Does your child have special educational needs? At a glance
- If your child has special educational needs (SEN), they could need extra support at school, and the school may need extra funding to provide it.
- Your Local Authority has a duty to provide for children and young people with SEN.
- You or your child’s school should ask your Local Authority for an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, to see if they meet the criteria for a more detailed assessment and additional support at school.
- We can help you through the process for requesting this assessment to help you make a successful application.
- If your child already has an Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), you may not be happy with the support outlined in the EHCP or school placement. We have extensive experience of helping secure the right support and school placement, including residential placements for children with complex and multiple needs.
A child’s learning disability affects many aspects of their life, including their academic, social, emotional and physical well being, which are critical to their growth and development. Its can also affect the lives of their family members. If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), it can seem a struggle to take on the system and secure suitable education for them. Your Local Authority has a duty to provide for all children and young people within their area who have SEN, so you’ll want advice on how to approach and deal with them and ensure your child’s needs are met.
What are special educational needs?
The law says that a child or young person (aged 0 to 25) has SEN if they have “a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made.”
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Challenging behaviour
- Moderate, profound or severe learning difficulties
- Visual impairment
- Physical disability
- Fine and gross motor skills difficulties
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Attachment disorder
- Speech and language difficulties
- Developmental coordination disorder
- Dyspraxia cerebral palsy (problems with motor coordination)
- Cerebral palsies
If your child has SEN
If your child has SEN, they might need more support than their school can provide. The school may require extra funding to deliver the right levels of support, and to make this possible the Local Authority can arrange an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment. The EHC needs to be requested by the child’s parents or the school.
The EHC will assess if your child has SEN, and needs more educational support than is usually available at a mainstream school. While the assessment can be made without involving the school or educational setting, the school can play an important role in supplying evidence about your child’s needs.
If your child is already at school and you think they need extra support, it’s important to discuss this with the school before requesting an EHC needs assessment. If they agree with you, they can help by providing supporting evidence. This could include details of your child’s progress, the support they’re already receiving and why they think you child should have extra support.
If the school doesn’t agree with your EHC needs assessment request, you can still ask your Local Authority for an assessment and provide your own evidence, including school records.
Your Local Authority should provide clear guidance on how to apply for an assessment, so it’s worth studying this and ensuring you’ve provided all the information required, before making your application.
Based on the EHC assessment, the Local Authority will then decide whether to issue an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The EHCP outlines what the Local Authority considers are the educational, health and social needs of your child, including their Special Educational Needs. We explain the EHCP in more detail here.
When you or your child’s school asks for an EHC assessment, the Local Authority has a set time to respond.
If the Local Authority or the school won’t agree to your request for an EHC needs assessment, you don’t have to accept their answer. See our page about ‘What if you do not agree with your Local Authority or school?’ to find out what you can do next.
We understand these issues can seem complex and frustrating, when you’re simply trying to do the best for your child. You can turn to us for advice and support, to secure the best SEN provision for your child. We’ll take the time to listen and understand your child’s needs, and work with you to assess the options, set goals and develop a strategy to achieve them.
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