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How will my child be supported at Pre-school?

All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes. 

A lot of the activities your child will undertake will be play-based, with more formal teaching not starting until primary school.  Any concerns must be discussed with the Nursery Manager and the Pre-school will carry out their own assessments to identify the support that must be in place.  The Pre-school may consult with local authority professionals for advice on targeted provision, to ensure that all needs are fully met. 

Read more on SEN Support - Early Years

What does Quality First Teaching or High Quality Teaching mean?

The first response to supporting children at school should be high quality teaching targeting any areas of difficulty.  This is sometimes called ‘Quality First Teaching’ which is a style of teaching that emphasises high quality, inclusive teaching for all pupils in a class.  Schools are required to support all pupils with high quality teaching, with appropriate reasonable adjustments in place.  

If a child’s needs are not being met with high quality teaching then additional special educational needs support will need to be considered.  

Please read our section on SEN Support in Education Settings

Does my child need a diagnosis to get SEN support?

A child does not need a medical diagnosis to be recognised as having a Special Educational Need (SEN). SEN is about assessing and identifying the needs and then putting in place support for these (whether or not there is a diagnosis).

Teachers make adjustments so that they can meet the wide range of needs for all the children in any given class and this is known as ‘differentiation’.

Schools provide support for a child with SEN if they need further adjustments or support on top of ‘differentiation’. A disability which creates barriers to education may also be the trigger for additional support.

SEN is not always about a child’s academic attainment. Some children may have other barriers to learning.

Schools identify the needs and make ‘best endeavours’ to ensure a child with SEN gets the right support – read about the graduated approach (assess, plan, do & review). They can make referrals into specialist education or health services for advice about how to support a child who is not making expected progress.

If you are thinking about exploring assessment or a diagnosis, we have some information on our website: ‘seeking a diagnosis’

There is also some government guidance for schools: ‘ Supporting pupils with medical conditions‘, which highlights that schools should not wait for a formal diagnosis before providing support for a medical condition.

I think my child has SEN but the Class Teacher does not agree. What can I do?

The definition of SEN is that a child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than other children the same age. But at the same time, it is true that all children learn at different speeds and schools are very aware of how important it is to identify children who may be having difficulties with their learning.

Some children will appear on the surface to be managing well but underneath may be finding things difficult and feeling too anxious or self-conscious to ask for help.  Arrange to meet with your child's class teacher to talk through your concerns. It is a good idea to ask for 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.

SENDIASS can help you by suggesting questions you could ask and have produced a guidance:

A Parents Guide to How My Child is Doing at School

If you are still concerned after you have spoken to the class teacher, you could ask them to involve the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). They have responsibility for what happens on a day to day basis in the school for pupils with SEN and also provides advice to other teachers in the school to help all pupils with SEN to make progress.

You should be involved in all discussion about your child’s SEN, the SEND Code of Practice is really clear on this. Make contact with the SENCO and Class Teacher to arrange a meeting so you have an opportunity to share your views, those of your child, and find out what support the school have, or are planning to put in place.

Ahead of any meeting it can be helpful to let school know what you would like to discuss:

Download our pre-meeting template sheet

What support should my child be getting in school?

Some children will need less help and some children may need more – it will depend on their level of need.  Provision should be matched to the child or young person’s identified needs which is generally thought of in four broad areas of need eg. communication & interaction, cognition & learning, social, emotional and mental health, sensory and/or physical needs

Read our section SEN Support in Education Settings, which explains the process of identifying & assessing needs and planning & reviewing support.

You can find out what school offer by viewing their SEN information report, and SEN policies on their website. Talk to the SENCO about the difficulties your child is having, and together you can discuss and plan support.

Find out what is available locally for your child, for example voluntary, health or specialist services, by searching on the Essex Local Offer or the SNAP Directory.

Can a child receive support if they are making academic progress?

A child may have SEN, despite making expected academic progress.

See also our information about The Definition of SEN and Disabilities

The SEND Code of Practice says that when identifying SEN in schools…

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 should not be assumed that attainment in line with chronological age means that there is no learning difficulty or disability. Some learning difficulties and disabilities occur across the range of cognitive ability and, left unaddressed may lead to frustration, which may manifest itself as disaffection, emotional or behavioural difficulties. 6.18 & 6.23 Code of Practice

Talk to school about what your child is finding difficult and ask what support might be put in place to help them. The school’s own website could be a good starting point as may detail some of the programmes or interventions they offer.

Can I ask for my child to be kept back a year?

Sometimes we receive enquiries from parents who are thinking of requesting that their child repeats a school year. This is often at transition points, e.g. from Nursery to Infants, Infants to Juniors, Junior to Secondary and is considered because parents feel their child would benefit from slightly more time in that key stage, or that they are not yet mature enough to move up to the next key stage.

As a parent, you have the right to discuss the reasons why you feel repeating a year would benefit your child but it is a school decision and not something that a Head Teacher will take lightly. The decision to approve or not approve whether a child repeats a year level is made by the Head Teacher.   The Head Teacher will need to consider whether repeating is the best educational option for the child or whether there are other strategies or support that the school could provide to assist, such as providing special educational needs support and making adjustments to their educational program.   It is important that the school take a collaborative approach to making these decisions, exploring the best educational options with parents and discussing the options/strategies that could be considered as an alternative, as well as the implications of repeating a year if it is approved.   

Things to consider

  • What will be the impact on your child’s friendships?
  • What will be the impact on your child’s self esteem?
  • Is keeping your child back a substitute for providing the support that is needed for their SEN (Special Educational Needs)? Would they be better remaining in their current year group but having more support and a more differentiated curriculum?
  • What will have changed by this time next year? Will your child be mature enough to go up to the next year or have you just postponed the problem?
  • Consider what will happen when they need to change schools? There are no guarantees that their next school will receive them into the year group below.
  • What will happen when they are no longer statutory school age? If your child is kept back a year they will reach the end of statutory school age in year 10, before sitting their GCSEs. They could choose to leave school at this point.

For further information on how children are supported at school please read:

Who to talk to

SEN Support

The school have said they do not have the funding to support my child. What can I do?

The SEND Code of Practice (6.97) says:

It is for schools, as part of their normal budget planning, to determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEN. The SENCO, headteacher and governing body or proprietor should establish a clear picture of the resources that are available to the school. They should consider their strategic approach to meeting SEN in the context of the total resources available, including any resources targeted at particular groups, such as the pupil premium.

Schools must identify, assess the child’s needs and then plan support based on this information in a continuous cycle (assess-plan-do-review). Where school have identified what a child needs, this should be put in place.  You can ask your school how it uses its SEN budget to support your child and whether it has enough to make all the provision they need.

Read about the SEN Notional fund

If progress is not being made despite SEN Support or the school may need help from the local authority to provide what is needed, an EHC needs assessment might be the next step. You have the right as a parent to request an Education, Health & Care needs assessment directly with the local authority.

Read our information on Education, Health & Care Needs Assessments 

My child is not making progress on One Planning. What can I do?

If your child is not making progress, then perhaps they need more individual support, more targeted support or a different approach to helping them learn.  The progress made should indicate whether your child has achieved the desired outcomes, and if not support should be reviewed and changed, with fresh targets set where necessary. If you are unclear or disagree with progress being made or the targets being set, discuss your concerns with the SENCO in the first instance.

The school could offer increased support or adapt the ways they are teaching them. The school should always be able to show you what support your child is getting and how they are monitoring their progress, who else is involved in planning their support, for example, local authority professionals, and how they are following their advice.

It is useful to check your child’s One Planning paperwork to ensure effective One Planning is in place, for example, have the needs been fully identified and describes the support needed. Gain your child’s views in preparation for a review meeting – It’s very important for your child or young person to be at the centre of things, and to be able to share their views and have them properly listened to and acted on.

You can explain at the meeting why you think your child needs more help, perhaps you feel they are not making progress, falling further behind or just telling you or showing you they are unhappy at school. You can ask to see evidence of the progress your child is making and talk through any changes to support that would help. You can look at their individual progress tracker and see which targets your child has achieved and what support helps them learn.

Schools can involve local authority professionals, such as an Engagement Facilitator or Inclusion Partner or an Educational Psychologist to give the school further advice and guidance. If your child’s needs are not being met, you can ask your child’s school if they have made contact with the Inclusion & Psychology Service for this guidance.

If progress is not being made despite SEN Support or there are gaps in knowledge (it is not known what the needs are and an assessment is the only way to determine these) or the school need help from the local authority to provide what is needed an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

You have the right as a parent to request an Education, Health & Care needs assessment directly with the local authority.

Find information on Education, Health & Care Needs Assessments 

You can use our One Planning template to help you plan and prepare for your next review meeting

The school have said my child needs to be at least four years behind before the local authority will consider an EHC Needs Assessment. Is this correct?

The Essex Local Authority have their own guidance for considering an Education Health & Care Needs Assessment but the LA cannot refuse to assess based on its internal policies alone. 

The legal test is outlined in Section 36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014 (C&FA 2014).  It states that the LA must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if the child or young person has or may have SEN, and, it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan. 

For further information please read our Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment section

The school have said they need to gather more evidence but my child needs help now. What can I do?

If school have identified what your child needs help with, this should be put in place. The process of SEN Support is all about the gathering of evidence ie, support is put in place then continuously monitored for impact on progress.  Therefore, there should no reason to delay, since the recording and monitoring should already be in place, as part of the One Planning approach.

Speak to school again to find out what progress is being made, the evidence of the impact of support in place so far and, where progress is not being made, what are the next steps. 

If progress is not being made despite SEN Support or there are gaps in knowledge (it is not known what the needs are and an assessment is the only way to determine these) or the school need help from the local authority to provide what is needed an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

You have the right as a parent to request an Education, Health & Care needs assessment directly with the local authority.

Read our information on Education, Health & Care Needs Assessments 

My child is struggling to attend school due to anxiety. What can I do?

It is common for children and young people with SEND to experience anxiety, but sometimes this can worsen and children start to feel they are unable to go to school. Speak to their school as soon as possible to let them know about the difficulties they are experiencing. You can also talk to their GP.

It can be useful to think about who you would like to talk to in school. School staff have different roles and you might want to change who you meet with as your child’s needs emerge or change.

Together you can discuss ways to support your child. Take a look at our page ‘School Anxiety’ section for possible support strategies, including involving specialist services and for useful links to other sources of information. See also our information within ‘medical needs’.

My child’s school is suggesting my child starts attending school for only part of the day? Do I have to agree?

Sometimes if a child or young person is finding it difficult to manage a whole day at school, perhaps because they have behavioural difficulties and there are concerns about this leading to an exclusion or they are feeling anxious about school and are reluctant to attend, a school might suggest a part- time timetable.

You don’t have to agree to a reduced timetable and it would be advisable to discuss all alternative options that could be considered, such as a higher level of SEN support, involving outside services for behaviour management, a managed move etc.   

The agreement is made between the school, pupil, parent or carer, and in some circumstances, the Local Authority.  Reduced timetables should be limited to 6-8 weeks and be part of a Pastoral Support Plan or One Plan which is recorded and monitored with the aim of the child to return to full time education.  

For further information on our Reduced Timetable section

I am considering home education as my child is struggling at school. What do I need to consider?

Home educating your child is always an option and an increasing number of parents are doing just that. It is a big decision and before you take your child off a school roll, you need to think about why you have decided to take this step.

Some parents take their child out of school as a last resort rather than a real choice or desire to do so because they feel their child’s special educational needs are not being met. If this is the case, it might be better contact us and to talk things through and see if by discussing things with school, your child might be able to receive more appropriate support.

If your child has an Education Health and Care plan (EHCP), it might be a good idea to ask for an early Annual Review to discuss why you are taking your child out of school and home educating so that the placement in their EHCP can be changed to show that.

If the school is a special school, the local authority must give consent for your child's name to be removed from a school roll, but this should not be a long or complex process.

By law, the local authority has to be satisfied that the education being provided is suitable for your child with an EHCP and their progress must be reviewed every year at the annual review of your child’s EHCP.

For further information read our Home Education

Home education resources

Snap Charity - Home Education

Can I request copies of my child’s educational record?

If you have parental responsibility, you can request access to your child’s education record under education regulations. Access to education records is a separate right and not covered by Data Protection legislation. Schools are regulated by The Education Regulations 2005.

This will cover records of the pupil’s academic achievements as well as any SEN Support information, EHC Plans, attendance record, disciplinary or behaviour plans and details of any exclusions.  It may also include communication from teachers, local education authority employees and educational psychologists engaged by the school’s governing body.

In England you should make the request in writing to the Board of Governors. A request for an educational record must receive a response within 15 school days and there may be cost involved for photocopying and printing.

In certain circumstances the school can withhold an educational record, for example, where the information might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the pupil or if the information you want involves information about another person. The request for access would also be denied if there are exam results in the file before they are officially announced.

You can use this IPSEA template letter for asking for a copy of a child’s school record

Who should make a request for an EHC Needs Assessment, parent or school?

A child or young person’s school or setting can make a request, as can a parent. Under the new law, a young person (16-25) can also make a request themselves.

In making its decision about whether a child or young person needs an EHC Needs assessment the local authority has to look at what support has already been provided and whether there has been any progress. If a school or setting makes the request, they will able to provide evidence of support, attainment and rate of progress.

If you as a parent, or your young person, make a request, please read our section on Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment which gives you some suggestions about the sort of reports and meeting notes that you could send in to support your request.