Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support

All children learn in different ways and make differing rates of progress. Some children find learning harder than others, perhaps in reading, writing, maths or developing social skills and may need more help and support to make progress. If it is the case that a child has greater difficulty in learning than most of the children of the same age or needs support that is additional or different to the others in their class, then they are said to have special educational needs (SEN).

Most children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are educated in their local mainstream school and should be given support with their learning to help them make progress. The support they are given is called SEN Support.


What does SEN Support look like?

The SEN Support system uses a “Graduated Approach” where school will follow the Four-part Cycle: Assess, Plan, Do Review. Schools will arrange this from their own resources. Details for what is available at each school is in their SEN Information Report

Schools use a guidance document on SEN support from their LA to help them decide whether/what type of support your child needs. There is no legal requirement to meet a specific number of criterion to access SEN support. Your child does not legally require a formal diagnosis. 

School may ask for advice from outside professionals at any point but should always involve a specialist where a pupil continues to work at levels substantially below others in their class or make little or no progress despite receiving appropriate support delivered by appropriately trained staff.

SEN Support Summary

For a quick one page sum up of SEN support in schools and what you can expect, download our factsheet here.


Learning Difficulty
Significantly greater difficulty learning than others the same age

Mental/Physical impairment has a substantial long-term adverse effect on carrying out day-to-day activities

SEN (Special Educational Needs)
A learning difficulty and/or disability which requires Special Educational Provision

SEP (Special Educational Provision)
Education/training provision (help) that is additional to/different from that made generally for others of the same age

SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator)
The school’s SENCO has day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the SEN policy and coordination of specific provision made to support individual pupils with SEN

Jargon Buster

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What should I do?

Need to speak to someone?
Arrange a meeting with the SENCO and class teacher to discuss your concerns and agree a plan of action for moving forward

Resolving disagreements?
Ask the SENCO to go through the SEN Support guidance with you and discuss points of disagreement on what your child is finding difficult and schools duties

Have school followed the four-part cycle?
If not, you can ask them to make a start on this and agree a review meeting date 

Have specialists been involved?
If not, it may be helpful to approach them now and submit referrals for further advice and support

Still no progress?

It may be time to ask the LA for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment

Home/School Communication

Finding it difficult to communicate with school about your child's needs? Find out your options here

What are School's duties?

Schools must use their “best endeavours” to ensure all children with SEN get the support they need.
(Section 66 of the Children and Families Act 2014)

Schools must make “reasonable adjustments” to support a disabled child in accessing their education.
(Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010)

The SEND Code of Practice (The Code) is statutory guidance that informs schools and organisations on how to put SEND law into practice.

If school cannot meet the child’s needs from their own resources, SEP can be obtained through an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which is secured by the Local Authority (LA) The LA responsible for securing this is dependant on the child’s home address, regardless of where their school is.

What is an EHCP and does my child need one?

Find out details about SEN Support entitlements and applying for an EHCP via this webinar

What are Special Educational Needs? (SEN)

Special Educational Needs (SEN) is defined in law as a learning difficulty/disability which requires Special Educational Provision (SEP). This is when a child has significantly greater difficulty learning than others the same age or their disability is a physical/mental impairment that has a substantial long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, and so prevents them making use of general facilities provided in mainstream schools. They may experience delays in achieving developmental milestones and/or academic attainment.

Broad areas of need

“These four broad areas give an overview of the range of needs that should be planned for. The purpose of identification is to work out what action the school needs to take, not to fit a pupil into a category. In practice, individual children or young people often have needs that cut across all these areas and their needs may change over time. For instance speech, language and communication needs can also be a feature of a number of other areas of SEN, and children and young people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have needs across all areas, including particular sensory requirements. A detailed assessment of need should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need. The support provided to an individual should always be based on a full understanding of their particular strengths and needs and seek to address them all using well evidenced interventions targeted at their areas of difficulty and where necessary specialist equipment or software.”
(6.27 SEND Code of Practice 2015)

(6.28) Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

(6.29) Children and young people with ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.

(6.30) Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people
learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation.
Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning
difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need
support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and
communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a
physical disability or sensory impairment.

(6.31) Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and

(6.32) Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional
difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming
withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing
behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such
as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or
physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people
may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive
disorder or attachment disorder.

(6.33) Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children and young
people, including how they will manage the effect of any disruptive behaviour so it
does not adversely affect other pupils. The Department for Education publishes
guidance on managing pupils’ mental health and behaviour difficulties in schools –
see the References section under Chapter 6 for a link.

(6.34) Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support. Children and
young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.
Information on how to provide services for deafblind children and young people is
available through the Social Care for Deafblind Children and Adults guidance
published by the Department of Health (see the References section under Chapter 6 for a link).

(6.35) Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional
ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Identifying SEN

All teachers should regularly check whether their pupils are making progress.
If they think your child is finding it harder than others to make progress, they should consider whether they might have SEN or need additional or different support from the others in the class. The school must talk to you and your child about this, and involve you in decisions before they start giving/reducing/removing extra or different support to your child. If a young person is 16 or older, the school should involve them directly.

A child with challenging/disruptive behaviour can be an indication of unmet needs.
Their school should try to identify these and intervene early to avoid escalation leading to exclusions and missing out on education. This early intervention should include consideration of assessment from multi-agency professionals to determine whether the appropriate provision is in place for that child.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has SEN.
If you think your child may need SEN Support, you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). Every school must have a qualified SENCO. They have day to day responsibility for how children with SEN are supported within a school and co-ordinate the specific provision for individual pupils.

What is SEN support?

Children with SEN should be given support with their learning to help them make progress. The support they are given is called SEN Support and is defined as ‘help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.’ This is a type of SEP that schools arrange from their own resources. Schools are legally required to publish details of their SEN provision. This is in the form of a SEN information report. Health care and Social care provision that educates or trains a child is also considered to be SEP. (e.g. Speech and Language Therapy) If a school cannot meet the child’s needs from their own resources, the other way that SEP can be obtained is through an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) which is secured by the Local Authority (LA).

What must the education setting do?

Schools have a legal duty to identify and address the SEN of all pupils and use their “best endeavours” to make sure that any child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet the pupil’s SEN. They must also make “reasonable adjustments” to support a disabled child in accessing education.

Schools use a guidance document on SEN Support from their LA to help them decide whether and what type of support your child needs. This helps to make sure that all schools and settings in a LA’s area have a clear and consistent approach to identifying when a child or young person has SEN, and how to support them to achieve good outcomes, including what schools are expected to put in place from the funding that they receive. This guidance aims to be helpful in looking at the individual needs of each child and suggesting a range of approaches to meet their particular needs. Checklists may be included which are intended to help identify a child’s level of need. There is no legal requirement to meet a specific number of criterion to access SEN Support.

The SEND Code of Practice (The Code) is statutory guidance that informs schools and organisations on how to put SEND law from the Children and Families Act 2014 into practice. This highlights what they ‘must’ do and what they ‘should’ do. The ‘musts’ are compulsory and ‘should’ means that they have to consider following the guidance and if they don’t, they have a good reason for not doing so.

What is SEN Provision?

West Berkshire Council's Area Wide Offer

Here you can find out what West Berkshire Council (a.k.a the Local Authority (LA)) expects to be available for SEN Provision in it's education settings. This is known as "Ordinarily Available Provision".

West Berkshire Education Settings SEN Local Offer

Here you can find out what particular SEN Provision is available at individual education settings in the area via search. The results provide the relevant contact details and SEN information Report of each setting.

The SEND Code of Practice (Legal Guidance)

Here you can find what The Code says about putting SEND law into practice. Chapter 5 covers duties on Early Years Providers, Chapter 6 covers Schools, and Chapter 7 covers Further Education.

The Graduated Approach

Pupils learn in different ways and can have different kinds or levels of SEN. Therefore, the SEN Support system uses a “Graduated Approach”. This means that increasingly, step-by-step, specialist expertise can be brought in to help the school with the difficulties that a child may have.

The Graduated Approach may include:

  • An individually-designed learning programme

  • Extra help from a teacher/tutor or teaching assistant (TA)

  • Being taught individually or in a small group for regular short periods

  • Making or changing materials and equipment

  • Drawing up a personal plan, including setting targets for improvement, and regular review of progress before setting new targets

  • Advice and/or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists, and therapists

The Four-Part Cycle

School’s SEN support should take the form of a “Four-Part Cycle”:
Assess, Plan, Do, Review

ASSESS the child’s needs
PLAN how to address those needs
DO put the plan into practice
REVIEW how it’s going and if anything needs to change

The SENCO will work with teaching staff to assess your child’s individual needs, so that they receive the right support. If the school decides that your child needs SEN Support, they should agree with you what help will be provided, the outcomes that will be set, and a date when you can check what progress there has been. School should keep a record of this plan and share it with all those who work with your child so that they are aware, and can implement any teaching strategies that are needed. Your child’s teacher is responsible for the work that is done with your child, and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved. School should then review your child’s progress, and the difference that the support has made, on the date agreed in the plan. If your child has not made progress in spite of having received extra support, the review should decide what could be done next. This may include more or different help.

Involving Specialists

The school should keep you informed and include you in all discussions and decisions, taking your and your child’s feelings and wishes into consideration. If your child does not make enough progress, the teacher or the SENCO should then talk to you about asking for advice from outside professionals. The Code says that a school can ask for this advice at any point but should always involve a specialist where a pupil continues to work at levels substantially below others in their class or make little or no progress despite receiving appropriate support delivered by appropriately trained staff. It also says that when your child is identified has having SEN, the school should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective SEP in place. Outside professionals may include but are not limited to the following;

They work within LAs, in partnership with families, and other professionals, to help children and young people achieve their full potential. EPs support schools and the LA to improve all children’s experiences of learning. They use their training in psychology and knowledge of child development to assess difficulties children may be having with their learning. They provide advice and training on how schools might help children to learn and develop. They recommend methods, or develop strategies in partnership with schools, to help a child learn more effectively. Strategies may include teaching approaches, improvements to learning environments, advice on curriculum materials and behaviour support.

They are teachers from special schools who provide an outreach service to mainstream primary/secondary schools to support areas of inclusion for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Specialist teachers will provide an understanding of SEND, demonstrate effective strategies for staff to observe and learn, provide support and challenge in relation to improvement and outcomes for children with SEND, with a view to ensure early intervention, making an impact on pupil progress, and increase the school’s capacity for; inclusive practice for pupils with SEND, securing and demonstrating the progress of pupils with SEND through rigorous assessment, target setting and tracking.

In this context, their role is to provide assessment, support and care for children who, for physical or psychological reasons, have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing. The SALT will make recommendations to help your child to communicate with others. Your child’s difficulties in this area may include: mild, moderate or severe learning difficulties, physical disabilities, language delay, specific difficulties in producing sounds, hearing impairment, cleft lip and palate, stammering, autism/social interaction difficulties, dyslexia, voice disorders, selective mutism, mental health, developmental language disorder.

In this context, their role is to use assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain a child’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities who, due to a disability, illness, trauma, or a long term condition, has difficulty with completing these. The OT will help you/school find ways to best support your child to continue with activities that are important to them, and to improve their care and quality of life. The OT may advise on: how to support your child to learn new ways to do things and approaches to take towards this, possibly the use of equipment or assistive technology, adapting the living or school environment, other strategies to meet your child’s needs.

Schools SEN Funding

Schools are provided with resources to support pupils with SEND. Most of these resources are determined by a local funding formula. School and academy sixth forms receive an allocation based on a national funding formula. It is for schools, as part of their normal budget planning, to determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEN. They should establish a clear picture of the resources that are available to the school, and consider their strategic approach to meeting SEN in the context of the total resources available. This will help parents and others to understand what they can normally expect the school to provide for pupils with SEN.
(The Code 6.95-99)

General provision for all pupils including SEN

All maintained schools, including mainstream academies, receive a budget allocated at the beginning of the financial year (from 1 April each year).

The school’s allocation for all children, including those with special educational needs (SEN), is based on the number and age of the children within the school. This works out as approximately £4000 per pupil.

Based on estimated number of SEN children in school. GOV recommends up to £6,000 per SEN pupil 

For the majority of children with SEN, further resources are allocated through something called the ‘SEN Notional budget for mainstream schools’. This is done using a funding formula and works out at an additional £6000 per pupil with SEN.

The funding formula uses data and information about low attainment and deprivation. These factors have been determined by the Department for Education under the Government’s funding reforms which came into place from April 2013.

The use of the low attainment and deprivation data and information will identify a profile of need for each school, which can then be used for the allocation of available funds on an annual basis through the SEN Notional budget.

All types of need are covered by this funding model which results in the allocation of a sum of money which is part of the whole school budget. This can be used to address the needs of children, in any category, as identified, assessed and prioritised by the school.

If the individual SEN pupil needs more than £6,000 funding

Where a child needs additional support above what can be delivered through the first £6000 SEN Notional budget (this will need to be evidenced), the school and/or parent/professional working with the family, can request to have an Education, Health and Care Assessment (EHCA). 

Where a child with high needs requires additional support over and above that normally available in school, the school is still required to fund the first £6,000 of their additional provision.

For children with EHC plans whose needs require additional support over this level, specific funding is provided as a top-up. The top-up will be paid from the centrally retained resource held by the local authority on behalf of schools for additional support over and above £6000. This will only occur where a pupil has been assessed and determined by the LA, as needing an EHC Plan.

The amount of top-up funding provided will depend on the needs of individual pupils with EHCP’s, following assessment.

If a school feels that the local formula has not given them enough funding to meet the needs of children in their school, they will need to talk to the LA. They can provide additional funding from their high needs block for schools where the formula doesn’t reflect the levels of SEN.
Ask the school whether it has approached the local authority for additional SEN funding. Still a no? You may wish to consider an EHC needs assessment.

Find out more about supporting your child

Home/School Communication

Are you finding it difficult to communicate with school about your child's needs? Find out your options here

Difficulties at Home

Are you/your child having difficulties at home? Learn more about what you can access and how to resolve problems.


Do you feel it's time to consider applying for an EHCP? Find out everything you need to know here

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