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SEN Support in Mainstream Schools

This information is about the support that mainstream schools must and should provide for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

The SEND Code of Practice says:
All children and young people are entitled to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training (section 6.1)

What is SEN Support?

Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to most of the other children of the same age.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children and young people achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school in conjunction with parents and pupils themselves.

Every school must publish a SEN Information Report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

The Local Offer published by Southend Council also sets out what support for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities is expected from:

  • early years settings
  • schools
  • colleges


You can read more about types of support available in schools by following the link below. 

Types of support in schools



This short video will tell you more about SEN Support in mainstream schools.

The Duties on Schools to Make SEN Provision

The SEND Code of Practice says mainstream schools must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • publish a SEN Information Report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time (section 6.2)

Who Decides What SEN Support My Child Has?

The SEND Code of Practice says

'Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.' (section 6.17)

The school should then decide if your child needs SEN support.  The school should talk to you and your child about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school should involve them directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has some special educational needs. If you think your child may need SEN support you should talk to your child’s teacher or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the SENCo or Head Teacher.

The Graduated Response

The SEND Code of Practice says 

'Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.' (section 6.44)

Support for all children and young people with SEN is planned and given using something called the graduated response. When your child is identified has having SEN, the school should use a graduated approach based on the following four steps.

This is a decision-making cycle in four clear stages - assess, plan, do and review.



Teaching staff should work with the SENCo to assess your child’s needs so that they give the right support. They should involve you in this.  Where possible, they should seek your child’s views too.

The SEND Code of Practice says ‘Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent’ (section 6.45)

They will look at things like:

  • the teacher’s assessment and experience with your child
  • your experiences at home and what you think your child’s need are
  • your child or young person’s views
  • the views and ideas of support staff such as your child’s teaching assistant (TA)
  • any assessments that have been done
  • your child’s progress and how that compares to other children their age
  • advice and recommendations from any specialists from outside school, such as an educational psychologist – they should work together with the professionals in school

Sometimes schools will seek advice from a specialist teacher or a health professional. They should talk to you about this first.


Once your child’s needs have been assessed, the support they need can be planned. You should know what support the staff at school are going to give. That should include the support your child will get from professionals from outside of school, such as therapists.

Plans should be made in partnership with you and with your child, if that’s appropriate. You should:

  • agree the outcomes that are important to your child – what progress everyone is expecting and that includes changes in behaviour as well as academic or developmental progress
  • agree short term targets from these outcomes that should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely -  sometimes called SMART targets
  • decide what adjustments to school life and rules will be made to meet your child’s needs
  • plan what interventions and support will be put in place
  • decide a date when you will meet to review what works and what needs to change

All of the teachers and support staff who work with your child should know what the plan for their support is and what they need to do. This should be written down somewhere on the school’s information system and you should be able to see and have a copy of the plans too.


This part of the graduated response cycle is the actual doing part, where the support is given day to day and week to week.

Your child’s class or subject teacher is responsible for working with them on a daily basis to give the support. They are also responsible for any support given outside of class, such as small group work or one to one support from a TA.

It’s a good idea to make sure there is a fixed timescale for the support to be given before it’s reviewed. For example, staff might decide to try something for half a term or a term. There needs to be enough time for your child to get used to the support and settle into it. There should also be enough time to realistically see whether it’s making any difference. Parents and professionals should meet once a term to review the support. 


The assess, plan, do and review cycle helps professionals identify each child’s needs, plan their support, try it out and then review the support to see if it works. It’s the way to support children and young people to make progress towards the things that matter to them.

The graduated response helps professionals to come up with a clear plan of support for your child. This should be written down in a school plan. In Southend, this plan is often called an ISP and should be regularly reviewed and changed when needed, as your child’s needs change.

The SEND Code of Practice says ‘Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year.’ (section 6.65)

The review is is the part of the process where you, the professionals and your child think about whether the support is making a difference. These are some of the main things to think about when you’re reviewing support:

  • Is the support working?
  • If it’s making a difference, how much difference?
  • Is it happening as it should – so is the right person giving the support, have they had any training they might need, is it happening often enough?
  • How is your child reacting to the support – has their behaviour changed for example?
  • What does your child think about the support?

Depending on the answers to these questions, your child’s class or subject teacher and the SENCo should adjust the support if needed. That might mean stopping the support and trying something different, changing things a little or a lot or leaving things as they are.  

You and your child should be involved in those decisions. You can ask for information about how professionals are measuring how successful the support is, so you can take part in the discussions.

The school should review your child’s progress and the difference that the help your child has been given has made.  This should be done on the date agreed in the plan. You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next steps. Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals to investigate the difficulties and plan the next steps.

You and the school can look at the Local Offer to see what support should be available that could help achieve your child’s outcomes.

Sometimes the next step may be to ask the Local Authority for an EHC needs assessment. If the school decides to do this, they must tell you. If you think it is needed you can ask for it yourself.

Where Can I Get More Information, Advice or Support?

You can find out more about SEN Support by:

  • looking at the SEN Information Report on your school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the SENCo
  • looking at the Local Offer
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice

You can also get in touch with SENDIASS who can give you:

  • information about SEN Support
  • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing
  • information about other organisations and information services that could help
  • information and advice about your rights to request an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCP)