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This information is about the support that mainstream schools must and should provide for children with special educational needs (SEN).

The SEND Code of Practice says:

All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training


 The duties on schools to make SEN provision

The SEND Code of Practice says mainstream schools must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO.
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time


Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children and young people achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school in conjunction with parents and pupils themselves.

Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website.

You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The Local Offer published by Essex also sets out what support it expects early years settings, schools and colleges to make for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities. 

Find out about types of education settingsFind out about funding SEN support

SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • a special learning programme for your child
  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with your child in a small group
  • observing your child in class or at break and keeping records         
  • helping your child to take part in the class activities
  • making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult
  • helping other children work with your child, or play with them at break time
  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing.
  • advice and/or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists, and therapists.

When schools want to call in specialists, they should discuss and agree this with parents.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.   



The school should then decide if your child needs SEN support.  The school should talk to you and your child about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has some special educational needs. If you think your child may need SEN support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or headteacher. Raising Concerns

Also in this section:

One Planning and the Graduated Approach

Information on the graduated approach of assess, plan, do and review for all mainstream settings, including Early Years and education beyond 16

Local Authority services and how they can help

A description of Essex local authority services and professionals and when it is appropriate to involve a professional

Literacy Difficulties, including where there are concerns about dyslexia

Essex Approach to supporting children and young people with literacy difficulties

Supporting Challenging Behaviour

Supporting challenging behaviour at school and at home

Supporting your Neurodiverse Child

A resource pack produced by the Essex Family Forum