SEN Q&A

Q - I am having worries about my child’s development compared to that of their peers and feel that they may need some extra support or may have a special educational need. How do I raise this with school and who do I speak to?

A – Your child’s class teacher is normally your main point of contact to discuss anything about your child. Most schools will allow for a parent to catch a teacher either before or after the school day - although these can be busy times and  they may  recommend the end of the day being an easier time to do so. If this is going to be more than a quick chat then it is often advised to book a time to speak with your child’s class teacher. Each school might have a different way of doing this, some may allow you to arrange this with the teacher directly, other schools may wish for it to be arranged through email or through the school office. You can check how your school would like this to be done by asking the class teacher or speaking with office staff if you don’t know. 
 

Before having a meeting with your child’s class teacher and in preparation for doing so, keep some bullet pointed notes about your concerns or worries or things you wish to discuss and maybe how long they have been going on for. This is really useful for trying to remember the points you wanted to raise. It can be handy to make a copy of the list too so that you can leave one with the class teacher and keep a copy for your own records. It can be very useful to make sure you put a date on the top and slide it into a folder. Keeping each set of notes and information, with dates on, and putting it all in a folder will allow you to be able to go back to it at any point if needed in the future.
 

A class teacher should listen to your worries and concerns and be able to share some of what they may have seen in school. Do not be alarmed if what a teacher is telling you about your child is different to what you are saying is how you see things or what is happening at home for your child. This is not unusual! Many children ‘mask’ and hold things in through their school day and when they are back home, the cascade of overwhelm, emotions and upset comes out. Home is a child’s safe space. A child will often mask to try and fit into the classroom, with peers and not have attention drawn on to them etc. While it could feel incredibly frustrating that they may not see things in the same way and you might not feel listened to by the teacher in some ways, often children can present differently in the classroom and therefore a class teacher just might not have seen or noticed what you are.
 

It might be that a class teacher says they will speak with the school SENCO at school and raise your concerns or put you in touch with them. It could be that the teacher might try to observe things a little more in class to come back to you with some further information. If you feel that you are not being listened to by the class teacher or feel that your concerns need to be addressed to the school SENCO for support around potential additional needs, you can ask for this to happen and for a meeting to be held with the school SENCO. 

Q - My child’s school has told me that they aren’t able to apply for an EHCP for my child. I have heard reasons from school, such as ‘your child is too academic’, ‘your child doesn’t cost more than the £6000 fund’ and ‘we can’t apply for one at the moment, they haven’t had a My Plan long enough’.


I believe that my child should be assessed for an EHCP to support their needs.

Is any of this true? What can I do about this?
 

A - In the Children and Families Act 2014 - Section 36 (1) it states, ‘A request for a local authority in England to secure an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person may be made to the authority by the child’s parent, the young person or a person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution.’


Therefore a school or parent are both able to request an EHCP assessment. To apply for an EHCP, evidence and information about your child and their needs will be needed as part of the application. (See question 3 for more information about how to apply for an EHCP as a parent). 

An EHCP is free to apply for and does not cost the school or parent to apply. With regards to the £6000 amount, (that is sometimes heard of by many parents as a reason to not apply) this is the amount that a school is allocated to a child who is on the SEN register. It is there to allow the school to make provision in school more accessible to the child and put in place reasonable adjustments. Sometimes Local Authority policies may be written in a way that makes schools have to evidence that they are spending the £6000 funding to support a child’s needs before applying for an EHCP. This might be Local Authority policy but it is not the legal requirement needed for an assessment of an EHCP. This is unlawful and you can apply to the SENDIST tribunal if the Local Authority refuses to carry out an EHCP assessment.

There are often many other reasons a school may use an ‘excuse’ to put off applying for an EHCP. Often it can be a fair bit of paperwork and admin work to complete, and the school will have to provide evidence to attach to the application. Sometimes a school might not have what feels like to them, enough evidence to send with the application. This does not mean that an EHCP cannot be applied for. A school can still apply and a parent can still contribute their evidence and information too or you can submit a parental application
 

If a school is reluctant to apply for an EHCP and you feel that they would benefit from having an assessment for an EHCP then you can submit a parental application even without the school wishing to, although it is helpful if they are willing to work with you.

Q - How do you submit a parental application for an EHCP and what information do I need?

 

A - There are two main options to submitting an application. Some Local Authorities will accept a letter of application for an EHCP request. The other option in some Local Authorities is an online application portal. 

These options will come down to individual Local Authorities as to which option they accept or some Local Authorities may accept either option. You can find out how your Local Authority will accept an application by searching under your own Local Authority council pages and looking under their SEND information. You could always ring your local council to ask about this if you are not sure. 

 

If your Local Authority is asking for a letter of request, then you may also need to check whether this is being accepted via email or post and how they would like to receive it.

When you are writing your request for an EHCP application, you may wish to consider including some of the below information depending on what is relevant to your child:

  • A history of birth and early development and milestones 
  • The difficulties and behaviours that you are aware of at home / in school
  • What home and school looks like for your child
  • Medical needs 
  • Speech, language and communication needs
  • Sensory needs
  • Food and Eating needs
  • Bedtime and sleeping difficulties
  • Social and Play development
  • Toilet needs and personal care needs
  • Independence and mobility needs
  • What have you tried at home or at school and what has supported your child or not helped.
  • Include any professional reports or letters or information that can support your application from health visitors, GP, speech therapist, occupational therapist, school reports, My Plans etc. 


If your Local Authority is asking for a letter of request for an EHCP application or you need more support or help with this. Please contact us via our website. 

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