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What Is SEN Support?

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

All mainstream education settings have a legal duty under s.66 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (“CAFA”) to use their best endeavours to meet the needs of children within their care who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (“SEND”). This is so regardless of whether those children have an Education Health and Care Plan (“EHC Plan”). Chapters 5 and 6 of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice 2015 (“SENDCOP”) sets out in more granular detail what this should look like in practice. In brief, a setting is expected to proactively identify children making less than expected progress and then take steps to put in place appropriate support. The SENDCOP refers to four broad areas of need – cognition and learning; communication and interaction, social, emotional and mental health and sensory/physical; but these are not discrete categories and frequently a child’s difficulties will span one or more of areas.

In providing appropriate support schools and other education settings should use what is known as the Graduated Response, following the Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle. This requires that the child’s needs should first be established through assessment (possibly with the input of outside agencies/professionals such as CAMHS/OTs etc), then a plan as to how to meet those needs should be drawn up (often in the form of an Individual Education Plan or IEP) and shared with parents and all relevant teachers/school staff. The interventions in the plan should then be carried out, ensuring that the class teacher works closely in conjunction with any teaching assistants and/or external agencies/professionals, and after a period of time it should be reviewed to see what is and is not working and to make any necessary adjustments. There is no set frequency with which the reviews should take place, but good practice would suggest at least termly, and more than this if significant issues are apparent.

The education setting must fund this support from its own delegated budget and the expectation is that it will be able to provide up to £6,000 worth of SEN support for each child that needs it. This is what is known as the notional SEN budget. Crucially, however, the money is not necessarily actually available for this purpose, since it is determined by reference to a variety of factors which may or may not accurately reflect the number of children in a setting who need SEN Support, and it is also not ringfenced and so can be spent at the setting's discretion. As a result, it is often the case that schools simply do not have £6,000 available to provide SEN Support to every child who needs it.

Where, notwithstanding the implementation of the graduated response, a child continues to make less than expected progress, a request for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment should be considered. This can be done by the school or by the parents/carers.

If you would like advice and assistance regarding the SEN Support your child is or should be receiving, contact us today.


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