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Frequently Asked Questions


Does my child have a learning difficulty or disability?

Your child would be considered to have a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age or;

  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 settings.


Does my child require special educational provision?

Special educational provision means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that which is generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools, nurseries or post-16 institutions.

What are the 4 broad areas of Need?

Special educational provision should be matched to the child’s identified SEN. Children’s SEN are generally thought of in the following four broad areas of need and support

  • communication and interaction.

  • cognition and learning.

  • social, emotional and mental health.

  • sensory and/or physical needs.

This means that academic achievement is not always the best indicator of whether a child has SEN and there may be other difficulties that are considered a barrier to a child’s ability to learn.

What is SEN Support in School?

When your child’s school identifies that he or she may have special educational needs, the class teacher, with the help from the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), should provide SEN support. The school should involve you in any discussion about how much support your child needs and what that support consists of. It could be that your child requires some support from a teaching assistant or small group intervention for aspects of their learning.

It may become necessary for the school to ask an educational psychologist (EP) to come in and assess or observe your child. The support that is put in place should be specific to your child and based upon his or her particular needs and presentation of difficulties. 

It is important to note however that the amount of support a school can provide to your child will be limited by the amount of funding that it has available to support children with SEN.

If your child requires a specific intervention that the school is not able to provide or is unable to fund within their budget, then SEN support is unlikely to be sufficient to support your child’s needs effectively. It may also be that despite intervention and support, your child continues to fail to make academic progress or you may have other concerns about their emotional health that are unable to be met by school. In this case, you or the school may feel that it is necessary for the local authority to assess your child’s special educational needs by an Education, Health & Care (EHC) needs assessment. It is important that you discuss your concerns with the school, however parents have a right to apply for a needs assessment under the Children and Families Act 2014 and you do not need any permission from the school or the local authority in order to make an application.


What is an EHCP?

An Educational Health Care Plan is a legal document describing a young person’s needs, the provision to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement.

The plan must be person-centred, focusing on the needs and aspirations of the child.
EHC Plans will continue into further education and training and for some young people up to the age of 25.

It is very important that young people and their parents and carers are central to the development of these plans.

What is a EHCP application?

If you decide that an assessment of your child’s needs will be necessary, a formal application must be made to the director of children’s services at your local authority. It is important to supply as much information as you can to demonstrate your child’s difficulties.


What is the Local Offer?

It is a requirement for the local authority to publish information about what provision it expects will be available for children and young people with SEND aged 0 – 25 years, both within and outside their local area.

  • The Local Offer must include information about Education, health and care provision for children and young people with SEND (which should include information about its quality and the destinations/outcomes achieved by those who use it).

  • Arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people’s SEND, including arrangements for requesting an EHC needs assessment.

  • Other education provision (educational provision outside of schools or colleges such as sports or arts provision.

  • Training provision, including Apprenticeships.

  • Arrangements for travel to and from schools, post-16 institutions, and early years providers.

  • Support to help children and young people in moving between phases of education (for example from early years to school, from primary to secondary) and to prepare for adulthood.

  • Sources of information, advice, and support in the local authority’s area relating to SEND including information provided under clause 32 of the Children and Families Bill, forums for parents and carers, support groups, childcare, and leisure activities.

  • Arrangements for making complaints, for the resolution of disagreements, mediation and parents and young people’s right to appeal a decision of the local authority to the tribunal.

The Code of Practice says local authorities must involve children in planning decisions about what services for young people with SEND are needed. This includes planning the content of the Local Offer, deciding how to publish the offer, and providing feedback on the services contained in the Local Offer.


What is a Personal Budget?

A personal budget is the amount of money across one or all areas of education, health and social care to meet the needs of the child or young person as outlined in the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. The personal budget can be a notional amount of money that is used by the local authority to provide support, either by itself or by another provider.

Families can request a proportion of their personal budget to be issued as a direct payment to enable the family to purchase that support themselves. This would offer more choice and flexibility to meet identified needs.

The personal budget is outlined in the EHC plan so all involved can see how needs are being met and at what cost. If some of the personal budget is given as a direct payment, a support plan will be developed with the family to outline how they intend to spend the direct payment, on what, how much and to meet which needs within the EHC plan.



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