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Special education needs

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Being the parent of a child with special education needs can be extremely difficult, especially if these needs affect your child’s ability to learn, socialise and adapt to their everyday surroundings. However, support is readily available for both you and your child should any additional help be required.

What are Special Educational Needs?

SEN or Special Educational Needs can vary in type and in severity. The term can be applied to children with physical impairments, social and behavioural limitations, limited basic academic skills such as reading and writing, problems with understanding, and difficulty with concentration. When I child is identified as having SEN it is important to establish its exact nature and what intervention and support is required to assist the child.

I think my child may have SEN – What can I do?

Each school and nursery has a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) who can advise you about what action to take should you suspect your child may have special educational needs.

If your child does not attend either a school or nursery, you can approach your GP or council for help. The Parent Partnership Service also provides helpful advice with regards to children with SEN.

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My Child has been identified as having SEN: What happens Now?

Procedures have been established to ensure your child receives the most appropriate attention and support whatever SEN may be. There are four stages of support (Early Years Action/School Action, Early Years Action Plus, assessment, and statement of special educational needs), but If it is apparent that your child has severe special educational needs, the first two stages will be bypassed and they will be assessed to determine whether they require a statement of special educational needs.

Early Years Action/School Action

Your child’s teacher or SENCO will involve you in devising the appropriate course of action: this could be altering teaching methods for providing additional support or staff for your child.

Early Years Action Plus/School Action Plus

External sources may be required such as behavioural experts or specialist workers.


Assessments are conducted by the council and are required if you wish to receive a statement of special educational needs. Parents, schools or nurseries can request an assessment but councils do not have to grant the request if they do not deem it appropriate or necessary (for example, if your child is younger than two).

You can be very much involved in assessments, attending interviews and tests and suggesting other experts or groups who may prove helpful during the assessment process.

Other professionals who will contribute to the assessment include, doctors, teachers/nursery workers, and educational psychologist and other experts the council may suggest. Your views will also be documented. Social services will only be involved if your child is already known to them.

If you feel the assessment has not been conducted to a satisfactory standard, or you do not receive the result you expected, you can appeal against the council’s decision.

Statement of Special Educational Needs

This document outlines the specific needs of your child and how they should be educated and where. If, after assessment, it is deemed appropriate to issue a statement of special educational needs, you, the parent are required to state school you wish them to attend or how they will be educated otherwise. You have 15 days from the date of completed assessment to state which school you have selected. The council must then agree to your choice of school, but only if the criteria specific to the school is also met: your choice should be age appropriate, your child should meet the academic qualifications required, and your child’s attendance will not disrupt the learning of current and future students at the school.

Once a statement is supplied, its contents will be assessed annually to determine whether any of the circumstances have changed. Parents can also take this opportunity to suggest an alternative school for their child. However a child may only transfer from a mainstream school to another mainstream institution, or from one special school to another.

There are several other bodies that can offer further support, depending on your child’s special educational need, including Sense (for children with hearing and visual disabilities), The Autistic Society and SEN adviser.




About Denise Morgan

About Denise Morgan

Denise has five years' experience writing for various web-based companies. During this time she has also contributed to magazine articles and brochures. In addition to writing, Denise is a gigging singer/songwriter and is proud to have featured on the first series of BBC One's The Voice UK, having been selected by the great Sir Tom Jones. Denise is mother to the most talented and ridiculously intelligent two year old that has ever been and ever will be (until she creates another one that is). This kind of hyperbole is restricted only to her progeny and is not a reflection of her usual writing styles... Denise and her son live in Manchester along with their five cats - yes that's right, five.

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