Special Educational Needs - An Overview
About the Special Educational Needs Service
The Special Educational Needs Service aims to meet the Local Authority’s statutory duties under the Education Act 1996 in relation to pupils with special educational needs. The Council has a duty to identify, assess and make provision to meet the special educational needs of children within its area. Further information about finding a school place and the services that the Special Educational Needs Team work with can be found on the Families Information Service website.
The Service aims to provide a range of educational opportunities and additional resources for children with special educational needs to enable the child’s needs to be met in an inclusive setting.
Special Educational Needs: A Brief Explanation
Many children have some degree of special educational needs at some stage in their lives. Most of these additional needs are met by the school the child attends.
A child may have special educational needs as a consequence of:
- Physical disability or significant medical condition
- A problem with sight, hearing or speech
- Behavioural, emotional or social difficulties
- An Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Difficulties with reading, writing or numbers
Parents know their children better than anyone, and have a right to take part in decisions about their child’s education. The closer a parent works with their child’s teachers and school, the more successful any special help will be.
If you think that your child may have special educational needs you should:
- Arrange to discuss this with the staff at your child’s school, especially the member of staff designated as the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)
- If your concerns continue contact the Special Educational Needs Team using the details at the top of this page.
Special Educational Needs Provision
All schools have a special needs policy which sets out how children might be supported in school, copies are available in the school.
It is estimated that approximately 20% of pupils will have some kind of Special Educational Need at some time during their school life. It is expected that the majority of these Special Needs are such that they will be met in local mainstream schools without the additional involvement of the Council.
However, some pupils’ Special Educational Needs may be such that the Council may consider that some additional or special provision is needed. This will be done in consultation with parents and professionals, and following a full formal assessment.
This provision would be made at the local mainstream school, or at a school or unit which has additional resourcing to meet particular needs. As far as possible, the Council seeks to meet pupils’ Special Educational Needs in a mainstream setting.
In some exceptional cases it may be necessary for placement to be determined at one of the specialist schools within Doncaster, or at specialist schools outside this Council’s catchment area.
To meet these exceptional needs the Local Authority maintains five special schools.
- Coppice School (for Severe Learning Difficulties and autism/challenging behaviour - ages 3 to 19) based at Hatfield.
- Heatherwood School (for Severe Learning Difficulties and complex needs - ages 3 to 19) based on Leger Way, Doncaster.
- North Ridge Community School (for Severe Learning Difficulties - ages 3 to 19) based at Adwick.
- Pennine View School (for Moderate Learning Difficulties and additional needs - ages 7 to 16) based at Conisbrough.
- Stone Hill School (for Moderate Learning Difficulties and additional needs - ages 5 to 16) based at Scawsby.
Placement at these schools can only be made by the Local Authority and is usually following the provision of a Statement of Special Educational Needs.
Early Years and Childcare Service
The Local Authority provides support for pre-school children with special needs through the Early Years and Childcare Service.
Parent Partnership Service
Other information booklets about the various stages of assessing a child’s special educational needs are also available from Doncaster’s Parent Partnership Service.
School Supervised Medication
If your child needs to take medicine when they are at school
Parents and carers have prime responsibility for their child’s health and, whilst the Local Authority and schools champion regular and punctual attendance at school, parents are advised to keep children at home when they are acutely unwell.
Schools should be provided with information about a child’s medical needs by the parent or carer.There is no legal duty on school staff to administer medication, however, schools are under a duty to plan to do so in order to improve children’s access to school.
Each school should have a policy that supports the administration of medication to a child whilst in school (or on school trips) and parents are advised to access a copy of this policy through the school.
Medicines should only be taken to school when essential and where it would be detrimental to the child’s health if the medicine were not to be administered during the school day. Parents and carers should check with their doctor whether it it essential for the child to take the medication during the normal school day.
Schools will only accept medicines that have been prescribed by a medical practitioner and are in the original container as dispensed by the pharmacist, including the original instructions for administration.
Each child requiring medication should be allocated a nominated member of staff who will ensure the medication is stored safely, will oversee administration of the correct dosage as shown on the original container and will record the child having taken the medication.
Some schools may make provision for a child to carry and administer their own medication, such as asthma inhalers for older children, and parents and carers should check with their child’s school.
Further information is available from the Department for Education’s website.
SEN Statutory Assessment, Statement and Annual Review
The term Statutory Assessment is used to describe a Special Educational Needs (SEN) assessment. It is the way the Local Authority determines:
- If a child has substantial or complex needs to the degree that may require a Statement.
- What the major needs are.
- How the needs can be met.
- Special resources, equipment or input.
- Access to buildings, curriculum etc.
The Statutory Assessment Process
A decision to assess may be made by the Local Authority. When a request is made, the child will have demonstrated ‘significant cause for concern’ and the school should provide the Local Authority with evidence of the interventions and work with the child including the resources or special arrangements that they have already made available.
If there is insufficient evidence or it is considered that the needs of the child can be met by the school, a decision may be made not to proceed with a statutory assessment.
Statement of Special Educational Needs
If, following a statutory assessment, the Local Authority decides that a child requires support in addition to that which is provided from within the school’s own resources, a Statement of Special Educational Needs should be issued.
This Statement is produced in accordance with the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice and it it important that the Statement is specific and identifies all the child’s needs and matches the needs to detailed provision.
SEN - A Guide for Parents and Teachers (2009) provides information for parents and teachers about Statements, their make-up, timescales and what to do if you disagree with the Local Authority findings as well as other information.
Parents have the right to appeal against the Local Authority’s decision through The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Information is also available in SEN - A Guide for Parents and Teachers (2009).
Annual Review Overview
The purpose of an Annual Review is to ensure that at least once a year the parents, pupil, Local Authority, school and all the professionals involved monitor and evaluate the continued effectiveness and relevance of the provision set out in the Statement.
The meeting should:
- Consider progress by the pupil towards the objectives of the Statement.
- Consider if the Statement requires amendment, and if so, how.
- Discuss and set new targets.
- Ensure that 14-19 transition requirements are considered and followed.
Year 9 Annual Review
When a child is in Year 9, their Annual Review has an important additional function - it must draw up a Future Needs Plan, which is a document drawing together information from a range of individuals within and beyond the school to provide a coherent plan for the young person’s transition to adult life.
The organisation and conduct of a Year 9 review is the same as any other review but in addition, the Headteacher should invite the Participation and Transition Service (PATS) to provide written advice.
Other agencies (the Health Authority, the Children and Schools’ Social Work Service) which will also be relevant to post-school years, are also invited to the review where appropriate. A Future Needs Plan is drawn up in consultation with the Participation and Transition Service.
The Future Needs Plan is first drawn up in Year 9 and must be reviewed and updated at every subsequent Annual Review.
Special Educational Needs Forms
Requesting a Statutory EHC Assessment
This form should be used to refer a child for an assessment of special educational need. The form should be fully completed, signed (by school and by parent/carer) and dated before submission to the Special Educational Needs Service.
SEN Educational Advice - Appendix B Form
This should be used to provide educational advice towards a child’s assessment of special educational needs. The form should signed and dated by the school’s Headteacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) and submitted to the Special Educational Needs Service.
Report from the Statutory Annual Review of EHC Plan
This should be completed as the report of a child’s Annual Review Meeting and should be sent to the Local Authority no later than ten days after the meeting or the end of that term, whichever is the earlier date. The form should be signed and dated by the school’s Headteacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) and submitted to the Special Educational Needs Service.
Provision within schools
The majority of children with special educational needs have their needs met within their local mainstream school. Each school has a designated Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), who has responsibility for co-ordinating special educational provision within the school. Parents who are concerned about their child’s progress in school should first discuss those concerns with their child’s class teacher, the school’s SENCO or the Headteacher.
All local mainstream schools have identified funding within their school budget to meet the special educational needs of their pupils, without reference to the Local Authority for statutory assessment or the need to provide a Statement of Special Educational Need. The deployment of these funds is the responsibility of the School’s Governing Body and Headteacher.
Funding Provision by the School (School Action)
Mainstreams schools in Doncaster may reasonably be expected to make the following provision from within their own budgets for pupils with SEN but without Statements of Special Educational Need:
- An Individual Education Plan(IEP) for each pupil with SEN at School Action and School Action Plus.
- The arrangement of class or teaching groups, for the whole or part of the school day, that take into account the needs of pupils with SEN.
- Access to specialist services provided by the Local Authority under agreement with the school, such as the Learner and Engagement Support Service or the Educational Psychology Service.
- School policies and programmes that enable pupils with SEN to be as fully included within the social and academic life of the school as possible.
- Additional learning support to assist pupils with health or self-care needs, where these relate to pupils needs.
- The provision of specialist resources to enable pupils with SEN to access the curriculum.
- The provision of smaller items of equipment to enable individual pupils to access the curriculum.
- Close liaison with parents/carers to support the pupil with SEN, including their involvement in the design of IEPs.
- Access to specialist facilities to enable curriculum materials and resources to be adapted for pupils with significant visual impairment.
- Radio aids for pupils with significant hearing impairment, when recommended by the Local Authority’s specialist teacher.
- Reasonable adjustments to the physical environment of the school.
Funding Provision by the Local Authority (School Action Plus)
The Doncaster Local Authority makes the following provision from its central budget for pupils with SEN but without Statements of Special Educational Needs:
- Specialist teachers for pupils with visual impairment to advise school staff in the design and implementation of programmes of study that enable pupils with visual impairment to fully access the curriculum.
- Specialist teachers for pupils with hearing impairment to advise school staff in the design and implementation of programmes of study that enable pupils with hearing impairment to fully access the curriculum.
- Specialist teachers for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder to advise school staff in the design and implementation of programmes of study to enable pupils with social communication difficulties to fully access the social life of the school and the curriculum.
- A specialist teacher to advise schools on appropriate access to information and communication technology for pupils with physical impairment.
- Access to specialist staff to advise on physical access, moving and handling of pupils and access to the curriculum for pupils with physical impairment and significant medical needs.
- Access to advice from the Local Authority’s approved centre for access and communication technology for pupils with significant communication difficulties.
- Support for schools from specialist subject inspectors to advise on access to the curriculum for pupils with SEN.
- Specialist services for schools, such as the Learning and Behaviour Support Service, the Learner Engagement Service and Educational Psychology Service.
- Support from the staff of Doncaster special schools to advise their mainstream colleagues on programmes of study to support pupils with SEN.
- Monitoring and advice from the Local Authority to provide support and guidance on management systems for SEN and the effective deployment and monitoring of SEN resources.
- The Doncaster Parent Partnership Service to advise and support parents of pupils with SEN in their relationships with the school and other professional staff supporting their child.
The above provision is accessible through the school and parents who feel that their child may benefit from access to such services are advised to contact the school’s SENCO or Headteacher.
Statement of Special Educational Needs
A small number of children have difficulties which extend over wider areas of the curriculum, are more severe in nature and/or are longer-lived and are deemed to place the child within the designation of SEN. For a small minority of children their difficulties are such that the Local Authority will undertake a statutory assessment of the child’s needs.
If appropriate, will issue a Statement of Special Educational Needs, setting out the child’s needs and the provision required to meet those needs.
The Government is making changes to the SEN system. The changes, currently set out in the Children and Families Bill, will not start to happen until September 2014. Until then, the current SEN framework, the law and the SEN Code of Practice, all stay in place.
Further information about these changes is available on the Families Information Service website.