On this page you can find out about the support available for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).
Most children with SEND will have their needs met in mainstream early-years ‘settings’ (such as nurseries and pre-schools), schools and colleges, and won’t need to move beyond this step.
Some children with very complex needs and/or multiple disabilities will go straight to step 2.
It is important to find out exactly what your child’s needs are and to plan support as early as possible. What support your child gets, and how, will depend on your child’s individual needs.
Birth to two
Your local health services will work with you and your child to plan support as part of the Healthy Child Programme.
Your health team will visit you and your child and there will be follow-up appointments until your child starts school. The team will screen and test your child to find out more about his or her health and development.
The type of support your child gets could include help with communication or language for example.
Your child might get this support:
- at home
- at groups for parents and children run by the NHS
- in children's centres
If your child is at nursery or pre-school, the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) will work with you, and your health and/or care team if necessary, to plan support for your child. This plan is called an early-years support plan.
Download an example early-years support plan.pdf (230 KB)
The early-years support plan will set out the support your child will get, which might include help from an adult such as a teaching assistant or parent helper, or there might be work in small groups.
To find out more about services for children under four, search the Local Offer.
Your child’s teacher, the school SENCO and any other professional working with your child will meet you and your child to plan the support he or she needs. This plan is called a school SEN support plan.
Download an example school SEN support plan.pdf (622 KB)
The SEND support plan will set out the extra help and support that your child will get.
Support might include:
- different ways of teaching certain things to your child
- some help from an adult (teaching assistant or parent helper)
- work in small groups
- use of special equipment such as a computer or a desk with a sloping top
Your child might need this support only for a short time or for many years, depending on his or her needs.
To find out about support services available for children of school age, search the Local Offer.
If you are a young person with SEND, talk to the support staff at your college who will help you get the support you need. They may assess you to make sure you get the right support.
Disability learning support advisers will arrange support with your studies if you are disabled.
There are many different types of support you can get at college. If you choose a course which takes disabled and non-disabled students, support might include:
- extra teaching if you have learning difficulties or disabilities
- flexible timetables
- study information in large print or Braille
- an interpreter if you are deaf
If you choose a course which is just for disabled students then the course will be designed to meet a range of needs.
In early-years settings and schools
Whatever support your child gets, his or her teacher and the school SENCO will:
- involve you and your child
- describe it in the support plan
- review it with you and your child at least twice a year, probably every term
The nursery or school will invite you and your child to review meetings, along with any other professionals involved in supporting your child.
The review meetings are to talk about:
- your child’s progress against his or her support plan
- whether the plan needs to change
- whether your child still needs a plan
If you are a young person at college and you are getting support, college support staff or the disability learning adviser will meet you to talk about your progress and whether you might need more or less support.
What happens if your child is not making progress
If your child is not making progress with his or her plan, in most cases the school will change the plan to introduce different support. This support will still be in a mainstream school.
If the school thinks your child’s needs are more complex, needing extra support which it cannot provide, it might ask us to assess your child to see if he or she needs an education, health and care plan. This is called a referral. See Step 2: my referral.
It is always best to talk to staff at your child’s nursery or school if you are unhappy with any part of your child’s education.
If you wish to take things further, all schools have a complaints procedure which they must publish on their websites, or go to our appeals and complaints page.
First floor Wood Street Health Centre
Tel: 020 8496 6505 / 6503