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 an 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 North Lincolnshire Council also sets out what support it expects early years settings, schools and colleges to make for all children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • a special learning programme for your child
  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working with your child in a small group
  • observing your child in class or at break and keeping records
  • helping your child to take part in the class activities
  • making sure your child has understood things by encouraging
  • them to ask questions and to try something they find difficult
  • helping other children work with your child, or play with them at break time
  • supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing
  • advice and/or extra help from specialists such as specialist teachers, educational psychologists and therapists.

You can read some of the guidance that is made available to schools about the range of provision they can make for children and young people at SEN Support by using the following links:

When schools want to call in specialists, they should discuss and agree this with parents.

Read more about SEND and watch our videos.

SEN support for children under 5 includes:

  • a written progress check when your child is 2 years old
  • a child health visitor carrying out a health check for your child if they’re aged 2 to 3
  • a written assessment in the summer term of your child’s first year of primary school
  • making reasonable adjustments for disabled children, like providing aids like tactile signs.

Nurseries, playgroups and childminders registered with Ofsted follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. The framework makes sure that there’s support in place for children with SEND.

Talk to a doctor or health adviser if you think your child has SEND but they do not go to a nursery, playgroup or childminder. They’ll tell you what support options are available.

Talk to the teacher or the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) if you think your child needs:

  • a special learning programme
  • extra help from a teacher or assistant
  • to work in a smaller group
  • observation in class or at break
  • help taking part in class activities
  • extra encouragement in their learning, for example to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
  • help communicating with other children
  • support with physical or personal care difficulties, for example eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet.

Contact the college before your child starts further education to make sure that they can meet your child’s needs.

The college and your local authority will talk to your child about the support they need.

Funding Support

This information is about funding for special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. This includes academies and free schools.

Schools should use some of their budget to buy resources and make provision for children who need additional help. This can take many forms. For example, children with SEN might need:

  • changes to the curriculum
  • special equipment or teaching materials
  • the use of additional information technology
  • small group work
  • support in the classroom
  • a base to work in or have quiet time.


Where does funding for SEN come from?

All mainstream schools receive money for special educational needs support and resources. Schools can decide how to spend this money. This is called “delegated” funding because it is given (delegated) to schools by local authorities or the Education Funding Agency from money they receive from central government. The SEN part of the school’s income is sometimes called the “notional” SEN budget because it is not based on the school’s actual numbers of pupils with special needs, but on a formula.

Funding for SEN provision is from three sources (“elements”):

Schools get money for each pupil, based on actual pupil numbers. This is called the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) and it is part of schools’ delegated funding. Some of this money is for general SEN provision. This might, for example, include the cost of providing the
Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and some other resources.

Each local authority sets the AWPU for their schools, and the Education Funding Agency sets the AWPU for academies and free schools. The AWPU differs according to whether the school is primary or secondary etc.

Element 2 funding is SEN-specific, and is to provide SEN support for children who need it. This is support that is additional to or different from the support that most other children get.

The local authority provides this funding for schools it is responsible for, using a formula that determines the amount of money the school gets. The formula gives more money to schools that in the past had more children on free school meals and more children who were not doing as well as others in English and Maths. The Education and Skills Funding Agency provides this funding for academies and free schools.

Element 2 funding is also part of schools’ delegated budget. Government guidance says schools should provide up to the first £6,000 (on top of the AWPU) of additional or different support for those children who need it, including those with an Education, Health and Care plan (or a Statement of Special Educational Need). This does not mean that the school will spend £6,000 on every child with SEN. Sometimes schools use funds to help groups of children. Some children will need less help – and some children may need more.

You can ask your school how it uses its SEN budget to support your child and whether it has enough to make all the provision they need. The local authority also publishes a Local Offer that explains what type of resources this money might be spent on.

Where a school has children needing very expensive provision which might absorb a lot of the SEN support funding, the school can request additional funding. The local authority is responsible for managing Element 3 funding (sometimes called the ‘high needs block’), which can be used to make specific provision for an individual child or a group of children, if the school or academy can show it is necessary.

These funding arrangements do not override the local authority’s duty to your child to ensure they receive any necessary provision that the school itself cannot make. The law says that the local authority must find out via an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment whether an EHC plan is needed when a child or young person may have SEN that may need the local authority to secure provision. So if your school is unable to make all the provision your child needs, you have the right to ask for an EHC needs assessment

School governors are responsible for the school’s policy on SEN. The headteacher and the SENCO ensure that the policy is put into practice. The SENCO organises support for individual children, but every teacher is responsible for making sure that your child’s special educational needs are met in the classroom.

The SEN Information Report on the school’s website tells you more about the arrangements for SEN support and how to contact the SENCO.

The first step is to talk with your child’s teacher or the SENCO. This may be at a parents’ evening, a support plan meeting or a review. You can ask for a written copy of any support plan in place for your child.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan (or Statement of Special Educational Need) it must set out the support and resources that must be provided.

Look for the SEN Information Report on the school website.

This website is a good place to find out about services available locally and the arrangements that schools and others are expected to make for children and young people with SEN.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Support Service (SENDIASS) can also give you:

more information about SEN support and funding
advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing
information about other organisations, support groups and services that could help
information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment if your child might need more than the school can provide.


SENDIASS – email: help@sendiass.org.uk, tel: 01724 277665

SEND Team – special.needssection@northlincs.gov.uk, tel: 01724 297 148

Last modified: June 10, 2024