Talking to your education setting about special educational needs

You know your child better than anyone.

It’s a good idea to talk to your child's teacher or key person and write a list of your worries, including things outside the classroom. Talk to them about:

  • what makes you think your child has special educational needs
  • whether your child learns at the same rate as others their age
  • whether they share your concerns
  • what you can do to help
  • what the school can do to help
  • any difficulties your child may experience outside of school.

If you’re still worried, ask to meet with the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).

If your child is not attending an education setting speak to your health visitor or GP to access support.

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 has the education setting noticed about my child?

  • Does the education setting share my concerns?

  • Has the education setting done any assessments to find out about my child's needs?

  • Does my child get extra help from a teacher or another adult? What do they help them with?

  • Is the help given in a group or individually? Is it every day? How long is it for?

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

  • What can I do to help my child?

  • What will the next steps be if my child needs more support?

  • How can we work together on an individual support plan for my child?

  • 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. You can 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, the education setting 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 in your child's:

Education health and care (EHC) plan

Before your research if an EHC is suitable for your child, you should speak with their education setting first to see what additional support is available. Only 3% of children need an education, health and care (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.

Download an easy read guide to understand what an EHC plan is from IASK.

Find out more about what an EHC plan is for.