I Think My Child Has SEN - What Can I Do
1. How much do you know already?
  You clearly have concerns about your child's progress but:
have you spoken to your your child's school or early education provider (nursery, playgroup, etc) about your concerns?
do you know how the school works with children who may have special educational needs?
do you know if your child is on School Action or School Action Plus?
does your your child have an individual education plan?
2. Who should you speak to in school?
The first person to speak to is probably your child's class teacher or form tutor (or the pre-school group leader). You might want to do this at a parent consultation session or to make a separate appointment to see them.
If you want to, you could ask for the meeting in writing setting out what it is you want to discuss, for example:
 

Dear Mrs Jones,

I would like to arrange to see you in school next week to talk about James' progress. I do not feel that James is reading as well as his sister did at the same age and would be grateful for an opportunity to discuss this with you.

I can be available during the morning/after school/at lunchtime, etc... and can be contacted on ......

Yours sincerely

 

 

After you have spoken to the class teacher they may involve another teacher in the school known as the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator* (SENCO for short). The SENCO has responsibility for what happens on a day to day basis in the school for pupils with special educational needs. The SENCO also provides professional advice to other teachers in the school to help all pupils to make progress.
The Headteacher and school governors also have responsibilities in law in relation to children with special educational needs.
The Headteacher and school governors also have responsibilities in law in relation to children with special educational needs.

* Parent Partnershipcan provide an information sheet about the role of the SENCO

 
The pupil's school records* should be updated regularly to record information about SEN and the action that is being taken.

* parents/carers have a right to see their child's school records

 
3. How are children's needs identified and assessed, and what action is taken by the school?
A Special Educational Needs Code of Practice* was published by the Government in November 2001 and came into effect from 1 January 2002.
The Code of Practice gives guidance on the main forms of additional or different action that should be taken to meet the needs of pupils. It says that for most pupils extra help will be provided in the classroom, managed by the class or subject teacher - this could be by working with the rest of the class, in small groups or on a one-to-one basis with a teacher or teaching assistant. Different actions may need to be taken for pupils at School Action, School Action Plus or those with Statements of SEN.
* Parent Partnershipcan provide an information sheet about the code of practice 2001
 
Section 317(a) of the Education Act 1996 requires schools to inform parents/carers when they make special educational provision because they have identified their child as having SEN.
 
School Action: The class teacher will involve the SENCO. In consultation with you, the SENCO and the class teacher will draw up an individual education plan for the pupil. This plan, known as an IEP*, is a sort of action plan and sets out:
the child's difficulties
short term targets for them to achieve
details of who will work with the child and what materials might be needed
when the IEP will be reviewed
* Parent Partnershipcan provide an information sheet about IEP's
You may be given some tasks to do at home with your your child as part of the IEP.
School Action Plus is felt to be appropriate if, despite having received additional support and an individualised programme at School Action, the pupil is still not making significant progress it may be decided to involve outside professionals. These professionals may advise the school on how to work with the child, they may provide an additional specialist assessment or they may work directly with the child. They will help to set new targets for the pupil's IEP.
 
The resources needed to provide support for a pupil at School Action and School Action Plus are contained within schools' budgets.
 
There is no minimum or maximum amount of time that a child is expected to spend at School Action or School Action Plus. However, the pupil's progress should be reviewed regularly and targets revised to reflect progress. The pupil's school records should be kept up to date.
If the child's needs are not being met at School Action Plus, it may be felt that the Local Education Authority (LEA) should carry out a statutory assessment of the pupil's special educational needs (SEN). Any such decision should be made in consultation with you. It is at this stage that the LEA will become involved for the first time. Only a very small number of pupils (perhaps about 2% of the total school-aged population) will have needs which are so complex that a Statement of SEN is required.
The LEA will consider whether the pupil meets its criteria for assessment. They will make this decision on the basis of evidence gathered from the school and others. The school should be able to provide written evidence or information about the action it has taken, IEPs, National Curriculum levels and attainment information, any educational or other assessments, the pupil's health, the views of the parent and the child, the involvement of other professionals and any involvement by Social Services or the Health Authority. If the pupil does meet the criteria an assessment will be carried out. If the LEA feels there is not enough evidence or that the child's needs are not severe or complex enough to meet the criteria, the assessment will be refused and you will be advised of your right of appeal against the decision.
If the assessment shows that it is necessary, the LEA will issue a Statement of Special Educational Needs* and make sure that the help needed by the pupil is put into place. The LEA will monitor the pupil's progress once a year through an Annual Review of the Statement** which you will be invited to attend.
* Parent Partnership can provide an information sheet about Statements
** Parent Partnership can provide an information sheet on Annual Reviews
 
4. What can I do if I think my child needs a Statutory Assessment?
You have a right in law (Education Act 1996) to ask the LEA to assess your child's special educational needs. It is advisable to discuss this with your your child's school first, as they will be asked by the LEA to provide evidence of the action they have already taken to help the child. Once the LEA has received your request, it has 6 weeks to decide whether or not your your child's needs are complex enough to need a statutory assessment. If they agree then the assessment will go ahead; if they disagree, they will write to you and the school explaining why.
Your request to the LEA should be made in writing to the:
SEN Team Manager, London Borough of Hillingdon, Civic Centre, High St., Uxbridge, UB8 1UW
An example of the type of letter you could write is given below:
(Your address and telephone no.)
(date)
 
SEN Team Manager
Area Office
 
Dear
Re: (Child's name and date of birth)Re: (Child's name and date of birth)
I am writing to ask you to assess the educational needs of my son/daughter under the terms of the Education Act 1996.
I make this request under section 329 of the Act because (give details of your reasons for making request for assessment)
I understand that you will gather information about (child's name) special educational needs and that a panel will decide whether or not those needs meet Surrey's criteria for statutory assessment.
Yours sincerely
5. Where can I find my local education office?
Hillingdon(LEA code: 312)
Director of Education
London Borough of Hillingdon
Civic Centre
Uxbridge
Middlesex
UB8 1UW
Tel: 01895 250111
Fax: 01895 250878