Talking to your education setting about special educational needs

If you feel that your child or young person needs additional support in their learning, it’s a good idea to talk to their teacher or key person and write a list of your worries, including things outside the classroom. Talk to them about:

  • what makes you think they have special educational needs (SEN)
  • whether you believe they learn at the same rate as others their age
  • whether the education settings share your concerns
  • what you can do to help
  • what the education setting can do to help and what additional support they can put in place
  • why you believe your child or young person needs an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • any difficulties your child or young person may experience outside of nursery, school or post 16+ setting.

If you’re still worried, ask to meet with the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) or read their SEND policy (available on most school websites).

Meet your SENCO

If your child has had any health assessments or diagnoses, it’s important to share these with the SENCO.

You might want to ask someone who teaches your child and knows them well, like their teacher, to attend a meeting to discuss the next steps with you.

Before the meeting

  • Collect information about your child’s difficulties, for example GP reports or test results. Feel free to bring anything you would like to discuss with the education setting.

  • Write a list of your concerns. Mention progress, work, concentration, relationships, behaviour, and mood inside and outside of the education setting.

  • Look at the school’s policies on special educational needs, equality and behaviour to see how pupils with SEN are supported.

During the meeting, ask

  • What have they noticed about my child and if so, have they done any assessments and do they share my concerns?

  • Does my child get extra help from a teacher or another adult or in groups? What do they help them with? Is it every day? How long is it for?

  • Would discussing my child at a Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT) meeting be appropriate?

  • How can I help my child?

  • What will the next steps be if my child needs more support and how can we work together?

  • How do you measure my child's progress?

At the end of the meeting, you and the education setting should be able to agree what will happen next. Ask for this to be put in writing, and agree a date for a future meeting to check on progress of the support agreed.

After the meeting

If it is clear that your child has SEN, they will offer support gradually, and review at every step to see if things have improved.

You have the right to be kept informed and for your views to be taken into account. In the meantime, find out what support is available and how it will be provided gradually over time at your child's:

Education health and care (EHC) plan

If you feel that your education setting is not supporting your child or young person enough, we ask that you talk to them before researching whether an EHC plan is suitable for your child.

They will be able to inform you what support can be put in place and should be the first point of call for any additional help for your child or young person.

Only 3% of children need an EHC plan. One may be needed if:

  • your child or young person's needs cannot be met through the support they are currently getting in their mainstream educational setting and where the education setting has done everything it can to support them
  • despite the support provided, your child or young person isn't making progress in their learning or development, or when the progress they are making is due to significant levels of support.

Find out more about what an EHC plan is for and how to request an assessment.