Carers Information Pack

Special Education Needs

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. They can affect their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, eg they struggle to make friends
  • reading and writing, eg because they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • concentration levels, eg because they have ADHD
  • physical ability
Who to talk to

If you think your child may have special educational needs, contact the SENco-ordinator, or ‘SENCO’ in your child’s school or nursery.

Contact Southwark Children Services if your child isn’t in a school or nursery.

Support your child can receive

Your child may be eligible for:

If you or your child got support before September 2014 this will continue until your local council changes it to an EHC plan.

Special educational needs support

Your child will get SEN support at their school or college.

Your child may need an education, health and care (EHC) plan if they need more support than their school provides.

Children under 5

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, eg 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 don’t go to a nursery, playgroup or childminder. They’ll tell you what support options are available.

Children between 5 and 15

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, eg to ask questions or to try something they find difficult
  • help communicating with other children
  • support with physical or personal care difficulties, eg eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet


Young people aged 16 or over in further education

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.

Extra help

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Requesting an EHC assessment

You can ask Southwark Council to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan.

The first stage of the EHC plan is requesting for an EHC needs Assessment. This is done by writing a letter to request an assessment. The Information Advice and Support team are able to help you complete the letter if you wish. The letter is sent to Southwark SEN department: Special Educational Needs, Southwark Children’s and Adults’ Services, 4th Floor, PO Box 64529, London, SE1P 5LX or email letter to

Once the request is made Southwark Council must make a decision and communicate with the parent or the young person within 6 weeks of receiving the initial request. They will decide whether the EHC plan is necessary. The  LA must take into consideration the following:

  • Evidence of the child or young person academic rate of progress
  • Information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person SEN
  • Evidence of the action already being taken by the school to meet their needs
  • Evidence of your child’s physical, social and Emotional development and health needs
  • If your child is over 18 years, whether remaining in education or training would help them to progress and help them make a successful transition to adult life

If the Local Authority declines the request for an EHC assessment the parent or young person has the right to appeal. You can also access Southwarks Local Offer to find alternative support.

If an EHC assessment is agreed professionals working with you and your family will submit reports. The professionals could be:

  • A SENCO from your Childs School (Special Educational Needs Coordinator)
  •  Educational Psychologist
  • Doctor
  • Social Worker (If already involved)


Once the reports are completed by the professionals the information is compiled together and the case goes to a panel meeting where the decision is made whether the child will receive the EHC Plan.

If the decision is agreed the SEND team will meet with parent / young person to co produce a draft Educational Health Care plan and send it to the parent or young person. This will give them an opportunity to make any requests or comments to add to there EHC plan (express school preference). A final EHC plan is produced. Parents / young person has the right to appeal at this stage.

If they decide that EHC plan is not necessary the child, young person, school or post 16 training provider are notified and reasons are given for the decision made. This stage of the process should take a maximum of 16 weeks from the initial request and once again local authority must inform the parent or young person the right to appeal and the time limit to complete it in.

The EHC plan is reviewed every year

A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.

A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.

If they decide to carry out an assessment you may be asked for:

  • any reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
  • doctors’ assessments of your child
  • a letter from you about your child’s needs

The local authority will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.

Creating an EHC plan

  1. Your local authority will create a draft EHC plan and send you a copy.
  2. You have 15 days to comment, including if you want to ask that your child goes to a specialist needs school or specialist college.
  3. Your local authority has 20 weeks from the date of the assessment to give you the final EHC plan.


Disagreeing with a decision

You can challenge your local authority about:

  • their decision to not carry out an assessment
  • their decision to not create an EHC plan
  • the special educational support in the EHC plan
  • the school named in the EHC plan

If you can’t resolve the problem with your local authority, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

Personal budgets

You may be able to get a personal budget for your child if they have an EHC plan or have been told that they need one.

It allows you to have a say in how to spend the money on support for your child.

There are 3 ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:

  • direct payments made into your account – you buy and manage services yourself
  • an arrangement with your local authority or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
  • third-party arrangements – you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can have a combination of all 3 options.

Independent support for children of all ages

Independent supporters can help you and your child through the new SENassessment process, including:

  • replacing a statement of special educational needs with a new EHC plan
  • moving a child from a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) to an EHC plan

You can find out how to get local support through:

If your child got support before September 2014

Your child will move to an education, health and care (EHC) plan by:

  • September 2016 if they have a learning difficulty assessment (LDA)
  • spring 2018 if they have a statement

This will normally happen at a planned review, or when your child moves school. Your council will tell you which.

Your child will already be getting SEN support if they used to get help through:

  • School Action or School Action Plus
  • Early Years Action or Early Years Action Plus

Support after your child leaves school

If your child has a statement of special educational needs, they’ll have a ‘transition plan’ drawn up in Year 9. This helps to plan for their future after they leave school.

They’ll continue to get support during further education. Your child can also ask for an EHC assessment if they need more help than the school or college can provide.

Help and advice

You can call the Contact a Family helpline for help and advice.

Contact a Family helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 3555
Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5pm

You can also get help from Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA).

IPSEA advice line
Telephone: 0800 018 4016
Monday to Thursday, 10am to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm
Friday, 1pm to 4pm

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Southwark Carers
3rd Floor, Walworth Methodist Church,
54 Camberwell Road, London, SE5 0EW
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Contact us

020 7708 4497

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Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).

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