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Special Educational Needs Support

SEN Support

  • Newly diagnosed

  • Getting extra help

  • How does the funding work?


Newly Diagnosed

If your child has been newly diagnosed, or you are concerned about your child’s progress at school or think that your child may have SEN you can:

  • Tell the teacher about your concerns

  • Ask the teacher if they have any concerns

  • Ask the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) to make a note of your concerns or ask to see them

  • Ask what the nursery/school/college (education setting) is doing or will be doing about this problem, how and when?


Education settings (nurseries/schools etc) that receive government funding must have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator or SENCO (sometimes called Inclusion Manager). This is a teacher who is responsible for the school’s day to day SEN policy and for making sure that all children with SEN have the right support.


The approach to supporting children with SEN is set out in SEND Code of Practice and the 2014 Children & Families Act.



The early years setting or school SENCO should work with you to identify the cause of any learning difficulty or delay.


Staff should talk to you about your child and the extra help you think they need and seek more information if needed. For example, they may ask an educational psychologist to advise staff on how best to help your child. There should be a written plan setting out this support.


The educational setting (nursery/school/college) will use some of their money to give support to children who need extra help. The support may be in the form of:

  • Some changes to the curriculum

  • Special equipment or teaching materials

  • The use of additional information technology

  • Small group work/one-to-one

  • Support in the classroom (for example a Learning Support Assistant LSA)

  • Have quiet time to learn away from the classroom

If your child still doesn’t improve in his/her areas of learning, the education setting will then look into buying support from outside the school. This may include assessment and advice from professionals, for example:

  • Speech and Language Therapist

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Education Psychologist

  • Special school outreach services such as hearing impaired, autism, visually impaired.


Your child’s progress is monitored by the education setting and should be reviewed at least 3 times every year. You should meet with the teachers each time to set targets and monitor progress. It’s important to understand why your child has not made progress compared to other pupils of the same age.


Getting extra help

Education settings have access to funding for each child that needs SEN support. This does not mean that the school will spend all the money on your child, because sometimes the funds are used to help groups of children, as some children will need less help and some children will need more. If the school feels that the money they are using from the school SEN budget is not enough and your child is still struggling, the school can apply to the Local Authority for additional funding to top-up the support required to help your child. The school will need to show how they have used their money to support the child/young person and why they need more.

If the school believes that your child is making progress but you do not agree with them, you can request an Educational Health Care (EHC) Assessment yourself. In some cases you may be eligible to ask for an EHC Assessment straight away without going through all the other steps mentioned child has severe profound learning difficulties.

If at any stage you are not happy you can speak to:

  • The Head Teacher

And if you still feel unhappy, you can ask to see/speak to

  • A governor with responsibility for special educational needs or a parent governor if the concern is not about a problem affecting your child’s learning.

Before meeting ask yourself:

  • Who will be at the meeting?

  • Who will you bring to the meeting?

  • Is there any paperwork about your child you could read before the meeting?

  • What are my child’s wishes?

  • What do you want to get out of this meeting?

  • Make a note of your child’s difficulties/problems

  • What you notice that makes the problem better or worse   

During the meeting:

  • Ensure everyone introduces themselves and you are clear about their roles and responsibilities

  • Check how long the meeting is for

  • Check if anyone is taking notes or take your own notes

  • If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification

  • Agree a summary of action points of what has been agreed.

  • Check all your concerns have been discussed

If you are not happy you can make a formal complaint. Ask the education setting for a copy of their complaints procedure.


Funding for special educational needs in mainstream schools

This information is about funding for special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. This includes academies and free schools.


What is SEN funding for?

The SEND Code of Practice says 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' (6.2)

Schools should use some of their budget to buy resources and make provision for children who need additional help. This can take many forms. For example, children with SEN might need:

  • some changes to the curriculum

  • special equipment or teaching materials

  • the use of additional information technology

  • small group work

  • support in the classroom

  • a base to work in or have quiet time.

Where does funding for SEN come from?

All mainstream schools have money for special educational needs support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money. This is called delegated funding. This part of the school’s income is sometimes called the notional SEN budget.


Funding for SEN provision is from three elements:


Element 1

All schools get money for each pupil at the school. This is called the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and it is part of schools’ delegated funding. Some of this money is to make general SEN provision. This might, for example, include the cost of providing the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and some other resources.

The local authority provides Element 1 funding for the schools it is responsible for. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines how much money

the school gets for each pupil. The Education Funding Agency provides Element 1 funding for academies and free schools.


Element 2

Element 2 funding is to provide SEN support that is additional to or different from the support that most other children get. SEN support is also for children who used to have help through School Action and School Action Plus.

The local authority provides Element 2 funding for schools it is responsible for. The local Schools Forum agrees the formula that determines the amount of money the school gets. The Education Funding Agency provides Element 2 funding for academies and free schools. Element 2 funding is also part of schools’ delegated budget.

Government guidance says schools should provide up to the first £6,000 of additional or different support for those children who need it, including those with an Education, Health and Care plan (or a Statement of Special Educational Need). This does not mean that the school will spend £6,000 on every child with SEN. Sometimes schools use funds to help groups of children. Some children will need less help – and some children may need more.

You can ask your school how it uses its SEN budget to support your child. The local authority also publishes a Local Offer that explains what type of resources this money might be spent on.


Element 3

Some children have such complex needs that the school may request some additional funding to ‘top-up’ Elements 1 and 2. The local authority is responsible for managing Element 3 funding (sometimes called the ‘high needs block’), which can be used to make specific provision for an individual child or a group of children, if the school or academy can show there is an exceptional level of need.

You can find details of how Element 3 funding is allocated in the Local Offer.


Who manages the school’s SEN resources?

The SEND Code of Practice says:

It is for schools, as part of their normal budget planning, to determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEN. The SENCO, headteacher and governing body or proprietor should establish a clear picture of the resources that are available to the school. They should consider their strategic approach to meeting SEN in the context of the total resources available, including any resources targeted at particular groups, such as the pupil premium. (6.97)

School governors are responsible for the school’s policy on SEN and how the resources are used. The headteacher and the SENCO ensure that the policy is put into practice. The SENCO organises support for individual children, but every teacher is responsible making sure that your child’s special educational needs are met in the classroom.

The SEN Information Report on the school’s website tells you more about the arrangements for SEN support and how to contact the SENCO.


How can I find out what support and resources my child is getting?

The first step is to talk with your child’s teacher or the SENCO. This may be at a parents’ evening, a support plan meeting or a review. You can ask for a written copy of any support plan in place for your child.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan (or Statement of Special Educational Need) it should set out the support and resources that are provided.

Where can I get further information, advice or support?

Look for the SEN Information Report on the school website.

The Local Offer is the place to find out about services available locally and the arrangements that schools and others are expected to make for children and young people with SEN. To find out more about the local offer visit

Westminster Information Advice Support Service for SEND (WIASS) (formerly Westminster Parent Partnership Service)

can also give you:

  • more information about SEN support and funding

  • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing

  • information about other organisations, support groups and information services that could help

  • information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment if your child might need more intensive and specialist help.