Special Educational Needs support in schools

The SEN Code of Practice

Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities:

 SEND Code of Practice - 0-25 years (pdf 3.2mb)

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. 

Graduated Response

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: 

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review. 

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.

If your child needs SEN support you must be informed. The class teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) should agree with you and your child the support to be put in place, the aims for your child’s progress and a date to review. 

The school will record the planned support, talk to you about how you can help and invite you to review and plan the next steps. 

The SEND Code does not make reference to the use of IEPs however your child’s school may choose to continue to write an IEP or other document to record your child’s targets, the support to be provided and progress achieved. 

The SEND Code states that schools should meet parents of children and young people with SEN at least three times per year.

Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website alongside their Local Offer. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

  • SEN support can take many forms, including:
  • a special learning programme for your child
  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with your child in a small group
  • observing your child in class or at break and keeping records         
  • helping your child to take part in the class activities
  • making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult
  • helping other children work with your child, or play with them at break time
  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing.


All local authorities receive money, each year from central government, to fund schools. This is called the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). The DSG is split into 3 funding Blocks, the Schools Block, the Early Years Block and High Needs Block.

The local authority has an overall responsibility to ensure that children’s special educational needs (SEN) are met in schools. These pupils are often referred to as ‘high needs pupils’.

There are 3 ways a school can be funded: 

Element 1, (core education funding) - In the school sector for pre-16 pupil, this is the age-weighted pupil unit (AWPU). Each school receives this for every pupil ( not just children/young people with SEND)

Element 2, (additional support funding) - A clearly identified budget for education establishments to provide additional support for those children and young people with Special, Educational Needs and Disabilities up to £6,000.  Therefore, schools must meet the first £6,000 of an individual EHC plan from within the additional support funding.

Element 3, (top-up funding) -  This funding is over and above elements 1 and 2 to meet the total cost of the education provision required by an individual pupil or student as based on the outcomes in their Statement of special Educational needs or Education, Health and Care plan.

Notional SEN budgets

The Local authority has to identify within each school’s budget share a notional SEN budget from which schools and academies can provide a level of support for all their pupils with SEN. 

This is a notional amount of funding, and should not be regarded by schools and academies as a substitute for their own budget planning and decisions about how much they need to spend on SEN support, or as a fixed budget sum for spending by schools.

Nevertheless, local authorities have to take a view on the level of additional support costs that can be met from each school’s notional SEN budget in order to make sure that schools have sufficient resources to meet those costs up to the £6,000 threshold. 

Where it is considered that those costs cannot be met ‘targeted SEN support funding' is allocated.

Targeted SEN support funding

The local authority provides additional support to schools which have a disproportionately high number of high needs pupils compared to the overall number of pupils in the school and the school would find it difficult to meet the first £6,000 costs out of their notional SEN budget.

Every school must have a teacher with training and/or experience of Special Educational Needs (SEN) to be the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). However, every teacher is a teacher of SEN so your child’s teacher(s) will be able to talk to you about his/her progress in school, set achievable targets and answer many of your questions.  

All early years providers also need to have an identified member of staff to act as SENCO.

Every school must have a teacher with training and/or experience of Special Educational Needs (SEN) to be the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). However, every teacher is a teacher of SEN so your child’s teacher(s) will be able to talk to you about his/her progress in school, set achievable targets and answer many of your questions.  All early years providers also need to have an identified member of staff to act as SENCO.


  • has an overview of children with SEN and makes sure records are kept of their identification, assessments, progress and support
  • makes sure you are kept informed
  • advises, supports and trains teachers and support staff
  • co-ordinates provision for children with SEN
  • checks on the progress and well-being of children with SEN
  • works with other professionals, for example Educational Psychologists and  Speech and Language Therapists to plan support and check progress for children with SEN
  • makes sure exam entries take into account a child’s special educational need
  • follows the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice.

Your views are very important as you have valuable expertise and knowledge about your child to share. Home and school can then work in partnership to agree support for your child. This will help your child make good progress.

Any additional or different help your child receives should be reviewed regularly to ensure that he/she is making good progress and to set new targets. If your child’s school plans to make any changes to the level of support your child receives they should discuss this with you.

How individual schools make use of their resources to meet the additional needs of children will be set out in their Local offer and SEN Information Report which they should make available on request.

Some SENCOs have classroom responsibilities alongside other roles. This may mean that there is a delay in them getting back to you, or that they ask you to meet them before or after school or at lunchtime.

Because all children are individuals, there will be some questions that only apply to your child.

What progress has my child made?

How is the school helping my child to make progress?

In what situation does the school think your child learns best (e.g. in the classroom, in a small group, working with an adult)?

  • What extra support is he/she getting?
  • Who is working with my child?
  • When does this happen?
  • Has an outside agency been involved?
  • How can I help my child?
  • How will you keep me informed about how well he/she is doing?
  • When will we meet to find out about my child’s progress?
  • Can we have a home/school link book to record positives as well as difficulties?
  • Can someone write homework in the planner?
  • Can homework be completed on the computer at home?
  • How can I work with school to support my child at home?
  • Who can I contact for more information and advice?

If the young person has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) colleges should offer an inclusive approach to learning and teaching, with high-quality teaching adjusted to meet the young person’s SEND. This approach should be embedded in their provision in all subject areas.

Colleges should be involved in transition planning between school and college so they can prepare and ensure a smooth transition into college life.

Colleges should keep the needs of students under regular review and should take a cyclical approach to assessing need, planning and providing support, and reviewing and evaluating that support so that it can be adjusted where necessary. This should involve the young person and particularly for those aged 16-18 their parents, closely at all stages of the cycle and planning around the individual.

Special educational support might include, for example:

  • Assistive technology
  • Specialist tuition
  • Note takers
  • One-to-one and small group support
  • Interpreters
  • External specialists.


Any decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time and should always involve the parent/carer and/or young person.

All further education colleges are provided with resources to support students with SEND. They receive funding to meet the needs of all young people and additional to meet the needs of those with SEND in the same way that schools do. It is expected that the first £6.000 of additional support for young people with SEND is met by the college from their own budget.

However if despite the college putting in place arrangements and support to meet the young person’s SEN that can be evidenced over time the young person is not making expected progress the college or the young person should consider requesting an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment. For more details on this subject please refer to the questions above 'What is an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment How do I request one' and Education, Health and Care needs assessment section on this page of the Local Offer website.

More information

Please contact the SENDIAS Service on:

Tel: (01482) 396469

Email: sendiass@eastriding.gov.uk

You can find information on what Asperger's Syndrome is, and how to support children with Asperger's Syndrome in mainstream school in the document below:

Children with Asperger's Syndrome in mainstream school (pdf 407kb)