Suffolk is an 'inclusive' Local Authority and most pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for whom Suffolk maintains a responsibility for are educated in mainstream settings.
What does the term special educational needs mean?
A child of compulsory school age or young person will have special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which means that they:
- Have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or
- Have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
This definition is set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2015). You can find out more about the SEND Code by going to the GOV.UK website.
SEN can be characterised by a range of needs and difficulties, children and young people with SEN may have problems with:
- Physical or mental impairments
- Concentration levels
- Ability to read or write
- Behaviour or ability to socialise
- Ability to understand things
Suffolk is an 'inclusive' Local Authority and most pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for whom Suffolk maintains a responsibility for are educated in mainstream settings and so we expect the vast majority of pupils are educated in their home community and have their SEND met by their local catchment mainstream school.
Suffolk also has specialist SEND provision for pupils whose educational difficulties mean that they require specialist provision. The law for assessing children and young people with SEND has now changed. From September 1st 2014, pupils who require specialist provision can request an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which is produced following an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. Children and young people who, under the old system, have a Statement of SEN will be transferred to the new system over the next 3 and a half years.
The Special Needs Officers play a leading role in the management of casework for children with special educational needs and contribute to county initiatives. Much of the work arises from their prime responsibility for management of the statutory assessment process which requires the establishment of good working relationships with professional staff in schools, in the support services and other agencies and, importantly, with parents.
The Special Needs Officer is expected to ensure that, as part of the SEN Assessment Team:
- A service of high quality is provided to all schools, parents/carers with special emphasis on the solution of problems;
- Client needs are properly assessed;
- The work of the SEN Team on a day-to-day basis is both responsive to individual needs and local circumstances and in line with county policies.
Each Special Needs Officer has case responsibility for a number of pupils who either have a Statement of SEN, EHCP or are undergoing an EHC Needs Assessment.
If you feel that the child or young person for whom you have parental responsibility has issues in relation to special educational needs, you should talk to their school or pre-school setting in the first instance.
Schools and settings are responsible for meeting the needs of a range of children and young people by providing high quality teaching and support which is adapted to the needs of individual children so they can make good progress in their learning and, in the long-term, can become independent and gain employment in or near their local community.
All schools and settings must:
- Employ a trained special educational need coordinator (SENCo) who is a qualified teacher and has a direct link to the senior management of the school (in some circumstances, the headteacher acts as the SENCo, e.g. in a small school)
- Publish their SEN Policy and provide an 'SEN information report on the website showing how they are implementing that policy. This must describe:
- How the school adapts the curriculum and learning environment for pupils with SEN
- Additional support for learning that is available for pupils with SEN.
- Have an ‘accessibility plan’ in line with the Equality Act 2010
- Have a SEND governor
- Maintain a SEND improvement plan or ensure that SEN provision is integrated into the school improvement plan
- Ensure an inclusive ethos and curriculum, ensuring that children and young people with SEND engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEND as far as possible
- Make reasonable adjustment for disabled children and young people to help alleviate any substantial disadvantage they experience because of their disability
- Tell the child’s parent or the young person that special educational provision is being made for a child or young person without an EHC plan
- Incorporate a range of teaching strategies and learning opportunities
- Provide a range of ICT equipment to enable inclusion and curriculum access
- Ensure target setting and tracking of progress and outcomes
The school must work with parents and carers to talk about the needs of their child and how these can be met. This information is used to develop an SEN support plan which will be reviewed on a termly basis to check progress.
When the school identifies a child or young person as having SEN they must act to provide support which is additional to or different to support generally given to children of the same age, to ensure the needs of the child are being met. Some children and young people with more complex and significant difficulties may require specialist services to support what their school does.
All schools and settings should:
- Contribute to the Local Authority’s Local Offer
- Involve the child, young person and their parent as fully as possible in the decisions that affect them.
- Have arrangements in place to identify the need for and secure such provision, whether through expertise and resources available within the setting or by drawing on support from outside services.
- Put appropriate evidence-based interventions in place that are provided as a graduated approach, which includes regular review of the progress made and adaptations to the support as required.
- Have plans of support that have a clear set of expected outcomes. Progress towards these should be tracked and reviewed regularly, at least termly
- Plan support and reviews by the class or subject teacher, in collaboration with parents, SENCOs and where appropriate, the pupil themselves
- Ensure that they are providing good teaching
- Regularly review the quality and appropriateness of the provision and monitor the impact.
The best schools and settings will:
- Invest in whole school and targeted training for staff
- Ensure inclusive teaching and support practice is embedded throughout the school and that all teachers understand that they are “teachers of SEN”
- Provide information on school arrangement for SEN to parents and governors
- Consider pre-emptive arrangements for pupils present and future with a disability
- Identify children with SEN and ensure provision is made in accordance with SEN and Disability Codes of Practice
- Start early transition and preparation for adulthood.
For children and young people with SEN and disabilities schools may also need to provide;
- Individualised planning involving learners, parents/carers
- Increased use of ICT resources
- Staff collaboration with specialists within the school setting and outside agencies
- Individualised programmes in more than one curriculum area
- Increased classroom support and small group support
- Environmental adaptations
- Broker or commission alternative provision where in-school provision isn’t meeting the pupil’s need.
Our generic expectations document for all schools is available to download (pdf).
All schools or settings will need to develop and publish a tailored Local Offer in partnership with parent/carers. Transparency, accessibility and appropriate confidentiality are of paramount importance both in collection and sharing of information. A school’s Local Offer needs to address what will be: a universal offer, targeted support and specialised support.
The following framework document could be used as an audit / self-evaluation tool and be developed to include examples of how support would be put in place.
Funding for SEN is provided for schools and academies as part of their overall budget and agreed by the ‘Schools Forum’. Funding for learners aged 16-19 at further education colleges and training providers is provided by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). This can be extended up to the age of 25 for students who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) funds further education colleges and training providers to offer further education to adult learners aged 19 and over. This includes adults under 25 without an EHC plan who self-declare a learning difficulty or disability.
Individual education or training providers will decide how to use its money to plan resources and support those with SEND. Where there is evidence a child/young person has more complex needs education providers may apply to Suffolk County Council for additional top-up funding.
The Special Needs Officer team is split into three areas.
The Ipswich Team covers South Suffolk and pupils and young people attending education outside of Suffolk. They can be contacted on 01473 260670 or by email SENTeamSouth@suffolk.gcsx.gov.uk
The Lowestoft Team covers North Suffolk. They can be contacted on 01502 674718 or by email SENTeamNorth@suffolk.gcsx.gov.uk
The Bury St Edmunds Team covers West Suffolk. They can be contacted on 01284 758809 or by email SENTeamWest@suffolk.gcsx.gov.uk