What to do if you think your child has Special Educational Needs

What is special educational needs?

Most children grow up without having any major difficulties at school, but some find it a little harder and need extra help. This could mean that they have special educational needs. It is estimated that one in five children will need some sort of help during their time at school.

Do you think your child has special educational needs?

If you are at all worried, contact your child's school and talk to the class teacher or special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) about it. They will be able to investigate your concern. Don't worry too much if it turns out there is a problem as there may be a simple explanation or solution. You might not even need to make further contact.

If there is a concern the school will want to monitor your child's progress for a while. They will keep you informed of the steps taken and you can contact the school at any time for this information.

Remember that the whole process is about exploring ways of helping your child, so try to feel relaxed about sharing any ideas or comments you might have. After all, you have a special knowledge about your child and the school will be happy to hear what you have to say and will welcome your involvement. They'll want to work closely with you and will also want to find out how your child feels.

What happens next?

Once a special need has been identified, the school will do all it can to help your child. There are lots of ways to help and you should ask if you are unsure of what is being done in school. You can also do things to help at home and you should discuss this with the school.

Sometimes schools will ask for advice from specialists like psychologists, counsellors, speech therapists, nurses or specialist teachers. These people may give advice to the school, to you or to your child. The school will tell you if they want to do this and you'll have the chance to ask questions and give your comments.

Your child will get an individual education plan (IEP) that sets out what will be done to help them. You and your child will be able to contribute to this plan. Their needs may be met through wider class planning but the school will tell you what they are doing.

Remember that the advice and ideas set out in the IEP will need to be tried and tested for a reasonable length of time to make sure they work, before the next step can be taken. Once again, the school will keep you informed what is happening and if you aren't sure of anything, make sure you ask. The school is required to take this approach which is known as the Graduated Response. You can download the document below to find more details of the expectations on schools from Salford City Council.

What if you need more help?

Your child should make progress from the help you get from the school, but sometimes more help can make a bigger difference, so the action is stepped up.

At this stage more help may be given and new ideas may be tried. Even more help from outside specialists may be asked for and tried for a period of time.

You can expect the school to keep you informed about your child's progress. This can be done through the IEP, at a parents' evening, in a report, at a specially arranged meeting or over the telephone.

Expressions and abbreviations which you might hear:

  • Individual education plan (IEP)
  • Individual behaviour plan (IBP)
  • Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
  • Educational psychologist (EP)
  • Local authority (LA)

What to do if you are still not sure your child is making progress

If you think your child isn’t making progress then the next stage is to ask for a statutory assessment. Your child’s school or Salford Information, Advice and Support Service (SIASS) can help you with this. You can contact SIASS on 0161 778 0343/0349/0335 or at siass@salford.gov.uk

More information

Downloadable documents

If you are unable to view documents of these types, our downloads page provides links to viewing software.

This page was last updated on 3 June 2016

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