Special Education Needs
Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. (DfES, 2001).
The 1996 Education Act states that all early education settings, state schools, and Local Education Authorities, together with health and social services, must follow the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice when dealing with children with SEN.
In early education settings and state schools children aged 3 to 5 years old follow the foundation stage curriculum. The Early Learning Goals of this curriculum set out what most children should be able to do by the end of the school reception year. Should your child be making slower progress than you expected, or need additional or different support to other children their age, it does not necessarily mean that your child has special educational needs - teachers use a variety of teaching methods in their classroom given the different rates at which children progress. However, if you do have concerns about your child you should seek advice.
If your child is not yet at school you can talk to your health visitor or doctor. Once at an early years setting or at school a useful person for you to become familiar with the school's SENCO - Special Educational Needs Co-coordinator. This is the person responsible for co-coordinating help for children with special educational needs. Alternatively you could approach your child's teacher or head teacher.
Once it is decided that your child has SEN, the setting should follow the Code of Practice as follows:
* Early Years Action (for early education settings) or School Action: your child begins to receive additional or different help from other children because of their special educational needs. The school must tell you if such measures are used.
* Should your child then not make enough progress, the school may seek advice from people outside of the school, such as an educational psychologist or speech and language therapist. This level is called Early Years Action or School Action Plus.
* Following on from this, if your child's needs are not then met by the mainstream school with the help of specialists, the local education authority will make an assessment of your child. If the LEA decides your child needs special help, they will write a statement of special educational needs. This statement usually means that your child's school will get a certain amount of money to spend on supporting your child. This is normally spent on a 'Learning Support Assistant' - someone who will help support your child in their setting.
The department for education and skills provides a comprehensive guide to the process that a child with special educational needs will pass through, called:
Special Educational Needs (SEN), a guide for parents and carers.
And is available from www.dfes.gov.uk or:
DfES Publications Centre
PO Box 5050
Nottingham NG15 ODJ
Phone: 0845 6022260
Information is also available from:
A non-government organisation with lots of information about what to do if your child has special education needs. It also includes specific disability information.