SEN Support in Mainstream Schools

What is SEN support?

Every child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age. 

The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process. 

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 for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

Information about funding for SEN support can be found in the SENDIASS Manchester Information Resource: Funding for SEN Support in Mainstream Schools.

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.

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, and 
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training

(Section 6.1)

Anxiety Based School Avoidance - Manchester Schools Guidance Document

The Anxiety Based School Avoidance guidance document is the result of a co-production between Manchester Local Authority, One Education Educational Psychology Service, Parents, Health as well as schools, colleges and provisions across Manchester.

Anxiety Based School Avoidance is a broad umbrella term used to describe a group of children and young people who have severe difficulty in attending school due to emotional factors, often resulting in prolonged absences from school.

This is a guidance document for mainstream schools and settings for children and young people who struggle who come to school due to anxiety and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties and is part of the SEN support resources. This is a tool for parents/carers and schools to talk to children and young people regarding their anxieties and to provide strategies to encourage school attendance. It has a ‘working with children’ and a ‘working with parents’ section.

Manchester schools are increasingly working in a trauma-informed way to support the most vulnerable pupils. Many schools have developed ways of working which are informed by Adverse Childhood Experiences and Playfulness Acceptance Curiosity Empathy to ensure children and young people have the understanding and support they need to thrive.

The duties on schools to make SEN provision

The SEND Code of Practice says all 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 coordinating SEN provision – the SEN coordinator, or SENCO. 
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • Publish an 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)

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)

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 or you're worried about their progress, you should talk to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

If you are not happy about the support your child has you can ask to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or headteacher.  If you are still concerned you can contact SENDIAS Manchester

A Graduated Approach

SEN support should arise from a four- part cycle, known as the graduated approach, whereby earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised, leading to a growing understanding of your child’s needs, and of what supports your child making good progress and achieving good outcomes

A graduated approach is based on four steps. These include:

If your child needs additional support in school, Manchester City Council has produced guidance about the different levels of support schools should be providing to meet your child's needs. Click here for the Matching Provision to Need Tools.

The Manchester Ordinarily Available Provision for Early Years Document
The Manchester Ordinarily Available Provision document describes the range of support, strategies and activities, that is available in early years settings, to young children with additional needs without the need for a formal diagnosis or specialist support: what is available as part of the basic good practice in the setting. The overarching approach is one of inclusion: a good Early Years practitioner teaches a child from wherever they are on their developmental journey, and this includes those who may have additional needs.

It has been developed in collaboration with Early Years professionals, practitioners, health colleagues, parents, Information Advice and Support Officers and educational psychologists, and was facilitated by Philippa Stobbs and Chris Webb from the Council for Disabled Children.

The document must be read in the context of the SEND Code of Practice and alongside the Manchester Matching Provision to Need Tool 0 – 5yrs. It complements the Early Years FrameworkEarly years foundation stage profile and Development Matters

Asses, Plan, Do, Review

Teaching staff should work with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator to assess your child’s needs, so that they give the right support. They should involve you in this and, where possible, seek your child’s views. 

The SEND Code of Practice says: 

Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. 
(Section 6.45)

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

If the school decides that your child needs SEN support it must tell you. The school should talk with you about the outcomes that will be set, what help will be provided and agree a date for progress to be reviewed.

Your child’s class or subject teacher is usually responsible for the work that is done with your child, and should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved. The school should tell you who is responsible for the support your child receives.

All those who work with your child should be made aware of:

Their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required. 
(Section 6.49)

The school should review your child’s progress, and the difference that the help your child has been given has made, on the date agreed in the plan. You and your child should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Schools should meet with parents at least three times a year
(Section 6.65)

Sometimes it helps to involve other professionals in further assessment or to support planning the next steps. If your child has not made reasonable progress it will be important to agree with the school what should happen next. 

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

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 the school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator
  • looking at the Local Offer
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice

You can also get in touch with IAS Manchester who can give you:

  • information about SEN support, including information about SEN 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 information services that could help
  • information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment. 

SENDIAS Manchester Contact our Confidential Helpline: 0161 209 8356 or email:



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