SEN Support for pupils in mainstream schools

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What extra support for pupils with special educational needs or disabilities can schools provide?

Since 2015 the terms “School Action” and “School Action Plus” used to describe stages of extra support in school have been replaced by one term, SEN (Special Educational Needs) Support.

Mainstream schools have specific legal duties and funding and access to services matched to these duties to help pupils who need extra support because of their special educational needs or disabilities.

The term SEN Support has a specific meaning and refers to a specific process. SEN Support may also be called The Graduated Approach but both terms refer to the same process.

  • If needed your child will be receiving SEN Support.
  • The process to deliver SEN Support is through using a Graduated Approach.

Understanding the SEN Support offer in schools

Every child with SEN, who requires provision which is "additional to or different from" support generally offered to children of the same age should have SEN Support.

The purpose of providing SEN Support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them.

SEN Support is a level of support that draws in extra funding for specialist advice and interventions. 

Schools should discuss what advice or interventions would have the most benefit and impact for the pupil and this support should be appropriately matched to their needs. with The child or young person and their parent or carer should be involved in discussion and decisions about what the support should be.

The SEND Code of Practice and information about additional support in schools

The SEND Code of Practice says all schools MUST:

  • Use their best endeavors to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN.
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN.
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child.
  • Designate a teacher to be responsible for day to day oversight of the provision for children and young people with SEN. This person is usually known as the SEN Co-ordinator, SENCO.

Since the 2014 SEND Reforms some schools have begun to use the term SENDCo.

School publish information that explains the arrangements they have put in place to support students with SEND. Schools MUST publish:

  • their arrangements for the admission of disabled children
  • the steps they take to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others
  • a School SEN Information Report
  • their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time
  • the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children

School SEN Information Reports

The School SEN Information Report will be available on the schools website.

This help and advice article specifically about school SEN Information Reports explains more about the information that should be included.

These explain the arrangements, processes, options and key people involved in SEN provision in each school.

Schools must publish and update their School SEN information Report each year so it reflects the support that is currently on offer.


SEN Support in different schools may be provided in different ways for different children and could include:

• a special learning programme for your child
• targeted or planned extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
• observing your child in class or at break and keeping records
• specific help to enable your child to take part in the class activities
• supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing.
• advice and or extra help from support services such as input from a specialist teacher, educational psychologist, health care professional or therapist.

Who decides what support my child can have?

  • "Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances." SEND Code of Practice 2015 Chapter 6 paragraph 6.17

Once an assessment of need has been made the school will be better placed to decide if a child needs SEN Support and what that might be.
The school MUST talk to you and your child about this.
If a young person is aged 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes parents or carers are the first to become aware that their child has some special educational needs. If you think your child may need SEN Support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the SENCo.

  • "Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent." SEND Code of Practice 2015 Chapter 6 paragraph 6.45

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the SENCo or head teacher.

If you are a parent or carer and are still not happy there is a free and impartial SEND specialist information, advice, and support service who can help called Hackney SENDIAGS

Phone: 020 7275 6036 (Advice Line) OR 07500 066 513 (Service Coordinator)

What is the Graduated Approach?

"Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place." SEND Code of Practice 2015 Chapter 6 paragraph 6.44. 

When your child is identified as having SEN, the school should use a graduated approach based on a four part cycle:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review


Teaching staff should work with the SENCo to assess your child’s needs, so that they give them the right support. They should involve you in this and, where possible, seek your child’s views.

Schools can involve specialist services in assessing pupils for example Educational Psychologists or Specialist Teachers specialist from the VI or D/deaf and partially hearing sensory impairment teams, Speech and Language Therapists or Medical Needs services.

These specialist services can help schools and pupils identify and plan support that may be needed. For some pupils external specialist services may provide targeted or ongoing support and interventions and be involved in regular reviews.

Links to information about all these services are included in the related services section of the advice page. 


If the school decides that your child needs SEN Support they must tell you. The school should talk with you about the goals or outcomes that they are going to set. What help will be provided to achieve these. Agree a review date to check what progress has been made.


Your child’s class or subject teacher is usually responsible for the work that is done with your child, and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved in their learning. The school should tell you who is responsible for the support your child receives.

All those who work with your child should be made aware of:

"Their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required." SEND Code of Practice Chapter 6 paragraph 6.49


The school should review your child’s progress, and explain what difference the help provided to your child has made. This should be done on or before the date agreed in the support plan made with you. This is sometimes called an IEP or Individual Education Plan. You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

"Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year." SEND Code of Practice 2015 Chapter 6 paragraph 6.65

How can parents or carers find out more about extra support in schools?

To find out more about SEN Support:

  • look at the SEN Information Report for the school or schools you are interested in
  • talk to your child’s class teacher and the school SENCO
  • speak with other parents who also have children with additional needs
  • read Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice 2014/15
  • seek support and advice from specialist services if needed


SENDIAGS offers factsheets, information sessions, 1:1 drop-in advice sessions, and some casework support.

SENDIAGS can give you:

  • information about SEN support, including information about SEN funding
  • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing
  • information about other organisations, support groups, and information services that could help
  • information and advice about your rights to request an Education, Health, and Care Needs Assessment.
  • support with meetings at school

Phone 020 7275 6036 (Advice Line) OR 07500 066 513 (Service Coordinator)

Using this website

Use Hackney’s Local Offer website to find out more about support on offer in Hackney.

  • The contact function at the top of every page is monitored by a dedicated Local Offer Coordinator.
  • If you don't know exactly what you are looking for to help with your situation they may know because they are more familiar with local information.
  • Submit a short question and leave contact details, an email, and a phone number, and they will reply to you or explain where to find the information you need. 


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Page last modified: 10/10/2023