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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Special Educational Needs?

The term Special Educational Needs (SEN) is used to describe the needs of a child who has a difficulty or disability which makes learning harder for them than for other children their age. Around one in five children has SEN at some point during their school years.

Special Educational Needs that affect a child’s ability to learn can include their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, e.g. not being able to make friends
  • emotional needs leading to difficulties maintaining appropriate behaviour
  • reading and writing, e.g. they have specific learning difficulties
  • ability to understand things and learn
  • concentration levels, e.g. they have could have a diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • physical or sensory needs

What does SEN Support mean?

SEN Support is a term that schools and education providers should use to identify the children who have Special Educational Needs within their school. It is a generic term to describe all children who have SEN and will cover a broad range of children and needs. The school must record all children for whom they are providing SEN support.

Children identified as SEN Support would be supported from within the school’s own resources through a range of mechanisms such as a One Page Profile, Individual Education Plan or a My Support Plan. The school would be expected to involve external support agencies such as the Educational Psychology Service or one of the teams of centrally employed specialist Advisory Teachers where needed to provide extra advice and support to them. If the school feel they can no longer meet the needs of the child from the resources they have then they may request that the child is assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan).

At SEN Support, Schools should record what SEN they have identified a child as having, what outcomes they expect the child to achieve , and what interventions and provision is being put in place to reach those outcomes.The parents should be kept fully informed of the school’s plans and the support being put in to meet the child’s needs. Parents should also be involved in reviewing this support and in planning the next steps.

How does the Local Authority support individual children who have a Special Educational Need?

Children with SEN are supported in a wide range of ways, starting with their school. The Local Authority has a number of services to support specific SEN. Those services will work with schools and families to help ensure that the right interventions are put in place so that the individual can make progress. Much of this will be through providing specialist advice to school staff to ensure that interventions are put in place across the curriculum. They will work with schools and families to review this progress regularly. Where individual needs are not being met, consideration may be given to additional resources for the school or an alternative education setting. This will generally be delivered through a legal plan known as an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The Local Authority also has a responsibility to support individuals with SEN outside of school where their SEN impacts on their social care needs. This can be done through ‘short break’ provision.

The Local Authority will always look to work with families to ensure that they have an understanding of how their child’s needs are being supported.

How do I choose a school for my child if they have Special Educational Needs?

If a child has Special Educational Needs we would encourage you to visit the schools you are interested in to discuss your child’s needs with the school SENCO. All schools have a responsibility to meet the SEN of the children in their care and the SENCO will be able to advise you how they will do this. It is a good idea to take a list of your priorities and your concerns when visiting the school. We would encourage you to think about how the school would meet your child’s needs as well as how you will work with the school. Consider travel distance and any other children you may have and the impact on them.

The admission system for children with SEN will be dependent on whether they have an Education Health and Care Plan. If they do not have an EHC Plan then you will need to apply through the schools admissions process. Your child will have the same rights and fall under the same criteria as any other child. If your child does have an EHC Plan then the admissions process is managed by the Special Educational Needs Assessment and review Team (SENART). SENART will send a copy of the EHC Plan to your preferred schools to ensure that they can meet your child’s needs prior to formally naming it in the EHC Plan.

How are children with Special Educational Needs funded?

All schools receive funding to meet the needs of children with SEN. This amount is provided by the Local Authority and is agreed through a funding formula. It is provided through the ‘high needs block’; an amount of funding provided by the government to meet the needs of vulnerable children. This is known as the schools delegated funding and would be expected to provide the first £6000 of additional support to an individual. It is in addition to the money that the school gets for all children in their school.

Where a young person requires more funding support due to the interventions required, the Local Authority provides this through an EHC Plan. The amount is agreed by the EHC Panel, a multi-agency panel that reviews involvement and interventions to ensure that the appropriate resources are in place. This additional money is expected to be used for specific interventions to meet the child’s needs.

What happens to my child when they leave school and what support/provision is there?

There is lots of provision available to a child when leaving school or post-16 education. Schools and colleges should work with all young people to help them plan for life after education. This ‘transition planning’ should start in Year 9, if not before, and should take into account all the needs that a child has to support them to progress to adult life.

For further information on provision available view the Young Adults Section.

There is also a Preparing for Adulthood Guide which will make you aware of the things you need to consider when leaving education and what support is available.

How will my child be supported to plan when they leave education?

All children should be provided appropriate support to plan for their adult life throughout their education. This should include the provision of careers advice. Where a child has SEN they may need more support than others to plan for leaving education. This support should come from a range of services which may include social care, connexions service and will include the school.

Planning for young people with SEN leaving education should start in Year 9 as part of a transition review to prepare them for adult life and be regularly reviewed. A plan should be made about what support is needed and when this should be accessed. It’s important that this is done as it will help to ensure that the right plans are put in place.

Key to this process is discussion about what the young person wants to do as a job and how independent they will become. Everyone should then work together to help them to get to this point. This will include considering outcomes that help to prepare them for adult life. This planning will help to ensure that they access the right post-16 education and move on from education at the right time and with the best possible outcomes.

What benefits and entitlements can I claim?

Information on benefits and entitlements that may be available to support families, including support for parents as carers, can be found in the relevant sections of the website as below;

How do I find a childcare provider for my child with Special Educational Needs?

All childcare providers have a responsibility to ensure that they make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of a child with SEN. As with any parent looking for childcare, a parent of a child with SEN should start by contacting childcare providers in their area and visiting them to see what they offer.

If you need more help with accessing childcare, you should contact the Families Information Service (FIS) on 0800 587 8042 or by emailing them information@wakefield.gov.uk

The FIS will take details of your childcare needs and those of your child, including the type of childcare you are looking for, the age of your child, days, times when childcare is needed, school drop off, pick up (if required), any specific requirements and also the area(s) you would like to access the childcare. Based on this information the FIS will search its comprehensive database of all the Ofsted registered childcare providers in the Wakefield district. Once potential providers have been identified the FIS will contact them on your behalf to discuss your specific childcare requirements. You will then be sent a list of all those childcare providers who said they can meet your needs and those of your child. If a provider feels they cannot meet your needs then they will need to be clear on the reasons why and how they can make adjustments for a child with SEN. Providers have a range of options available to them to help them to meet the needs of a child with SEN.

You should then make arrangements to visit the potential childcare providers to have a look around and discuss with them how they can meet the needs of your child, including any additional equipment they might need, language support, medical assistance or specific dietary requirements.

Who can help my child (young person) travel independently?

Developing independence is vital for adult life. This includes the ability to travel independently and all parents have a responsibility to help their child to develop this independence.

Where specialist support and help is needed, the Local Authority provides Independent Travel Training, a travel training programme designed to run in a school or college. The Independent Travel Trainers primarily work with students in receipt of an Education, Health and Care Plan in years 10 and 11 and beyond who are on 'assisted' transport.

Where appropriate the Independent Travel Trainers will also work with children who are in year 6 in preparation for their transition into secondary school. The Independent Travel Trainers will work with a young person of any age if following an assessment they are considered suitable for independent travel training.

Referrals for independent travel training are received from a variety of sources however the main source of referrals is the Assisted Transport Panel following a request by a parent for assisted transport. A number of services such as schools, colleges, Connexions and Social Workers can also contact the Independent Travel Training Team to make a referral.

For more information click here.

What support is there for parents as carers?

There are a range of services to support carers. The first place to start is Carers Wakefield. Carers Wakefield also offers the My Time Grant along with a range of events for carers to meet other carers, gain information and receive support.

Some services and support can only be provided following a referral to Social Care Direct. You can make the referral yourself or ask someone who knows you well. If the referral is appropriate a subsequent Carers Assessment will be undertaken. Social Care Direct can also provide you with a Carer's Emergency Alert Card Form.

Information on benefits and entitlements that may be available to support parents as carers, can be found in the relevant sections of the website as below;

Who should I contact if I’m unhappy about the services or support my child is receiving?

Sometimes there may be areas where a parent or young person is unhappy following all the advice and support they receive about the provision in place through the My Support Plan and Education, Health and Care Plan. If this is the case there are routes available to them to progress at a more formal level. We would strongly advise that the starting point is to talk to that service about your concerns as most issues can be resolved through face to face discussion.

For more information click here.

Who should attend Education, Health and Care Plan review meetings?

Everyone who is involved with a child should be invited to the Annual Review of the EHC Plan. It will be co-ordinated by the SENCO. Crucially the meeting should be structured so that the child can be central to it and involved in it. This may be for some or all of the meeting. Different strategies may be used for this; however, we would expect that the school work with the child beforehand to prepare them for this. Parents must also be central to this process.

The SENCO will invite all those involved, however, due to capacity not all those involved may be able to attend. This is sadly unavoidable. A good rule of thumb is that if there are specific concerns around an area of work, then that professional should look to attend to advise how these areas of concern can be resolved. If a service can’t attend and has been actively involved, they will be asked for a report to update the meeting on the progress being made.

What should I do if I’m not happy with how my child’s school or education provider is supporting them?

There may be times where a parent or young person is not happy with the support that they receive from their school or education provider to meet their needs. We would strongly advise that the starting point is to talk to the school/education provider directly about your concerns. Depending on the age of the child this should start with the class teacher or tutor in the first instance and then involve the school SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO). If you are still not happy you should discuss your concerns with the head teacher. You can then progress to a more formal level by following the schools/education providers individual complaints policy. This should be available on their website.

The reality is that most issues can be resolved through good partnership working, through face to face discussion. Being clear about your area of concern and the questions you have is key. It is also important that you are able to give some time for the school to make appropriate changes, whilst recognising that there may be limitations on what the school/education provider is able to do immediately. Depending on the situation you may want to take advice or ask for support from WESAIL. If your child has an Education Health Care Plan you can request that the school call an Early Annual Review to discuss the provision in place in more detail, however, this should not be used as a replacement for more informal, ongoing discussion to resolve concerns.

What does the law say about Personalisation? What progress has Wakefield made and where do Wakefield want to be?

Personalisation is about putting the child at the centre of everything we do to ensure that the support is the right provision to meet their specific needs, rather than having off the shelf provision that the child’s needs fit into. It is about the team involved with the child, including the parents, working together with the child to help them to progress. This means that everyone should take into account areas such as education needs, family situation and social care support and health provision. It means that we should be looking at what is working and not working for an individual child and what we are going to do about it. In some cases this may lead to a personal budget.

What does the law say about Personalisation?

The Children and Families Act 2014 says that a young person with (or the parents and carers of a child with) an Education, Health and Care plan have the right to request a Personal Budget when they are undergoing assessment for an EHC Plan or when their EHC Plan is being reviewed.

Section 49 of the Act provides more information about Personal Budget Regulations and that Direct Payments may be available for some provisions.

If you are assessed as needing social care services, but do not have an EHC Plan, then you may still be able to have a social care personal budget, paid as a Direct Payment. (This is also sometimes known as a Cash Personal Budget). This is part of the Community Care, Services for Carers and Children’s Services (Direct Payments) Regulations 2009, or if the person with social care needs is over 18, it is part of the Care Act 2014.

What progress has Wakefield made?

Because Personalisation is about a change in how we organise support, Wakefield Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the organisations who provide support are making changes to be able to offer more choice and control to families.

However, this does take time and not everything can be personalised at once. Some services have longer contracts which need to finish, some services need to think about how they can change to offer more choice to families and some new services need to be encouraged to set up.

We do have a process for offering Personal Budgets with EHC Plans (see below) and a process to arrange social care direct payment budgets for families who are assessed as needing social care services, but do not have an EHC Plan.

We are also able to provide support with managing Direct Payments, setting up a specific bank account, becoming an employer, employing a personal assistant and managing payroll.

Where do Wakefield want to be?

Personalisation is a key priority and actions have been agreed as part of the Wakefield SEND Strategy 2016-2019. By 2019, we want to:

  • have a really clear and easy to understand process on the Local Offer about Personal Budgets and what is available as a Personal Budget;
  • deliver more information sessions for families to develop parents and young people’s understanding about Personalisation, Personal Budgets and direct payments;
  • deliver more training to staff so that they can help families to better understand their options;
  • make sure that there is more choice for families, and that they have more control about the support they use, by working with providers to help make changes;
  • develop the market to ensure that the services families want to buy with their personal budgets is available;
  • develop a resource allocation system for children and young people, that links to the system used for adults, to help support the transition to adulthood.

For more information on Personal Budgets click here.

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