As many as one in five children could experience some kind of difficulty in learning at some time during their school life.
Most children will receive the extra help they need from their school. Some children may need more specialist help.
The term 'special educational needs' has a legal meaning.
The law says that a child has special educational needs if he or she has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children the same age.
A child with special educational needs may need extra help because of:
- a physical disability present from birth or arising from injury or illness;
- a visual impairment where children have been born partially sighted or blind, or have become so through accidents, illness or a deteriorating condition;
- a medical or health condition which may slow down a child's progress and/or involve treatment that affects their schooling;
- a hearing impairment involving significant hearing loss or deafness which can seriously affect speech and the ability to benefit from teaching and conversation with others;
- emotional and behavioural difficulties where a child might have difficulty in forming social relationships and concentrating on work;
- a specific learning difficulty with reading, writing and mathematics calling for a more structured approach to learning;
- learning difficulties in acquiring basic skills;
- speech and language where children have a particular reason for not being able to speak or are delayed in speech and language skills development.
How do schools give help to children with special educational needs?
In Stoke-on-Trent, schools provide a wide range of extra support for children with special educational needs. This is matched
to their level of difficulty. Most children's needs will be met by their school, through a range of interventions known as
School Action and School Action Plus. This is called the graduated approach.
This 'graduated approach' is described in more detail in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. This is a guide for schools and local educational authorities and provides information about how they help children with special educational needs. By law, the guidance in the code of practice should not be ignored.
A copy of the code of practice can be freely obtained from the Department for Education at:
PO Box 5050
Telephone 0845 60 222 60
Website Department for Education:
What happens at School Action?
School Action is used when your child's school feels there is evidence to support concerns that your child:
- is making little or no progress even when teaching approaches are targeted particularly in his/her identified area of weakness;
- shows signs of difficulty in developing literacy or mathematics skills which result in poor academic attainment in some curriculum areas;
- has sensory or physical problems, and continues to make little or no progress despite the provision of specialist equipment;
- presents persistent emotional or behavioural difficulties which are not made better by the behaviour management techniques usually employed in his/her school;
- has communication and/or interaction difficulties, and continues to make little or no progress despite the provision of a differentiated curriculum.
School Action involves the class teacher seeking the help of the special educational needs co-ordinator or SENCO.
Your child's teacher will consult with you and together with the SENCO they will draw up a plan of action for your child. This may take the form of an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
The SENCO and your child's class teacher will discuss what type of support will help your child make progress.
For example, these might include;
- different learning materials
- special equipment
- group work
- individual support
- training for staff on how best to support your child.
Your child's progress will be reviewed regularly. It may be that his/her special educational needs continue to cause concern. If so, it is likely that, the special educational needs coordinator will invite you to a meeting in order to discuss whether more support is needed.
What happens at School Action Plus?
If your child does not make adequate progress or if his/her special educational needs cannot be met under School Action, the school may seek advice from specialists such as an educational psychologist or the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support service. These specialists will look at your child's records to get a full picture of his/her progress, the strategies already used by the school and targets that have been set and achieved.
Together with the SENCO, the specialists will develop a plan for your child which may include;
- regular advice to teacher/s on working with your child
- teaching support
- equipment and teaching materials
- i nformation and technology
- specialist assessment.
The plan for your child will be recorded, possibly in a new IEP. This will be monitored and reviewed regularly. Your child's teachers will be responsible for making sure the plan is put into action in the classroom.
What is a statutory assessment?
Most children's needs can be met by the extra help available through School Action or School Action Plus. However a small number of children may need a lot of extra help that only a statutory assessment will identify.
A statutory assessment is a detailed assessment of your child's special educational needs. This can lead to a statement of special educational needs although there is no guarantee that this will happen. The aim of the assessment is to find out what special educational needs your child has and what special help he/she will need to meet those needs.
What is a statement of special educational needs?
A statement of special educational needs is a legal document that might follow a statutory assessment. It describes your child's needs and the special help that is needed to meet those needs. It will also specify the type and name of school that can provide for those needs.
There will be a review of the statement at least every 6 months for children under 5, or every year for all other children.
If you have concerns during these times, you do not have to wait until the next scheduled review; you can request an Interim
Where can I get more help, information and advice?
If you are concerned about your child's progress or you would like to know more about getting extra help for your child, talk to your child's teacher or the school's SENCO or the head teacher.
If you would like to speak to someone who is independent and knows about special educational needs, you can get help from the Parent Partnership Service.
Local and national voluntary organisations also provide valuable sources of information and support to parents of children
with special educational needs.
- For more information about Special Education Needs phone 232538.
- Information about special schools in the city is available in the 'schools' section of this site.
- For help and advice regarding Statutory Assessment, phone 236842.
For further information regarding the SEN Monitoring and Assessment Team please click onto the link www.sgfl.org.uk/subsites/view/default.asp?site=61