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Standards of education provision for children with SEND

Find out about the standard of support we expect from education providers for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

All children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), should have a universal offer of high quality teaching. This is referred to in the SEN Code of Practice as quality first teaching.

What is quality first teaching

Quality first teaching is high-quality inclusive teaching supported by effective whole school policies. It is the first wave of the National Strategies’ three-wave approach to teaching and invention. When children need something additional to high-quality inclusive teaching to achieve success, it is known as intervention.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families’ guide to personalised learning, published in 2008, summarises quality first teaching as:

  • highly focused lesson design with sharp objectives
  • high demands of pupil involvement and engagement with their learning
  • high levels of interaction for all pupils
  • appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling and explaining
  • an emphasis on learning through dialogue, with regular opportunities for pupils to talk both individually and in groups
  • an expectation that pupils will accept responsibility for their own learning and work independently
  • regular use of encouragement and authentic praise to engage and motivate pupils

What is special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

The guidance set out in the SEN Code of Practice specifies that: ‘A child or young person has SEND if they have learning difficulties or a disability, which call for specific educational provision to be made for him or her.’

This means that a child or young person has a special educational need (SEN) if they have:

  • significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age, or
  • a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities that are generally provided for children of the same age

What to do if you are concerned about your child’s progress

If you are concerned about your child’s progress or feel they need additional help, you should speak with the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your child’s school.

Every school must identify and address the SEN of its pupils, and offer support to children with a wide range of SEND needs. The school must also have a qualified teacher designated as a SENCO.

Your child’s school will be able to tell you about the services it offers to support children and young people with SEN. This information will also be published on the school's website, and called local offer or special educational needs (SEND) support.

See guidance on what should be included in a SEN information report and SEND policy (PDF).

What is the role of the SENCO?

The SENCO’s responsibilities include:

  • delivering the school's SEN policy and the coordination of specific provision made to support individual pupils with SEN
  • supporting the school's development of its SEN policy and the support and services the school offers
  • giving support and advice to school colleagues and parents of pupils with SEND, to ensure that pupils receive appropriate and consistent support and high-quality teaching
  • most SENCOs will also have teaching responsibilities

Funding for additional support

Part of the funding we receive from the government is used to support our schools, and to provide additional support and funding where it is needed.

Our school finance team ensures that schools get the right level of funding to support all of our children and young people. The funding is broken into three categories.

For mainstream schools, the categories are called elements:

  • Element 1: most of the funding is based on the total number of children in the school. The school gets an allocated amount of money per child. We allocate £4,000 to each pupil in Lewisham.
  • Element 2: the school receives an additional amount of money to help meet children’s SEN. This is called the notional SEN budget. The amount is based on a formula that we agree with the school. To calculate how much each school will need, school data is used to get an idea of how many pupils require additional SEN support. If a school has more children with SEN than expected, the school will liaise with us to secure the appropriate level of funding.

Schools are responsible for allocating their resources. However, schools have a duty to identify, assess and make special provision for all children and young people with SEN. We also have a duty to identify and set out what type of provisions schools are expected to provide.

The government recommends that schools should be using the designated notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEN. Most children with SEN need provision that comes to less than £6,000.

  • Element 3 (top-up funding): this funding is for individual pupils who have a very high level of needs. The school is expected to use this funding to make provision for that individual pupil as part of their education, health and care plan. This funding comes from a pot of money we called ‘high needs block funding’.

How SEN support works

If your child is identified as having SEN, schools should remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. This should be done from the school’s own resources (SEN budget) in the first instance.

The SEN support should take the form of a four-part cycle:

  • assess
  • plan
  • do
  • review

Teachers are required to continually assess, plan, implement and review their teaching approach. This is known as the graduated approach. It allows for earlier decisions and actions to be refined so that your child’s needs are still being met, to ensure they make good progress and secure good outcomes.

Assessing your child’s SEN

Schools are required to identify your child’s needs, drawing on assessment and experience of your child, their progress, attainment, and, where relevant, their behaviour in comparison to their peers and national data. The views of parents and the pupil’s own views should influence the assessment. Information from external services, including health and care professionals, should also be taken into account.

Planning for your child’s SEN

Parents, teachers and support staff who work with your child should be made aware of their needs, outcomes that have been set, support provided and any teaching strategies and approaches, which should all be recorded and monitored regularly.

Implementing your child’s SEN

The class or subject teacher is responsible for your child and should work closely with other staff to ensure they are providing support and monitor its effectiveness.

Reviewing your child’s SEN

Regular reviews for your child should take place between all relevant staff and parents. The school is required to:

  • plan effective teaching
  • determine appropriate provision
  • make adjustments to teaching that will lead to good progress and improved outcomes for your child

If after this process, your child still requires additional resources to support their SEN, an application for an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment can be considered.

Your child’s school may ask for advice or support from outside services about how to support your child’s SEN – for example, a speech and language therapist or occupational therapist. Most schools use some of their resources to buy in support from outside services such as educational psychology.

What if my child’s needs cannot be met in school?

If it has been established that your child or young person's needs cannot be met, the school will ask you to help them prepare the information required to request an EHC needs assessment from our special educational needs team.

As a parent or young person, you also have the right to make a direct request for an assessment.

A professional can request an EHC needs assessment on behalf of a school or post-16 education provider. Where possible, this should be made with the parent’s knowledge and agreement.