If you have a child with special educational needs, we understand that finding information and support can feel overwhelming. With that in mind, we’ve listed below some of the questions we’re asked most frequently.
What support should my child with SEND get in school?
Most children of school age who have SEND will attend a mainstream school. In most instances, teachers differentiate the curriculum to help children learn without there needing to be any special provision in place.
Where a child is identified as needing more support, the school will look to identify what those needs might be, and how they might be able to be met. The process of identifying and providing for these needs is called "SEND Support". A medical diagnosis is not necessary in order for a child with SEND to receive support in school.
You can read more about this here: Education
If you think your child has SEND or you are unhappy with the support they are currently receiving, we would encourage you to talk with their class teacher in the first instance. If you feel you would like some support to help you do this, you can contact Suffolk SENDIASS who are an impartial SEND advice and support service.
What is High Needs Funding?
All mainstream schools receive money for special educational needs support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money. This is called “delegated” funding because it is given (delegated) to schools by local authorities or the Education Funding Agency from money they receive from central government.
High Needs Funding (HNF) is additional money that mainstream schools can apply for to help them to support your child. Schools can apply for HNF if it would cost more than £6000 to meet a child’s needs. For more information on this, please talk to your school.
How do I change my child’s school/ educational setting?
If your child does not have an EHCP, you will need to apply through the main school admissions process. You can access this here: Suffolk County Council | Schools
My child is struggling to attend school; who can help?
We would recommend you talk to the school in the first instance. It may be that some adaptations can be made to help, such as a personalised timetable, access to additional support, access to a home-based IT curriculum or other special arrangements.
If you or the school feel that more support is needed, then the school can make a referral to the Specialist Education Services or another support team as appropriate. You can find more information on the services that may be involved here: Support to help your child attend school.
If your child is unable to attend school on a longer term basis due to ill health; you may be asked to provide some medical evidence. You can find more information on this, and what support may be available to you in this situation, in our Medical policy.
My child has been excluded; what do I do?
If your child has an EHCP and has been excluded you should also contact your local Family Services team, who will be able to assist you.
Is my child entitled to free transport to school?
Suffolk County Council provide funded travel for all children of compulsory school age (5-16) who live two or more miles from their nearest appropriate school (under 8s), or three or more miles from their nearest appropriate school (over 8s). Some children and young people with SEND may be entitled to funded travel irrespective of the distance from the school if they cannot be reasonably expected to walk to school/college because of their SEND or if the Local Authority has agreed this when naming the placement in their EHCP. If you think this may apply to you, visit the Suffolk On Board website here: SEND Transport
What is an EHCP and how do I request one?
Whilst most children’s needs are met via mainstream provision, some may require an assessment of their education, health and care needs in order for the Local Authority to decide what provision is necessary. This process is called an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA).
One possible outcome of an ECHNA is that the Local Authority issue an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP). This is a document which sets out the education, health and social care needs of a child or young person and specifies the special educational provision to meet their needs.
If you feel your child would benefit from an ECHNA, you can either talk to your school and ask them to submit a request, or you can request one directly by contacting your Local Family Services team. In both cases you will be asked to contribute your views to the assessment.
For more information visit Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments
Can I request that a school in another area is named on my child’s EHCP?
You have the right to request that a particular setting be named in your child’s EHCP, even if this is in another Local Authority area. The Local Authority must comply with your preference unless it would be unsuitable for your child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN, or if their attendance would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources.
The law states that the Local Authority must 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 a child or young person’s EHC plan. If another Local Authority maintains the school, they too must be consulted.
I don't think my child’s school are delivering the provision specified in their EHCP. What can I do?
If you don’t feel that your child’s school are providing what is specified in their EHCP, in the first instance we would encourage you to speak to the school about it. In many instances it may be a simple misunderstanding that can be easily resolved. If this doesn’t resolve the situation, you can read more about how to raise a concern about EHCP provision here.
If you feel you would like some independent support to help you with this, you can also visit our Independent Advice section.
How does the EHCP Annual Review process work?
EHCPs must be reviewed by the Local Authority at least every 12 months. The first review must be held within 12 months of the date that the EHCP was issued, and must be undertaken in partnership with the child/young person and their family. You can find out more about what an Annual Review should cover here: Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments and Annual Reviews: documentation and guidance
A child or young person with an EHCP who is transferring to a different phase of education (e.g. primary to secondary school) in September the following year must have an Annual Review early in the academic year, so that their EHCP can be amended to name their next placement. This is called a Phase Transfer review.
By law, the amended EHCPs must be issued by the 15 February (except secondary school to post-16 transfers, which is 31 March). We therefore ask schools to hold Annual Reviews for these children early in the Autumn term and send us the paperwork by the 31st October (or the 31st December for secondary – post 16). Our Family Services team will then process these and issue the amended EHCP in due course.
My child has mental health needs. What support is available?
If your child needs mental health support and you live in East or West Suffolk, you can contact the Emotional Wellbeing Hub on 0345 600 2090 or view the support available through the Hub here: Emotional Wellbeing Hub.
Both areas are also served by NHS Wellbeing, who offer a wide range of support for anyone aged 16+. Find out what's available at Wellbeing Norfolk and Suffolk.
In a crisis, you can also call First Response on 0808 196 3494. This is a helpline for people of all ages in Norfolk and Suffolk who need urgent mental health support. The helpline is available 24/7 and manned by trained mental health professionals. For more information, visit First Response.
I think my child may have an underlying condition that affects their learning. Who can help?
If you think your child is showing signs of a condition that may affect their learning, such as dyspraxia, ADHD or autism, or you are worried about their general development, we recommend following the steps below:
- See your GP or health visitor to talk through your concerns. If appropriate, your GP will then be able to refer you to the right healthcare team for any assessments needed.
- If your child is at school, you can also contact the school's special education needs coordinator (SENCO) for advice
- Our Specialist Education Services have published a range of resources to support families of children with a variety of needs including sensory and communication needs, behaviour that challenges and more. To view these resources click here: Specialist Education Services.
- You can also view a range of local and national support services by typing the type of support you require in the search field at the top of this page (e.g. “Autism”)
When is my child eligible for an annual health check?
Parents and carers of young people aged from 14 to 25 with learning disabilities are being encouraged to make sure they undergo an annual health check with their GP. Annual health checks can help ensure they stay fit and enjoy good mental wellbeing, as well as identifying any problems early so they can be treated more quickly.
What support is there to help my child with SEND prepare for adulthood?
Making the transition from childhood to adulthood is an exciting but potentially difficult process for any young person. For young people with additional needs, this transition can be even more challenging and take a fair amount of preparation and planning. To help with this, we’ve produced a Transitions Guide for young people with SEND aged 16-25 in Suffolk which gives advice and resources on a range of topics.
In addition, we’ve written some frequently asked questions specifically on this subject, and you can read these here: Frequently asked questions around transition into adulthood.
How can I access support for my child from social care?
There are four levels of need within Suffolk’s Social Care provision, these are:
- Universal - these services can be accessed by all families. Universal Services include: Children’s Centres, GP’s, Health Centres, School Nursing, Education and funding for early education.
- Early intervention - a wide range of support with a focus on helping families identify and manage their own needs and solutions, accessed through a Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
- Targeted - Some children with SEND may be assessed as eligible for support from the Children In Need Team, for example a child who requires time-limited support from a social worker when they aren’t achieving expected outcomes.
- Specialist - the Disabled Children and Young People’s Service (DCYP) is responsible for assessing the individual care needs of children and young people with complex needs requiring a higher level of specialist services. This may include looking at needs relating to care in the home, assessment within the home environment, support for carers, personal budgets and transition support.
To request support from Social Care, please contact Customer First on 0800 800 4005.
Are short breaks the same as respite, and can my child access them?
Every local authority has a duty to provide a range of short break services for children and young people with additional needs and disabilities.
Short breaks enable disabled children and young people to do many of the fun exciting activities non-disabled children have regular access to. They also give parents and carers and their families a break from their caring responsibilities.
Activities Unlimited is the part of Suffolk County Council responsible for short breaks for children and young people with disabilities. In addition to information, advice and subsidised activities, they also provide short break personal budgets, to give eligible families the flexibility to choose breaks that best meet their needs.
A small range of residential/respite short break services are also contracted from providers who specialise in the support and care of children and young people with complex health conditions, and / or challenging behaviour. These services are accessed through the Disabled Children and Young Peoples Social Work Service.
To find out more about the other types of Personal Budget that may be available for children and young people with SEND, click here: Suffolk Personal Budget Policy