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Introduction to SEND

SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. 

A child or young person of compulsory school age is said to have SEND if they:

  1. Have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age.
  2. Have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

A child under compulsory school age has SEND if they fall within the definitions above or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.

In the Downloads section on the right hand side of this page there is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities guide, for parents and carers, which explains how the system that supports children and young people with SEND works.

Who to talk to

If you think your child may have special educational needs, speak to the teacher, and/or the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO in your child's school or nursery.

If your child isn't in a school or nursery then please contact the SEND and Inclusion Team via email: or telephone 01642 526173

The SEND IASS team can also give you advice about SEND. You can access SEND IASS via their link on the bottom of the home page of the Local Offer. 

What can I do as a parent?

Look for specific behaviours, or trigger points. Keep a diary of significant behaviours. You can look at What to Expect, When? which highlights what you may see your child doing at different ages. If you are worried about your child’s development, you can talk to nursery or pre-school workers, teachers or a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) about the support for your child needs. Schools can get SEND support services from the Local Authority and external agencies. It is in everyone’s interest to make sure your child’s needs are met and there are many different ways to do this.

There are local or online support groups where you can talk to other parents about your concerns – you can find details of these groups by clicking on the View all services tab above.

How SEND can affect learning

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person's ability to learn. They can affect their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they might struggle to make friends
  • reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD
  • physical ability

Support your child can receive

If your child has special educational needs they may be eligible for:

  • SEN Support given in school, such as speech and language therapy
  • an education, health and care (EHC) plan - a plan of care for children and young people aged up to 25 who have more complex needs

More detailed information on SEN support can be found within the 'Education' area of each age range and there is also a dedicated area for EHC plans, titled EHC Assessment and Plans.

SEN support I can expect in education

Children under 5

SEN support for children under 5 includes:

  • a written progress check when your child is 2 years old
  • a child health visitor carrying out a health check for your child if they’re aged 2 to 3
  • a written assessment in the summer term of your child’s first year of primary school
  • making reasonable adjustments for disabled children, like providing aids like tactile signs

Nurseries, playgroups and childminders registered with Ofsted follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. The framework makes sure that there is support in place for children with SEND.

Talk to a doctor or health adviser if you think your child has SEND but they don’t go to a nursery, playgroup or childminder. They will tell you what support options are available.

Children between 5 and 15

Talk to the teacher or the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) if you think your child needs:

  • a special learning programme
  • extra help from a teacher or assistant
  • to work in a smaller group
  • observation in class or at break     
  • help taking part in class activities
  • extra encouragement in their learning, eg to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
  • help communicating with other children
  • support with physical or personal care difficulties, eg eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet

Young people aged 16 or over in further education, training or employment

Contact the school/college/training provider and/or employer, before your child starts their post-16 journey, to make sure that they can meet your child’s needs.

The local authority can also talk to your child about the support they need if necessary.

Help at Home

For support strategies to be successful with children and young people with SEND, professionals should rally around the child or young person and his/her family. It is crucial that parents/carers are provided with appropriate information to continue to support and develop the child at home.

Possible strategies that parents and carers can adopt to help development at home are:

  • access support groups or websites to increase their knowledge about the condition
  • be good role models for their children, and encourage family bonding by doing things together
  • avoid giving multiple instructions to the child, and remember to sustain eye contact when giving instructions. Instruction should be broken down into easy-to-remember chunks
  • plan the day so the child knows what to expect, and break this down into structured steps
  • provide immediate positive feedback and reward for good behaviour
  • help the child with everyday organisation of things such as homework
  • set a good bedtime routine. Sleep hygiene information can be obtained from school nurses and health visitors
  • watch for warning signs. If the child looks like s/he is becoming frustrated, over tired and about to lose self-control, try to intervene by distracting him/her calmly. If parents or carers lose their temper, this will not help matters
  • be consistent and firm when setting rules
  • avoid confrontation. Adults should avoid locking horns with the child, as this can produce a battle of the wills and lead to damaged relationships. A back-up plan is always useful in situations of possible conflict.

If parents and professionals work together slowly and steadily, change should come, but it is important not to expect too much too soon.

SEND: The Four Areas of Need

Children with SEND may need extra help or support, or special provision made for them to allow them to have the same opportunities as others of the same age. If a child has SEND their needs will fall into one or more of the following four areas listed in the SEND Code of Practice:

  • Communication and Interaction
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health
  • Sensory and/or Physical

For more detailed information on these specific areas of need please click on the associated links below. 

Services related to all of these areas can be found by clicking on the related area of need at the bottom of the Local Offer homepage.  

Communication and Interaction

Children and young people with SEN may have difficulties in one or more of the areas of speech, language and communication. These children and young people need help to develop their linguistic competence in order to support their thinking, as well as their communication skills. Specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or a physical or sensory impairment such as hearing loss may also lead to communication difficulties. 

Those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) cover the whole ability range. They find it more difficult to communicate with others. They may have problems taking part in conversations, either because they find it difficult to understand what others say or because they have difficulties with fluency and forming sounds, words and sentences. It may be that when they hear or see a word they are not able to understand its meaning, leading to words being used incorrectly in or out of context and the child having a smaller vocabulary. It may be a combination of these problems. For some children and young people, difficulties may become increasingly apparent as the language they need to understand and use becomes more complex. 

Children and young people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, have difficulty in making sense of the world in the way others do. They may have difficulties with communication, social interaction and imagination. In addition they may be easily distracted or upset by certain stimuli, have problems with change to familiar routines or have difficulties with their co-ordination and fine-motor functions.

Services related to Communication and Interaction can be found by clicking on the Communication and Interaction tab at the bottom of the Local Offer homepage.  

Cognition and Learning

Children and young people with learning difficulties will learn at a slower pace than other children and may have greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy or numeracy skills or in understanding concepts, even with appropriate differentiation. They may also have other difficulties such as speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills. 

Children and young people with a learning difficulty are at increased risk of developing a mental health problem. They may need additional support with their social development, self-esteem and emotional well-being. 

Children and young people with severe learning difficulties (SLD) have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments and are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum. They may have difficulties in mobility and co-ordination, communication and perception, and the acquisition of self-help skills. Children and young people with SLD are likely to need support to be independent. Those with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as significant other difficulties such as a physical disability or a sensory impairment. They are likely to need sensory stimulation and a curriculum broken down into very small steps. These children and young people require a high level of adult support, both for their educational needs and for their personal care. 

A child or young person with a Specific learning difficulty (SpLD) may have difficulty with one or more aspects of learning. This includes a range of conditions such as dyslexia (difficulties with reading and spelling); dyscalculia (maths); dyspraxia (co-ordination) and dysgraphia (writing).Children and young people with learning difficulties have a need which affects their ability to learn and do well at school. Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This includes a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

Children who have needs in more than one of these areas are considered to have ‘complex needs’. A child may also be described as having ‘mild’ or ‘severe’ learning difficulties depending on the degree of their needs and the impact these needs have on their lives.

Services related to Cognition and Learning can be found by clicking on the Cognition and Learning tab at the bottom of the Local Offer homepage. 

Social, Emotional and Mental Health

For some children and young people, difficulties in their emotional and social development, can mean that they require additional and different provision in order for them to achieve.

Children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships. These difficulties may be displayed through the child or young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. 

A wide range and degree of mental health problems might require special provision to be made. These could manifest as difficulties such as problems of mood (anxiety or depression), problems of conduct (oppositional problems and more severe conduct problems including aggression), self-harming, substance abuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Some children and young people may have other recognised disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), attachment disorder, autism or pervasive developmental disorder, an anxiety disorder, a disruptive disorder or, rarely, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Services related to Social, Emotional and Mental Health can be found by clicking on the Social, Emotional and Mental Health tab at the bottom of the Local Offer homepage. 

Sensory and/or Physical

There is a wide range of sensory and physical difficulties that affect children and young people across the ability range. Many children and young people require minor adaptations to the curriculum, their study programme or the physical environment. Many such adaptations may be required as reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. 

Children and young people with a visual impairment (VI) or a hearing impairment (HI) may require specialist support and equipment to access their learning. Children and young people with a Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI) have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties, which makes it much more difficult for them to access the curriculum or study programme than those with a single sensory impairment. Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional on-going support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers. 

Disabled children and young people 
Many disabled children and young people also have a SEN. Where this is the case, access arrangements and other adjustments should be considered as part of SEN planning and review. However it may be that the steps to ensure access to mainstream education and related opportunities are sufficient to mean that special education provision does not need to be made.

Services related to Sensory and/or Physical can be found by clicking on the Sensory and/or Physical tab at the bottom of the Local Offer homepage. 

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