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Special Educational Needs and Disability
Updated April 2016
SEND Code of Practice 2014 outlines principles and practices that must be adhered to enable children and young adults with special educational need or disability to achieve the best possible educational outcomes.
A key element of the Code is the necessity for joint cooperation and work between agencies. The result of which is a Core Offer in regard to SEND. The Core Offer outlines what support is available to children, young people and families. It also sets out access arrangements and processes.
The roles and responsibilities of bodies involved in joint commissioning arrangements
Local authority - Leading integration arrangements for Children and Young People with SEN or disabilities including publishing and reviewing the Core Offer. Waltham Forest’s Local Offer can be found at: http://walthamforest.childrensservicedirectory.org.uk/kb5/walthamforest/fsd/localoffer.page
Children’s and adult social care - Children’s and adult social care services must cooperate with those leading the integration arrangements for children and young people with SEN or disabilities to ensure the delivery of care and support is effectively integrated in the new SEN system.
Health and Wellbeing Board - The Health and Wellbeing Board must ensure a joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) of the current and future needs of the whole local population is developed. The JSNA will form the basis of NHS and local authorities’ own commissioning plans, across health, social care, public health and children’s services. This is likely to include specific needs of children and young people with SEN or disabilities.
Clinical Commissioning Group - To co-operate with the local authority in jointly commissioning services, ensuring there is sufficient capacity contracted to deliver necessary services, drawing the attention of the local authority to groups and individual children and young people with SEN or disabilities, supporting diagnosis and assessment, and delivering interventions and review.
NHS England - NHS England commissions specialist services which need to be reflected in local joint commissioning arrangements (for example augmentative and alternative communication systems, or provision for children and young people in the secure estate or secure colleges).
Healthwatch - To co-operate with the local authority in jointly commissioning services, ensuring there is sufficient capacity contracted to deliver necessary services, drawing the attention of the local authority to groups and individual children and young people with SEN or disabilities, supporting diagnosis and assessment, and delivering interventions and review.
Maintained nurseries and schools (including academies) - Mainstream schools have duties to use best endeavours to make the provision required to meet the SEN of children and young people. All schools must publish details of what SEN provision is available through the information report and co-operate with the local authority in drawing up and reviewing the Local Offer.
Schools also have duties to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children and young people, to support medical conditions and to inform parents and young people if SEN provision is made for them.
The Local Offer, available on Waltham Forest’s website
(http://walthamforest.childrensservicedirectory.org.uk/kb5/walthamforest/fsd/localoffer.page) includes information about:
- Special educational, health and social care provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities
- Details of how parents and young people can request an assessment for an EHC plan
- Arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people’s SEN–including arrangements for Educational Health Care needs assessments
- Other educational provision, for example sports or arts provision, paired reading schemes
- Post-16 education and training provision
- Apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships
- Information about provision to assist in preparing children and young people for adulthood
- Arrangements for travel to and from schools, post-16 institutions and early years providers
- Support to help children and young people move between phases of education
- Sources of information, advice and support in the local authority’s area relating to SEN and disabilities including information and advice forums for parents and carers and support groups. This is delivered via The Citizens Advice Bureau CAB, 220 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 3AY. Tel: 0300 330 1175
- Childcare, including suitable provision for disabled children and those with SEN
- Leisure activities
- Support available to young people in higher education
- Arrangements for resolving disagreements and for mediation, and details about making complaints
- Parents’ and young people’s rights to appeal a decision of the local authority to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and disability) in respect of SEN and provision
- The local authority’s accessibility strategy
- Institutions approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014
The Role of School
Every school is required to identify and address the Special Educational Needs (SEN) of the pupils that they support. As all mainstream schools must do, we will:
- Use our best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they require
- Ensure that children with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
- Designate a teacher to be Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator – the SENCO. The present SENCOs are Mrs Joanne Heard and Mrs S Odysseas
- Inform parents when we are making special educational provision for a child
- Prepare an SEN information report outlining our arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and our accessibility plan showing how we plan to improve access progressively over time
- We have a member of the governing body with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for SEN and disability. The present responsible governor is Mrs Leigh Clothier
Identifying Special Educational Needs
Class and learning support teachers, aided by the senior leadership team, make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances. This is characterised by progress which:
- Is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
- Fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
- Fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
- Widens the attainment gap between the individual pupil and similar aged peers
It can include progress in areas other than attainment – for instance social development.
Our first response to lack of progress is high quality teaching targeted at an individual’s areas of weakness. Where progress continues to be less than expected the class teacher, works with the SENCO to assess whether the child has SEN. While informally gathering evidence (including the views of the pupil and their parents) we put in place extra teaching or other interventions designed to secure better progress.
For some children, SEN can be identified at an early age. However, for other children difficulties become evident only as they develop. All staff who work with our pupils are alert to emerging difficulties and respond early. Parents know their children best and it is important that they tell us of their concerns and that we listen and respond to those concerns. We also listen to and address any concerns raised by children themselves.
Children who have issues with behaviour do not necessarily have SEN. However, we undertake an assessment to determine whether there are any causal factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or mental health issues. If it is thought housing, family or other domestic circumstances may be contributing to the presenting behaviour a multi-agency approach, supported by the use of approaches such as the Early Help Assessment, may be appropriate. In all cases, early identification and intervention is important.
Staff are alert to other events that can lead to learning difficulties or wider mental health difficulties, such as bereavement, parents separating or bullying. Such events will not always lead to children having SEN but it can have an impact on well-being and sometimes this can be severe. We ensure appropriate provision is made for a child’s short-term needs in order to prevent problems escalating. Where there are long-lasting difficulties we consider whether the child might have SEN.
We do not assume that a pupil making slow progress or having low attainment has SEN. We are also aware that pupils with English as a second language can display difficulties because of language acquisition rather than SEN. Nevertheless, concerns are investigated.
There are four broad areas of needs we plan for. They are not to fit a pupil into a category. In practice, individual children often have needs that cut across all these areas and their needs change over time. A detailed assessment of need ensures that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need. The support provided to an individual is based on a full understanding of their particular strengths and needs and seek to address them all using well- evidenced interventions targeted at their areas of difficulty.
Communication and interaction
Children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.
Children with ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.
Cognition and learning
Support for learning difficulties may be required when children learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.
Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.
Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
Children may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.
Sensory and/or physical needs
Some children require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habitation support. Children with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.
Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.
Special Educational Provision at Yardley
Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.
High quality differentiated teaching is our standard way of ensuring pupils learn well. It becomes even more differentiated for individual pupils, as the first step, who have or may have SEN.
In deciding whether to make special educational provision, the teacher and SENCO consider all of the information gathered from within the school about the pupil’s progress, alongside national data and expectations of progress. This includes assessment data and accurate formative assessment. For higher levels of need we have arrangements in place to draw on more specialised assessments from external agencies and professionals.
This information gathering includes early discussions with the pupil and their parents. These are structured in such a way that they develop a good understanding of the pupil’s areas of strength and difficulty, the parents’ concerns, the agreed outcomes sought for the child and the next steps. A short note of these early discussions are shared with the parents and kept on record. Parents are informed about the local authority’s information, advice and support service.
Consideration of whether special educational provision is required starts with the desired outcomes, including the expected progress and attainment and the views and wishes of the pupil and their parents. This helps determine the support that is needed and whether it can be provided by the school or whether something different or additional is required.
Regardless of the support provided, all concerned will be clear about how the pupil desired outcomes of the support and how to achieve them. A date for reviewing progress will be agreed with the parent. The overriding purpose of early action is to help the pupil achieve the identified outcomes and remove any barriers to learning. Where it is decided that a pupil does have SEN, the decision will be recorded in the school records and the pupil’s parents formally informed that special educational provision is being made.
The SEN support given takes a graduated approach - a four-part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes. The four elements are assess – plan – do – review. In this way interventions can be refined as required and be informed by increasing input from experts in particular fields. Parents will have clear information about the impact of the support and interventions provided, enabling them to be involved in planning next steps. We seek parental views and permission before engaging with professional specialists.
Specialists available to support SEN
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
- Educational psychologists
- Specialist teachers or support services, including specialist teachers with a mandatory qualification for children with hearing and vision impairment, including multi-sensory impairment, and for those with a physical disability.
- Therapists - including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Where, despite taking relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the SEN of a pupil, they have not made expected progress, the school or parents will consider requesting an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. To inform its decision the local authority will be given evidence of the action taken by us as part of SEN support.
Involving parents and pupils in planning and reviewing progress
Where a pupil is receiving SEN support, we will talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss the activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the parent, the pupil and the school. We will meet parents at least termly. These discussions will involve the class teacher and the SENCO. The views of the pupil are also included in these discussions.
A record of the outcomes, action and support agreed through the discussion is kept and shared with the parents and all the appropriate school staff.
The role of the SENCO in schools
The key responsibilities of the SENCO may include:
- Overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy
- Co-ordinating provision for children with SEN
- Liaising with the relevant Designated Teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN
- Advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support
- Advising on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget and other resources to meet pupils’ needs effectively
- Liaising with parents of pupils with SEN
- Liaising with early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies
- Being a key point of contact with external agencies, especially the local authority and its support services
- Liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned
- Working with the headteacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements
- Ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date
Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans
The majority of children with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges. However, some children may require an EHC needs assessment in order for the local authority to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan. Parents or the school can request an assessment.
The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. To achieve this, local authorities use the information from the assessment to:
- Establish and record the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person
- Provide a full description of the child or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs
- Establish outcomes across education, health and social care based on the child or young person’s needs and aspirations
- Specify the provision required and how education, health and care services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs and support the achievement of the agreed outcomes
EHC plans should be forward-looking documents that help raise aspirations and outline the provision required to meet assessed needs to support the child or young person in achieving their ambitions. EHC plans will specify how services will be delivered as part of a whole package and explain how best to achieve the outcomes sought across education, health and social care for the child or young person.
An EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC plan. The information gathered during an EHC needs assessment may indicate ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person’s needs without an EHC plan.
Considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary
Following a request for an EHC needs assessment the local authority will determine whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary. The local authority must make a decision and communicate the decision to the child’s parent or to the young person within 6 weeks of receiving the request.
The local authority will notify the child’s parent that it is considering whether an EHC assessment is necessary, and will consult the child’s parent as soon as practicable following a request for an EHC needs assessment. This is particularly important where the request was not made by the child’s parent or the young person, so they have sufficient time to provide their views. In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, local authorities will pay particular attention to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent.
If the local authority decides not to conduct an EHC needs assessment it will inform the child’s parents of their right to appeal that decision and the time limit for doing so, of the requirement for them to consider mediation should they wish to appeal, and the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services.
The process of EHC assessment and EHC plan development must be carried out in a timely manner. The whole process of EHC needs assessment to the final plan would not usually take more than 20 weeks. The process is outlined below.
Statutory timescales for EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development
A parent has the right to request a particular school to be named in their EHC plan. The local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:
- It would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
- The attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources
The local authority will consult the governing body, principal or proprietor of the school or college concerned and consider their comments very carefully before deciding whether to name it in the child or young person’s EHC plan, sending the school or college a copy of the draft plan. If another local authority maintains the school, they too will be consulted.
Children with EHC plans can attend more than one school under a dual placement. Dual placements enable children to have support from a mainstream and a special school
Where a parent does not make a request for a particular nursery, school or college, or does so and their request is not met, the local authority will specify mainstream provision in the EHC plan unless it would be against the wishes of the parent or young person, or incompatible with the efficient education of others
A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent is involved in securing that provision.
Local authorities will provide information on Personal Budgets as part of the Local Offer. This will include a policy on Personal Budgets that sets out a description of the services across education, health and social care that currently lend themselves to the use of Personal Budgets, how that funding will be made available, and clear and simple statements of eligibility criteria and the decision-making processes.
Personal Budgets are optional for the child’s parent but local authorities are under a duty to prepare a budget when requested. Local authorities must provide information about organisations that may be able to provide advice and assistance to help parents and young people to make informed decisions about Personal Budgets.
Reviewing EHC Plans
EHC plans are used to actively monitor children’s progress towards their outcomes and longer term aspirations. They will be reviewed by the local authority as a minimum every 12 months. Reviews will focus on the child’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The review will also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate. A review prior to a pupil moving to secondary school will consider in detail this important step and allow for planning and commissioning support at the new school. Such reviews will be completed by 15 February in the year of moving.
Reviews will be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent, and will take account of their views, wishes and feelings, including their right to request a Personal Budget. Professionals involved in supporting the EHC will also attend.
There is scope for amendments and ending EHC Plans depending on review outcome. Parents or the school can also request re-assessment if they have concerns. In the case of disagreement between the parent and Local Authority there are independent processes for disagreement resolution and mediation. Ultimately, the issue can be dealt with by a First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). The Local Authority will keep parents informed of their rights all through the process.
Complaints about how the school works with SEND pupils should initially be made through the school’s Complaint Procedure.
The first point of contact in such circumstances will be the class teacher or head teacher. Through discussion it is hoped the schools policy and practice would be adequately explained. However, you have the right to make a formal complaint and in such an event the formal procedures will apply.
Write a letter to the Headteacher outlining your complaint requesting a meeting to discuss and resolve matters. The meeting will take place within 5 working days.
If you not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, you can write to the Governing Body of the school with your concerns, addressing the envelope to the Chair of Governors, care of the school. Acknowledgement will take place within 3 days and the case investigated and considered within 10 days. A written response will be sent within 3 working days of the case being considered.
The Governing Body will convene a panel of 3 people, not directly involved in the matter, to hear the complaint. One member of the panel will be independent of the management and running of the school. You may be accompanied at the hearing if you wish. Findings and recommendations resulting from the complaint and panel’s deliberations will be provided to you in writing and a copy filed at the school for inspection by the Governing Body and Headteacher.
All complaints, correspondence and the record of outcomes are kept on file. These are confidential except where the Secretary of State or a body conducting and inspection under section 162A of the 2002 Act request access to them.
The next step about an individual is a complaint to the Secretary Of State for Education. If it is a general complaint about the provision provided by the school a complaint can be made to OFSTED. Contact details for both can be found on the Department for Education and OFSTED websites respectively or from the school office.