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SEND support in schools and pre-schools

Always speak to your child’s teacher or preschool leader first if you are worried about your child's learning.

Schools and pre-schools have a designated part of their funding budget to support children with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Support available

A parent, education provider or young person over the age of 16 can request support from the Specialist SEND Support Service or request a statutory assessment if a child or young person has significant or complex needs.

All schools and academies are required to identify and address the special educational needs of the pupils that they support.

They must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEND gets the support they need - this means doing everything they can to meet the child or young person's special educational needs 
  • ensure that children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have special educational needs or disabilities
  • prepare and publish a SEND information report

All education staff, including early years settings and colleges, expect to support children and young people with a variety of needs, defined in 4 broad areas as laid out in the SEND code of practice:

  • Communication and interaction
    Speech, language and communication needs - this may include children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
  • Cognition and learning
    Including moderate learning difficulties, severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning difficulties. Specific learning difficulties encompass a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia
  • Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
    This may manifest in many ways including being withdrawn or displaying challenging behaviour. Other children may have disorders such as ADHD or attachment disorders.
  • Sensory and physical needs
    Children with a sensory impairment that affects their hearing or their sight, or both will require specialist support to access their learning. Some children with a physical disability require ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

Every school must designate a teacher to be responsible for coordinating SEND provision. This is the SENCO. If your child doesn’t progress despite well-targeted teaching, you or the teacher should speak to the SENCO.

The SENCO will work with your child's teacher to assess whether your child has special educational needs or a disability that will affect their learning (SEND). They will do this by talking to you and your child and looking at your child’s work, progress and behaviour.

If they think your child has a special educational need or a disability:

  • the school or nursery must tell you if they think your child has special needs and about what action they plan on taking
  • they will put in place support and closely monitor progress

Support provided in schools

SEN support in school has 4 stages:


Identifying a child as needing SEND support after carrying out a clear analysis of the pupil's needs


Parents must be notified when their child is to receive SEND support although parents should have already been involved in the assessment stage. The school in consultation with parents and the pupil should agree on the adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour along with a clear date for review.


The class or subject teacher remains responsible for the pupil on a day-to-day basis with the support of the SENCO if required. Any intervention delivered by other school staff should be closely monitored by the responsible teacher.


The effectiveness of the support and interventions and their impact on the pupil's progress should be reviewed in line with the agreed date. This evaluation will include the views of the pupil and their parents and feedback into the analysis of the pupil's needs and the next steps.

Children with medical conditions

If your child has a medical problem that affects their learning or access to education, discuss these issues with the school or preschool. They will work with you and any relevant health professionals to implement an effective health plan. A medical condition such as diabetes is not considered to be a special educational need.

If you do not believe that the educational establishment is working effectively to support your child's progress, you should:

  • in the first instance speak with the class teacher or SENCO to discuss your concerns
  • you can contact the Information Advice and Support Service (IASS) for impartial advice and support
  • if this does not resolve your concerns you can follow the school's complaints policy and contact the head teacher, the SEND governor, or the chair of governors depending on the school's policy

If the school or preschool cannot support your child's complex needs

If a child or young person has significant or complex needs, a parent, education provider or young person over the age of 16 can request support from the Specialist SEND Support Service or can request a statutory assessment.

West Northamptonshire Council schools can apply to the High Needs Funding panel to request help with funding appropriate support packages for children with special educational needs.

Please note these arrangements are for pupils funded by West Northamptonshire Council only - those pupils who are residents of West Northamptonshire. If you are not sure who the responsible funding authority is, please email the West High Needs Business support team at [email protected]

Last updated 13 February 2024