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Answers to common questions parents ask about their child with SEN.

One in five children will need some extra help at school or nursery. SENDIASS receives many phone calls and emails requesting information on a variety of topics.

To help provide a quick answer, please find below a list of our common questions. Click on a question to reveal the answer.

What makes you think your child has SEN? Do you feel they are not picking things up as quickly as other children the same age? The actual definition of SEN is that a child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than other children the same age. But at the same time, it is true that all children learn at different speeds and schools are very aware of how important it is to identify children who may be having difficulties with their learning.

Arrange to meet with your child’s class teacher to talk through your concerns. It is a good idea to ask for meeting rather than just try to catch the teacher at the start or end of the school day when they are busy.

SENDIASS can help you by suggesting questions you could ask and have produced a leaflet How my child is doing at school (pdf format, 146 Kb).

We often suggest we look together at the handbook that schools use to help them decide whether a child has SEN which gives schools clear information on identifying and supporting children with a wide range of needs. This might give you a clearer picture of whether your child does have SEN and what the school might do to help.

If you are still concerned after you have spoken to the class teacher, you could ask them to involve the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). They have responsibility for what happens on a day to day basis in the school for pupils with SEN and also provides advice to other teachers in the school to help all pupils with SEN to make progress.

SENDIASS can also offer to find a volunteer Independent Parental Supporter to go with you to a meeting and help you get your views across.

As your child already has identified Special Educational Needs, it is a good idea to ask to meet with your child’s class teacher, form tutor or the pre school setting leader and the Special Educational Needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or inclusion co-ordinator. You may already have a review meeting arranged to look at your child’s progress and support. If not, you can ask for one to be set up.

You can explain at the meeting why you think your child needs more help, perhaps you feel they are not making progress, falling further behind or just telling you or showing you they are unhappy at school. You can ask to see evidence of the progress your child is making and talk through any changes to support that would help. You can look at their individual progress tracker and see which targets your child has achieved and what support helps them learn.

The amount of support you can expect your child to have depends on whether your child receives support at the level called SEN Support or has an Education, Health and Care Plan. Whichever stage your child is at, you can expect them to be given the right level of support to help them learn and make progress.

If your child is not making progress, then perhaps they need more individual support, more targeted support or a different approach to helping them learn.

The school could offer increased support or adapt the ways they are teaching them. The school should always be able to show you what support your child is getting and how they are monitoring their progress, who else is involved in planning their support, for example, an educational psychologist or speech and language therapist or a teacher from the Special Educational Need Support Services and how they are following their advice.

This question applies whether you have a child starting school at 5, when they are transferring to secondary school or when expressing a preference for a placement in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

All children are different, so are all schools. The best way to decide which school will suit your child and meet their needs is to visit a range of schools to get a clearer picture of what is available and where your child will fit in and be well supported.

SENDIASS’s leaflet ‘Choosing a school’ (pdf format, 79Kb)  provides questions you might like to ask during your visit. It helps to ask the same questions at each school. We suggest you choose, or think of, 4 or 5 questions. You could draw a grid and make a note of the answers, even give them scores out of 5, so you can remember each school’s answers when you get home.

It is also helpful to talk to other parents who live locally; perhaps there is a support group for parents of children with SEN in your area. Because information about schools can very quickly go out of date, it is good to talk to parents who have children in those schools currently.

If you are deciding which school to name in your child’s EHCP, the discussions you had when writing their EHCP with professionals who know your child well may give you some pointers as to the school which can best meet your child’s needs. Most children stay in the same local mainstream school they attended before they had the EHCP.

You can ring SENDIASS to talk things through. We hear from parents with children who have a wide range of SEN and are in different schools all across the county. We can also offer to find a volunteer who could make the school visits with you.

Home educating your child is always an option and an increasing number of parents are doing just that. It is a big decision and before you take your child off a school roll, you need to think about why you have decided to take this step.

Some parents take their child out of school as a last resort rather than a real choice or desire to do so because they feel their child’s special educational needs are not being met. If this is the case, it might be better to ring SENDIASS Oxfordshire to talk things through and see if by discussing things with school, your child might be able to receive more appropriate support.

If your child has an Education,Health and Care plan (EHCP), it might be a good idea to ask for an early Annual Review to discuss why you are taking your child out of school and home educating so that the placement in their EHCP can be changed to show that.

If the school is a special school, the local authority must give consent for your child’s name to be removed from a school roll, but this should not be a long or complex process.

By law, the local authority has to be satisfied that the education being provided is suitable for your child with an EHCP and their progress must be reviewed every year at the annual review of your child’s EHCP.

If you child doesn’t have an EHCP, you can follow the advice on ‘Being educated at  Home’ which is on Oxfordshire’ s Local Offer (

Sometimes if a child or young person is finding it difficult to manage a whole day at school, perhaps because they have behavioural difficulties and there are concerns about this leading to an exclusion or they are feeling anxious about school and are reluctant to attend, a school might suggest a part- time time-table.

OCC have very clear guidance for schools on the use of reduced time-tables. They should not be used because there is not enough support for your child in school. Before any decision is made you should be able to discuss things with school and others and a risk assessment should be carried out. There may be better alternatives.  The school must inform the local authority (LA) that your child is only attending part- time and the reduced time-table has to be reviewed regularly.

You don’t have to agree to a reduced time table and if your child has an Education Health and Care plan you should contact your child’s SEN officer at the LA before making a decision. In any case, a reduced time table should only be a short-term measure intended to help your child successfully return to school full time as they are entitled to do.


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