Special Education Needs


Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. (DfES, 2001).

The 1996 Education Act states that all early education settings, state schools, and Local Education Authorities, together with health and social services, must follow the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice when dealing with children with SEN.
In early education settings and state schools children aged 3 to 5 years old follow the foundation stage curriculum. The Early Learning Goals of this curriculum set out what most children should be able to do by the end of the school reception year. Should your child be making slower progress than you expected, or need additional or different support to other children their age, it does not necessarily mean that your child has special educational needs - teachers use a variety of teaching methods in their classroom given the different rates at which children progress. However, if you do have concerns about your child you should seek advice.
If your child is not yet at school you can talk to your health visitor or doctor. Once at an early years setting or at school a useful person for you to become familiar with the school's SENCO - Special Educational Needs Co-coordinator. This is the person responsible for co-coordinating help for children with special educational needs. Alternatively you could approach your child's teacher or head teacher.
Once it is decided that your child has SEN, the setting should follow the Code of Practice as follows:
* Early Years Action (for early education settings) or School Action: your child begins to receive additional or different help from other children because of their special educational needs. The school must tell you if such measures are used.
* Should your child then not make enough progress, the school may seek advice from people outside of the school, such as an educational psychologist or speech and language therapist. This level is called Early Years Action or School Action Plus.
* Following on from this, if your child's needs are not then met by the mainstream school with the help of specialists, the local education authority will make an assessment of your child. If the LEA decides your child needs special help, they will write a statement of special educational needs. This statement usually means that your child's school will get a certain amount of money to spend on supporting your child. This is normally spent on a 'Learning Support Assistant' - someone who will help support your child in their setting.
The department for education and skills provides a comprehensive guide to the process that a child with special educational needs will pass through, called:
Special Educational Needs (SEN), a guide for parents and carers. or:

DfES Publications Centre
PO Box 5050
Sherwood Park
Nottingham NG15 ODJ
Phone: 0845 6022260

Information is also available from: A non-government organisation with lots of information about what to do if your child has special education needs. It also includes specific disability information.

Support Contacts

Directory sites
The Ability Project aim is to show that quality of life is related to how free a person is to make their own choices and for a significant number of disabled people computer technology and the Internet holds the keys to those choices.
Ability UK’s purpose is to develop and manage resources that help some members of the 12% of the UK population unable to enjoy many leisure activities available to the rest of society; activities which involve intellectual, physical or emotional experiences that benefit the mind, body and spirit.
Contact a family
The Contact a Family Directory is a positive response to difficulties encountered by parents and professional workers alike when they seek reliable and up-to-date information.
This website is designed to help you find out rights for disabled people, and to learn more about the legislation that exists to help establish fully comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people in the UK.
Internet Resource for special children
The IRSC web site is dedicated to children with disabilities and other health related disorders worldwide.
Medscape offers specialists, primary care physicians, and other health professionals an integrated medical information and education tools.
Details of 2000+ self help / patient support groups and similar organisations.
A searchable database of over 1,000 self help organisations and support groups across the UK that provide support, guidance and advice to patients, carers and their relatives.

Help sites

Alliance for Inclusive Education
Alliance for Inclusive Education is a national network of individuals, families and groups who work together to help change our education system. Based on their conviction that all young people need to be educated in a single mainstream education system.
Department of Social Security
Dial UK
A national organisation for a network of 160 local disability information and advice services run by and for disabled people. Last year DIALs helped over a quarter of a million disabled people.
Get Kids going
Get Kids Going! is a National charity which gives disabled children and young people - up to the age of 26 yrs - the opportunity of participating in sport
National Children’s Bureau
The Council provides a national forum for the discussion, development and dissemination of a wide range of policy and practice issues relating to service provision and support for children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs.
ROMPA develops new products and concepts to improve the quality of life of people with sensory difficulties.
REMAP has for more than 30 years provided one off technical aids which help disabled people of all ages to enjoy a better lifestyle.
Special Needs & ITC
This website is designed for carers of students with special needs, to recommend Information Technology equipment and software.
Special Needs furniture
The Call Centre
The CALL Centre (Communication Aids for Language and Learning) provides specialist expertise in technology for children who have speech, communication and/or writing difficulties, in schools across Scotland.
Whizz-kidz provide customised wheelchairs, tricycles and other specialised mobility equipment to change the lives of disabled children across the UK.

Other useful sites
A site provided for parents, teachers and others interested in special needs by the Department of Education. The site provides a wide range of advice, news and learning materials.
Provides a monthly 12 page newsletter that you can print out. Primarily for teachers working with pupils with disabilities but interesting reading for all those concerned with special needs.
Read the parliamentary bills relating to the education and support of people with special needs.
Offering advice, information and help to families, professionals and dyslexic individuals. Includes online donation services, conference information and details of the Dyslexia Handbook 2001.
Afasic is a UK charity representing children and young adults with communication difficulties. You can get details of Afasic activity weeks together with local support groups and useful publications.
A voluntary organisation providing support and information for people suffering from these conditions, their carers and pregnant people concerned about the illnesses. The site provides comprehensive information and links to other useful sites.
A site promoting awareness of AD/HD and providing information as well as practical help to those suffering from the condition. Includes a chat room for over 16’s and educational games and software.
This is a comprehensive site for deaf people, providing news, health and counselling, BDA and deaf related events and even job vacancies at the BDA.
The UK’s foremost autism organisation, instigating National and International initiatives and providing a strong voice for autism. This site also contains lots of useful website links for parents and carers of people with an ASD.

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