SEN Support

Schools, nursery schools and colleges should identify pupils who may be having difficulty and decide whether SEN support is appropriate.

A child does not need a medical diagnosis to be recognised as having SEN. What is SEN?

This means help that is in addition to, or different from the support given to all children of the same age. They must use their ‘ best endeavours’ to put appropriate support in place – this means doing all they can to make sure they meet a child or young person’s SEN.

Sometimes you may be the first to notice that your child has special educational needs. If you think your child in nursery or school needs SEN support talk to their  teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator  (SENCO). For colleges, you will need to talk to student or learning support, this information should be on their website.

Deciding whether to put in place SEN support starts with the desired outcomes, the expected progress and the views and wishes of you and your child.

Read more about your role within our section ‘ working with school

Known as the ‘graduated approach’, SEN Support is provided in a continuous cycle of ‘assess, plan, do, review‘ which is further explained below.

‘Special Needs Jungle’ have some useful flowcharts.

You may find it helpful to look at your school’s ‘SEN Information Report’. What is a SEN Information Report?

The  SEND Code of Practice says:

“Children and young people should be enabled to achieve their best become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training.” (6.1)

Click on each step below to read more information.

Step 1 in the continuous cycle: Identifying and assessing SEN (assess)

In assessing your child’s needs, their Teacher (or key worker/tutor), working with the SENCO will consider:

  • your child’s progress and attainment
  • information from other subject teachers, where appropriate
  • your child’s development in comparison with other children and national data
  • advice from external support services

The SEND Code of Practice says:

“Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent” 


Step 2 in the continuous cycle: Planning required support (plan)

Schools, including academies and maintained nurseries must publish information on their websites about their policy for pupils with SEN, so this can be a useful starting point if you have any questions about what support your child’s school or nursery can provide, and also their arrangements for identifying, assessing and reviewing SEN.

Schools should share with you a record of the outcomes, action and support agreed through discussions.

If your child’s nursery or school decides to provide SEN Support they must let you know and should then discuss with you:

  • the required adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place;
  • the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour;
  • the desired outcomes;
  • a clear date for review.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

“The support and intervention provided should be selected to meet the outcomes identified for the child”

5.39 & 6.50

Colleges should discuss with your child their ambitions and…

The SEND Code of Practice says:

“The support provided should be selected to meet the student’s aspirations”


Step 3 in the continuous cycle: Putting support in place (do)

With support from the SENCO, your child’s teacher (or key worker in early years) should oversee the planned support.

Where support involves group or one-to-one teaching away from the main class, your child’s teacher remains responsible. They should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved, and with the SENCO to monitor and assess the impact of the support in place.

This might be a difficult time for you, while waiting to see what impact the support will have. Remember the continuous cycle of SEN Support means that your child’s progress and the support they are receiving should be reviewed regularly, and changed when necessary.

You can talk to your child about the support they have, to try to find out what’s working for them or whether there is anything they are finding difficult. This will be useful information for the review.

Step 4 in the continuous cycle: Reviewing progress and impact of support (review)

Review dates should be agreed at the planning stage

The SEND Code of Practice says:

“Schools should meet parents at least three times each year” (6.65) 

School and nursery schools should explain the impact of the support in place, and progress being made towards the outcomes. They should discuss with you any changes to outcomes or support. Reviews also provide the opportunity for you to share your thoughts on the difference the support is making, and the views of your child.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

“The college and the student together should plan any changes in support. Support for all students with SEN should be kept under review, whether or not a student has an EHC plan”


The SEND Code of Practice says:

“Parents should have clear information about the impact of the support provided and be involved in planning next steps” 

5.43 & 6.55

If your child is not making expected progress despite the support in place, schools, nurseries and colleges might talk to you about involving ‘Specialist Education Services‘ or health providers such as therapists and mental health specialists.

You can find out about the full range of services available to children and young people with SEND on the Suffolk Local Offer.

If your child has an EHC plan, the local authority must review this as a minimum every 12 months. Read more about EHC plan annual reviews.

Requesting an EHC needs assessment – this can be made at any time

Making Meetings Matter‘ – our top tips for parents attending meetings

SEND Teams in Suffolk – contact details

Suffolk County Council ‘The SEND Journey: Graduated Response 

The Engagement Model‘ A parent guide to the teacher assessment tool for key stages 1 and 2 for pupils working below the level of the national curriculum – from the Standards and Testing Agency

Equality and Inclusion – ensuring that children and young people with SEN engage with activities in the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN

Working with school – parent and school working together to find ways to support a child

Recommendations for mainstream schools (from the Education Endowment Foundation)

Useful resources for working with school

Written communication tips (opens PDF)

Pre-meeting email template (opens PDF)

Sendiass meeting planner (opens PDF)

Unpicking issues (opens PDF)

Sharing interests, skills and qualities (opens PDF)

Sharing support needs (opens PDF)

Watch our video explaining the process of SEN Support.
Read script of recording. (opens pdf)

SEN Support in mainstream schools

Download SEN Support leaflet (PDF)

Watch our video explaining the process of SEN support in early years settings.
Read script of recording. (opens pdf)

Watch our range of videos exploring SEN Support (opens in YouTube). Including recordings of information sessions about SEN Support for pupils with different types of SEN.