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SEN support in mainstream schools

Duties on schools to make SEND provision

This information is about the support that mainstream schools should provide for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

The phrase SEN Support has a specific meaning referring to a specific process. 

Last updated: 02/10/18

What is SEN support?

Every child with a special educational need, who requires provision which is "additional to or different from" the support generally given to other children of the same age, should have SEN support.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school.

Schools should involve parents and the child or young person in this process.

Since September 2015 the old terms “School Action” and “School Action Plus” have been replaced by the term “SEN Support” to describe pupils who require additional or different provision.

The SEND Code of Practice - SEN Support....

The SEND Code of Practice says all schools must:

 • use their best endeavours 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

• 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, or SENCO.

• inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child

• publish an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time.


Schools SEN information reports...

Every school must publish annually an SEN information Report that explains the SEN provision the school makes. These reports must be made available on each school’s website.

If you are independently looking on a school website the SEN information report is usually in the policies section and can be under different categories e.g. our school, about, parents, policies.

When the reforms first began SEN Information Reports were sometimes refered to as e.g. SEND offer, Schools SEND offer, Inclusion and SEND policy.

If it is proving hard to find contact the school office and ask them to send you the link or send a hard copy to you in the post.

You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

All schools including those in Hackney have been asked to describe the support they provide for pupils who require provision which is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age indicating they may require SEN Support.

SEN support 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 or health care professional or therapist. 

Who decides what SEN support my child has?

The SEND Code of Practice says:

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. (6.17)

The school should then decide if your child needs SEN support.

The school should talk to you and your child about this.

If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your 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.

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 are a parent or carer and are still not happy you can seek further advice from Hackney SENDIAGS a free and impartial specialist Information and Advice Service. 

The graduated approach - four part cycle - Assess, Plan, Do, Review...

The SEND Code of Practice says

• 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. (6.44)

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

Image Source: Council for Disabled Children


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

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. (6.45)


If the school decides that your child needs SEN support they must tell you. The school should talk with you about the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and agree a date for progress to be reviewed.


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. 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. (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 you made with the school. You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year. (6.65)

Schools can involve other professionals e.g. Educational Psychologists or Specialist Teachers in further assessment or to support planning the next steps.

You and the school can look on Hackney’s Local Offer website to find out more about support on offer in Hackney to help children and young people achieve the outcomes that have been set.

Information, advice and support...

To find out more about SEN Support:

  • look at the SEN Information Report on each school’s website
  • 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

You can find more information and advice on SEND and schools from Hackney SENDIAGS  who can help with:

  • 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 EHC needs assessment
  • support with meetings at school 
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