Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Support


disabled child in school

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 and Disability (SEND) 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 be 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 SEND support for a short time, others may need it for the rest of their time in school.

Choosing a 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:

School Admissions.JPG


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 both 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) EHC Assessment Team


Nottingham City Residents

If you are a City resident please go to the Nottingham City Council website. 

Mainstream Schools

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.

These include:

  • Maintained Local Authority Schools
  • Mainstream Academies 
  • Faith Academies 
  • Foundation Schools
  • Free Schools

Each mainstream school will have it's own website where you can find more information about the school itself and copies of the Special Educational Need Policy and Information report, which will explain how the school supports children with additional needs.

Links to Nottinghamshire schools can be found through the SEND Local Offer See below or by Googling the name of the school.


Support in the Classroom

Class standing up teaching

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 and SEN Support

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 Special Educational Needs (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.

Assess Plan Do review

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. 

What Happens if a Child has Identified Special Educational Needs?

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, access to 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:

SEN Support in Mainstream Schools

  • receiving training;
  • asking for advice from SENCOs in other schools;
  • asking for advice from external 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 Support in mainstream schools please click here to view the leaflet.

The Educational Psychology Service, in conjunction with other support service colleagues have produced a guide which details the role of schools in delivering a graduated response and the additional support that the Local Authority’s Support Services can offer. 

Please click here to view the guide

Nottingamshire Provision and Assessment Guidance






Standard Universal Provision

universal standard support provision in schools

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 Standard Universal Provision please click here 

How to get extra Help

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 making sure children get a good education, including children with special educational needs.

Ask Us Nottinghamshire

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: enquiries@askusnotts.org.uk

Schools and Families Specialist Services (SFSS)

Schools and Families Specialist Services (SFSS) is part of Nottinghamshire County Council's education support. It is made up 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.

For pre-school children with a range of complex SEND, SFSS staff may work in the home and/or the early years setting to provide support and advice.

Once a child begins their statutory education, the focus of SFSS support shifts. The emphasis is on providing advice, guidance and/or training to mainstream schools, where they request this involvement to help make provision for children and young people with complex needs. This includes for children and young people who are autistic, have learning difficulties or who are deaf and/or have a visual impairment.

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.

High Needs Funding for Nottinghamshire Mainstream Schools

For more information on the High Needs Funding for Nottinghamshire mainstream Schools please click here





Nottinghamshire County Council's Accessibility Strategy

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.

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan?

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.

For further information on Education, Health and Care Plans including the assessment process and how to apply please click here or on the icon below:

Educational Health and Care Plan image







Specialist Schools for children with EHC plans

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

    Local authority maintained special schools







    For Special Schools - Academies please click here

    Special Schools Academies







    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

    special schools non maintained independent

    Children not in school

    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. 

    Find more information on the SEND Local Offer website

    Home Education

    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.

    Find more information on the Nottinghamshire County Council website

    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


    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:

    Disagreements and Complaints

    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. For further information go to the Disagreements and Complaints page on the SEND Local Offer website

    Education services and support

    This section of the SEND Local Offer website contains voluntary, charitable and private organisations as well as some Nottinghamshire County Council Services that are avaialble to offer educational advice, information and support.

    Please click here.


    Youth Justice and SEN Education

    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.

    Contact: Junior Wright

    Position Senior Practitioner Education, Training & Employment Coordinator

    Telephone0115 9774597

    E-mail: junior.wright@nottscc.gov.uk

    Information, Advice and Support Services - Ask Us Nottinghamshire

    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:

    Ask Us Nottinghamshire 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 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: enquiries@askusnotts.org.uk

    Page last reviewed: 20/02/2024

    Skip back to top of page