The SEN Policy is the most important document that a school develops when determining how they will meet the special educational needs of pupils. It must reflect the statutory requirements and the actual practice of the school.
The guidance that determines what must be included in the special educational needs policy can be found in The Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) (England) Regulations 1999. These regulations can be found at the back of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (DfES November 2001)
You must refer to the legislation and guidance which informs your overall policy for your pupils with SEND. Use the following text, or a variation of the same:
This policy (and information report if you are including it within the policy) should be based on the statutory Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice (revised April 2015) and the following legislation:
Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014, which sets out schools’ responsibilities for pupils with SEN and disabilities
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, which set out schools’ responsibilities for Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, SEN co-ordinators (SENCos) and the SEN information report
The Regulations are written to direct schools to the areas which MUST be included in the policy. A summary of the statutory key points can be found on the website at http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/_doc/3724/SENCodeofPractice.pdf. However, they are written to cover all schools regardless of, the size, the age group of the pupils, whether the school is rural or urban and so on. Therefore, it is essential that a school reflect its individuality in the contents of the policy. This should be done by including, the approaches, staffing and actual practice that occurs in the school.
Define the meaning of SEND in accordance with DfE legislation.
The SEND Code of Practice (2015:pp.15-16) states that a child has SEND if: “They have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. Special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age.”
“A child or young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools.”
A disability is defined by the Equality Act (2010 Chapter 1, part 6) as: “A physical or mental impairment which has a long term (a year or more) and substantial (more than minor or trivial) adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”
The policy should not be a series of aspirations but rather it should reflect what parents can expect their children to receive. Clarity in this can prevent any misunderstanding or differences in what the school provides and what parents think that a school provides.
The policy must be made available to all parents who request a copy. It is important that parents are clear about how to obtain a copy if they should so wish. Therefore it is suggested that schools include, “How parents may access the policy” in the special educational needs part of the school prospectus or brochure.
The following gives a suggested template of how a school can develop its own policy. The parts in italics are the ones which form the policy the rest is guidance. It is important that staff and governors are involved in this process so that they feel part of the provision that the school offers to pupils with special educational needs.
Writing the Special Education Needs Policy
Like all policies the special educational needs policy should reflect the aims of the school and what the school is trying to achieve. Therefore a good introduction reflects this, for example:
We at (name of the school) are committed to meeting the special educational needs of pupils and ensuring that they make progress. In line with our mission statement we (refer to school aims)
You need to consider your aims for your pupils with SEND. What is your broad vision for your school’s arrangements to meet the needs of pupils with SEND and how will you ensure that you are helping them to achieve the best outcomes.
The Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) (England) Regulations 1999 require schools to set out:
“The objectives of the governing body in making provision for pupils with special educational needs, and a description of how the governing body’s special educational needs policy will contribute towards meeting these objectives.”
It is suggested that the overall objectives should be included in the policy but schools may find it more helpful to put specific targets for the year onto an action plan. This could be attached to the policy as an appendix and also be included in the school’s SIP (School Improvement Plan). This would enable the success of the policy to be evaluated against clear criteria and would form the basis of the required annual reporting of the success of the policy. See Appendix A.
Roles and Responsibilities
Here it is suggested that schools combine points 2 and 3 of the Regulations. It is important that everyone concerned with pupils with special educational needs are clear about their role in developing the school’s inclusive approach and how they contribute to pupils learning and progress.
Add the name and contact details of the SENCo.
The key responsibilities of the SENCO may include:
- overseeing the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEN policy
- co-ordinating provision for children with SEN
- liaising with the relevant Designated Teacher where a looked after pupil has SEN
- advising on the graduated approach to providing SEN support
- advising on the deployment of the school’s delegated budget and other resources to meet pupils’ needs effectively
- liaising with parents of pupils with SEN
- liaising with early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies
- being a key point of contact with external agencies, especially the local authority and its support services
- liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and a smooth transition is planned
- working with the headteacher and school governors to ensure that the school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act (2010) with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements
- ensuring that the school keeps the records of all pupils with SEN up to date
(SEND Code of Practice, 2015:108)
The role of the SEN governor:
- To oversee the school’s arrangements for SEND and monitor the quality and effectiveness of provision.
- To raise awareness of SEN issues at governing body meetings
- Ensure the school fulfils its responsibilities to meet the needs of pupils with SEND as outlined in the revised Code of Practice (2015)
- Consider the strategic development of provision and policy for SEND with the headteacher and the SENCo
The role of the headteacher:
- To consider the strategic development of provision and policy for SEN with the SEN governor and the SENCo
- To have overall responsibility for the progress of pupils with SEND and their provision
Responsibility of teachers:
- Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff (SEND Code of Practice, 2015:99)
- Teachers will need to pay heed to this SEN policy
- Teachers must work closely with the SENCo in order to assess the progress of pupils with SEND and review their provision
- Teachers must work closely with classroom and specialist staff to plan and review any provision or interventions for their pupils with SEN
Responsibility of support staff
- Note here if any support staff have particular training to work with pupils with SEN, or deliver particular interventions
- Mention that all support staff may work with children with SEND and they will work with teachers to plan appropriate provision for those children
Therefore the guidance suggests that the roles are set out in the policy and agreed with all concerned during the policy development process. This might look like the following:
The Governing Body has identified a governor to have oversight of special educational needs provision in the school and to ensure that the full governing body is kept informed of how the school is meeting the statutory requirements. At (name of the school) this role is undertaken by (name of the governor) who will meet regularly with the Head and SENCO (name of the SENCO) (if the Head is also the SENCO this should be stated here) For roles of governing body CoP Section 1:16 – 22, 1:39.
The Head is the school’s “responsible person” and manages the school’s special educational needs work. The Head will keep the governing body informed about the special educational needs provision made by the school.
The SENCO and the Head will work closely with the special educational needs governor and staff to ensure the effective day to day operation of the school’s special educational needs policy. The SENCO and Head will identify areas for development in special educational needs and contribute to the school’s development plan. (S)he will co-ordinate provision at school action, action plus and for statemented pupils. (See CoP Section 5:30, 6:32)
All teaching and non-teaching staff will be involved in the formulation of the special educational needs policy. They are responsible for differentiating the curriculum for pupils with special educational needs and will monitor their progress. All teachers who have responsibility for areas of the curriculum (in secondary school change to Heads of Department or Faculty Heads) and will review and monitor the progress made by pupils in their subject area and the effectiveness of resources and other curriculum material. All staff will work closely with the SENCO.
The practice that the school articulates here should influence
|o Job descriptions||o Staff handbook|
|o Questions at interview||o Induction of new staff|
Schools need to identify how they will respond to the requirements of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act. They need to highlight this in their admissions policy.
Pupils with special educational needs will be admitted to (name of the school) in line with the school’s admissions’ policy. The school is aware of the statutory requirements of the SEN and Disability Act and will meet the Act’s requirements. The school will use their induction meetings to work closely with parents to ascertain whether a child has been identified as having special educational needs at early years action or early years action plus (school action or action plus would be added here for primary secondary transfer)
If the school is alerted to the fact that a child may have a difficulty in learning they will make their best endeavours to collect all relevant information and plan a relevant differentiated curriculum.
Access for Disabled
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, from September 2002 schools have had to show how they are planning to receive children with special educational needs They need to consider issues which may be barriers to participation for children and how the school intends to overcome these. In this part of the special educational needs policy schools should consider how they are providing or developing an inclusive learning environment. Suggestions of what should be covered are: Access Plan, curriculum access (homework policy, literacy and numeracy), changing facilities, toilets, shower, auditory loop, ramps, blinds, acoustics, how glare from computers is combated. A document schools will find useful is ‘Inclusive School Design: Building Bulletin 94’ – HMSO – ISBN 0-11-271109-X. Clear reference should be made to the Accessibility Plan and Disability Equality Scheme.
To ensure access for pupils or parents with disabilities the school has ……………………………………………………….. and as part of the School’s Accessibility Plan ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Schools will need to consider carefully how they organise their resources and be accountable for their use. Although schools have a statutory responsibility to meet the needs of pupils with statements this does not mean that there is prescription. The onus is on schools to ensure that there is effective and efficient use of moneys and that pupils make progress. Tracking the effectiveness of spending decisions (for resources, support, etc.) in relation to pupil attainment and progress allows schools to be creative and innovative in developing their SEN provision. Similar processes could be followed to those used when completing OFSTED S4 forms and answering questions – ‘How do you know?’. Assessing effectiveness In the special educational needs policy the school must set out Governors’ principles for allocating resources, for example:
|Employing external support||Class size||Resources etc|
|In class support e.g. TAs||Equipment incl. ICT|
This guidance suggests that schools add an appendix to the policy which outlines the financial breakdown and which can be updated annually as budget comes in – special educational needs funding, statement funding. This would also assist schools during inspection as the inspectors will request such a breakdown.
In the policy this may read as follows:
The governors will ensure that the needs of pupils are met by employing a SENCo (or in small schools clustering with other small schools to employ a SENCo who will be in the school one day per week.) The Head and SENCo will use the child’s statement and LA banding document to identify the areas of pupil need and make appropriate provision.
Time will be identified for staff to review pupil progress, discuss pupil curriculum needs and to transfer information between classes and phases.
The governors will ensure that moneys are set aside to develop resources in curriculum areas. In addition, the governors will ensure that staff are kept fully up to date about SEN issues and undertake training. For example:
. • CPD for all staff
. • Special Educational Needs Cluster Groups
. • Subscriptions (NASEN)
Identification, Assessment, Reviews
The processes by which the school identifies, assesses, tracks pupil progress and reviews that progress are a critical part of the school’s special educational needs provision. The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice and The Special Educational Needs Toolkit give generic guidance but in the school’s policy it is important that the school reflects their actual procedures. Below are some broad headings that should help schools to develop this part of their policy.
When children are first admitted to the school ………………………………………………………….
If a teacher has a concern about a child they…………………………………………………………….
Curriculum and assessment monitoring
The curriculum co-ordinators and the assessment co-ordinator will monitor the attainment and progress of pupils with special educational needs as part of their role. They will ensure that the SENCo is kept fully informed and if they have a concern they will……………………………….
How a child is placed on Early Years Action or School Action
If a child’s performance is ………………………………………………….and they fail to make adequate progress the school will ……………………………………
The school defines adequate progress in key stage ……………. as ……………………. but in key stage……………….. as………………………………………………………………
Movement between stages
If a pupil fails to make adequate progress despite the additional support which the school gives over the period of …………… IEPs at school action then a child may move to SA+
IEP reviews (timescales)
IEPs will be reviewed regularly and parents will be invited to reviews. If they are unable to attend then a copy of the new IEP will be sent home and the parent’s views will be welcomed. At school action the school will review IEPs every ……………….. but in school action plus this will be ……………………………..
If a child has a statement of special educational needs the school
The school should outline here the action that it takes to ensure that pupils have access to and make progress across the curriculum. This should include reference to the following:
o Access to Literacy/Numeracy/ICT
o Teacher planning
o IEPs in relation to curriculum
It may be helpful to refer to the role of the assessment co-ordinator and the subject leader/ HoD and ways in which they evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum in terms of meeting the needs of SEN pupils in terms of pupil attainment and progress. This is good evidence for school self evaluation processes and reflected in the Ofsted School Self Evaluation Form.
Access to the full life of the School
All pupils whether they have a special educational needs or not will be involved in the full life of the school. The special educational needs policy should contain reference to how the school goes about ensuring that this happens in practice. Areas which should be included are:
|o Homework||o Trips|
|o Clubs||o Swimming|
|o Assembly||o School teams|
|o Plays/productions||o Sport|
|o Extended provision||o|
This is a fundamental element to the school meeting their responsibility under the SEN and Disability Act 2001. Reference should be made to the school’s Disability Equality Scheme and also the Accessibility Plan.
The complaint procedure for special educational needs mirrors the school’s other complaints procedures which can be found in the school. However, it is very important that parents are made aware of this especially as the LA now has conciliatory services to assist both parents of children with special educational needs and schools. The special educational needs policy could include:
Should a parent or carer have a concern about the special provision made for their child they should in the first instance discuss this with the class teacher. If the concern continues then the SENCO and class teacher will ……………………..
If the concern cannot be satisfactorily dealt with at this stage it should be brought to the notice of the Headteacher. If the Head is unable to resolve the difficulty, the parents concerns should be put in writing to the SEN Governor (name of SEN governor). The Chair of Governors, (name of Chair) will be involved after other avenues to resolve the situation have been exhausted.
The school must also make provision to inform parents about Parent Partnership and how to make representations to the LA.
It is explicit and implicit in Section 317 Education Act 1996 that Governors and school staff to keep fully informed about developments in special educational needs. The TDA Professional Standards for Teachers also require staff to be well skilled and aware of local and National developments. How this is done has to be included in the policy. Therefore the following may be helpful in developing this section of the policy.
From September 2000, new SENCOs must undertake national SENCO training.
The governors will ensure that they are kept fully abreast of their statutory responsibilities by attending training and receiving regular updates from the Head/ SENCO.
The SENCO and Head will keep fully up to date about special educational needs issues through attendance at training and cluster meetings. In addition, the SENCO will develop his/her skills through attendance at specialist training discussions with outside specialists, reading and through subscription to professional bodies.
The Literacy and Numeracy co-ordinators will………………………………
The Assessment co-ordinator will……………………………………………
Other teaching staff will be kept up to date informally by the Head/SENCO and formally at staff meetings and training.
Teaching assistants who support individual pupils and groups of pupils need to have a wide range of curriculum and special educational needs knowledge. This will be regularly updated by…………………………………………………..
Outside Agencies including Health Services (Combining pt 14 + 17 in the Regulations)
There will be a number of agencies with whom schools need to liaise. This can be time consuming but necessary if the needs of pupils are to be met. Depending on the special educational needs and age of the pupils this will be different for all schools. Those who should be included for consideration in this section are:
o Education – EPS/adviser
o Health – nurse, doctor, Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist , Physiotherapist, Psychiatrist
o Children’s Integrated Services
o Parent Partnership
o Traveller, etc.
It may be helpful to use the appendix of the special educational needs policy to add names of those currently involved with the school. This can be updated quickly and easily if personnel change without having to rewrite the policy. It is also helpful to cross reference the SEN policy with other school policies. For example, behaviour policy, child protection policy and so on.
Involvement of parents is a strong feature of Code, the SEN Toolkit, SEN and Disability Act and so on. It is vital that schools are clear about how they can keep parents involved. In this section the school should consider:
o maximising involvement
o welcome and induction of new pupils
o how parents are kept informed e.g. IEPs/parents evenings, reviews
o how the parents’ views elicited
o Parent Partnership
- Governors are required to report on the success of the SEN policy annually.
Schools may also wish to include how they plan to involve pupils in the review of the target setting process. This is also a strong focus in the recent legislation.
The SEN Toolkit gives suggestions about how this might be achieved but what schools need to develop is how they prepare pupils to have the skills and confidence to take a meaningful part in the decision making process. This starts at a very early age with simple choices but builds up to the major decisions that are made at the Transition Review Stage.
The school should outline in the policy how they will develop partnerships and inclusive links with special schools. This will have mutual benefits to both staff and pupils as the LA develops its continuum of educational provision. The curriculum expertise of the special school can help mainstream colleagues to ensure access to the curriculum for pupils, part time placements, use of shared resources and so on. Therefore schools should consider:
o Continuity and progression of curriculum provision,
o Transfer arrangements and reviews,
o Shared expertise,
o Joint Initiatives.
- Evaluation of the policy
In addition to the review of the special educational needs element of the SIP and progress towards the annual targets in the policy, the school needs to be confident that they are doing a good job. This links directly to the type of evidence that can be included in the OFSTED self-evaluation form (SEF) and used as part of whole school self evaluation. The school can evaluate the success of the policy by using both qualitative and quantitative judgements.
SEN Information Report
What is a SEN Information Report?
The governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools and the proprietors of academy schools must publish information on their websites about the implementation of the governing body’s or the proprietor’s policy for pupils with SEN.
The SEND Code of Practice stresses the use of plain language. Both the policy and the information report should be accessible to Children and Young People and parents. There is no set format for the SEN Information Report.
The information required is set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 and must include information about:
- the kinds of SEN that are provided for
- policies for identifying children and young people with SEN and assessing their needs, including the name and contact details of the SENCO (mainstream schools)
- arrangements for consulting parents of children with SEN and involving them in their child’s education
- arrangements for consulting young people with SEN and involving them in their education
- arrangements for assessing and reviewing children and young people’s progress towards outcomes. This should include the opportunities available to work with parents and young people as part of this assessment and review
- arrangements for supporting children and young people in moving between phases of education and in preparing for adulthood. As young people prepare for adulthood outcomes should reflect their ambitions, which could include higher education, employment, independent living and participation in society
- the approach to teaching children and young people with SEN
- how adaptations are made to the curriculum and the learning environment of children and young people with SEN
- the expertise and training of staff to support children and young people with SEN, including how specialist expertise will be secured
- evaluating the effectiveness of the provision made for children and young people with SEN
- how children and young people with SEN are enabled to engage in activities available with children and young people in the school who do not have SEN
- support for improving emotional and social development. This should include extra pastoral support arrangements for listening to the views of children and young people with SEN and measures to prevent bullying
- how the school involves other bodies, including health and social care bodies, local authority support services and voluntary sector organisations, in meeting children and young people’s SEN and supporting their families
- arrangements for handling complaints from parents of children with SEN about the provision made at the school
- It should include arrangements for supporting children and young people who are looked after by the local authority and have SEN.
- It should include information on the school’s SEN policy and named contacts within the school for situations where young people or parents have concerns.
- It should also give details of the school’s contribution to the Local Offer and must include information on where the local authority’s Local Offer is published.
(SEND Code of Practice, 2015:106&107)
Schools must also publish:
- their arrangements for the admission of disabled children
- the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others
- the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children
- their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time
(SEND Code of Practice, 2015:69)
The SEN policy and information report should be updated annually and any change in information during the year after publication should be added to the report as soon as possible (SEND Code of Practice, 2015:106)