If you think your child might need some additional support there are lots of people and services that can help.
If your child is not in full time nursery or school you may want to talk to your Health Visitor about whatever it is that’s worrying you.
If your child is in school or college then you could speak to one of their teachers, or ask to speak to the person who leads on supporting children with special educational needs (known as a SENCO).
One of the other ways in which you could get help and advice would be to contact the Early Help Hub / First Contact. They might ask you some questions about your child in order for them to know the right type of advice and support to offer.
Children and young people with SEN all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others.
Children and young people with SEN may need extra help because of a range of needs. The SEND Code of Practice categorises these as:
Communication and interaction – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others
Cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy
Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning, or that have an impact on their health and well being
Sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.
Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.
In Middlesbrough, the majority of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) will have their needs met in the child's local mainstream school or mainstream post 16 provider, sometimes with the help of outside specialists and they may have a Special Education Needs Support Plan (SEN Support Plan). In some cases, children and young people may attend specialist bases in mainstream schools or special schools depending upon the needs of the individual child and they may need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
How do I get help? - Requesting an assessment?
If you are concerned about your child’s special educational needs, the first thing to do is to talk to the school / early years setting or college your child is attending. In schools the class teacher is responsible for the progress and development of all children, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Every school has a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for making sure the school identifies and addresses special educational needs. The school can also involve a range of support services to give them further advice and ideas.
Early years settings must have a qualified teacher working in the setting and can advise you and arrange for your child to be closely observed to see what barriers there are to making good progress and being included. Settings are supported by a range of support services that can help and advise staff about your child’s particular needs and challenges.
When a school, setting or college identifies that your child has or may have special educational needs and/or a disability, they must contact you to let you know this, and to work with you to find the best way forward. Whatever the plans agreed, this stage is called SEN support and is part of a graduated response or approach. The details concerned should be recorded in an SEN Support Plan. In Middlesbrough, the Local Authority can consider requests from mainstream settings for high needs funding (in addition to use of the school’s own SEN funding) as a contribution towards the costs of supporting a child/young person’s special educational needs. It is not necessary for a child/young person to have an EHCP in order for settings to use their own resources or claim high needs funding from the Local Authority.
You might also want to:
- Talk to other professionals who are already involved or aware of your child – like your GP, or other local professional in the Health Service.
- Check out other pages of the Local Offer website to see what other advice/useful information is available.
Most children will have their support needs met through the Local Offer and resources available to mainstream settings without the need for a more formal assessment.
If your child is not making progress towards their outcomes and you remain concerned that you/your child may have more complex needs and may require an Education, Health and Care Plan, you can request an Education Health and Care (EHC) Assessment. You can either do this through your early years setting, school or post-16 provider or you can contact us directly by phone or by letter.
Young people over 16 can also make a request in their own right, or through an advocate acting on their behalf.
Considering requests and referrals
We will acknowledge all requests and consider the information provided. A decision will be made whether or not to proceed with a Needs Assessment within 6 weeks.
Timescales for making assessments & issuing Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)
The process of EHC assessment and EHC plan development must be carried out in a timely manner and within 20 weeks. Local authorities should ensure that they have planned sufficient time for each step of the process, so that wherever possible, any issues or disagreements can be resolved within the statutory timescales. EHC Assessment Pathway Guidance
Involving Families in EHC Assessment Process
The active and meaningful involvement of parents/carers, children and young people is central to the SEND reforms and is key to good communication and ensuring families’ confidence in the whole assessment process.
A SEND Case Officer will be identified at the start of the EHC Assessment process, this is someone who will be a point of contact for you and will offer advice during the process. You will then be invited to be part of a person centred planning meeting along with other professionals and when possible anybody else who you would like to attend.
The Local Authority also arranges for families to have access to independent sources of advice and support through two separate services - SEND-IASS and Independent Supporters through an organisation called Aspire.
Where an EHC assessment is refused: arrangements for complaints, mediation, disagreement resolution and appeals
If your request does not meet the eligibility criteria, you will be contacted to explain the reason for this, offered an opportunity to make sure your concerns are fully understood, and to consider what support has been suggested or arranged. The decision not to agree an EHC assessment will be communicated to you, along with an explanation, within 6 weeks from receipt of the request. Advice which has been collected will be shared with you.
You have the right to appeal to the First Tier Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Tribunal if you disagree with our decision:
- Not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment of your child.
- Not to draw up an EHC plan for your child, once we have done an assessment.
- Not to amend your child’s EHC plan after the annual review or re-assessment.
- To cease to maintain your child’s EHC plan.
Where we have produced an EHC plan for your child, mediation is available if you disagree with:
- The parts of the plan which describe your child’s special educational needs
- The special educational provision set out in the plan
If you have any queries please contact the SEND Assessment Team
The Council for Disabled Children have a number of videos on their Youtube page 'WatchCDC'.
With support from DfE, Independent Support has produced two short animation films, which can be used by local authorities, front line services, professionals and parent groups in their communications with parents and young people. The purpose of the animations is to help explain the EHCP process and its important relationship with the Person Centred Connection.