Children learn at different rates and so a child may experience learning difficulties at some point in their time at school. This is not unusual. For most children the difficulties are temporary and are soon overcome with help and encouragement from home and school.
The term 'Special Educational Needs' is used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for children to learn than most children of the same age.
Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are likely to need extra or different help from that given to other children their age.
There are considered to be four main types of SEN which are:
- Thinking, understanding and learning – a child may find all learning difficult or have difficulties with specific activities such as reading or spelling. A child may have trouble understanding instructions and carrying out tasks. A child may have memory difficulties.
- Emotional and behavioural – a child may struggle with confidence or are very anxious. A child may find it difficult to follow the rules and settle down.
- Speech, language and communication – a child may have difficulty expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying to them.
- Physical or sensory impairments – a child may have hearing or vision loss. A child may have difficulty with sensory processing, being under or over-sensitive. A child may have a medical condition which affects them physically.
Some pupils will only receive SEN support for a short time, others may need it for the rest of their time in school.
For Children/young people without an EHC plan
Most children with special educational needs can go to a local mainstream school with the right support.
When your child first goes to school, you can choose up to four mainstream schools that you would prefer your child to go to. This also happens when they move schools because of their age e.g. to secondary school. You are not guaranteed your first choice so it is important to use all your four options and not miss the application deadline.
For more information about school admissions click here or click on the image:
The Equality Act 2010 ensures that all schools should give approriate thought to the provision that can be made to support a child/young person with special educational needs. There is a school admissions code that all schools and admissions authorities must follow.
If you feel you require independent support about admissions you can contact Ask Us Nottinghamshire here for advice.
For children/young people with an EHC plan
You similarily have the right to make a choice around a school place, this includes mainstream and special schools.
The Local Authority will explain how decisions about the school placement is made for children with an EHC plan. Information will be sent to you about this process at the appropriate time from the Integrated Children's Disability Service. (ICDS)
Nottingham City Residents
In Nottinghamshire, all parents can ask for a place at a mainstream school.
There are a few different types, they may differ in how they are funded, the curriculum they offer and how their admissions work.
- Maintained Local Authority Schools
- Mainstream Academies
- Faith Academies
- Foundation Schools
- Free Schools
All schools have to follow a broad and balanced curriculum. Children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best.
Teachers are expected to use different materials and activities to suit the children they teach, this is known as 'differentiation'. If you have concerns about difficulties that your child maybe having, speak to their class teacher.
Some children may have difficulties in particular subject areas or at particular times in their school life. Differentiation can help support them at these times.
Decisions about what level of help a child should get are based on the progress they are making and what help they are getting already.
The Graduated Approach
Children who continue to face challenges in their learning, despite receiving high-quality teaching and use of differentiation, may need additional strategies, or different provision, in order to meet their needs. This is known as SEN Support.
SEN support is a four-part cycle - assess, plan, do, review. Through this cycle, actions are reviewed and support adjusted to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.
This four part cycle is part of the graduated approach.
- Assess - using day-to-day information to look at the progress a child is making and consider any barriers that may be getting in the way.
- Plan - involves discussing, planning and agreeing what will be put in place. The planning should involve the child, parents and staff from the school who know the child well. Other professionals working with the child, should also contribute to planning.
- Do - It is the responsibility of class and subject teachers to implement the plan on a day-to-day basis.
- Review - This is an opportunity to look at the support plan, to consider how successfully the support is meeting the needs of the child and to make adjustments where necessary.
The assess, plan, do, review process is a continual cycle. If the review shows a child has made really good progress, this may mean they no longer require the additional SEN support and provision. For others, the assess, plan, do, review cycle will continue.
If a child has identified SEN, the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) will work with the parent and class teacher to plan what to do. This could be a special programme of work, particular equipment, time with a teaching assistant or teacher individually or in a group.
A SEN support plan is written e.g. as a provision map or as an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This shows support which is ‘additional to or different from’ what other children need. The plan shows the targets your child will be working on and any extra support arranged. The IEP or provision map should be discussed with you and with your child, and be reviewed at an agreed date, often termly.
At times, school staff may need support to further understand and meet a child's needs. This might include:
- receiving training;
- asking for advice from SENCOs in other schools;
- asking for advice from education professionals, e.g. specialist teachers or Educational Psychologists;
- asking for advice from health or social care professionals who are involved e.g. Speech and Language Therapists.
For more information on SEN in mainstream schools please click here
The Standard Universal Provision
The Standard Universal Provision in Schools document provides examples of the support and interventions that a child ordinarily may access in school as well as those that maybe part of SEN support. For more information on the Standard Universal Provision please click here
If you are a parent/carer and are worried about how your child is getting on at school, start by talking to their class teacher or form tutor. They may share your concerns and you can discuss how to help your child make progress, what extra help can be offered and whether some expert advice is needed.
You can also ask to speak to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) – the teacher who has overall responsibility for special needs. Every mainstream school has a SENCO. Often it helps to ask for a meeting with the SENCO so you can explain your concerns and discuss what action the school will take.
All state-funded schools as well as some independent schools and independent specialist providers, have to follow the guidance in the SEND Code of Practice. It is a good idea to put things in writing and keep a record of all your contacts with the school. The headteacher and governing board have overall responsibility for make sure children get a good education, including children with special educational needs. For the SEND Code of Practice please click here.
ASK US Nottinghamshire
This service offer free impartial and confidential information, advice and support for parents/carers of children/young people with special educational needs and disabilities. They can offer telephone support but also face to face support can be arranged if appropriate e.g. help with completing certain forms, writing letters and attending school meetings.
Their helpline operates Mon, Weds & Fri 9:00 - 13:00. Tues & Thurs 13:00 - 17:00.
Tel: 0800 121 7772 or email: email@example.com
Schools and Families Specialist Services (SFSS) comprise of specialist teachers and teaching assistants with additional qualifications and extensive experience in working with children and young people with special educational needs aged from 0-19.
Click here to view the guide.
The service comprises of four teams:
- The Early Years Team (supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities from 0 - 7 years (Key Stage 1)).
- The Communication and Interaction Team
- The Cognition and Learning Team
- The Sensory Team
Their services are aimed at children and young people with complex special educational needs and/or disabilities, their families and staff in the early years settings and schools they attend.
Specialist teachers and teaching assistants work with children and young people with a range of complex SEND in the home for pre-school children, and/or early years settings. They then provide support to schools for children and young people of statutory age in mainstream education, where the schools are seeking advice, guidance and/or training on making provision to address those complex needs.
They provide specialist assessments and interventions, including services for children and young people who are deaf, visually impaired, autistic, or have cognitive learning difficulties.
Who do they accept referrals from?
The Early Years Team accepts direct requests for involvement for children with complex SEND who are below school age from parents and professionals, e.g. from Early Years settings or health visitors.
Requests for involvement with children and young people with complex SEND attending school are generally negotiated at Family of Schools Springboard meetings which are held each term. Direct requests for involvement are accepted in certain circumstances, for example when:
- a child with significant SEND arrives in the County
- a child’s school placement is at risk, or
- there is an unexpected and significant change to a child’s needs or situation
For Early Years SFSS and Sensory Team - 0115 804 1232
For the Communication & Interaction, Cognition & Learning - 0115 854 6464
Early Years Team and Sensory Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Communication, Interaction Team & Cognition & Learning Team: email@example.com
For more information please click here
How does Nottinghamshire assist pupils with SEND to access schools including funding for Special Educational Needs?
All mainstream schools in Nottinghamshire are expected to provide support to pupils with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities from the resources delegated to them as part of their school budget. For children and young people whose needs exceed that level of funding, schools are able to apply for additional funding.
Schools in Nottinghamshire work in groups called ‘Families of schools’. The schools work together to share expertise and continue to develop their professional skills in working with and supporting children with SEN. This is all available at ‘SEN support’ and without an Education Health and Care plan.
School settings can:
- fund additional support from the school budget
- request Additional Family Needs (AFN) funding, which is held by the ‘Family of Schools’. All decisions about AFN funding are agreed using specific criteria. This is called ‘moderation’
- request High Level Needs (HLN) funding from the Local Authority, if the ‘Family of Schools’ agree that the child’s level of need is particularly severe and complex.
For more information on the High Needs Funding for Nottinghamshire mainstream Schools please click here
Nottinghamshire County Council has an Accessibility Strategy (also known as the action plan) that identifies the methods by which the Council provides assistance to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities to access the National Curriculum through a programme of improvement to the physical environment within the County’s schools. This is currently in the process of being updated.
An Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve. An EHC plan looks at all the needs that a child or young person has within education, health and care. Professionals and the family, including the child or young person, together consider what educational, health and care outcomes they would like to see for the child or young person. The EHC plan identifies what is needed to achieve those outcomes.
The special educational provision described in an EHC plan must be provided by the child or young person’s Local Authority (LA).
The EHC plan does not provide any additional funding to families or schools, nor is the EHC plan any guarantee that children or young people will be given a special school placement.
All mainstream schools in Nottinghamshire have access to additional funding and support, advice and guidance from specialist teams who can support schools to provide the best provision for pupils with SEN.
What is an EHC Plan?
For further information on Education, Health and Care Plans including the assessment process and how to apply please click here
Most children with special educational needs can go to a local mainstream school with the right support. If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan), there will be ongoing reviews of their support and progress. In some circumstances this may include consideration of a special school placement. Any decision about a change of school place would need the agreement of all professionals involved and you as the parent/carer.
In Nottinghamshire, Special Schools are either Local Authority maintained or Specialist Academies.
For Local Authority (maintained) - Special Schools please click here
For Special Schools - Academies please click here
In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary and appropriate for a placement to be considered at a Non-Maintained/Independent Special School.
- Non-Maintained Special Schools: These are not directly funded by the Local Authority (LA), they may be set up as charitable not-for-profit schools.
- Independent Special Schools: These are school are similar to Non-Maintained Special School but are allowed to make a profit.
Many Independent and Non-maintained schools are outside of Nottinghamshire. As a consequence there would be a number of factors to consider including:
- needs of your child/young person
- appropriateness of the peer group
- distance from home
- efficient use of resources
For Special Schools- Non Maintained/Independent please click here
There may be many reasons why a child is not regularly attending school.
This may be due to:
- health reasons
- a decision to educate the child at home
- difficulties with identifing a school place
- an exclusion
Pupils who live in Nottinghamshire and who are unable to attend school for health related reasons can receive support from the Health Related Education Team. For more information please follow the link to the Nottinghamshire County Council website here
Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the Department for Education (DfE) to describe parental decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school
There is information available on Notts County Council's website regarding children not in school including elective home education For more information please follow the link to the Nottinghamshire County Council website here.
Difficulties with identifing a school place
The Nottinghamshire County Council Fair Access Team works in partnership with schools, other local authority agencies and families, to secure and maintain appropriate education. For more information please follow the link to the Nottinghamshire County Council website here
Exclusion is the formal sending home of a child from school for disciplinary reasons. An exclusion can be fixed term (temporary) or permanent
For more information regarding exclusions from school please use the following links to the Nottinghamshire County Council website:
- fixed term exclusions for more information please follow the link here
- permanent exclusions for more information please follow the link here
You can also find further information through the frequently asked questions for Children not in school click here.
All schools, colleges and services will have their own published policies and/or guidance for addressing complaints and disagreements. In the first instance it is always best to discuss issues at the earliest opportunity and this may be an informal chat with your child's teacher or SENCO at school.
If you feel that you are unable to resolve a disagreement there are different processes available depending on the nature of the issue or disagreement and you can access further information on this by clicking here Disagreements and Complaints
Here you will find services that support education and also offer educational advice and information, please click here.
In Nottinghamshire the Youth Justice Service (YJS) have a dedicated education team, who pick up anything that relates to education for young people in the youth justice system. The team includes advisors in education, training and employment.
When young people enter the YJS they are assessed using screening tools to identify speech, language, communication and neuro-disability needs. Those identified with high needs are referred for further assessment to the Speech and Language Therapy Service.
For more information about the work the YJS education team carries out with young people with special educational needs (SEN) click here
Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS) offer free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SEN from birth to 25, and their parents/carers. They are statutory services, which means there has to be a service in every Local Authority. In Nottinghamshire the service if offered by Ask Us. Watch this animation, which explains all of the support on offer from IASS:
This service offer free impartial and confidential information, advice and support for parents/carers of children/young people with special educational needs and disabilities including advice on what to look for when choosing a school. They can offer telephone support but also face to face support can be arranged if appropriate e.g. help with completing certain forms, writing letters and attending school meetings.
Their helpline operates Mon, Weds & Fri 9:00 - 13:00. Tues & Thurs 13:00 - 17:00.
Tel: 0800 121 7772 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org