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Find out about Special Educational Needs

Welcome to the main Special Educational Needs information page on the Local Offer.

Here you can find out about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), how we identify children and young people with SEND and how we plan support.

Most children with SEND can get the support they need in mainstream early years settings (such as nurseries and pre-schools), schools and colleges.

Find out about Waltham Forest's personalised Education, Health and Care Plan Pathway

What are special educational needs?

Children learn at different speeds and in different ways. Teachers take this into account when they organise children’s lessons. But some children still find it much harder to learn than others of the same age and may need extra help. This may be because they have difficulties with:

  • Reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • Expressing themselves or understanding what is being said to them
  • Organising themselves
  • Understanding and following rules and routines
  • Making friends or relating to adults
  • A medical condition
  • A sensory need such as a difficulty with seeing or hearing

These children are said to have special educational needs. (This does not include children who have trouble keeping up because their first language is not English.)

The Department for Education publishes a code of practice on SEND, which is a guide for schools and councils on how to help children and young people with SEND.

Identifying SEND

Birth to two

Health services will check your child’s health and development from birth to school age. Screening, tests and checks form part of the Healthy Child Programme.

Local health services will work with schools to make sure that your child’s needs are met when she or he starts nursery or school. The NHS pays for these services.

School-aged children

We train staff in early education and teachers in schools to identify SEND. If your child’s teacher thinks your child needs more help than the other children in the class, he or she will talk to you about it.

All early years settings and schools have a policy on identifying and supporting children with SEND. Locate and visit the schools' website to find out more.

Young people aged 16 and over still in education

If you are a young person over the age of 16 it is likely that you will have already had your needs identified and have a support plan. But colleges do have learning support teams to identify students with additional needs and give them support.

What to do if you think your child has SEND

If you are worried about your child’s development or behaviour, talk to the manager of your child’s nursery or pre-school, or to your child’s teacher at school.

Health or care professionals may also identify special educational needs or disability. If a professional thinks your child has SEND, he or she must tell you and also tell us.

What happens if your child has SEND?

It is very important to identify SEND early so that teachers can help children as quickly as possible. If your child has SEND, teachers will assess your child’s needs and the way he or she learns, and then gradually bring in extra and/or specialist services to help.

The nursery or school must tell you when it first starts giving this extra or different help to your child.

If you are a young person with SEND, there are many different types of support you can get at college. There are support staff who can give you information. The college might need to assess your needs to make sure you get the right support.

To find out more, read our step-by-step approach to supporting children and young people with SEND:

Most children with SEND will not move beyond step 1, as teachers and schools can give them the support they need within mainstream early-years settings, schools and colleges.

Who pays for support for children with SEND

Early-years settings and schools have money in their budgets to support children with SEND. If your child has more complex, long-term needs which the school cannot meet from its budget, it can ask us for more money to support your child. This is called ‘high-needs funding’.

Further education and sixth-form colleges are independent. They have money in their budgets to support students with SEND. But they can also ask the organisations who fund them to give them extra money to support students with more complex, long-term needs, if they can’t meet the cost themselves.

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