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

Every child or young person may experience challenges with learning at some point. Most are able to overcome these difficulties with the support of their education settings and family members.

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

For more info on the national and local frameworks, read the SEND Code of Practice and the Mainstream Core Standards. Education settings and other services can use these frameworks to provide appropriate support for your child. Visit our rights for children and young people with SEND page to learn more your rights as a family.

We recommend that you follow these steps if you feel that your child or young person may require additional support.

1. Talk to your education setting

It's a good idea to talk to your child's teacher, key person or SENCO about 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

The education setting can help your child or young person reach their full potential, depending on their age and needs.

Find out what support is available at:

Answer 10 easy questions for you to find out who you can talk to.

We also understand that caring for and looking after a child or young person with SEND can be rewarding and challenging. Find out about support services for families with SEND children.

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 set 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 support is put in place, reviews should take place to check your child's 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 your child or young person isn't making the expected progress despite the support put in place, ask your education setting to request an EHC needs assessment.

Only a small percentage 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. Especially 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).

A needs assessment can be requested by you, or your child if they're over 16, if you don't feel you can ask the education setting to do so, or if you would prefer doing it yourself.

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