Special Educational Needs: pre-school and school age
Ask to see a school’s policy on SEN so you know what support they can offer.
If the needs of your child are not met by the informal arrangements put in place by your child’s early education provider or school, you, ora professional who has been involved in your child’s education, can request a ‘statutory assessment’ of their needs.
Schools will vary widely in how accessible they are to individual disabled pupils. You should check what facilities are available at the school when considering which school you would like your child to attend.
Every school must have an accessibility plan, which shows how they intend to improve accessibility for disabled pupils. The plan must be published and you can ask to see it. It will outline how the school will:
- Improve the physical environment
- Make improvements in the provision of information
- Increase access to the curriculum
Changes to the physical environment that a school could make to increase access might include:
- Lighting and paint schemes to help visually impaired children
- Lifts and ramps to help physically impaired children
- Carpeting and acoustic tiling of classrooms to help hearing impaired pupils
Information that is normally provided in writing (such as handouts, timetables and textbooks) can be made more accessible by providing it:
- In Braille
- In large print
- On audiotape
- Using a symbol system
Curriculum adjustments that would help disabled children have better access to the might include:
- Changes to teaching and learning arrangements
- Classroom organisation
- Support from other pupils
Assistive Technology suited to your child’s needs can help them learn faster and more easily. This can increase their access to the curriculum for example:
- Touch-screen computers
- Joysticks and trackerballs
- Easy-to-use keyboards
- Interactive whiteboards
- Text-to-speech software
- Braille-translation software
- Software that connects words with pictures or symbols
If your child has a statement of special educational needs, the help that is detailed on their statement (which may include special equipment) must be provided.
School Transport While the same basic rules apply to all children,LEAs can make a decision to provide transport on a case by case basisfor a disabled child. (See Transport chapter)
If your child cannot attend school
If your child can’t go to school because ofmedical needs or health problems, your local authority has a responsibility to enable them to continue their education. This could be achieved through home schooling, for example.
Most children with medical needs can attend school and, with some support, take part in the majority of school activities. If your child can’t go to school because of health problems, your local authority has a responsibility to make arrangements for them to continue their education.
Medical Needs most pupils with medical conditions won’t need to take their medicine during the school day. But if your child does- or if they need to have access to their medication in case of emergencies- you should make an appointment to talk to the head teacher about it as soon as possible.
The head teacher will be able to tell you what support is available. This issue should be covered in the school’s health and safety policy. If there’s a need to clarify exactly what the school can do, they may suggest drawing up a health care plan. School staff are not obliged to help your child manage their medication.
Child cannot attend school If your child will be away from school due to health problems for a substantial amount of time it is vital to let the school know. This is especially important if they are likely to be off school for more than three weeks. The school should:
- Have a policy and a person responsible for dealing with pupils who are unable to go to school because of medical needs
- Supply the person who will help provide education for your child with information about their needs, capabilities and a programme of work
- Provide support to helpthem reintegrate at school after an illness
- Ensure thatthey’re kept informed about school social events and after-school clubs encourage them to stay in contact with other pupils – for example, through visits or videos
Under 5 Your child’s early years are an important time for their development, and if they have special educational needs, it is important they are discovered as early as possible. If you are worried that your child may be having difficulties before they start school, help is at hand.
Worries about your child’s development Some children have more difficulties than most children of their age with:
- Understanding and learning
- Sensory and physical development
- Behavior or relating to other people
Children with this type of learning difficulty or disability are said to have ‘special educational needs’.
If you think your child may have a special educational need ( SEN) that has not been identified, you should first talk to the person in your child’s nursery, playgroup or other early years setting, who has a particular responsibility for special educational needs. This person is called the SEN coordinator, or SENCO.
If your child is not attending a nursery or other early years setting, you can talk to Peterborough City Council Tel: 01733 747474 their Early Years and Childcare team can help you find appropriate early years and childcare provision and their SEN team can give you advice about special educational needs. Alternatively you could contact The Children and Families Service on Tel: 01733 863897 for help.
Special educational Needs
The term ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age.
Many children will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education. Help will usually be provided in their ordinary, mainstream early education setting or school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists.
If your child has special educational needs, they may need extra help in a range of areas, for example:
- Number work or understanding information
- Expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
- Making friends or relating to adults
- Behaving properly in school
- Organising themselves
- Some kind of sensory or physical needs which may affect them in school
Individual Education Plans Your child’s teacher is responsible for working with your child on a day-to-day basis, but may decide to write down the actions of help for your child in an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
The IEP could include:
- What special or additional help is being given
- Who will provide the help and how often
- What help you can give your child at home
Sometimes the school will not write an IEP but will record how they are meeting your child’s needs in a different way, perhaps as part of their lesson plans, but they should always be able to tell you how they are helping your child and what progress they are making. This is called school action.
If your child does not make enough progress under School Action, their teacher or SEN coordinator (SENCO) should talk to you about asking for advice from other people outside the school. These could include a specialist teacher or a speech and language therapist. This kind of extra help is called School Action Plus.
If the school your child goes to still cannot give your child all the help they need, you or a professional who has been involved with your child can ask for a ‘statutory assessment’ – a detailed investigation to find out what your child’s special educational needs are and what special help your child needs.
If a mainstream school cannot provide all the help your child needs, your local authority may carry out an assessment to find out what your child’s special educational needs (SEN) are and how they can be supported.
Special educational needs: statements If your child still does not seem to be making progress under the School Action or School Action Plus schemes, or needs a lot of extra help, your local authority may decide to carry out a more detailed assessment of your child’s needs, based on specialist advice.
Local authorities look at requests and tell you (normally within six weeks) whether they will carry out an assessment. They also explain the assessment process.
If the assessment goes ahead, the local authority asks people to give their views on your child. They ask for advice from:
- Your child’s school
- An educational psychologist
- A doctor
- Social services (who will only give advice if they know your child)
- Anyone else who the local authority thinks it should get advice from to get a clear picture of your child’s needs
You can attend any interview, medical or other test during the assessment. You know your child best so your views are important. What your child thinks also plays a big part in the assessment. You are free to suggest any other groups you know whose views may be helpful.
Once SEN officers have completed their assessment, they decide whether to write down all the information they have collected in a statement of SEN. Your local authority usually tells you if it is going to write a statement within 12 weeks of beginning the assessment. If the local authority decides not to write a statement, it will explain the reasons, and tell you how it thinks your child’s needs should be met in school or in other ways. You are sent a draft statement before your local authority writes a final statement. It will be complete except for part four, which describes the type and name of school or education provided out of school. Part four will be left blank so that you can say what educational provision you want for your child.
Special educational needs: choosing a school
If your child has a statement of special educational needs (SEN), they will usually be educated in mainstream (ordinary) schools or early education settings. However, you can also ask for them to go to a special school
Your local authority must review your child’s statement at least once a year, checking your child’s progress and making sure that the statement continues to meet their needs. Your child’s school will invite you to a review meeting and ask you to send in your views on your child’s progress over the past year.
Your rights and learning
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make unjustified discrimination by education providers against disabled pupils, students and adult learners unlawful. The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 took things further, giving most public authorities a positive duty to promote disability equality.
Schools and local councils must not discriminate against disabled pupils for a reason relating to their disability. They should promote the inclusion of disabled children in their admission arrangements and in all aspects of school life.
The Disability discrimination Act 1995
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) extended it to:
- Local education authorities (LEAs)
- Providers of adult education
- The statutory youth service
SENDA also means that these bodies must make reasonable adjustments, to ensure that disabled people in education do not suffer a substantial disadvantage in comparison to people who are not disabled. For most types of education provider, making ‘reasonable adjustments’ can include
- Changes to practices or procedures
- Changes to physical features
- Providing extra support (such as specialist teachers or equipment)
For schools the duty under SENDA to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ does not extend to providing extra support or changing physical features.
The Education Act 1996 provided for the publication of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice. This code of practice gives education providers practical guidance on how to identify and assess children with special educational needs. All publicly-funded pre- schools and nurseries, state schools and LEAs must take account of this code. Health and social services must also take account of the code when helping LEAs. To accompany the code of practice, the Department for Education and Skills produced a booklet, ‘Special educational needs -a guide for parents and carers’.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a good source of advice if you feel you may have been discriminated against in education. Thecommission’s helpline provides advice and information about the disability discriminationlegislation to disabled people, their friends and families, employers, service providers, schools and colleges. Telephone: 08457 622633
Community Legal Services can also offer advice on Education matters Tel: 08453454345
The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) is an independent advice centre for parents, offering information about state education in England and Wales for five to 16 year olds. They offer free telephone advice on many subjects like exclusion from school, bullying and SEN. Tel: 020 7704 3370
Contact a Family provides advice, information and support to families with disabled children across the UK offering advice about:
- Assessments and statements of special educational needs
- Advice on your rights when seeking help from social services
- Sources of grant funding
- Fact sheets
- Contact with other parents caring for a disabled child
- Finding local parents support groups
- Information about your child’s condition
For information Tel : 0808 808 3555
Dial Peterborough can offer advice for children with physical disabilities
Tel: 01733 265551
Independent Panel for Special educational Needs (IPSEA) offer free and independent legal advice and support in England and Wales. They offer advice, support and representation (when needed) in appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. For the advice line Tel: 0800 018 4016
Parents for Inclusion is a national charity who works to enable disabled children to learn, make friends and have a voice in ordinary school and throughout life. They also run a helpline were calls are taken by trained and experienced parents. Tel: 0800 6523145
Connexions work with young people with Additional Needs. They are a support, information and guidance service for all young people between the ages and 13 and 25, tailored to meet their needs. It is now part of Peterborough City Councils Young Peoples Service.
Additional Needs Personal Advisors (ANPA), work along side young people with additional needs and their families/carers to offer a specialist support, guidance, information and advocacy service. This involves
- Meeting with young people on a one to one and group basis
- Working with schools and colleges to determine needs and plan work
- Preparing a report for 14 plus Transition meeting
Your Transition Plan is one way you can plan for what you want to achieve in your teenage years, as you move into adult life it is a document that outlines what you want to achieve in the next few years and what support you will need to live as independently as possible. Your Transition Plan is all about what you want for your future. Your input into the review meeting is important, and everyone else must listen to what you have to say and keep a record of what you want for your future. It covers every aspect of your life, including education, employment, housing, health, transport and leisure activities.
Most plans are first drawn up in Year 9.
The Transition Plan review meeting is usually held at your school, and the people who are involved in supporting you as you move into adulthood should also be there. These may include:
- Someone from social services, to make sure you get a health and social care assessment if you have health and social care needs
- Your local doctor or community nurse
- Your teacher(s)
- Someone from the Connexions Service
- An educational psychologist, to make sure you get the support you need to carry on learning
- Your parents or carers
- Anyone else who you would like to support you at the meeting
If you are currently in further education, you can get advice and guidance from your teacher or college about the courses, colleges or universities you are interested in. The Connexions Directservice helps disabled people throughout their time in further and higher education, sometimes up to the age of 25
Tel: 01733 864500
There’s plenty of useful information on all aspects of student life available through Skill: the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities a nationalindependent charity that promotes opportunities for people in learning and entry to employment. Since 1974 they have been helping young people and adults over 16 years of age with any kind ofimpairment including physical and sensory disabilities, learning and mental health difficulties throughout the UK.They believe that for many disabled people education is the key to leading a fulfilling and independent life. They can offer advice on student benefits, accessibility, finding work, disabled students rights etc. Skill runs a free helpline Tel: 0800 328 5050.
Higher education is the next step on from further education. Studying at university or college, you’ll work towards one of a range of qualifications such as a degree for example, a BA or BSc foundation degree, or a diploma/certificate of higher education.
There’s a lot to consider if you’re planning to go into higher education, and as a disabled student you’ll need to give plenty of thought to:
- Where to study
- The support you may need while studying
- Support with day-to-day living
- Money and funding
Universities and colleges are increasingly aware of the needs of disabled students and students with specific learning difficulties. They can provide support in a number of ways – and you may be able to get extra financial help. Universities and higher education colleges have an obligation to make provision for disabled students. Support provided by colleges and universities could include:
- Accommodation adapted for the needs of disabled students
- Professional care staff assistance from volunteers
- Every university or college has a Disability Advisor or Learning Support Coordinator to help you get the most out of your time in higher education
There are many things universities cando to help disabled students,including
- Providing course materials in Braille and other accessible formats
- Ensuring buildings and facilities are accessible
- Encouraging flexible teaching methods
- Providing support during exams
- Allowing additional time to complete courses
You may also need assistance on a day-to-day basis to help you study. This could be someone to: interpret words into sign language, take notes for you or write down your words for examplein an exam. It’s worth contacting your disability advisor or disability coordinator soon after you arrive at university or college so you can find out about the support available.
Extra Financial Help for Disabled Students
If you have a disability, medical condition or a learning difficulty, you may be entitled to claim extra financial help as a student. This is paid on top of anything you get through the standard student finance package.
Sources of extra financial help for disabled students include:
- Disabled Students’ Allowances
- Access to Learning Fund
- Disability Living Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
Benefit for students are complicated and we advise you to contact a specialist organisation like SKILL for expert advice Tel: 0800 328 5050
Care Packages You have the right to ask your local social services department for an assessment of your daily living needs – including any personal care or help you may require. Going to university or college may mean that the support you are used to at home will no longer be available. However, social services should provide you with the support you need. Youcan choose to have ‘direct payments’ to buy services that meet your assessed needs instead of receiving services directly provided by social services. Tel: 01733 747474