On this page you will find information and practical advice about SEND support for your child at their mainstream school or college.

We also offer this information as a pre-recorded webinar and as a virtual workshop.

A person is considered to have SEND if they have an intellectual disability (also known as a learning disability) or a condition that makes it harder for them to learn, and they need more support than other pupils who are the same age.

What SEND might my child have?

Your child may have difficulties in one or more of these areas  

Communication and interaction needs

This means your child may struggle to speak or to understand what is being said to them. They may also have difficulties with social interactions and with following social rules about communication. 

Think about any difficulties they have understanding others or letting you know what they need. 

Cognition and learning needs

This means your child may learn at a slower pace than other children the same age or struggle with things like memory or organisation. They might only have difficulties with one specific part of their learning such as literacy or numeracy. 

Think about what areas they struggle with, what type of learning environment they prefer and do they respond better to information in a particular format such as written down, verbally or in picture form. 

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties

This means your child may find it difficult to manage their emotions, relationships and being around other people. They may become withdrawn and behave in ways that are not helpful to their learning, health or wellbeing. 

Are they able to make and maintain friendships? Think about how they behave at home, at school and in other settings – does it change depending on where they are and what they are doing? 

Sensory or physical needs

This means your child may have a sensory impairment or a physical disability that means they need extra support and resources to be able to access their learning. 

Can they use equipment independently or do they need support? Do they have any motor skill difficulties such as with writing, holding pens, holding scissors, tying shoe laces? Can they dress and undress independently? Are they able to use the toilet independently? Can they eat their lunch independently and use cutlery? Are they sensitive to light, sounds, foods, different environments, crowds? Do they need to fidget or move about? 

Self-care and Independence

This means your child may need extra support and resources to be able to learn to manage their self-care and become independent. 

Are they able to care for themselves? Do they understand concepts such as road safety, using money, time, and stranger danger? Are they able to get themselves dressed, cook, and look after their personal hygiene?

How should their school support them?

By law, all mainstream schools must provide support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  

They should take what is known as a 'graduated approach' to provide this extra support and care, this is a support process that has four steps  

  • Assess – teaching staff assess your child’s needs.
  • Plan – the school agrees what support will be provided, how often and who will be responsible for it. A date should be set for progress to be reviewed.
  • Do – the support is put in place and regularly monitored.
  • Review – the school reviews the support plan and your child's progress at least three times per year.

The SEND Code of Practice says that parents and carers should be involved in any discussions and planning about what support their child is receiving.  

This means that you should know if your child has been identified as having SEND and know what support is being put in place to help them. You should also have been able to give your views.  

All help should be on-going throughout education. This means there will need to be more than one cycle of graduated approach.  

What support is available?

Support to meet SEND could include  

  • extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • making or changing materials and equipment
  • working in small groups
  • observations in class or at break time
  • support to take part in class activities
  • helping other children to work or play with them
  • supporting them with physical or personal care needs
  • one-to-one help with literacy, maths or speech and language

What is available may differ from school to school, but all schools have a legal duty to support children with SEND and make 'reasonable adjustments' for them.  

This means adapting learning approaches and styles and/or physical resources and equipment to support your child to access their education, learn and make progress.  

What can I do?

If you feel that your child may need SEND support, is not responding to the help that they are already getting, or feel that you don't know what is in place, you should ask for a meeting with the class teacher or school to discuss this.  

We can help you to prepare for a SEND support meeting.  

From at least year 9 (aged 13-14) there should be consideration of preparation for adulthood in any SEND planning. This is to support your child with the transition from their childhood to adulthood and becoming more independent.  

You might also find our transitions advice page useful if your child has a change in their current placement coming up.  

If your child is not making progress despite having SEND support in school, you could think about whether an EHC needs assessment might be helpful. This is a closer look at your child's SEND and support that they may need. If the school decides to request this as part of their graduated approach, they must tell you.

What if my child behaves differently at school?

It is not uncommon for children with SEND to behave differently in different environments. 

They may learn and perform certain behaviours, whilst suppressing others, in order to be more like or to please the people around them. This is often referred to as 'masking' because it is like they are wearing a mask and pretending to be ok when internally they may feel anxious and/or distressed.  

Often home is felt to be their 'safe space', where they feel they can just be themselves and do not need to wear this 'mask'. As a result, home is often where their most challenging behaviours can be seen. 

Some parents have described it as being like a bottle of coke, that has been shaken up at school all day and then the lid comes off once the child has come home. All of the days supression, stress and emotions come flowing out and it can feel quite overwhelming. 

It can also present in reverse, where the child presents as calm and settled in the home, likely because their needs are being met and demands are kept to a minimum, but within a school environment they become overwhelmed by the expectations and the experience and can become outwardly anxious, upset, angry or even just shut-down. 

Assessing SEND is about looking at the child and their needs as a whole across all environments, to build up a meaningful picture of what is going on for them. Masking can be seen as a surface level coping strategy, with the coping skills being learnt behaviours which are not truly learnt social skills. If a child is presenting well in one environment and not another, this would need to be looked at further to see what the root causes might be and allow support strategies to be developed to support them. 

What about before and after school support? (Wraparound and holiday care)

Wraparound care is before and/or afterschool provision offered by schools. It can be provided directly by the school, or can be 'outsourced' to another provider. Regardless of who delivers it, it would usually be considered as one of the 'services' offered by schools.  

The Equality Act (2010) says that school services must be made accessible to all children without the need to charge extra for the provision of support or any other reasonable adjustments.

It is an 'anticipatory duty', which means that schools must consider and plan for accessibility when developing their offer, before it is finalised and advertised. They should not wait until an accessibilty issue arises to address it.  

If you feel your young person has been refused this service due to their SEND, you are able to appeal the decision to the First Tier Tribunal.  

The Tribunal will take a 'reverse proof' approach. This means that they will rule the refusal as discrimination and the burden will be on the school to prove that any adjustments needed to make the provision inclusive are 'unreasonable'.

Relevant law and Guidance

The following law and guidance would be relevant to a wraparound care dispute on SEND grounds  

Law- Equality Act (2010)
  • Section 6 Disability is a protected characteristic.
  • Section 13 Failure to provide SEND provision is direct discrimination, which is unlawful.
  • Section 20 If there are practical issues causing the discrimination then reasonable adjustments must be considered.
  • Schedule 2 Services and public functions: reasonable adjustments.
  • Schedule 10 Accessibility for disabled pupils.
  • Schedule 13 Education: reasonable adjustments.
Guidance - Department of Education (DfE)

What about pre-school support?

Leeds City Council have commissioned Barnardo’s to provide a Portage Service to children & families living within the Leeds Authority. 

Portage is a home visiting teaching service for families of pre-school children with additional needs. 

Portage works in partnership with parents/carers as they are the key figures in their child’s development. The aim of Portage is to help parents/carers become teachers of their own children. 

Portage uses small steps teaching to help children learn in all areas of their development e.g. physical,communication, social, play and learning. 

The Leeds Portage Service is registered with the National Portage Association. 

Children can be referred to Barnardo's Portage Service between the ages of birth and two and a half years old if they have a 50% delay in two areas of their development. 

You can watch a video about portage here. 

Contact information: 

Useful resources

Leeds Sendiass are not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.

You can find more links on our Useful SEND resource page.