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.

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 do I get help from if I am worried?

If you are worried that your child is not learning in the same way as their class mates, maybe they are falling behind in learning or they find it difficult in school for all kinds of reasons, they can get help. As soon as you are concerned you should speak to your child’s nursery lead/class teacher/college tutor.

2. What should I expect from my child’s nursery/school/college?

All nursery staff, school staff and college staff must regularly check that your child is developing and progressing in a way expected for their age. When they notice that a child is falling behind, they must respond quickly by assessing why the child is not doing as well as expected, speak to the parent/carer about this, plan to do something different or extra and then check that this is helping. In schools we call this quality first teaching, but all educators in any setting need to do this.

If the child does not quickly catch-up with this kind of approach, and it is thought that they need more support, then we say that they have additional needs that require SEND Support. This means that the child is now seen as having a special educational need and/or a disability (SEND).

3. What can all settings do for my child if they have a special educational need?

Children who have been identified as having a SEND and needing SEND Support must be regularly monitored and planned for. This is known as the Graduated Approach and means that nursery, school or college need to assess your child to make sure they understand their needs clearly, plan the work and support that your child needs, do what they have planned and then review regularly to check that what they are doing is helping, and if not, assess and plan again what needs to be done differently.

4. Early Years SEND Support

All early years providers (pre-schools, nurseries, child-minders) must have arrangements in place to identify and support children with special educational needs. If they have concerns they can access professional help such as health visitors, pediatricians and speech and language therapists from the universal health offer. There is also a fund called the Early Years Inclusion Fund that pre-schools, nurseries and child-minders can apply for if they want extra support, such as a visit from an educational psychologist or to get training and resources for a particular need.

There is a range of training on offer from education and health professionals for early years providers to ensure that they are fully aware of a wide range of special educational needs.

Between the ages of 2 and 3 years, an early years provider must check the progress of your child and provide you with a report of your child’s strengths and if there are any needs. If there are, then they must plan how to support your child. This could involve accessing more professional support.

5. School Age SEND Support

All local authority and academy schools are funded to provide a wide range of special educational needs support in school. Every school in Lambeth must have a SEND Information Report on their website explaining how they support the needs of children with SEND in their school. This is called their SEND Offer.

Every school must have a SENCO, a special needs co-ordinator, who manages the response to identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children with special educational needs in schools, and checks that progress is being made with the class teacher/tutor.

Schools follow the Graduated Approach to special educational needs. That means they assess, plan, do and review a child regularly over time to check that the support is working and that the gap between a child and his/her class mates is not getting bigger.

The Local Area has provided schools with Graduated Approach Tables to guide them in supporting children in school. This is called Ordinarily Available Provision.

In Lambeth we have set up a School Inclusion Fund. All schools plan ahead how they will use the SEN funding that they have been given by government when deciding their SEND offer for an academic year. Sometimes a child in school may have a need that is outside of the school’s planned for SEND Offer. This fund is for schools to apply to for named children to get some extra funding for a specific support that they do not currently offer.

6. College Age (16-19 years) SEND Support

Colleges should make sure that they have transition arrangements with schools for young people with SEND so that they can prepare for students coming in with a SEND. They should also have a system for identifying, assessing and monitoring a SEND student’s progress.

All maintained and academy sixth forms, sixth form colleges and further education colleges are funded by the government to support special educational needs. This funding should be used to provide appropriate and high quality SEND Support for students identified as needing this. All 16-19 settings should be vigilant in identifying emerging needs in students, for example, the student was not on the SEN register in school, but since moving to post 16 education they are beginning to struggle.

7. How do I know if my child needs an EHC Plan?

An Education, Health and Car Plan or EHC Plan, is required for children who have significant and long term special educational needs. The majority of children with a special educational need can be provided for with the funding already available in the settings or by the setting applying for inclusion funding.

If a child has a significant and long term special educational need or disability, that the setting or parent think cannot be supported by the ordinary provision already available in the setting, then an application for an education health and needs assessment can be made.

Find out more about applying for an Education Health Care Plan.