to therapies
  • Support with personal care such as eating and changing
  • Develop strategies to manage the school environment, such as visual timetables etc
  • Observing your child in class or at break and keeping records
  • Arrangement of external professionals’ involvement such as Educational Psychologists
  • Whole school approach to inclusion

A graduated approach

Where a pupil is identified as having SEND, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place in line with the SEND Code of Practice (6.44)

When your child is identified as having SEND, the school should use a graduated approach based on four steps. These are:


Teaching staff should work with the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo) to assess your child’s needs, so that they get the right support. They should involve you in this and where possible, seek your child’s views.

The SEND Code of Practice says that “schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent”. As a result of these concerns, sometimes schools will seek advice from a Specialist Teacher or a Health Professional. They should talk to you about this first.


If the school decides that your child needs SEND support, they must tell you. The school should agree with you the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and a date for progress to be reviewed. It is best practice for this review process to be 3 times per year as a minimum.


Your child’s class or subject teacher is usually responsible for the work that is done with your child and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved. The school should tell you who is responsible for the support your child receives.

All those who work with your child should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required. SEND Code of Practice (6.49)


The SEND Code of Practice says:

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

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals to investigate the difficulties or to plan the next steps.

You and the school can look at the Local Offer to see what support should be available that could help achieve your child’s outcomes.

Sometimes the next step may be to ask the local authority for an Education Health and Care needs assessment. If the school decides to do this, they must tell you. If you think it is needed, you can ask for this yourself.

Where can I get more information, advice or support?

You can find out more about SEND Support by:

  • looking at the SEND Information Report on the school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator
  • looking at the Local Offer
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice
  • requesting information about SEND Support, including information about SEND funding from school
  • contacting SENDIASS about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing
  • requesting information about other organisations, support groups and information services that could help
  • exploring information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment

If your child is attending a primary or secondary school and has or is awaiting a diagnosis of SEN/disability you might have many questions about how the school should support your child and what you can expect. You might feel like you would like answers on what support the school should be offering, how to complain when or if something goes wrong, how to prepare for a meeting or what support should be put into place if your child struggles with activities such as school trips, wearing school uniform and more. Please see the following links below which can hopefully answer your questions – if you would like more support or information then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What does SEN Support in school mean? | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice

School admissions: Choosing schools – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

All schools have a statutory responsibility to support your child and meet their SEN needs.

What does SEN Support in school mean?

A school should assess each pupil’s current skills and levels of attainment on entry and regular further assessment should take place, these should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress. The Code refers to four broad areas of need which are:

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

More detail is given in relation to each area in the Code; a child could, of course, have needs under more than one area. The expectation is that a school will plan how to deal with each of these areas of need, and ensure that their staff have relevant training and are equipped to respond and support. Special educational provision in schools is called SEN Support.

A school should use a graduated approach following the cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review:

  1. Assess: the classroom teacher or subject teacher working with the SENDCO is responsible for carrying out clear analysis of a pupil’s needs, drawing on teacher assessments and experience of the pupil.
  2. Plan: where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN Support, the parents/carers must be notified. All teachers and support staff working with a pupil should too be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies that are required.
  3. Do: the planned interventions should then be put into place. The class or subject teacher should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved and the SENDCO should support the class/subject teacher.
  4. Review: reviews should take place and provide feed back into the analysis of the child’s needs. The Code is not prescriptive about how often reviews should take place, but given the Code suggests schools should meet with parents 3 times a year. Good practice would indicate that such reviews will be at least termly. The decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time and should always involve parents.

Where, despite the school having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify and meet the pupil’s needs, and the pupil is still not making expected progress, then the school should consider requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment.

Further information can be found in Chapter Six of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (the Code) deals with actions that mainstream schools /academies should take to meet their duties in relation to identifying and supporting children with SEN. This chapter does not apply to children in specialist schools, because special schools are specifically organised to provide for children with SEN, and all children in a specialist provision should obtain an EHC Plan setting out the provision required to meet need.

Nurseries and schools have legal duties to support children and young people with special educational needs (“SEN”)

There are many different types of early years settings, which a child can attend. Some of the information in this section relates to all nurseries and other early years settings, some duties only apply to certain types of settings. 

Sen Support: nurseries and schools should identify and support children and young people with SEN and/or Disabilities.  Children and young people in a mainstream setting maybe supported from within the school or other setting’s own resources. This means they receive Special Educational Provision, additional help or support without an Education, Health and Care Plan. This additional support is known an SEN Support.

Nursery or school should meet with parents on a regular basis to discuss the child’s SEN plan.

The nursery or school should record what SEN they have identified a child/young person as having, what outcomes they expect the child or young person to achieve and what provision is being put in place to reach this. This should also be written down in a SEN Support record.

One of the key duties is for the provision to use their best endeavours to support children and young people with SEN. This means doing everything that could reasonably be expected and applies to both mainstream and alternative provision settings.

The Code of Practice, advises nurseries, schools and colleges have clear duties under the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015. This contains guidance on what they should be doing to identify and support children and young people with SEN. The Code applies to all settings except wholly independent schools. Nurseries, schools and colleges must have regard to the Code, meaning they should do what it says or be able to explain why they have not done so, and what alternative has been put in place instead. 

Inclusive education: a child or young person has the right to an inclusive education in a mainstream school or college with their typically developing peers if they want it, this includes being included in the activities of the school. 

Both mainstream schools and maintained nursery schools must ensure that children with SEN engage in the activities of the school together with children who do not have special educational needs. (This does not apply to post-16 provisions) 

The school can only exclude a child or young person from activities if: 

  • It is not reasonably practicable for them to be included.
  • Being included would prevent them from receiving the support they need; or
  • Being included would prevent the efficient education of other children or the efficient use of resources

The above conditions are set out in law (Section 35 of the Children and Families Act 2014) therefore a child can only be excluded from activities if one or more of these conditions apply.

The Equality Act 2010 is also useful if a disabled child/young person is being excluded from activities. Any exclusion from activities could amount to disability discrimination.  (Inclusion is a fundamental principle underpinning the Code, see paragraphs 1.24 onwards)

Schools, education and training providers are required to have Accessibility Plans outlining how they intend to make their setting more accessible for disabled pupils. Further information regarding this can be found on Alliance for Inclusive Education’s (ALLFIE) website. If a lack of resources is a barrier to inclusion this may be evidence that more or better provision is required and the route of requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment should be considered.

Independent schools, most of these duties aside from those arising under the Equality Act 2010 do not apply to fully independent schools and other institutions.

If your provision is not complying with its legal duties, you are well within your right to carryout a formal complaint.

If a parent, nursery or school setting feel that they have exhausted all of their support options and would like to consider options for additional support a parent, nursery or school might consider requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. This may be because the provision do not have the expertise or funding to identify those needs fully or to identify the provision or support the child/young person requires. Alternatively, the provision could be aware of the child or young person’s needs but cannot make the necessary provision from their own resources. 

Applying for primary or secondary school placement – When your child starts to get ready for the next phase of their education, you will need to consider applying for a secondary school placement.  Choosing a nursery, school or college placement for child/young person can be a difficult decision.  Parents often ask many questions about how they know how to apply for a school place and which school will meet their child’s needs the best.  Following statutory guidance SENDIASS are to remain impartial and therefore cannot recommend a school to you, however, we would advise you to think about the following factors before choosing applying for your child’s school placement

  • Location
  • Close to childcare/family and friend’s support
  • Does your child already know anyone in the school
  • Do they have sibling that attends the school
  • What can the school offer your child in terms of SEND support (check out their policy and website)
  • Have you viewed the school and spoke to the SENCO
  • Does the school have wraparound childcare

School Directory – https://www.togetherforchildren.org.uk/media/27669/School-Directory-2022-23/pdf/School_Directory_2022_-_2023.pdf?m=638023029022370000

The following link to “Special Educational Needs and Disability: A Guide for Parents and Carers, August 2014” is a useful document to help you understand what is meant under law by SEND.

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