If your child isn’t progressing as well as they should, is having difficulty at nursery, school or college, or has a disability, they can get extra help. Your child may be eligible for a SEND support plan or an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

local offer logo Many children will have special educational needs at some time during their education.

For most of them this will be a short-term need that can be met through the expertise and resources of their nursery, school or college, or with advice and support from outside professionals.

Very few children will have needs that are long-term or a disability or medical condition that significantly affects their learning.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Who to speak to if you're worried

If you’re worried about your child’s progress in school or their development in early years, speak to:

  • their teacher
  • their nursery worker
  • your GP or health visitor if your child isn’t in nursery or school.

They’ll be able to get your child assessed and refer them for help.

Every school and nursery have a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). They’re teachers who are trained to identify children with special educational needs and make sure the children get all the help they need. You can talk to the SENCO at your child’s school or nursery.

View the NHS interactive guide on child development from birth to five years old.

The information here will give you an indication as to whether your child is developing at the expected rate.

Help your child may get

The help your child will get may include:

  • a special learning programme
  • extra help from a teacher or assistant – including help from a teacher who specialises in your child’s condition
  • working in a smaller group
  • help to take part in class activities
  • extra encouragement in their learning – for example to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
  • help to communicate with other children
  • a referral to the educational psychology service to help with behavioural problems

Your child’s school or college may create a special educational needs and disability (SEND) support plan or ask for an assessment for an EHCP to get more funding to help your child. Nurseries can also ask for an assessment.

Get advice

You can speak to the Lambeth SEND Information, Advice and Support Service for independent advice if you think your child isn’t getting the help they need.

2. Support plans

Schools and places of education will have a method of showing how they provide support for a child with SEND, this will probably be an individual education plan (IEP) or a provision map.

Children and young people may need a SEND support plan if they have significant needs, or their needs involve many different support services.

Your child's school will work with you to make a SEND support plan that takes into account your child's individual strengths and needs.

They will plan outcomes, and consider the type of support needed to reach those outcomes.

The support plan should be reviewed every term and more often if needed, to make sure it is meeting your child's needs. You and your child or young person will be involved in any reviews.

Read our guidance for using a SEND support plan
See an example of a SEND support plan

3. Getting an assessment for an EHCP

If the school or college thinks your child needs more help than a SEND support plan can provide, they may ask us to do an assessment for an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

The EHCP sets out the help your child needs from:

  • nursery, school or college
  • health services
  • children’s services

It sets out:

  • what your child’s special educational needs and disabilities are
  • the extra help they need at nursery, school or college – including the school they should go to
  • targets for the end results your child should reach in their education, health and the care they need – these are called ‘outcomes’

Find out more about EHCPs and the assessment process