General requirements for schools

Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.

High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have special educational needs (SEN).  

Deciding whether to make special provision

In deciding whether to make special educational provision, the teacher and SENCO should consider all of the information gathered from within the school about the pupil’s progress. This information gathering should include an early discussion with the pupil and their parents.

These early discussions with parents should be structured in such a way that they develop a good understanding of the pupil’s areas of strength and difficulty, the parents’ concerns, the agreed outcomes sought for the child and the next steps.

A short note of these early discussions should be added to the pupil’s record on the school information system and given to the parents.

Agreeing a plan

However support is provided, a clear date for reviewing progress should be agreed and the parent, pupil and teaching staff should each be clear about how they will help the pupil reach the expected outcomes. Where it is decided that a pupil does have SEN, the decision should be recorded in the school records and the pupil’s parents must be formally informed that special educational provision is being made.

Graduated approach

Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.

This SEN support should take the form of a four-part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes.  This is known as the graduated approach.  It draws on more detailed approaches, more frequent review and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match intervention.

Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)

A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) is a teacher with a particular role who works with parents and carers to ensure that children with a learning disability or difficulty receive the right support in school.  All schools have a SENCO who can be contacted through the school without having to go through any specific referral method.  A SENCO can:

  • Helps to identify young people with SEN and secure their support
  • Link with parents and carers and to keep them informed of plans in place for their child
  • Liaise with specialist organisations and individuals who provide a child’s support
  • Maintain records of decisions and interventions on the child’s behalf
  • Delivers on school SEND policy

Every school will have a published description of how they support children and young people with special educational needs.

Related links

Special Needs Jungle - providing parents and carers with independent information