Mainstream schools and SEND
What support is my child entitled to?
By law, every school, nursery and college must provide support for pupils with SEND. The support that is available may differ from school to school, but all schools have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to support pupils with SEND. A reasonable adjustment is any alternation or change to teaching methods, resources or the physical environment. Schools are required to take proactive steps to identify and implement such adjustments, and to involve parents, carers and the children and young people themselves in this process.
Relevant legislation (law) includes the SEND code of practice (2015) which details the responsibility of the Local Authority, including education establishments and The Equality Act (2010) which states you must not be discriminated against if you have a disability.
For further details about legal entitlement around SEND education visit IPSEA (Independent Providers of Special Education Advice).
What should my child’s school be doing?
The structure of SEN support in mainstream schools is as follows.
Quality First Teaching
The basis of provision for all pupils. Teaching is designed to be accessible to all children regardless of individual needs or abilities.
Quality First Teaching (QFT) can include: differentiation such as adapting the pace of content of the lessons, use of ongoing assessment to identify strengths and areas for development, inclusive classroom environment, flexible groupings in class, scaffolding of varying degrees and high levels of quality training.
If a pupil’s needs cannot be met through QFT, the school may initiate SEN support – parents must be informed of this decision. SEN support needs are attempted to be met through a framework of carefully planned interventions and support called the Graduated Response Cycle. Read about the Graduated Response Cycle below.
SEN support can include: development of an Individual Education/Behaviour Plan (IEP/IBP), structured and targeted interventions, the consultation of external agencies (such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists or SEN inclusion team (SENIT), applying for additional funding (FFI – funding for inclusion).
If a pupil is still not making expected progress despite additional support and interventions the school may request assessment from the local authority – this may result in the creation of an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Read more about EHCPs here.
Graduated Response Cycle
The SEND Code of Practice requires schools to adopt a Graduated Response approach in supporting young people with SEND. It is part of ensuring SEN support is addressing the individual needs of the student and helping them reach their full potential.
Schools will need to evidence that they have completed all four stages of the Graduated Response Cycle twice before they can apply for an EHCP.
The child has been identified as not making expected progress and needing additional intervention.
Teacher, SENCO, parent/s and child agree to interventions to support expected outcomes. These are recorded in a plan – with a timescale and way of monitoring progress agreed upon.
Implement the plan! The class teacher is responsible for implementing the plan on a day-to-day basis.
In the agreed timeline, the child’s progress will be reviewed. If the interventions have worked, the child may stop receiving SEN support. If the child has not made expected progress the cycle will continue – with revised strategies, targets and provision.
Parents and child/young person’s views should be prioritised at all points in the cycle.
I’m concerned about my child’s progress
If you feel that your child may need additional support, isn’t responding to the help they are getting, or you want more clarification about what is in place you should ask for a meeting with the class teacher to discuss.
SEND code of practice states that schools should meet parents at least 3 times a year to discuss outcomes, assess support and review the progress of pupils receiving SEN support. However, you can still request a meeting if your child does not receive SEN support or an additional meeting alongside these.
I feel mainstream school isn’t right for my child
Although it is an aim of the SEND code of practice and a large focus for the Leeds SEND and Inclusion Strategy that most children should be able to participate in mainstream schools, some children may not be able to achieve their full potential in a mainstream setting even with additional support.
To get a place in a specialist school or setting your child must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).