We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions here for your use, if there is anything you wish to ask which is not covered here and you cannot find the information you are looking for on our website then please do not hesitate to contact us and we will respond to your query as soon as we can.
All Local Authorities must publish information about their “Local Offer” for children who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). This means all the services which are available for children with SEND provided by Education, Health and Social Care, as well as the voluntary sector. The information is usually published on a SEND Local Offer website such as this one, but can also be made available in other ways, eg. our Local Offer helpline 01635 503100 and through SEN Information events organised by the West Berkshire Parent Forum https://www.wbpcf.org.uk/
A child is considered to have Special Educational Needs (SEN) if they find it harder to learn than the majority of other children of the same age, in spite of receiving good quality teaching. If your child’s school thinks your child may have Special Educational Needs, they must speak to you before a decision is made to put your child on the school’s SEN Register. They should also talk to you about the sort of help they plan to provide to help your child make progress.
If you are concerned that your child may have SEN, the first person to speak to is your child’s class teacher. If you are still concerned, you should arrange to speak to the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). The SENCO is a teacher in the school who oversees all children with SEN and makes sure they get the help they need. In small schools, the Headteacher may also act as the SENCO. If you feel you need help to approach the school, or you would like someone to come meetings at the school with you, you can get support from the West Berkshire SEN & Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS). The SENDIASS Service provides independent information and advice for parents and carers of children with SEN and can be contacted on Tel: 0300 303 2644 or Email: email@example.com
All schools have duties to make arrangements to support children with SEN and they receive some funding to help them to do this. If a child is identified as having SEN, the school should assess their needs and plan what support they are going to put in place. At this early stage the school may be able to assess what the child’s difficulties and needs are themselves, although they can also call on other specialist services (with your agreement) to carry out other assessments. The plan for helping your child should be written down and you should be involved in developing this and have a copy. In West Berkshire, we recommend that schools complete what we call a “Support and Achievement Plan” or SAP. Schools do not have to use this format, as long as they record what your child’s needs are and what they are going to do to support them. Once a plan is in place, progress should be reviewed three times a year and you should be involved in that review. If progress is still a concern, the school may need to change the support they are providing or bring in other professionals to give advice (with your permission).
A Support and Achievement Plan is a plan which schools in West Berkshire use to record how they are going to support a child with SEN and what they will be putting in place, including the targets they are setting for the child to achieve. All schools are required to keep a record of their plan for a child with SEN. There is no national format for this, so in West Berkshire we have created a format for schools to use which we call a “Support and Achievement Plan” or SAP. Schools do not have to use this format, they could create their own, as long as they record in writing what your child’s needs are and what they are going to do to support them, and as long as this document is developed with your involvement and you have a copy. There should be a review of progress three times a year and you should be involved in these reviews.
A special educational needs coordinator (SENCO for short) is a teacher who is responsible for special educational needs in a school. All schools have a SENCO and they work with other teachers and with parents to make sure that pupils with special educational needs get the right support and help they need at school.
The SENCO will co-ordinate additional support for pupils with SEN and liaise with their parents, teachers and other professionals who are involved with them.
Local Authorities and schools have to follow the “SEN Code of Practice”. The Code of Practice explains that most children who have SEN will be able to have their needs met by their school using the SEN budget which the school has available to it. These children will have a plan setting out how their needs will be met, which in West Berkshire is usually called a “Support and Achievement Plan” or SAP. Children who are receiving help for their SEN in this way, provided and funded by the school, are described by the SEN Code of Practice as being on “SEN Support”. This is sometimes abbreviated to “SENS”. Their progress will be reviewed three times a year. If they have made good enough progress, they may no longer need help at SEN Support and a decision may be made, with parents, that they no longer need extra help and can be taken off the school’s SEN Register. If children are not making enough progress, the school will need to adjust the support they are getting and possibly bring in other professionals to give advice. If children fail to make good enough progress in spite of the right help being put in place over a period of time, they might need to be assessed to see if they need an Education, Health and Care Plan or EHCP. (See “What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?”)
If you have concerns, you should always discuss these with the school and hopefully it will be possible for agreement to be reached between yourself and the school about what needs to be done to support your child. If you are still concerned after speaking to the school, and you want some independent advice, you can contact the West Berkshire SEN & Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS). Tel: 0300 303 2644 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The SENDIASS Service can give you advice on what schools should provide and will be able to attend meetings at school with you.
The majority of children with SEN will be able to have their needs met through SEN support provided and funded by their school. (See “What does the term SEN Support mean?”). However, in a small number of cases, children may have such significant and long term needs that they will need a higher level of support than a mainstream school can provide. Schools are expected to fund support for children with SEN, from their own budgets, up to an annual cost of £6,000. If a child is not able to make enough progress with this level of support, they may need an Education Health and Care Plan or EHCP. Either the school or the child’s parent can ask the Local Authority to carry out an Education, Health and Care Assessment. The Local Authority will need to check that the school has provided the support it should have provided before agreeing to do an EHC assessment. If an EHC assessment is agreed, the process takes 20 weeks and involves getting information from the family, the school, a doctor, an educational psychologist and any other professionals involved with the child. The EHCP will be developed with the child and the parents at an EHC planning meeting. It will set out all of the child’s needs and what must be provided by Education, Health and Social Care to meet their needs.
Schools and other educational settings such as FE Colleges can ask the Local Authority to carry out an Education, Health and Care assessment on a child or young person. They need to get parents’ permission before making the request. Schools would have to provide evidence on what the child’s needs are, what they have done to support the child from their own budget, what advice they have had from other professionals and how they have monitored progress. There is a form which schools can use to make a request for an EHC assessment.
Parents can also make a formal request to the Local Authority for an EHC assessment. There is no need to fill in a form; you can just write to or email SenAssessmentTeam@westberks.gov.uk to say that you would like your child to have an EHC assessment. However, the Local Authority will still need to get evidence from the school in order to make a decision on whether an EHC assessment is needed. If you make a written request for an EHC assessment, you are entitled to get an answer from the Local Authority within 6 weeks.
Not necessarily. The West Berkshire Home to School Transport Policy follows Government guidelines. These guidelines say that children should get help with transport to school if they are over statutory school age (aged 5) and if the nearest suitable school is more than 2 miles away (for children under 8) or more than 3 miles away (for children over 8). Transport may be provided for children who live under these distances if they have SEN and they would not be able to walk to school, even when accompanied by a suitable adult. Where a child is entitled to help with transport, we can offer the option of a Personal Transport Budget, where a sum of money is given to the family to make their own arrangements to get their child to school.