Talking to nursery, school or college about special educational needs

You know your child better than anyone.

The first step is to talk to your child’s teacher or key person, so it’s a good idea to 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
  • what you can do to help
  • what the school can do to help
  • any difficulties your child may experience outside of school.

Ask whether they share your concerns and what the nursery, school or college can do to help.

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

If your child is not attending school, nursery or college speak to your health visitor or doctor.

Meeting the 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 class teacher, to attend the meeting as well.

Before the meeting

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

  • Write a list of your concerns. Mention progress, schoolwork, concentration, relationships, behaviour, and mood both at school and outside of school.

  • 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 school noticed about my child?

  • Does the school share my concerns?

  • Has the school 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, 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.

Next steps

If it is clear that your child has SEN, the school 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 in your child's:

A small number of children may need an education, health and care (EHC) plan, only 3% of children will need one, find out more about what an EHC plan is for.