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This information is about the support that mainstream schools must and should provide for children with special educational needs (SEN).

The duties on schools to make SEN provision

The SEND Code of Practice says:

All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training
SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.1

The SEND Code of Practice also says mainstream schools must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN coordinator, or SENCO.
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish a SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time
SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.2

What is SEN support?

Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children and young people achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school in conjunction with parents and pupils themselves.

Every school must publish a SEND information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The Local Offer published by BCP Council also sets out what support it expects early years settings, schools, and colleges to make for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

SEN support can take many forms, including: a special learning programme for your child

  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with your child in a small group
  • observing your child in class or at break and keeping records
  • helping your child to take part in the class activities
  • making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult
  • helping other children work with your child, or play with them at break time
  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing.
  • advice and/or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists, and therapists.

When schools want to call in specialists, they should discuss and agree this with parents.

Who decides what SEN support my child has?

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.

SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.17

The school should then decide if your child needs SEN support. The school should talk to you and your child about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has some special educational needs. If you think your child may need SEN support, you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

If you are not happy about the support your child has, you can ask to talk to the SENCo or headteacher.

A graduated approach

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.

SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.44

When your child is identified has having SEN, the school should use a graduated approach based on four steps. These are:


Teaching staff should work with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator to assess your child’s needs, so that they give the right support. They should involve you in this and, where possible, seek your child’s views.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent.

SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.45

Sometimes schools will seek advice from a specialist teacher or a health professional. They should talk to you about this first.


If the school decides that your child needs SEN support, it must tell you.

The school should agree with you the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and a date for progress to be reviewed.


Your child’s class or subject teacher is usually responsible for the work that is done with your child, and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved. The school should tell you who is responsible for the support your child receives.

All those who work with your child should be made aware of:

their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required.

SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.49


The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year.

SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 6.65

The school should review your child’s progress, and the difference that the help your child has been given has made, on the date agreed in the plan.

You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

If your child has not responded to the help they were given, the review should decide what can be done next. This may include more or different help.

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals to investigate the difficulties or to plan the next steps.

You and the school can look at the Local Offer to see what support should be available that could help achieve your child’s outcomes.

Sometimes the next step may be to ask the local authority for an EHC needs assessment. If the school decides to do this, they must tell you. If you think it is needed you can ask for it yourself.

Funding for SEN Support

Every school receives an additional amount of money to help make special educational provision to meet children’s SEN. Special educational provision is anything that is ‘additional to or different from’ the provision that is made for all children.

This additional amount of money is called the notional SEN budget. It is called the notional SEN budget because it is not ring fenced, and no-one can tell schools exactly how they should spend this money; they can spend it in the way they think is best. However, schools have a duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all children with SEN.

The amount in this budget is based on a formula which is agreed between schools and the local authority. Academies get the same level of funding for each pupil as local authority schools in the area; their notional SEN budget is worked out in the same way.

The Government recommends that schools should use their notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEN. Most children with SEN need special educational provision that comes to less than £6,000.

Here you can read more about funding for SEN.

Further links and resources

funding for SEN

Not Fine in School logo

My child is struggling to attend school – what can I do?

supporting pupils at school with medical conditions

BCP SEND Local Offer Logo

early years graduated response

BCP SEND Local Offer Logo

school age pupils graduated response

BCP SEND Local Offer Logo

pupils in post 16 education graduated response

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