SEND - DfE Overview
Special educational needs support
Your child will get SEN support at their school or college. Your child may need an education, health and care (EHC) plan if they need more support than their school provides.
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’s support in place for children with SEND.
Talk to a doctor or health adviser if you think your child has SEND but they do not go to a nursery, playgroup or childminder. They’ll 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, for example to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
- help communicating with other children
- support with physical or personal care difficulties, for example eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet
Young people aged 16 or over in further education
Contact the college before your child starts further education to make sure that they can meet your child’s needs.
The college and your local authority will talk to your child about the support they need.
An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.
EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.
Requesting an EHC assessment
You can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan.
A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.
A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.
If they decide to carry out an assessment you may be asked for:
- any reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
- doctors’ assessments of your child
- a letter from you about your child’s needs
The local authority will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.
Creating an EHC plan
Your local authority will create a draft EHC plan and send you a copy.
You have 15 days to comment, including if you want to ask that your child goes to a specialist needs school or specialist college.
Your local authority has 20 weeks from the date they receive the request for the assessment to give you the final EHC plan.
Disagreeing with a decision
You can challenge your local authority about:
- their decision to not carry out an assessment
- their decision to not create an EHC plan
- the special educational support in the EHC plan
- the school named in the EHC plan
If you cannot resolve the problem with your local authority, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.
You may be able to get a personal budget for your child if they have an EHC plan or have been told that they need one.
It allows you to have a say in how to spend the money on support for your child.
There are 3 ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:
- direct payments made into your account - you buy and manage services yourself
- an arrangement with your local authority or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
- third-party arrangements - you choose someone else to manage the money for you
You can have a combination of all 3 options.
Independent support for children of all ages
Independent supporters can help you and your child through the new SEN assessment process, including:
- replacing a statement of special educational needs with a new EHC plan
- moving a child from a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) to an EHC plan
You can find out how to get local support through:
- Council for Disabled Children
- Information, Advice and Support Service Network
- your local authority website and search for ‘Local Offer’
If your child got support before September 2014
Your child will move to an education, health and care (EHC) plan. This will normally happen at a planned review, or when your child moves school. Your council will tell you which.
Your child will already be getting SEN support if they used to get help through:
- School Action or School Action Plus
- Early Years Action or Early Years Action Plus
Support after your child leaves school
If your child has a statement of special educational needs, they’ll have a ‘transition plan’ drawn up in Year 9. This helps to plan for their future after they leave school.
They’ll continue to get support during further education. Your child can also ask for an EHC assessment if they need more help than the school or college can provide.
DfE Help and advice
You can call the Contact a Family helpline for help and advice.
You can also get help from Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA).
IPSEA advice line
Telephone: 0800 018 4016
Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm
Friday, 1pm to 4pm
Find out about call charges