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If your child is under the age of five and not in an early years setting (for example, a nursery, pre-school or childminder) speak to your Health Visitor or your GP.

If your child attends a nursery or pre-school then talk to the designated teacher responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision (the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO) or the manager of the setting.  

By law, mainstream schools must have an SEN Co-ordinator (SENco) who is responsible for all the children with special educational needs in the school. Most settings and schools put the name of the SENCo on their website. The Senco works with the class teachers and subject teachers to plan the help each child needs.

School nurses are specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN) who work with school-aged children and young people and their families, working in partnership with schools, children’s social care professionals, GPs, health visitors, allied health professionals, and voluntary services to meet the needs of children and young people.  Their primary responsibility is helping the school to support and look after children with medical conditions and making sure enough staff are competently trained and are confident looking after a child with a medical condition.  The School Nurse will need to be involved if your child has a medical condition or you have any health concerns. 

First response

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.

A diagnosis does not always indicate the level of level of support or provision that is needed to effectively support a child with special educational needs.  A person centred approach should be used to identify each individual need and provision put in place to support and ensure progress and full potential is being met.  

Extra help in the classroom

If you think your child needs some extra help in the classroom, make an appointment to speak to your child's Senco or teacher about your worries.

It may help if you take a summary of what your concerns are including:

  • Evidence of your child's difficulty: incomplete schoolwork, reports, education plans.
  • Your own record of child's mood and behaviour at home.
  • Any reports about your child from specialists or medical professionals such as a pediatrician or occupational therapist.
  • Check the school’s policies and SEN Information Report on how the school meet the needs of the pupils.

Ask what support your child is getting, whether the teacher or SENCO shares your concerns, and what the next stage will be if they need more help.

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