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Frequently asked questions

Some of our most asked questions about SEND are listed below. 

Early Years: What should I do if I am worried about my child?

If your child is not attending a nursery or other early years settings you should contact your doctor or health visitor to share your concerns and seek advice.

If your child is attending an early year setting or nursery you should speak to the SENCO (special needs coordinator) or keyworker first. They might be able to reassure you that any concerns might not be unusual for a child of a similar age and they will catch up without the need for any extra help.

Alternatively, they may feel that your concerns are justified and carry out more focused observation to look more closely at the reasons behind any slow progress.

Together you can plan the action needed to address any emerging needs or barriers to learning. This may lead, but not always, to your child receiving special educational needs support. 

Early Years: My child’s setting says my child has special educational needs, what should I do?

All early years settings must make sure that all children learn and develop well, are kept healthy and safe. They carefully monitor each child’s progress looking at their ability to communicate (speaking and understanding of language), play alongside others, do things for themselves and make sense of the world around them.

As such, they are well placed to notice any difficulties a child is facing. If these difficulties are picked up early it means that any extra help can be out in place as soon as possible.

If the setting feels your child may have SEN, you should meet with them to hear their concerns and share your views. Together you can plan what extra help is needed to overcome any difficulties and make sure the right support is in place as soon as possible.

From discussions it may be that any emerging issues can be quickly resolved without the need for any special educational needs support.

What can I do if I think my child may have SEN (special educational needs)?

If you are concerned that your child may be having some difficulties in his/her learning or you have noticed a change in his/her mood or attitude to school, it is best to meet with and talk to your child’s teacher (s) first.

Together you can discuss any concerns you have. Sharing views and information may show that slow progress or different behaviours may not be due any learning difficulties but linked to other factors. You can plan together actions that can be taken within the class or at home to address these. 

If the concerns remain, the teacher will seek the help of the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator). The SENCO will observe and undertake further assessments to help identify any difficulties which are making it harder for your child to learn.

With your permission, the SENCO may decide to seek the help from other professionals, such as educational psychologists or speech and language therapists, to carry out more specialised assessments and get a clearer view of any underlying difficulties.

Once it is clear that your child does require special education provision, the school must notify you. A SEND Support plan will then be put in place to show the extra help and support which will be provided.

How does a school decide if my child has SEN (special educational needs)?

School’s monitor the progress of all pupils regularly so they can find out as soon as possible if any pupil is falling behind in learning or experiencing difficulties with his/her behaviour.

Schools will check information regarding progress in core skills such as reading, writing, mathematics and/or look at any changing patterns of behaviours. Concerns might be also flagged up from observations of staff working closely with them.

If the school is concerned that your child is experiencing any difficulties, they should talk or meet with you to share this and to take your views and consider any other factors that might be slowing his/her progress.

Your child’s teacher (s) and the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) will work with you to explore reasons behind these difficulties and agree any actions that can be taken at school and at home to address any emerging needs.

With your permission, the school may ask other professional services, such as educational psychologists or speech and language therapists, to carry out more specialised assessments to get a clearer view of any underlying difficulties. 

 Once it is clear that your child does require special education provision, the school must notify you.  A SEND Support plan will then be put in place to show the extra help and support which will be provided.

What extra SEN help will my child get in school?

Schools use a wide range of actions, interventions and special resources to give extra support for pupils with different special needs.

Following information gathering and assessments the school should have a clear picture of your child’s particular strengths and difficulties so that they can plan what extra help and support (provision) is best matched to meet and overcome these needs.  

The school will draw up then draw up a SEND Support Plan which details the help that will be put in place and the outcomes that will hopefully be achieved from this help.  The school should share this support plan with you.

The government says it is up to each school to decide how they share this information but Croydon LA recommends that schools use personalised SEND Support Plans to record and document this extra help and to show how parents can be involved to reinforce and contribute to this support at home.  Many local schools use a ‘Pupil Passport’ approach.

This plan should be reviewed regularly as part of the Graduated Approach (Assess, Plan Do and Review cycle) 

The school SEND Information Report (found on the school website) will provide full details of the processes and arrangements in place to provide extra support for pupils with SEND.

Croydon LA has produced additional guidance known as ‘Ordinarily Available Descriptors ‘which set out expectations on the help that should be typically in place in all schools to support children with SEND within daily teaching and through targeted SEND support.  There is guidance for each of the main areas of need outlined in the SEND Code of Practice. (Downloadable leaflet).

How will I know what support my child’s school can provide?

Schools now have a statutory duty to publish a SEND Information Report on their websites to tell parents and young people about arrangements in place to identify and support pupils with SEND.

The report should link closely with the school’s SEND policy and other related school policies.

The information that must be reported include:
Arrangements for including parents in decisions about their child’s education.
Arrangements for assessing and reviewing children’s progress towards outcomes.
Arrangements to support the move between phases of education (e.g. moving to secondary school) and preparation for adulthood.
Approaches to teaching and details of training and specialist skills of staff
How the school works with external services from health and social care to provide support for pupils and their families.

It should make clear the arrangements for handling complaints. It should be updated each year.

The information should be presented in a way that is easy to understand for families, using straight forward language, which avoids or explains professional jargon.

Croydon LA recommends that schools work with parents and pupils to give feedback on the quality and accessibility of the SEND Information Report and seek suggestions on how the content and presentation can be improved.

Details of all the information that must be included in the School SEND Information Report can be found in the SEND Code of Practice: Section 6.79 – Publishing Information: SEND report.

 

Should I ask for more adult support for my child?

Due to the severity and complexity of their special educational needs some children and young people will need a high level of one to one help to support communication, see to their personal well being (feeding and hygiene) and to keep them safe.

For other children, rather than relying on one model of support, the help they need can be met in lots of different ways.  Any package of support should also reflect the child’s view. Some children dislike and can react poorly to be singled out for one to one support.

Recent research has highlighted potential risks of relying too much on one to one support.
Children can become overdependent on adults to help them, becoming reluctant or lacking confidence to have a go at activities or make decisions. themselves. By spending too much time with an adult, opportunities to interact with children of a similar age can be limited or children.

SEND Support planned for a child should strike the right balance between focusing help on key areas of need as well as making sure that the child is able to be as independent as possible. From an early stage any support should be working towards skills and competencies linked to preparing for adulthood, helping children and young people to talk and interact with others and manage daily tasks without adult support.

What is the role of the SENCO?

All schools must appoint a qualified teacher as a SENCO.
Each school’s SENCO has a critical role in overseeing day to day SEND provision including:

  • Checking that pupils with SEN are identified as early as possible, have the right support in place and that this support is making a difference.
  • Giving advice, leading and facilitating training so that staff are skilled and confident to provide inclusive teaching for pupils with SEND.
  • Establishing partnership with parents and carers with time set aside to keep families informed on progress, listen to views and any concerns that might emerge.
  • Providing the key point of contact to outside services including the Local Authority SEND Services, educational psychologists and health and social care professionals.
  • Planning and preparing movement (transition) to new year groups or a new school.

In recognition of the importance of the SENCO role, the Government have introduced new legislation which means that any newly appointed SENCOs must now study and complete the post graduate National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination (NaSENCO Award).

The Government also recommends that SENCOs should be part of the school leadership team where they can be more effective in ensuring that SEND provision remains high on the agenda of all plans for school development and improvement. 

There is also a recommendation that school leaders make sure that SENCOs have sufficient time and resources to fulfil all their duties.

In reality, the role and status can vary between schools. Larger schools often have a non-class/teaching SENCO role where daily work is focused on meeting needs of pupils with SEN. In other schools, SENCOs may have part-time or multiple roles, (teaching for part of the week and/or have other areas of responsibility).

How will I be kept informed about the progress of my child?

As well as the scheduled parents meetings for all children, the school should share information about the progress your child is making and next steps at least three times a year. This will usually take place as part of the regular review of your childs SEND Support Plan.

Some schools may have additional arrangements in place to make sure you are kept up to date with progress, such as a daily home school book.

What should I do if I am worried about my child in school?

In the first place it is best to speak to or meet with your child’s teacher and/or the SENCO of the school.  Often a quick discussion can resolve any issues.

If a meeting is planned, it is a good idea that you write down the key things that you are worried about or collect any evidence that you have that show your concerns. It might be helpful to prepare any questions you may have for the school.

Be sure at the end of the meeting, there is a shared understanding and record of what will happen next. Agree a future date for a follow up meeting to see if things have improved.

If you don’t feel that your views have been listened to or it has proved difficult to arrange a meeting with the school, you may seek to raise your concerns directly with the headteacher of the school or make a formal complaint. The process for making a complaint should be on the school website.

If you are considering making a formal complaint, you may find it helpful to seek advice and support from local parent support groups.


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