SEN support is available at all levels of education, from nursery to further education.
The school may identify your child’s special educational needs. Legally, they must contact you about what support is available. Your GP or another professional may also refer your child for support.
You can ask for SEN support when your child:
starts a new school or nursery
is already at school or nursery
You should be involved throughout the SEN process and receive updates. Young people aged 16 to 25 will also have a say in their support.
Talking to medical professionals
During diagnosis, you may meet speech and language therapists, eye specialists, child psychologists and other professionals.
You may want to ask questions about how the condition will affect your child at school.
Ask your GP to refer you to a health visitor or paediatrician.
If your child has a diagnosis, you can also ask a specialist or consultant to refer you.
For example, if your child has a visual impairment, you may wish to know what adjustments will help with reading the whiteboard and using textbooks.
An eye specialist can give you a general idea of how your child may be best helped at school.
The process and services provided will vary depending on where you live.
Talking to your child’s school
The first person to talk to about your child’s needs is their head teacher and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). All schools have a SENCO. It is the SENCO’s job to work with teachers, parents and health professionals to meet pupils’ special educational needs.
Ask for an appointment with the SENCO. Explain why your child needs extra support. If the school is unaware of your child’s needs, ask for a SEN assessment.
You could ask questions like:
Where is my child academically?
How is my child coping in school socially?
Is my child getting any extra support?
Is the school making any specialist referrals for things like occupational therapy, Child and adolescent mental health (CAMH)?
If the SENCO says that they expect your child to catch up, you could ask:
How are you going to support my child to catch up?
When will you review this?
Adjustments and support for children with SEN
The adjustments will depend on:
how your child interacts with other people
their social, emotional and mental health needs
their sensory and physical needs
cognition and learning
If your child has a hearing or visual impairment, they may sit at the front of the class nearest the teacher.
If your child has difficulty writing, they may have a note-taker or learning support assistant.
Support could also include:
equipment to support physical and sensory impairments
extra training for staff, such as learning sign language or training on how to manage seizures
support staff for one-to-one sessions
lessons on how to communicate with other people
touch typing lessons
a laptop with voice recognition software, including support on how to use it
regular tests to check hearing, and how well hearing aids are working
sessions with a physiotherapist or speech and language therapist
adaptations at home and school to make personal care easier
If your child needs extra support, the SENCO and your child’s teacher create a support plan with you, and if possible, your child. This will include details of the adjustments and the support your child will get.