We also offer this information as a pre-recorded information video and as a virtual information session.

The Graduated Approach

  • 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.
  • 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.

What is SEND?

SEND stands for Special, Educational Needs and Disabilities. 

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. A diagnosis of a specific condition is not required. 

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 They may become withdrawn and behave in ways that are not helpful to their learning, health or wellbeing.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 , shown above 

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’s school thinks that they have SEND and know what support is being put in place to help them. You should be able to discuss your views and concerns.  

The graduated approach is a cycle, this means it should be repeated throughout your child’s education.  

What support is available?

Support could include things like: 

  • 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.  

Reasonable adjustments mean making changes to learning approaches and/or physical resources and equipment to support your child to access their education, learn and make progress. 

How is SEND support funded in Leeds?

Schools are given funding to cover Early Years learning, mainstream school funding for SEND education and provisions, and funding for special schools. 

Where the needs of a child exceed the ordinarily available provision the council will use Funding for Inclusion (FFI) to support schools to provide for pupils with SEND. You can read more about FFI, including the criteria and when applications can be made here..

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 don't know what is already in place, you could ask for a meeting with the class teacher and/or school SEND co-ordinator (SENCO) to discuss this. We can help you to prepare for a SEND support meeting.
  • If your child is not making progress despite having SEND support in place, 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.
  • You could also visit the Leeds Neurodiversity hub for more information and support.

What about support for transition?

It is important to plan and prepare for transition as part of a child or young person's special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support. Transitions should be planned for as early as possible so that all relevant information can be shared to prepare the new class, school or setting. 

If your child has a change in school placement, or year group coming up you might find our transitions advice useful.  

If your child is aged 13 or above, any SEND support planning should look at preparing them for adulthood. This means planning to support for your child with their to transition from childhood into adulthood and becoming more independent. 

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 to behave a certain way in some situations, to feel liked or to please those around them. This is often referred to as masking. This is because it is like they are wearing a mask and pretending to be ok, when inside they might be feeling worried, anxious and distressed. 

Often home is felt to be a 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 describe it as being like a bottle of coke, that has been shaken up all day and then the lid comes off once the child is back home. All of the days stress and emotion come flowing out and it can feel overwhelming.  

It can also be the other way round, with the child being calm and settled in the home, likely because their needs are being met and demands are kept to a minimum, but within the learning environment they struggle to cope and become anxious, upset, angry or shut-down. 

SEND support should look at the child and their needs as a whole, across all environments. As masking is often a coping strategy, this should be looked at further to see what the root causes might be and allow support to be put into place to meet them.  

What about Wraparound support and holiday care?

Wraparound care is before and/or after school provision offered by schools. It can be provided directly by the school, or by an external company or provider. 

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. 

This means that schools must plan for their wraparound care to be accessible to all pupils, including those with SEND. 

If you feel your young person has been refused this service due to their SEND, you could appeal the decision to the First Tier Tribunal. The tribunal will rule the refusal as discrimination unless the school can prove that the adjustments needed for your child are unreasonable

What about pre-school support?

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

Portage is a home visiting teaching service for families of pre-school children with additional needs, that aims to help children learn in all areas of their development e.g. physical, communication, social, play and learning.  

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: 

How can I prepare for SEND meetings?

Sometimes it can be really helpful to ask for, or attend, a meeting to discuss your child's SEND, any concerns you have and become involved in any decision making or planning to support them. We can help you to prepare for a SEND support meeting. 

Useful resources

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