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Supporting your child’s SEND Needs

Introduction

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. They can affect their:

  • Behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends
  • Reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia
  • Ability to understand things
  • Concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD
  • Physical ability

Being a parent of a child with SEND can be challenging, and knowing how to support your child and the type of support they could receive or are entitled to is important.

School support

Overview

Most children with Special Educational Needs will have some type of SEND support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age in a mainstream school. The purpose of SEND support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process.

All educational settings, nurseries, schools, colleges and further education must make sure they meet the “reasonable” special educational needs of children and young people they identify as needing extra support. Most educational settings should be able to meet the needs of the majority of children with SEND.

What school support might look like 

Support for children with SEND will very much depend on the child’s needs. Common support includes intervention groups that focus on a specific area of learning or communication, for example.

Children with significant needs may benefit from an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) which school can apply for with parent consent.

Learning

  • If a child has learning needs, school may support them within the classroom with a teaching assistant who may work with a child within a small group or 1:1 to support them to understand the learning.
  •  If a child has specific targets (often documented on an Individual Education Plan or IEP (please see documents school might use section for more details) they may work on these targets 1:1 or in a small group with the teacher or teaching assistant, sometimes outside the classroom.
  • If a child has a specific learning need such as dyslexia, the school may send relevant staff on specific training to ensure they can support needs.
  • School may also refer a child to an Educational Psychologist if they want more information about a child’s learning needs and how best to support them.

Speech and Communication needs

  • If a child has speech and/or communication needs, school may support them within the classroom with a teaching assistant who may work with a child within a small group or 1:1 to support them to understand the learning. For example, ensuring they have understood the instructions the teacher gives or helping to break down a task into shorter steps.
  • If a school has concerns about a child’s speech and language, they may make a referral to the speech and language therapy service. Schools in Leeds can use both NHS speech and language and/or private speech and language therapy companies such as Chatterbugs or Away with words .
  •  If a child has specific speech/communication targets, often documented on a Speech and Language Support Plan (please see documents school might use section for more details) they may work on these targets 1:1 or in a small group with the teacher, teaching assistant or speech and language therapist, sometimes outside the classroom.
  • The school may send relevant staff on specific training to ensure they can support a child’s speech and communication needs.

Autism

  • If a child has Autism, school may support them within the classroom with a teaching assistant who may work with a child within a small group or 1:1 to support them to understand the learning. They may also for example, support the child with social or unstructured times within the classroom.
  • If a child has specific targets, for example around developing play or social skills they may work on these targets 1:1 or in a small group with the teacher or teaching assistant, often outside the classroom.
  • The school may send relevant staff on specific training to ensure they can support a child’s needs.
  • School may also refer a child to an Educational Psychologist if they want more information about a child’s needs and how best to support them.

Behavioural and/or mental health needs

  • If a child has behaviour or mental health needs, school may support them within the classroom with a teaching assistant who may work with a child within a small group or 1:1 to support them to understand the learning.
  • If a child has specific targets, often documented on an Individual Behaviour Plan or IBP (please see documents school might use section for more details) they may work on these targets 1:1 or in a small group with the teacher or teaching assistant, sometimes outside the classroom.
  • A child with challenging or risky behaviour may need an Individual Pupil Risk Assessment (IPRA) which ensures all staff know how to keep them safe
  • The school may send relevant staff on specific training to ensure they can support a child’s behaviour or mental health needs.
  • School may also refer a child to an Educational Psychologist if they want more information about a child’s needs and how best to support them.

Physical and/or medical needs

  • If a child has specific physical or medical targets, for example from a physiotherapy programme, they may work on these targets 1:1  with the teacher, teaching assistant within PE Lessons or sometimes outside the classroom.
  • A child with physical and/or medical needs may need an Individual Pupil Risk Assessment (IPRA) and/or an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHCP) which details the child’s medical condition/ mobility issue and ensures all staff know how to keep them safe and the procedure to follow in the event of an emergency (please see documents school might use section for more details)
  • The school may send relevant staff on specific training to ensure they can support a child’s physical or medical needs. This may involve being trained to safely move and handle a child, or to administer a specific procedure such as for a diabetic child.

Documents school might use

Learning needs

Individual Education Plan (IEP) (sometimes called an Individual Learning Plan or Support Plan) – a school generated document with short term targets, how and who will help the child achieve them. View a sample IEP here

Specific programme from an outside agency – this could be a targeted programme from the local authority SEND Team for a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia

Communication needs

Speech and Language Support Plan – generated by a speech and language provider (either NHS or a private company the school has commissioned) with targets and resources to help improve a particular area of speech.

Autism

Pupil passport ­­– usually a school generated document which details a child’s strengths and needs, what staff can do to help them etc. School often uses this to ensure all staff that come into contact with the child are aware of their need. View an example pupil passport from STARS. View an example pupil profile template from Leeds MENCAP.

Sensory profile – a document that captures a child’s sensory needs. This usually details the things a child is over and under sensitive to. View an example sensory profile from STARS.

Visual timetable – often used to support children with autism. A visual representation of the child’s day or part of the day. Can also be used as a visual representation of a specific task such as the steps involved in going to the toilet. Find out more about visual timetables

Behavioural/ and or mental health needs

Individual Behaviour Plan (IBP) – a school generated document similar to an IEP document with short term targets, how and who will help the child achieve them. View an example IBP

Individual Pupil Risk Assessment – a Leeds local authority document that details the health and safety measures a school puts in place to support a child

Time out/take a break cards – a school generated card for children to use if they need a break from the classroom. This is often part of several strategies a school might put in place to support a child’s behaviour or mental health needs

Pupil passport ­­– usually a school generated document which details a child’s strengths and needs, what staff can do to help them etc. School often uses this to ensure all staff that come into contact with the child are aware of their need.

Physical and/or medical needs

Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP) – a document generated by school or a medical professional that details the child’s medical condition, medication – when and how it is administered, procedures to follow in an emergency situation and contact details of parents and relevant medical professionals. This document may be accompanied by an IPRA (see above).

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) – a document generated by school for pupils with mobility difficulties which details how they will be supported to evacuate the school building in the event of a fire or other emergency situation.

Professionals that school might involve

  • Educational Psychologist (EP)– all schools have an assigned EP who they can make a referral to, to gain more information about how to support a child’s needs. The EP may observe a child in the classroom or playground, chat to them or complete some assessments with them. Schools need parental consent to make a referral.
  • Special Educational Needs Inclusion Team (SENIT) – the Leeds special needs team. Schools can make a referral for support about how best to meet a child’s needs. SENIT workers will come into school and work directly with school staff such as the class teacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and may also work with the child. They have staff who specialise in the Early Years (Nursery and Reception), Learning needs and Behaviour and mental health needs. Schools need parental consent to make a referral.
  • Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) – many schools now buy in SLT services either from the NHS or from a private company. An SLT will assess a child’s speech and language needs and put together a programme of work around the child’s area of need. They may also provide resources for parents to use at home. Schools need parental consent to make a referral.
  • Special Training around Autism and Raising Standards (STARS) – a Leeds based team that support children with Autism in school. School can make a referral for support on how best to meet a child’s needs. A STARS practitioner will come into school and may observe or talk to the child, meet school staff and parents and make recommendations for the school to put  in place. Schools need parental consent to make a referral.
  • Physiotherapist/Occupational Therapist (OT) – would usually only be involved in school if the child has been referred by a medical professional. They can come into school to share information, assess and check a child’s progress, or put a programme in place for school to follow.
  • Other professionals – may ask to come into school to share information. This is usually linked to a medical condition and could include:
    • A dietician
    • A specialist nurse – diabetes, epilepsy, allergy, feeding

Other support

There is other support that parents with a child with SEND can access in Leeds, other than that provided by schools. The Leeds Local Offer is a website that details everything on offer in Leeds. Look at the Local Offer here – Directory (leedslocaloffer.org.uk)

Clubs

There are various groups and charities in Leeds that offer after school or holiday clubs and playschemes.

Endorphins – a company who offers various inclusive clubs aimed at children with SEND. Clubs are run from the South Leeds Hub and The Vinery Centre (Leeds MENCAP). Find the website here – https://endorphins.uk/

Leeds MENCAP – runs a variety of clubs for children and young people with SEND including a holiday playscheme. Check out our website for more information – https://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/

What you can do

Schools have a certain level of responsibility they must adhere to. The SEN Disability Code of Practice says:

“The School Admissions Code of Practice requires children and young people with SEND to be treated fairly. Admissions authorities:

  • Must consider applications from parents of children who have SEN but do not have an EHC Plan on the basis of the school’s published admissions criteria as part of normal admissions procedures.
  • Must not refuse to admit a child who has SEN but does not have an EHC plan because they do not feel able to cater for those needs.
  • Must not refuse to admit a child on the grounds that they do not have an EHC plan.”

If your child has SEND you may need to be their advocate as well as their parent or carer. Being an advocate means making sure their rights are respected and their needs are met. Sometimes you may need to speak on their behalf. 

Tips for meeting with school about your child

  1. Identify a key person or people in school to speak to. This is likely to be the school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENDCo) but could also be your child’s teacher or a support member of staff
  2. Build a positive relationship with people in school who can help:
    • Make contact with staff early on and be positive. It might be helpful to:
      • Note down any day-to-day issues so you can discuss them. 
      • Ask for regular meetings and updates.  
      • Tackle issues as they come up to stop them from growing into problems.  
    • Use an agreed method of communication – staff may not always be able to speak to you face to face
    • Be patient but persistent if school does not respond to you straight away. Most school staff will try to acknowledge contact from parents within 48 hours or sooner if the issue is urgent. If you do not get a reply, send a brief follow-up e-mail or call the school office to ask to have a message delivered to the staff member.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the SEN Code of Practice and understand your child’s rights. This document provides statutory guidance on the SEND system for children and young people aged 0 to 25.
  4. Ask a relative or friend to attend any meetings at school with you. It is often useful to ask another person to come along to meetings at the school as it can be difficult to listen to what is being said as well as to think of the questions you might want to ask. Another person can remind you of what you wanted to get from the meeting.

Additional support from Leeds MENCAP

Speak to other parents with children with SEN and disabilities on our closed Facebook group.

Follow us on Facebook to hear about our upcoming events.

Check out the rest of our Family Support offer. We have:

  • Weekly Chats and Tots coffee morning. Some coffee mornings have a free legal advice drop in from SEND specialists at Irwin Mitchell solicitors
  • Family Support workers who can offer advice, signposting and support and may be able to support you with school meetings
  • Lots of tips and resources in our Member’s Area on our website

Additional support and Resources

This information is not affiliated with Leeds MENCAP.

Read the SEND Code of Practice: SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Read an overview of support for children with special education needs:

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): Special educational needs support – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): Extra help – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Read about support for meeting with school about support:

School support meeting (leeds.gov.uk)

Working_with_childs-school_I-A.pdf (autismeducationtrust.org.uk)

How can I get the right support for my child’s special educational needs? – Support for Parents from Action For Children

What SEN support can my child’s school provide? – Support for Parents from Action For Children

Seven ways to support your child with SEND at school – BBC Bitesize

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