What is special educational needs (SEN) Support?

If a child has difficulties with learning, their early years' keyworker or teacher will adapt teaching methods and materials to suit the child’s style and rate of learning. If there are still concerns, then the child may have special educational needs (SEN) and SEN Support will be put in place.  

For further information read chapters five and six of the SEND Code of Practice 2015.

Read about how your child's place of learning supports children who have special educational needs in their SEN information report.

How does SEN Support work?

You and your child should be at the centre of any decision-making. This is called person-centred planning and can include person-centred reviews. It may be useful for a one-page profile to be drawn up so your child's voice can be heard.

The early years' keyworker or teacher, and the place of learning's special educational needs and disabilities coordinator (SENCO), will look at the information already gathered about the child or young person’s progress. They will think about whether they need to do further assessment.

Assessment will help everyone to understand the support that is needed. This is the start of a graduated approach called SEN Support. 

The graduated approach to SEN Support 

Places of learning must use a graduated approach with four stages of action: 

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do 
  • Review

It is called the graduated approach because it may take several cycles of intervention and different strategies being tried before support needs are understood and met.

A place of learning is able to access more specialist assessments and provision from external agencies if necessary. This should be clearly set out in a school’s SEN information report.

Step 1: Assess

The child’s needs are identified so that the right SEN Support is given. The assessment should include:

  • Asking parents and the child or young person for their views
  • Undertaking assessments and tracking progress
  • Talking to professionals who work with the child

Step 2: Plan

  • The child’s place of learning and parents agree on the outcomes that the SEN Support is intended to achieve
  • Everyone who is involved in the process has a say in deciding what kind of SEN Support will be provided. Together they decide a date to review
  • The plan will be written down. This is so that everyone is clear what different, additional support is going to be put in place 

Step 3: Do

  • The place of learning will put the planned SEN Support into place 
  • The keyworker or teacher(s) remains responsible for working with the child daily
  • Everyone involved working with the child or young person will work closely together

Step 4: Review

  • The SEN Support will be reviewed by the time agreed in the plan 
  • Everyone who is involved in the process should decide together: 
    • Whether the SEN Support is having a positive impact 
    • Whether the outcomes have been, or are being, achieved 
    • Whether new outcomes need to be identified
    • Whether the support needs to continue or different support needs to be tried
The assess, plan, do, review cycle starts again.

Information for parents