Most children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) will not need or indeed have an Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and will be supported successfully in their schools without one.
Schools should assess your child or young person’s current skills and levels of attainment on entry and regular further assessments should take place. These should seek to identify whether your child or young person is making less than expected progress. SEN provision in schools is called SEN Support and they should follow a cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review.
It is the class teacher or subject teacher (working with the SEN Coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for carrying out a clear analysis of your child or young person’s Special Educational Needs, drawing on teacher assessments and experience of the pupil.
Where it is decided to provide your child or young person with SEN Support, you must be notified. All teachers and support staff who work with your child or young person should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies that are required.
You and your child or young person should be involved in agreeing the outcomes and targets that the SEN Support will achieve. The targets for your child or young person should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound). It should be clear what support your child or young person will receive, who will provide it, what the desired outcomes are and when progress will be evaluated.
The class or subject teacher retains the responsibility for working with your child or young person on a daily basis. They should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved and the SENCO should support the class or subject teacher.
Reviews should take place and inform feed back into the analysis of your child or young person’s needs. The school should meet with you three times per year.
The exact nature of any additional help will depend on the individual circumstances of your child or young person, however this may include the following:
- Individual or small group work with a Teaching Assistant up to 16.25 hours per week
- Social skills groups
- Different learning materials or specialist equipment
- Staff training for specific activities and interventions
- External specialist and professionals to work with your child or young person e.g educational psychologist, speech and language therapist. Any decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time and should always involve you.
What is SEN Support?
The purpose of SEN support is to help children with SEN to achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school.
Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has some special educational needs. If you think your child may need SEN support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator.
Some children and young people have severe or complex needs and require more help than the school can provide using SEN Support and it may be necessary to request a Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. For more information on Education, Health and Care Needs assessments please visit the Education, Health and Care plan page here on the Local Offer.
If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or headteacher.
Reasonble Adjustments - Guidance for Schools in England
Schools and education authorities have had a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils since 2002: originally, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the DDA 1995); and, from October 2010, under the Equality Act 2010.
The guide below will help school leaders and education authorities understand and comply with the reasonable adjustment duty, it will also help disabled pupils and their parents understand the duty.
Reasonable Adjustments For Disabled Pupils - Guidance for schools in England - Equality and Human Rights Commission (external website)
The focus of this guide is on the practical implementation of the reasonable adjustment duty in schools.
What is the reasonable adjustments duty?
The duty is ‘to take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the substantial disadvantage’ to a disabled person caused by a provision, criterion or practice applied by or on behalf of a school, or by the absence of an auxiliary aid or service.
In November 2017, the Department of Education (DoE) funded and published a resource document called: SEN support: research evidence on effective approaches and examples of current practice in good and outstanding schools and colleges. The resource was developed by ASK Research:
Ask Research (external website)
and Coventry University and provides information about evidence-based interventions and approaches that can be effective for pupils at SEN support.
SEN support research evidence and effective approaches (pdf 4.7mb)
In East Riding, we have used this document to develop guidance which will support education settings in providing an effective graduated response for pupils at SEN support.
We have developed 4 documents, each covering one of the four areas of SEN need:
- Cognition and Learning
- Social Emotional and Mental Health
- Physical and Sensory
- Communication and Interaction.
Within each document, there is information about evidence based resources to support the 4 stages of the graduated response:
In East Riding we were keen to capture the good practice that is happening across our schools, as well as the evidence based practice reported in the Department of Education resource document.
To do this we met with SENCos at SENCo forum meetings and cluster meetings and asked them to describe what resources, strategies and interventions they were using in their school. This information was then collated and can be found at the end of the document.
To date we have collated information for two areas of need: Cognition & Learning and Social Emotional and Mental Health.
Our plan is to collect information for the other two areas of need next.
Graduated Response – Communication & Interaction (word, 28kb opens in a new window)
Graduated Response - Physical & Sensory Needs (word 34kb)
Graduated Response – Social Emotional and Mental Health (word 228kb)
Graduated Response – Cognition and Learning (word 43kb)
The ‘best endeavours’ duty
Using best endeavours to ensure special educational provision is made
A key duty for certain settings is the duty to use their ‘best endeavours’ to secure special educational provision for all children or young people for whom they are responsible. This duty applies to:
- mainstream schools (including mainstream academies)
- maintained (state-funded) nursery schools
- 16-19 academies
- alternative provision academies
- Further Education institutions
- Pupil referral units.
(Please note: that this does not apply to special schools or independent schools.)
The law says:
“If a registered pupil or a student at a school or other institution has special educational needs, the appropriate authority must, in exercising its functions in relation to the school or other institution, use its best endeavours to secure that the special educational provision called for by the pupil’s or student’s special educational needs is made.”
(Section 66 of the Children and Families Act 2014)
The reference to the ‘appropriate authority’ means the governing body, proprietor or management committee of the school or other setting. The legal duty is directly on them as a body and not the head teacher of the school or principal of the college. The governing body (or equivalent) is in a position to effect change as it is responsible for the appointment and performance management of such posts.
These duties apply to all children with SEN whether they have an EHC plan, a statement of SEN, or neither. This means that the governing body, proprietor or management committee must use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision.
Using best endeavours means doing everything they can to meet the child or young person’s SEN. There are further details of what this might include in the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015. It is a proactive duty that requires the appropriate authority to enquire and ensure that the nursery, school or college is actually making the special educational provision that children and young people require. It is not enough to accept the word of a school’s head teacher, for example, that an adequate record keeping process is in place – the school governors should ensure that it is.
The best endeavours duty can require schools or other settings to obtain specialist help, such as speech and language therapists or educational psychologists. The Code also includes a requirement that “where a pupil continues to make less than expected progress, despite evidence based support and interventions that are matched to the pupil’s area of need, the school should consider involving specialists, including those secured by the school itself or from outside agencies” (paragraph 6.58 for schools, or 5.48 for early years settings).
For children or young people with an EHC plan, the best endeavours duty also applies, but additionally the local authority (“LA”) has an absolute duty to secure the provision in their EHC plan. It is not enough for the LA to simply ‘try their best’ to provide it: the LA must ensure that it is provided.
The SEN information report
The governing bodies of all maintained schools and nursery schools and the proprietors of academies must also publish a SEN information report. This report will generally be found on the school’s website.
The report must contain details of:
- how the school identifies children with SEN;
- how it makes provision for children with SEN and the facilities available to do this;
- details of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO); and, importantly
- what arrangements the governing body themselves have for dealing with complaints from parents about their child’s SEN provision.
This should include the name of the governor responsible for SEN matters on the governing body. (Full details of the items which it must include are found in Schedule 1 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.)
This report will therefore contain information which should help a parent check whether the governing body or proprietor is complying with its ‘best endeavours’ duty, and to take steps to complain if they feel they are not doing so.