Where Can I Get Help?

What is SEND?

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.

IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice have helped to explain this as follows: 

Special educational needs (“SEN”) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. For example, someone’s SEN might affect their:

  • reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends
  • concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD
  • physical ability to do things such as writing.

There are two questions to ask when thinking about whether a child or young person has SEN.

1. Do they have a learning difficulty or disability?

A child or young person has a learning difficulty or disability if:

  • they have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • they have a disability which makes it difficult for them to use the facilities normally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or post-16 institutions.

Someone has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

2. Does that learning difficulty or disability call for special educational provision to be made?

Special educational provision is any educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for other children or young people of the same age. This is a wide definition, and could cover a wide range of things, for example:

  • having materials provided in a larger font
  • needing one-to-one support
  • communicating through sign language
  • needing small class sizes
  • being in a different year group to children/young people their age

Some children or young people may need additional support which is not special educational provision; for example they might need certain treatments or medicines administered at school because of a medical condition they have. In order to be classed as having SEN, they must require support with education or training which is different from that given to other children or young people of the same age.

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then the child or young person has SEN.

Children and young people with SEN are entitled to extra support with learning at nursery, school or college.

If you think your child has an additional need

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).

What is a SENCo?

A SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) is a teacher who coordinates the provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities in schools. Many are also class teachers, and fulfil their SENCo duties on a part-time basis. If you or the teacher has a concern about your child, the SENCo will go into the class to observe them and advise on what the next steps should be in terms of whether support is needed, and what that might involve.

If the SENCo feels your child would benefit from external support, they can make a referral to professionals such as a speech and language therapist or occupational therapist.

If you think your child needs specialist equipment at school then you can also speak to the SENCo. Some equipment is funded through school and can be provided but other items may need to be provided from specialist agencies. The SENCo will make these referrals.

They will ensure that you are well-informed about the support for your child and ensure you are invited to regular review meetings where you can discuss how things are going.

Types of SEND

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.

SEN Support or EHCP? - video

Meet David Ball from the SEND Assessment team explaining SEN Support and EHCPs.


SEN Support is the category of support for those youngsters who need a little more support than the majority of pupils in mainstream. So, if they need a little bit more time to complete work or they may need a little bit more time from an adult working with them in a classroom. An Education health and care plan or E H C P is a statutory document which we can create for some youngsters with the more complex special needs, who may need a lot of additional support in a mainstream setting or may perhaps need a specialist school placement. My team are responsible for conducting the education, health and care assessments which can lead to an E H C P being produced. We also support mainstream settings in terms of advising them on how to meet needs at the SEN Support stage and also how to access additional support for those youngsters. At the end of an education, health and care plan assessment, we decide whether or not a youngster needs an E H C P and we also deal with their placement if we feel that they need a placement in a non-mainstream setting

SEN Support

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).

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.

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.

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.

The school should use a graduated approach following the cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review:

• Assess: The class teacher or subject teacher (working with the SENCO) is responsible for carrying out a clear analysis of a pupil’s needs, drawing on teacher assessments and experience of the pupil.

• Plan: Where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN Support, the parents must be notified. All teachers and support staff who work with a pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies that are required.

• Do: The planned interventions should then be put into place. The class or subject teacher should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved and the SENCO should support the class or subject teacher.

• Review: Reviews should take place and inform feed back into the analysis of the child’s needs. The Code is not prescriptive about how often reviews should take place, but given the Code suggests schools should meet with parents three times a year, good practice would indicate that such reviews will be at least termly. The decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time and should always involve parents

In Middlesbrough, mainstream settings can apply 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.

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.



Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

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.

The EHC Assessment Timeline 

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.

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. SEND-IASS.

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 carried out the 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 needsThe special educational provision set out in the plan.

If you have any queries please contact the SEND Assessment Team
Duty telephone number: (01642) 201831 or email sen@middlesbrough.gov.uk

Making a Referral for an EHC Assessment

Infographic - Referral for EHC Assessment

EHC Needs Assessment Timeline

EHC Timeline

What is in an EHCP?

infographic - Whats in an EHCP

Contact the SEND Assessment Team

The SEND Assessment Team have a Single Point of Contact. This means that the duty telephone line will always be answered during office hours and where needed a duty SEND Case Officer will be available to help you.

The single point of contact will also ensure you are signposted to the relevant team within Education, Health and Social Care to prevent you from ringing lots of teams and services.

What is the contact number and email address?

Tel. 01642 201831 

Email:  sen@middlesbrough.gov.uk



Page last reviewed: 02/02/2023


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