Making sense of the SEN Code of Practice

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Your guide to some of the key procedures and recommended actions in the SEN Code of Practice. Plus find tips on supporting your child.

With around one in five UK children having some sort of special educational needs at some point in their school life, the SEN Code of Practice document aims to provide extensive support for pupils, teaching staff, and parents.

An enormously in-depth document, the SEN Code of Practice can be overwhelming to look at. But it gives practical guidance on policies and procedures aimed at enabling children with learning difficulties to reach their full potential. It covers issues such as inclusion, and offers support for children making the successful transition to adulthood.

The Code suggests a graduated response when dealing with special educational needs in school. This means that the recommended action depends on the seriousness of the special needs.

Here are the main types of action for a SEN child in a mainstream school:

School Action

If a child is not progressing at school and the parent and teacher are concerned, more help and advice will be called for. This is known as School Action. Parents will meet their child’s teacher and discuss their child’s home activities. If they both agree that the child needs extra support to help their progress in learning or behaviour, the teacher may liaise with the school’s SENCO, collect information and observations of the child, speak with the parent and child, and seek additional help from other professionals working with the child.

School Action Plus

If a child is still not making enough progress, the school will begin School Action Plus. This involves the SENCO liaising with parents to discuss and explain plans for the child. Outside agencies, such as educational psychologists may be consulted and called in to visit the child. The child will be given a new IEP (individual education plan) with targets set by specialists. Parents may also be asked to add targets to the IEP.

Statutory Assessment

While some children’s needs are met by their school, some need further help from the Local Education Authority. The Statutory Assessment is the step before a statement, but does not necessarily mean the child will be statemented. It is a detailed investigation to find out more about the child’s special educational needs, and what provision is needed to meet those needs.

Tips for parents

  • It’s always best to approach the class teacher and special needs coordinator with any worries you may have. If you are still unhappy, arrange a meeting with the head teacher.
  • Keep a record of all the meetings and actions taken. Write down any questions you may have, and make sure you understand what is discussed.
  • Bring a ‘named person’ with you if you would like extra support. This person could be a friend, relative, or professional. Your Local Education Authority has a list of volunteers who have been trained as named persons.
  • Consult your child’s school’s special needs policy, as it will describe how to handle complaints. If you are still unhappy, try contacting the school’s Local Education Authority or governing body.
  • Remember not to be afraid to ask questions or expect the very best care for your child.