Education - Special educational needs

What does special educational needs mean?

Finger paints

If a child has a learning difficulty or a disability that makes it harder for them to learn than most children of their age, they may have special educational needs (SEN).

As many as one in five children may experience some kind of difficulty in learning at some point of their school life.

Special educational needs in schools

The SEND Code of Practice provides guidance from the Department of Education to all schools and local authorities on how to carry out their responsibilities under the new arrangements. There is a guide specifically for parents around the new arrangements for children and young people with SEND - click here to see the SEND parent guide

In addition the Council for Disabled Children has produced a series of leaflets for young people which explain the new SEND arrangements - click here to see the leaflets for young people

The SEND Code Of Practice suggests that the more flexible and responsive a teacher's strategies are, the more likely it is that pupils with a range of learning needs will make adequate progress.

As soon as any difficulties are identified most children and young people with SEND will have their needs met by resources which are normally available in settings, schools and colleges. These could be in the form of additional staff support (e.g. classroom assistants), specialist equipment or different ways of teaching.The school may also seek advice from specialist educational advisory services such as Inclusion Support.

Every school in Sandwell has a teacher, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), who is responsible for co-ordinating support for pupils with SEN in their school.

If you are worried about your child's progress ask for a discussion with the SENCO and/or the class teacher so that you can explain your concerns and hear how the school will be able to help.

Very occasionally, a child or young person will have a level or complexity of need that will require more resources than a setting, school or college can provide. In these cases the school will ask for a Community Assessment Meeting (CAM) to be convened. At the CAM all parties (the child or young person, parents, school, other support agencies) will meet to look at the evidence and plan a way forward. This may result in the Local Authority deciding to start an assessment which could result in the issuing of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) which sets out in detail the resources needed and who should provide them. If an EHC Plan is issued it will be reviewed every year to ensure that the resources detailed in it are still appropriate to achieve the desired outcomes. For more details please see section 1 of the Guide for Parents and Carers.

Transition to Secondary School

For children with SEND the transfer from primary school to secondary school can be particularly daunting. Proper planning along with discussions and the sharing of information between schools is vital if the children are to be identified and supported effectively during and after the transfer. Inclusion Support has worked with schools in Sandwell to produce a suite of materials to support year 6 to year 7 transition. The SEND Transition Plus materials are already in use in a number of schools in Sandwell and they will shortly be made available on the Local Authority Extranet to allow more schools to take advantage of the resources.

We have produced a number of videos in which staff from one of our high schools talk about how they use the SEND Transition Plus materials. Click on the appropriate link below.

How the SEND Transition Plus materials help with early transitions

Supporting the transition of children with more severe needs

How the SEND Transition Plus materials support early interventions

Using the SEND Transition Plus materials to plan form tutor mentoring

How the SEND Transition Plus materials can support attendance

Click here to see a video of parents interviewing the manager of Inclusion Support about transition

Transfer Reviews

Previously children and young people who had more severe and complex needs were issued with a statement of special educational needs. These were abolished under the new legislation and we are midway through a process to convert these statements of special educational needs to EHCPs which will be completed by 2018. The decision about whether to convert a statement of special educational needs to an EHCP is governed by a Transfer Review Meeting. The videos below give more information about the transfer review process.

Hear what a school Special needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) thinks about the Transfer Reviews


Hear what one of the Transfer Review Officers thinks about the Transfer Reviews


Hear what an Educational and Child Psychologist thinks about the Transfer Reviews


More videos about the transfer reviews from young people and parents will appear here soon.


Get more information about Sandwell's arrangements for transition to the new system

Over the next few years services in Sandwell will be working with children, young people, families, schools, colleges and other agencies to ensure that the move to the new is a smooth as possible.

You can find out about the national plans for transition to the new system on the Department for Education website

Schools with Focus Provisions

Some schools have a Focus Provision (FP). These are based in mainstream schools and take pupils with certain types of significant need. They all have specialist support staff and equipment. More information about Focus Provisions can be found in section 4 of the Guide for Parents and Carers.

Support and advice for parents and carers

Parents and carers play a vital role in their child's development and any discussions about how a child's special educational needs should be met.

Their views should always be taken into account and the wishes of the child should also be heard.

Staff at Sandwell SEN service are always ready to answer questions and to work in partnership with parents on issues related to a child's special needs.

We recognise that it is vital for parents and carers to be fully involved in discussions about their child. To help with this Sandwell has issued A Guide for Parents and Carers which is a full guide to the support available to children with special educational needs and disabilities in schools, including statutory assessment and Education, Health and Care Plans.

Sandwell SEND Information, Advice and Support Service

The Sandwell SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SEND IASS) provides neutral advice and support to help parents and carers involved in discussions about their child's SEN.


The Local Authority is required to produce an Accessibility Strategy which details its plans to support schools to be more accessible to disabled pupils in three areas:

  • Access to the curriculum
  • Access to written information
  • Access to the physical environment

Schools are also required to produce an Accessibility Plan covering the same three areas. This should appear on the school website as part of its SEN Information Report. With regard to developing access to the physical environment in school, schools are exempt from the reasonable adjustment duty in the Equality Act to make alterations to the buildings. However, they must show that they have reasonable plans to develop accessibility and that they have committed adequate resources to those plans.

Schools in Sandwell

Schools in the local area

Other schools

Very occasionally the Local Authority may place a child in an independent special school or college if a suitable placement cannot be identified locally. You can see a list of independent special schools and colleges (also known as the section 41 list) which are approved by the Department of Education.

Education and Training after age 16

If you or your child are looking for options after leaving school, there is information available to help.

Travel assistance

Is your child eligible for help with travelling to school? Information is available about travel assistance as well as the training we can provide to help your child travel independently to school.

Other documents that might help you


Contact us

Telephone: 0121 569 8240


Children's Services
SEN Service
Connor Education Centre
Connor Road
West Bromwich
B71 3DJ