What to do if you think your child has special educational needs

Every child or young person may experience challenges with their learning at some point. For most, these difficulties are often overcome with support from their education setting and at home.

However, to support your child or young person to have the same opportunities as others, additional help can be put in place.

If you feel that your child or young person is in need of additional support, before you request an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment, we recommend that you follow these steps.

1. Talk to your education setting

It’s a good idea to have an initial talk with your child's teacher, key person or SENCO and explain to them your worries. This could include, their reading, writing or communication or any behaviours outside the classroom.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. It can affect their:

  • reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • concentration levels
  • behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends
  • physical ability.

Learn more about the definition of SEND.

2. Understand what support is available

Depending on your child or young person's age and needs, the education setting can provide additional support to help them reach their potential.

Find out what support is available at:

Or, answer 10 easy questions for you to find out who you can talk to.

3. Set up a meeting with your education setting to discuss additional support

Once you've researched what additional support is available, we recommend that you set up a meeting with the SENCO.

The meeting allows you to discuss any concerns you have, and what support may be provided.

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

Find out more about this meeting.

4. Review of the support given

Once the support is put in place, reviews should take place to check your child or young person's progress. You have the right to be kept informed and for your views to be taken into account throughout this process.

If you have any concerns about their progress, you should contact the SENCO.

5. Request an education, health and care needs assessment

If you are still unhappy with your child or young person's expected progress despite the support put in place, you should ask your education setting to complete an EHC needs assessment, to determine if an EHC plan would be beneficial.

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 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.

If you need additional confidential and impartial advice before requesting, contact Information, Advice and Support Kent (IASK).

If you do not feel you can ask the education setting to request a needs assessment on your behalf, you can request one yourself.

FInd out more about EHC plans and how to request a needs assessment.