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Special educational needs - help in primary and secondary schools

All children deserve a fair start in life and we are committed to giving every child the opportunity to reach their full potential.

We work with families, schools and other agencies to provide a wide variety of support and aim to ensure that all children and young people have access to provision which is appropriate to their special educational needs or disability. You might like to pdf icon view our strategy for SEND 2011-14 [343kb] and the pdf icon accompanying implementation plan [22kb].

What does special educational needs mean?

The term encompasses a wide range of types of need. The established categories are: specific learning difficulty, moderate learning difficulty, severe learning difficulty, profound and multiple learning difficulty, complex learning difficulties and disabilities, behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, speech, language and communications needs, hearing impairment, visual impairment, multi-sensory impairment, physical disability and autism.

The Equality Act 2010 defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. The definition of disability encompasses a broader range of impairments than might be commonly assumed, including children with autism, those with Tourette's syndrome and those with communication difficulties.

Our children and young people's service manages provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disability, which includes making provision for:

  • autism;
  • behavioural, emotional or social difficulties;
  • hearing impairment;
  • multi-sensory impairment;
  • physical difficulties;
  • severe and complex learning difficulties and disabilities;
  • specific learning difficulties;
  • speech, language and communication needs, and
  • visual impairment.

The help available

There are currently three levels of intervention for pupils with special educational needs:

  • School Action - where the teacher or the school special educational needs co-ordinator decides to provide something for the child additional to or different from the school's usual approach to help children learn;
  • School Action Plus - where the school consults specialists and requests help from external services.
  • Statement - where the child requires support beyond that which the school can provide and the local authority arranges appropriate provision.

The special needs of most children can be met effectively through action taken by their mainstream school.  We also provide specialist support through placement in special schools, some of which are residential, and enhanced mainstream schools - schools which have been specially equipped to support children with particular needs.

Specific help might also include specialist equipment, such as an adapted computer or software, a modified lesson plan, a hearing loop or an adjustable desk, input from specialist support services, such as speech and language therapists or mental health services, teachers with specialist knowledge, skilled job coaches, advice on mobility and getting around, or training for children and young people on managing their own behaviour and improving their social skills and understanding.

The sensory, physical, medical and teaching service promotes educational achievement and social and emotional development for children and young people with vision, hearing or physical/medical needs up to the age of 19.

And the educational psychology and early years service supports children and young people in schools and the community. Much of its work is with children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities or who experience behavioural, emotional or social difficulties.

High-quality provision in mainstream lessons is the most important factor in helping pupils with SEND make good progress alongside their peers. Many schools have developed whole school provision maps which list the approaches to be used by teachers to help overcome some of the barriers to learning faced by some pupils.

A very small number of children with severe and complex needs may require SEN provision through a statement of special educational needs. The first step towards the statement is an assessment of the child's needs.

Special educational needs - help in primary and secondary schools - frequently asked questions

This page was last updated on 10 September 2014