Special educational needs (SEN) is a term that is used to describe the needs of children who have a learning difficulty or disability that needs more provision to be made for them than most other children of the same age. Camden schools often use the term ‘SEND’ to include disabilities as well.
There are no specific levels of progress or level of difficulty that determine whether or not a child or young person has special educational needs.
When a child or young person can have their needs met within the resources available through the provider (school or setting) accessing the Local Offer, they are sometimes described as having ‘additional needs’. The majority of children and young people have their additional needs without requiring a statement or EHC plan – we call this ‘early intervention’. Those with the most exceptional levels of need are likely to need more support than can be provided by early intervention support.
This section explains more about the identification of children and young people with special educational needs, and what is available through early intervention..
Most children and young people have their needs met in a mainstream setting, school or college.
It is expected that all early years settings provide a high quality, rich and varied curriculum that fosters children’s development. All providers will be Equalities Act compliant and meet the ‘shared expectations’ of their partnership agreement with Camden
In schools and colleges, there is an expectation that all children, including those with special educational needs, receive a universal offer of high quality teaching. This is sometimes called ‘Wave 1’ offer or ‘Quality First Teaching’.
What does this mean?
- Lessons are highly focused with sharp objectives
- Teachers have high demands of pupil involvement and engagement with learning
- There are high levels of interaction for all pupils
- Lessons have appropriate use of questioning, modelling, explaining
- There is an emphasis on learning through dialogue – this might be modified for children who have a special educational need
This can be summarised in the video below:
There is an expectation that teaching will be differentiated for pupils and carefully reviewed for all pupils, including those at risk of underachievement (Code of Practice section 6.37).
High quality teaching will mean that most children will be able to learn and make progress. There is an expectation that when children are not making good progress, schools and settings will look at the quality of teaching first before they consider whether individual children have special educational needs.
All schools are required to publish their SEN information report on their website. This will explain what the school does to identify special educational needs and disability and the support the school provides for children and young people who need additional help. You can access a direct link to Camden's schools' SEN information reports by clicking here.
You can also find out about schools in neighbouring boroughs and access their Local Offer's by visiting this page.
Some children have a disability or health condition that is identified before or at birth. Health professionals are required by law to inform the local authority when they assess a child with a disability or diagnosis that may impact on their learning. Any referrals will always be discussed with parents or carers. Some children have needs that are identified by a health visitor at their two year old health check, or by a GP.
There is a separate section in the Local Offer that has more detail about early identification by health professionals - click here to find out more. When parents have concerns about their child’s development, and their child is not yet in an education setting, they should talk to their health visitor or family doctor (GP). Not all health issues or identified delays in development lead to a child having special educational needs once they are in education.
Some children have an issue that emerge when they start in early years provision or school. Staff in early years settings and schools have experience in identifying special educational needs, and can access advice (for example from a special educational needs co-ordinator). When parents of a child in early years or school provision have concerns about their child’s progress, they should first talk to staff about their concerns.
Where there are concerns about a child’s development and/or attainment not being as expected, it is expected that staff in schools and settings will work in collaboration with parents and, where they have capacity, with young people themselves to agree how needs will be appropriately identified and assessed in a timely way. The child and parent are at the centre of the process, taking account of their views, feelings and aspirations.
Children and young people making less than expected progress can be characterised by progress which:
- Is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
- fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
- fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
- widens the attainment gap
- it can include progress in areas other than attainment – for instance where a pupil needs to make additional progress with wider development or social needs in order to make a successful transition to adult life.
The special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator (SENCO for early years settings or SENDCO for maintained schools) will work with parents to co-ordinate the assessments and support for your child.
Every maintained school has a SENDCO, and early years settings either have a SENCO or can access help from the Area SENCOs.
The SENCO / SENDCO will co-ordinate the support for your child and liaise with other professionals involved in your child’s support.
Assessment: the SENCO / SENDCO will use the usual assessments for all children, or draw on other resources to support their assessment.
Planning an intervention: the SENCO / SENDCO will work with parents and draw on all the relevant information they have available to develop a plan for additional support if it is needed.
Providing support: this might be how the curriculum is delivered for all children, differentiated teaching in the classroom, strategies used to help your child, or group approaches that are ordinarily available in the setting. ‘Additional and different’ support may be agreed than is usually available for children of that age – see ‘What help might be provided’ below.
Review the outcomes: Staff and parents / carers should agree when to hold a review, how progress will be reviewed, and then review what difference the agreed support have had (this is sometimes described as the impact of interventions). The level of support or the type of interventions might be leading to better outcomes, or it might be agreed to change the support provided, or to carry out more detailed assessments.
This is often called the ‘assess – plan – do – review’ cycle. It is important to keep the support and outcomes of support under review – to ensure that your child is making progress, and also making sure to avoid providing too much support, which could hold back your child’s progress and independence.
Maintained schools in Camden, including Academies and Free Schools, have a higher level of funding to be able to meet most children’s needs without needing to request additional resources through an EHC plan. There is more information about school funding for SEN here. It is the SENDCO in any school that will help decide when it is clear that more support is needed than the school can provide from the resources ordinarily available.
Non-maintained and maintained nurseries can ask the Area SENCO about funds to support specialist equipment or interventions for children with severe and complex needs.
Schools and settings can and will involve a range of professionals when more specialist advice is needed. This includes specialist teachers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, child and adolescent mental health professionals and educational psychologists.
Parents and staff work together to make decisions about who to involve, and your consent will be sought to making the referral. Doctors (GPs) also make referrals to some health professionals.
Sometimes assessments will show that no further involvement is required, but sometimes the professionals will recommend that they provide advice and support to staff in early years settings and schools, help develop programmes for education staff to deliver, or provide direct support. All of this support is available through early intervention, there is no need to have a statement or EHC plan.
All schools have a responsibility for making appropriate support arrangements and for welcoming all pupils into their schools.
The Equality Act 2010 and Children and Families Act 2014 reinforce the right for all children to be educated in mainstream schools. The SEND Code of Practice states that “Where a child or young person does not have an EHC plan they must be educated in a mainstream setting except in specific circumstances… (Code of Practice section 1.27).
Help that might be provided could be changes to teaching and grouping, and other strategies that are ordinarily available to all children in the setting. Help might also be provided that is over and above what is ordinarily available to all children in the setting, for example special programmes, different equipment, or individual help, or a combination of strategies.
Appropriate interventions to meet a child or young person’s needs should be informed by relevant assessments, and aim to help your child or young person to reach planned outcomes. Outcomes should support the child or young person at any age to develop healthy social relationships and engage in the community, become more independent, be healthy, and to improve attainment and future employment outcomes. A graduated approach should record the progress your child makes over time in response to the support provided.
The SEND Code of Practice states that all schools …. “…must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage.” (Code of Practice section 6.9). Schools are required to ensure children and young people with disabilities have access to the curriculum and the school environment (Accessibility Planning).
Schools and settings are expected to ensure that children with special educational needs can access the same range of provision that are on offer to all children. Where necessary, they should make reasonable adjustments to ensure that all children can access the full range of activities, whether they are in the classroom, at lunch times, accessing after school provision, going on education visits, participating in school productions, and any other aspect of the school or provision.
Some families need help, whether or not children in that family have special educational needs. Camden also has an ‘Early Help’ offer to support families which includes support with parenting, employment, anti-social behaviour and emotional wellbeing, and can be offered by one service or more than one, working closely together in a ‘multi-agency’ way.
For more information about early help click here.
If you need additional information or help accessing Early Help support, you can call the Children and Families Contact Team on 020 7974 3317.