What does having a Special Educational Need or Disability mean?

‘A child or young person has SEN (Special Educational Needs) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:
(a) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or
(b) have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post- 16 institutions.
(SEND Code of Practice 2014 p.4)

There are four broad areas of Special Educational Needs and provision:
  • Communication and Interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  • Sensory and/or physical needs

What is SEN Support?
from the fact sheet for school on the special educational needs and disability (SEND)reforms.

The class teacher is responsible for the progress of every child in their class. Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, the teacher should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. SEN support provides every child or young person with SEN, but not on an EHC plan, with the additional support they need to progress at school.

This SEN support should take the form of a four-part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised; with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes. This is known as the graduated approach. assess, plan, do and review.

When a pupil is identified as having SEN the graduated response becomes more frequent (particularly the review); more tailored to suit the specific needs of the pupil; and may involve drawing on more specialist support.

What should the class teacher look out for in order to identify SEN? 

The Code of Practice makes clear that class teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of all pupils in their class. The Code emphasises the expectation that high quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN.
The Code is also clear that class teachers should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances. This can be characterised by progress which is (but is not limited to):
  • significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline;
  • failing to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress;
  • failing to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers; or
  • widening the attainment gap.
Mr Dellow, our SENCo, has developed a whole school provision map that details our graduated response to pupils needs.

High Quality Teaching
Offering pupils an inclusive and well differentiated experience in everyday lessons by following the schools assessment cycle of identifying where there are gaps, adapting teaching approaches to improve pupils’ understanding and assessing to evaluate whether the new approach has been effective.
If the majority of pupils in a group or in a class are not making progress, then the school will need to consider the appropriateness of their curriculum and teaching approaches and adapt it to ensure that pupils make expected progress.

Targeted interventions for CATCH UP
Additional interventions which enable children and young people to work at age related expectations or above.

Offering pupils short-term extra help to accelerate key points of learning. 
This will be small group, targeted and time limited, interventions.
Entry and exit data are integral to the interventions enabling schools to evaluate impact. The schools interventions tracker must be used to support this.
Pupils do not need IEPs to access it.  Those pupils who do have IEPs may need less information on them as provision maps will provide many details previously written in IEPs.

Offering intensive targeted support when small group intervention fails to work. 
This wave of support includes interventions listed on the school’s provision offer.
Individual support is linked to very precise personal targets and timescales. 
Pupils requiring this level of support will often also require additional advice from beyond the school.