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Last month 596 parent/carers and young people accessed our service which led to a total of 2,859 emails, contact forms, telephone calls and face to face meetings. Contact us if you need our advice and support.  

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities should be made jointly by providers, parents, and children and young people themselves, taking a person-centred approach, with the views of children, young people and parents taken into account when those decisions are made.       



First steps

If you are not happy about how your child is managing at school the first step is to talk to their teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or the Pastoral Support Advisor and/or headteacher. You can use our meeting planning and preparation guidance to ensure that your views and your child’s views are shared

  • start with a positive – For example: ‘Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate the opportunity.... Unfortunately I still have some concerns and would be grateful if you could look into these for me…’
  • use bullet points where you have more than one issue (or many concerns about the same issue)
  • stick to the key points, sometimes a lot of background information can detract from your main concerns
  • include your child’s views, what they have said to you or how they are feeling
  • it can be helpful to think about and include the outcome you are seeking 
  • finish with another positive, for example ‘I really hope can work together to resolve these issues and look forward to hearing from you very soon.’ (you could add a date by which, if possible, you would like to hear back)

It might be helpful to ask a friend or relative to attend a meeting with you. It is a good idea to keep notes or have records of what the school has done and has told you.

If, after the given timescales, the situation  has not improved:
• It may be that the strategies in place are not successful and that something else needs to be tried
• It may be that agreed actions have not happened and you need to seek help to put your concerns forward 

For concerns about SEN support in school

The first thing you should do if you are unhappy about the help your child receives is speak to a member of staff at the setting, for example:

  • their teacher (or for a nursery their keyworker)
  • the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • the Head of Year, Headteacher (or principal)

Sometimes it is the teacher who notices that a child is struggling with completing school work and may discuss this with the SEN Co-ordinator and with the child’s parents.  If this is not the case and you feel that your child’s SEN needs have not yet been recognised, arrange to meet with the class teacher or head of year and SEN Co-ordinator to talk through your concerns. It is a good idea to ask for a meeting rather than just try to catch the teacher at the start or end of the school day when they are busy. It can be useful, ahead of any discussion with school, to try to find out from your child what they are finding difficult and what is going well/not so well, and to bring your own notes of what you have noticed at home.   

We have created a Pre-meeting email template and Parents’ Guide and this may help you to think about what you wish to discuss and the information you would like to be brought to the meeting. Examples such as confirmation of your child’s levels of attainment, SENCo’s assessments of your child’s needs and any other teacher findings to be shared.

You will likely need to arrange a meeting so you have time to discuss your concerns.  You may find our meeting planning and preparation guidance helpful to ensure that your views and your child’s views are shared, and to help you find out what support the school have, or are planning to put in place.  Your child’s views may provide insight into what you could be asking for, such as struggling to focus/process the teacher's instructions/lesson of the morning and you can ask the SEN Co-ordinator if there is a resource or strategy that could help your child to focus and to stay on task.

The school may consult with local authority professionals for advice on targeted provision, to ensure that all needs are fully met, such as the Inclusion & Psychology Team.  You can ask the school to reach out to their local Inclusion Partner if they feel specialist advice is required. 

If you think the school is doing all it can but your child needs even more help, you can ask the local authority for an EHC needs assessment

If you still have a problem you might be able to :

  • seek some help from us to put your concerns forward
  • make a formal complaint
  • ask for independent disagreement resolution or mediation
  • appeal against a decision.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan you can also contact the Send Operations Service.

Also in this section:

Making a Formal Complaint

Guidance on how to make a formal complaint to an education setting or local authority

Local Government Ombudsman

If you have followed the local authority complaints procedure and are still dissatisfied, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. Find out more here

Judicial Review

As this is a formal legal route, it is strongly advisable to seek legal representation if you are considering this option.

Resolving Disagreements

Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or, for health services, the Clinical Commissioning Group.


A brief overview of appeals to the SEND Tribunal.

Disability Discrimination Tribunal Claims

Nurseries, Schools and Colleges must take steps to ensure disabled children and young people are not substantially disadvantaged due to their disability.

Where to get further advice

You can find out more about making a complaint about provision at your child’s school on its website or by asking about its complaints procedure.