Special Educational Needs Support in Mainstream Schools

SEN Support in mainstream schools

This information is about the support that mainstream schools must and should provide for children with special educational needs (SEN).

The SEND Code of Practice says:

All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • Achieve their best.
  • Become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and.
  • Make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.


The duties on schools to make SEN provision

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 co-ordinating SEN provision – 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.


What is SEN support?

Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school in conjunction with parents and pupils themselves.

Children on School Action or School Action Plus were transferred to SEN support by September 2015.

Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The Local Offer published by Staffordshire also sets out what support it expects early years settings, schools and colleges to make for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities. You can find out about the funding of SEN support in our leaflet Funding for Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools.

SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • A special learning programme for your child.
  • Extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant.
  • Making or changing materials and equipment.
  • Working with your child in a small group.
  • Observing your child in class or at break and keeping records.
  • Helping your child to take part in the class activities.
  • Making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult.
  • Helping other children work with your child, or play with them at break time.
  • Supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing.
  • Advice and / or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists, and therapists.

When a schools want to call in specialists, they should discuss and agree this with parents.

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 Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or headteacher. You can also find out more by contacting us.

A graduated approach

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 four steps. 

1. Assess

Teaching staff should work with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator 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)

Sometimes schools will seek advice from a specialist teacher or a health professional. They should talk to you about this first.

2. Plan

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

3. Do

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)

4. Review

The SEND Code of Practice says:

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

The school should review your child’s progress, and the difference that the help your child has been given has made, on the date agreed in the plan. You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

If your child has not responded to the help they were given, the review should decide what can be done next. This may include more or different help.

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals to investigate the difficulties or to plan the next steps.You and the school can have a look at the Local Offer to see what support should be available that could help achieve your child’s outcomes.

At this point in Staffordshire, the school may decide to do a Staffordshire Common Assessment Framework (SCAF). More details about this are available from us.

Where can I get more information, advice or support?

You can find out more about SEN Support by:

  • Looking at the SEN Information Report on the school website.
  • Talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator.
  • Looking at the Local Offer.
  • Reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice.

You can also get in touch with us for:

  • 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.