FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What is a Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)?

A: Every Local Authority must have a SENDIASS.  This is to provide independent impartial advice to parents/carers about their child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) and to also provide it to young people with SEN. Torbay Council decided the best way to do this was to have someone outside of the council providing the service.  This makes the serves as independent and as impartial as possible.


Q: What are Special Educational Needs?

A:Childrens and Families Act 2014 Section 20 states that:

“(1) A child or young person has special Educational Needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.

(2) A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or

(b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

(3) A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if he or she is likely to fall within the definition above when they reach compulsory school age or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them.”

Section 21 defines Special educational provision for children over two and young people as:

“(1)… educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in –

(a)     mainstream schools in England

(b)     maintained nursery schools in England,

(c)     mainstream post-16 institutions in England, or

(d)     places in England at which relevant early years education is provided.

(2) …for a child aged under two means educational provision of any kind.”


Q: What happens when my child is identified as having Special Educational Needs?

A: When a school identifies a child as having a Special Educational Need (SEN) then there is a process they follow which is called the graduated or SEN response. All teachers differentiate work in their classroom to ensure all children are able to access the curriculum. If they become concerned that a child is not making adequate progress then they will follow a model identified in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice. This initially provides help in the classroom and in school but may be stepped up to involve outside professionals. They should tell you if your child is on the SEN response.


Q: I think my child may have Special Educational Needs. What should I do?

A: Speak to your class teacher first, or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in your child’s school.


Q: What is SEN support?

A: When a school identifies a child as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) they will consult with you, any teachers involved in teaching your child and the school SENCO.  They then decide what help is needed and arrange for this to be provided as part of daily lessons.

Help that can be provided includes:

  • different learning materials or special equipment
  • group or individual support such as an individual behaviour management programme
  • more adult time for planning help and monitoring its effectiveness
  • training for staff to enable them to give the child more effective support

All settings should adopt a graduated approach with four stages of action: assess, plan, do and review.


Q: What is the next stage if my child is still not making progress?

A: If a child has been on the SEN response  and has received SEN support and they are making little or no progress over a period of time then the school may decide to consult external professionals such as educational psychologists, health professionals or specialist liaison teachers.  At this point the school may hold a review and should let you know what is happening.

External Professionals may provide support by:

  • helping to devise new and appropriate targets
  • giving advice on different teaching strategies
  • suggesting different learning materials or equipment
  • for some children, providing some support in the classroom for the teacher or the child

 Q: What is a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Needs?

A: If a child has been on the SEN response for a long period of time and they are still making no or little progress then it may be decided to carry out an assessment of their needs.  In order to do this then the Local Authority need to get assessments done by the school, educational psychologist, a doctor and any other relevant professionals. You will also get asked to provide your views. SENDIASS Torbay can help you to do this.

Normally at a review the decision to apply for a Statutory Assessment will be discussed and the school will then make the request to the Local Authority.  You can also make a request for Statutory Assessment.

For some pre-school children who have specific needs, an assessment may take place before they start school.


Q: What happens at a review?

A: There are different types of reviews. If a child has a EHC plan then they will have an Annual Review to check that what is written in it is still relevant and working.  All relevant professionals involved with your child will be invited to submit reports for the review and you should get copies of these beforehand. You will also be asked to submit your own views and your child will also be asked to contribute. At the meeting someone from the school will be there; this could be the class teacher or the SENCO. Your child should also have the opportunity to attend to talk about their views. The educational psychologist may be there and any other relevant professional. This is an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns or worries. If you would like someone with you then that is fine. We can support you at meetings like this.


Q: What is an IS?

A: An Independent Supporter (IS) someone who has gone through a training programme to be able to support children, young people and parents/carers with issues around Special Educational Needs (SEN). They can provide support with paperwork or at meetings and help parents/carers understand the EHC plan need assessment process.


Q: A request for a Statutory Assessment for my child has been turned down.  What should I do now?

A: A Statutory Assessment is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what your child’s needs are and what special help they need. We can help you work with school and the Local Authority to investigate why the request has been turned down and how best to support your child next. If this does not resolve the situation we can help you access Disagreement Resolution or make an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.