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Special Educational Needs (SEN)

What is Special Educational Need?

The term 'special educational needs' has a legal definition. Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age.

They may need extra help because of a range of needs, such as in thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, or difficulties with speech and language or how they relate to and behave with other people.

Who To Talk To?

If you have concerns about your child you should talk to their class teacher, the SENCo (special educational needs co-ordinator) or the Head Teacher. The SENCo is a teacher within your child's schools who has responsibility for monitoring all pupils who have special educational needs.
If you do not want to speak with the staff at your child's school you may speak to the Special Educational Needs Section within your Local Authority (LA) or your local Parent Partnership Service.

The staff in the SEN section of your LA can give you advice about SEN arrangements and statutory assessment. If your child is undergoing statutory assessment they will be able to keep you informed about the progress of the assessment. If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs they are the main points of contact if you have any questions about the arrangement of your child.

What is a Statutory Assessment?

Once your child has been identified as having a special educational need your child's teachers should follow the guidance in SEN Code of Practice, which is published by the Department for Education and skills. To obtain a copy of this guide telephone the DfES Publications Centre on 0845 6022260 or visit their website at www.dfes.gov.uk/sen.

The code describes how help for children with special educational needs in schools and early education settings should be made by step-by-step or graduated approach.

The graduated approach consists of four stages:
  1. School Action - The first two stages are dealt with in school
  2. School Action Plus
  3. Statutory Assessment - The second two stages are dealt with by your LA
  4. Statement of Special Educational Needs

Your child will not necessarily go through every stage, they may remain at School Action all their school life or they may progress to the statutory assessment stage but this does not necessarily mean they will be given a statement of special educational needs. It all depends on the individual child and their needs.


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