Support in schools and early years

SEN Support

SEN support

Most children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) will have help given to them by their school or college. From 1 September 2014 a new system called SEN support replaced school action and school action plus in schools.

SEN support is available for children who have SEN but do not have a statement or an education, health and care plan.

Schools must identify pupils who have SEN and need extra help through SEN Support and keep a record of this. They must tell you if they are making special educational provision for your child.

Schools must have a special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for arranging and co-ordinating extra help for pupils with SEN. The SENCO works with class and subject teachers to plan and deliver support.

The school should draw up a plan, involving you and your child, focusing on the outcomes your child needs and wants to achieve and detailing how the school will support them to achieve these.

The SEND code of practice says that schools should use a gradual approach, or four-part cycle (assess, plan, do and review) to support your child with SEN. The actions taken to help your child should be reviewed and revised as the school understands more about how your child learns and the help they need.

You should be fully involved in discussions about the support your child needs, how it will be delivered and when it will be reviewed. The school should meet with you at least three times a year to review how your child is progressing. This should be in addition to scheduled parents’ evening meetings. The school must provide a report at least once a year on your child’s progress.

Teaching arrangements

Teaching arrangements

Schools and early years settings have a number of stages of support for children with special educational needs.

The stage that your child is at will depend on their individual learning needs. Each level of help is governed by a national code of practice.

Children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best.

Your child's school or early years setting should vary the way they support your child's learning by choosing from a range of activities that match their level and way of learning. This is called 'differentiation'.

All pupils have progress targets, and teachers use differentiation to meet their individual needs.

This should be the normal teaching arrangement for all children in schools or early years settings.

If you (or the school) feel this isn't helping your child to make progress, the school or early years setting will provide special help through additional measures and inform you of this.


Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)

The role played by SENCOs is to help your child's teacher identify, assess and respond to the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) or a disability.

This will include:

  • taking a lead in any further assessment of a child's individual strengths and weaknesses
  • planning support for your child
  • ensuring that records are made of actions taken to support your child and the progress they make as a result
  • advising and supporting other members of staff within your child's school
  • liaising with specialist staff who visit your child's school
  • ensuring that parents are properly involved.

Early years settings are also required to have access to the support of a SENCO and in the case of small or part-time settings, a number of different groups can pool resources and appoint a shared SENCO.

You can contact your child's SENCO directly at their school.

Services that support schools

Support for schools

Support services

Outside specialists can play an important part in the early identification of special educational needs and in advising early years practitioners and/or teachers on how to support the needs of your child and help them make progress.

This team around your child will work with you to plan a programme of support. They can also act as consultants and advise on teaching and learning for all staff.

Early years settings and schools work in partnership with the following specialists when they think extra support is needed for your child:

Council services

Non council services

  • school doctors or community paediatricians
  • school nurses
  • children's community and specialist nurses
  • speech and language therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • clinical psychologists
  • dieticians


Funding for schools

Schools in Brent receive a budget each year to pay for extra support for pupils with special education needs (SEN).

The amount given to each school is determined by a formula which measures the general level of SEN at the school. Schools are responsible for ensuring the budget meets the needs of its pupils.

Special schools receive the level of funding they require to meet the needs of the pupils they have. Pupils are assessed against a 'matrix of need' to determine the level of funding required to meet their needs.