Special Educational Needs support

​Special educational needs (SEN) that affect a child’s ability to learn can include their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, e.g. not being able to make friends
  • reading and writing, e.g. they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • concentration levels, e.g. they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • physical needs or impairments
excited child with paintings in the background

Who to talk to

If you think your child may have special educational needs, contact the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator in your child’s school or nursery. 

Contact your local council if your child isn’t in a school or nursery.

Support your child can receive

Your child may be eligible for:

  • SEN support - support given in school, eg speech therapy
  • an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) - a plan of care for children and young people aged up to 25 who have more complex needs

If you or your child got support before September 2014 this will continue until your local council changes to SEN support or an EHC plan.

SEN support in mainstream schools

The SEND Code of Practice says:


All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:
  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training


​The SEND Code of Practice says all 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 SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO.
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time      

​Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process.

If your child is on School Action or School Action Plus they should transfer to SEN support by September 2015.

Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. 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.

The Local Offer published by Northamptonshire County Council 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.

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

​The SEND Code of Practice (6.17) says:

Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.

The school should then decide if your child needs SEN support.  The school should talk to you and your child about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

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.

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or headteacher. You can also find out more by contacting the Information Advice and Support Service for SEND in Northamptonshire.

​The SEND Code of Practice (6.44) says

Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.

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


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

The SEND Code of Practice (6.45) says:
Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent.

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 SEN support it must tell you. The school should talk with you about the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and agree a date for progress to be reviewed. 


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.

The SEND Code of Practice (6.49) says:

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.


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 in planning the next step.

The SEND Code of Practice (6.65) says:

Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year.

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals in further assessment or to support planning the next steps. If your child has not made reasonable progress it will be important to agree with the school what should happen next.

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

​You can find out more about SEN Support by:

  • looking at the SEN Information Report on the school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator
  • looking at the Local Offer
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice
  • reading the NCC SEN Descriptors which gives information on what SEN support is expected to be delivered in early years settings and schools.
  • looking at the High Needs Funding information

You can also get in touch with us for:

  • information about SEN support, including information about SEN funding
  • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing
  • information about other organisations, support groups and information services that could help
  • information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment