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.

A new approach

In September 2014 the Government introduced a new system designed to promote better outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) up to the age of 25. The aim is to intervene early and effectively as soon as any difficulties are identified. This will contribute towards the desired outcomes of a successful transition to being an adult, living independently, getting a job and being a productive member of society.

Moving to the new system

Moving to the new system is no small task. It is the biggest change in the field of SEND for a generation and it will take time to bring in the new arrangements and get everyone used to new approaches and new ways of working. The Government has acknowledged that it will take until 2018 to complete the first phase of the transition and it may take a few years after that for everyone to be fully aware of the new landscape.

One of the key tasks in the transition period is to assess whether children and young people who currently have a Statement of Special Educational Need should transfer to one of the new Education Health and Care Plans (for more details on Education Health and Care Plans see section 1 of the Guide for Parents and Carers). A central part of the decision making process around whether a child or young person should have an Education Health and Care Plan is the Transfer Review Meeting. Every child and young person who currently has a Statement of Special Educational Need will have a Transfer Review by 1 April 2018 and this will inform whether they will subsequently move to a new Education Health and Care Plan.

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

Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs and Disability

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.

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.

Special educational needs in schools

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.

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 Local Authority may decide to issue an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) which sets out in detail what those resources are 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.

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.

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.

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.

Sandwell SEND Information and Advice Support Service

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

Sandwell SEND Information and Advice Support Service
Cape Hill Children's Centre
Corbett Street
Smethwick
B66 3PX
Telephone - 0121 555 1821

Handbook for parents

Sandwell issues 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, in its 'A Guide for Parents and Carers'. Follow the link to access the guide.

Schools in Sandwell

Schools in the local area

Other schools

    Education 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
    Email: sen_team@sandwell.gov.uk

    Address:

    Children's Services
    SEN Service
    Sandwell Council House
    Freeth Street
    Oldbury
    B69 9EX
    B69 3DB [postcode for sat nav]