Skip to main content

SEN Frequently Asked Questions

What does special educational needs (SEN) mean?

The term Special Educational Need has a legal definition. 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. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age. Children with Special Educational Needs may have a range of difficulties with for example:

  • Cognition and Learning (Thinking and Understanding)
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Helath (How they behave)
  • Sensory and/or Physical difficulties
  • Communication and Interaction ( How they relate to others, does not include where English is a second language)

I’m worried about a child/my child's development, what can I do?

If you think your child may have a Special Educational Need that has not been identified by the school or early education setting, you should talk to your child’s class teacher, to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) (Word, 24KB) or to the Head Teacher.

If your child is not yet at school or not yet attending an early education setting, you can talk to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to give you advice about the next steps to take.

What is a graduated approach?

The graduated approach recognises that children learn in different ways and can have different levels of Special Educational Need. So increasingly, step by step, specialist expertise can be brought in to help the school with the difficulties a child may have.

What is an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment?

This is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what the child’s Special Educational Needs are and what special help the child may need. An EHC Needs Assessment is only necessary for those pupils with long-term and complex Special Educational Needs and if the school or early years setting cannot provide all the help that the child needs from within the resources available to them.

When a parent/carer, the early years education setting or the school ask the Local Authority to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment, the Local Authority normally have five weeks to decide whether to do so. They will consider very carefully the child’s progress at school or college and the guidance in the SEN Code of Practice (PDF). They will also listen to your views and to the views of your child’s school about your child’s Special Educational Needs. The school or early education setting will tell the Local Authority about any special help they have already given to your child.

How long will it take to make a decision?

There is a statutory time period for completing an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. From the initial request to agreeing the outcome with the parents the process must be completed within an 20 week timeframe.

Who will make the decision?

The Bedford Borough SEND  Panel will consider cases put forward for EHC Needs Assessment as advised in the SEN Code of Practice. This panel will have a multi-professional membership. The SEND Team Manager acting on behalf of the Local Authority (LA) will convene and chair it, and will invite specialists as appropriate. The panel will consist of representatives from the following according to need, the SEND Team, the Psychology Team, the Advisory Teacher Team, the Early Years Support Service, the Sensory and Communication Support Team, the Inclusion Support Team, special schools, mainstream schools and Independent Parental Supporters.

The Education Panel’s role is to advise the SEND Team. The SEND Team are responsible for deciding on whether young people match the guidance for EHC Needs Assessment (Word, 535KB)

All decisions following panels will be communicated verbally (where possible) and in writing to the parents.

What if I disagree with a Local Authority decision?

You will be informed in writing of the Local Authority decision and when you have the right to appeal. As a first step you should contact the SEND Team to discuss the way forward. You may also wish to contact the SEND Advice Service/Core Assets or KIDS which is an independent mediation service.

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

An Education, Health and Care Plan is a legal document that outlines all the child’s special educational needs and the objectives and provision to meet those needs.  

Can changes be made to an EHCP once it’s in place?

Changes to an EHCP are usually considered by the Local Authority following the Annual Review, which should take place at least once a year, or every 6 months for a pupil under  the age of 5. The school will make recommendations which the Local Authority will consider to see whether any amendments to the EHCP are appropriate.

Elective Home Education Questions and Answers

Will there be any support from the Bedford Borough Council if I am educating my child at home?

There is a specific advisor within the SEND Team who can provide advice and guidance covering:

Please see the Elective Home Education page for further information

On this page