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You are in: Home > Articles > SEN - A Guide for Parents and Carers

SEN - A Guide for Parents and Carers


The DfES has published a comprehensive guide to Special Educational Needs for parents and carers. The introduction states that:

"This guide aims to help you understand:

• what special educational needs are
• what you can do of you are worried that your child may be having difficulties before they go to school
• how you can help your child
• what early education settings and schools can do to help your child
• what local education authorities and other services can do to help your child
• your rights and your child's rights"

The guide goes on to describe assessments and statements, what you can do if you disagree with a school or LEA, what happens if you move, what choices can me made after 16 and many other areas that may cause concern.

Also published in the guide is a list of useful addresses and publications.

This document can be obtained from the DfES.

What is the Code of Practice?

The SEN guide for parents and carers states that:

"The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice gives guidance to early education settings, state schools, LEAs and anybody else that helps to identify, assess and provide help for children with special educational needs. It sets out the processes and procedures that all these organisations must or should follow to meet the needs of children. They must not ignore the guidance in the Code. They must also take account of the code when they write their SEN policies. ... the Code describes how help for children with special educational needs in schools and early education settings should be made by a step-by-step or 'graduated approach'."

What are special educational needs?

The SEN guide for parents and carers states that:

"The term 'special educational needs' has a legal definition. 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. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age.

"The law says that children do not have learning difficulties just because their first language is not English. Of course, some of these children may have learning difficulties as well.

"Children with special educational needs may need extra help because of a range of needs, such as thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, or difficulties with speech and language or how they relate to and behave with other people.

"Many children will have special educational needs of some kind at some time during their education. Schools and other organisations can help most children overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily. But a few children will need extra help for some or all of their time in school.

So special educational needs could mean that a child has difficulty with:

• all of the work in school
• reading, writing, number work or understanding information
• expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
• making friends or relating to adults
• behaving properly in school
• organising themselves
• some kind of sensory or physical needs which may affect them in school

These are just examples."

More information for parents


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