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Support at school or nursery

Many children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have special educational needs (SEN). This means that they will be given extra help to make sure that they receive the most successful and fulfilling education they can.

A child with SEN should be able to be supported in their educational setting. This might be a further education college, school, playgroup or nursery, depending on the age of the child. All practitioners in whatever setting have a role in identifying children’s needs and ensuring the right support is put in place.

Your child’s difficulties will determine the amount of extra support they get from the setting.

This page explains how children with SEN are supported in England. It is an overview of the process; depending on where you live there may be some differences in how it actually works. We also have information about how children are supported in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Support in England

In the past children who needed extra support in school had their needs met through early years or school action, action plus and/or statementing.  This all changed in September 2014; since that date support has been offered through SEN support in the child’s educational setting and, for some children, by Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs).  These changes apply to children and young people aged 0-25 years.

As part of SEN Support, children are supported through the graduated approach; this means the educational setting assesses a child’s strengths and needs and plans the best approach to help them. The graduated approach has four phases and is designed to include parents and children/young people who will all be consulted and involved. 

The graduated approach: what this means

If your child is receiving SEN Support their nursery/school will use a graduated approach to put it in place.  This has four phases: assess, plan, do, review.  Your child’s nursery/school will assess and identify your child’s strengths and areas of need, then they will clearly set out in a plan how they are going to support these identified needs, for example, with small group work, different targets, or different work.  The plan will also include a timescale for it to be completed, for example, a term, a half term or number of weeks.  The setting will then do what is stated in the plan.   A review of the plan will take place in order to review the progress your child has made.  You will be invited to all the meetings and will be able to talk with staff about your child’s needs/progress.  The nursery/school special needs coordinator (SENCo) will be able to answer any questions about this process.

Requesting an Education Health Care (EHC) needs assessment

If, after using the graduated approach, your child is not felt to be making enough progress then a request may be made to the local authority (LA) for an EHC needs assessment.

Information will be needed about your child’s special educational needs, about what support has been offered so far and what the results were.  Your LA will probably have forms to help you provide this information.

The information they may wish to see will include:

  • The views of the family and child
  • Information from the school – attainment, progress, attendance, special educational needs, and support and interventions with results, additional support needed and expected outcomes
  • Medical questionnaire/consent form
  • Professional reports
  • Anything else that you think is relevant

Once all the information is collected the LA will decide whether to make an assessment or not.  If they do not make an assessment they will tell everyone involved why they have taken that decision.

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)             

After an EHC needs assessment the local authority (LA) may issue an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  The ECHP will show the amount and type of support your child will receive and how this will help them.  The plan will be reviewed at least once every 12 months to check if it is still appropriate and is meeting your child’s needs. Some children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) will have an EHCP, either with SLCN as their primary need or as an associated need, although many will not.

NB Since September 2014, EHCPs have replaced Statements of Special Educational Need.  If your child has an existing Statement this will remain in force until it is transferred to an EHCP.

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