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Identifying Young Children with SEND

Many children and young people have special educational needs (SEN) at some time during their education. A child or young person with SEN may find it harder to learn than other children of the same age.

Special educational needs may include:

  • behavioural or social, for example difficulty making friends
  • reading and writing, for example dyslexia
  • concentrating, for example attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • a medical condition which affects learning
  • a sensory or physical need which affects them in school, for example being blind or deaf

By law, nurseries, schools and colleges must provide an education to all pupils or students whatever their abilities or special needs.

Independent schools including academies and free schools, and private nurseries have their own plans which you can find on their websites.

For a summary of SEN, go to the Government's website.

Why it is important to identify SEN

The earlier that SEN is identified the better your child’s chances of reaching his or her full potential. A plan can be made to support a child’s development from the start.

Identifying SEN and disabilities in young children

NHS services regularly check the health and development of all children from birth through to school age. These below services will most likely identify any SEN or disability your child may have:

  • your maternity team when your child is born
  • your GP
  • a health visitor
  • a child development centre

You can talk to your GP or health visitor if you are worried about your child’s development, behaviour or other needs. And if your child is in a nursery, you can talk to the nursery staff.

The Graduated Approach

Where a child or young person is identified as having SEN, educational providers should take action to remove those barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.  This SEN support should take the form of the assess-plan-do-review cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refine and revised with a growing understanding of the pupil's needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes.  This is known as the graduated approach.  It draws on the more detailed approach, requires frequent reviewing and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match the interventions to the SEN of the children and young people.

What happens next?

When an additional need is identified for a child or young person, whether social, emotional, developmental or educational, an Early Help Assessment form can be started to gather information.  The emphasis is on assessing all aspects of a child or young person's strengths, needs and circumstances, developing a plan to meet identified needs and reviewing progress systematically.

If, following the assess-plan-do-review process, the setting required support from the Learning Improvement Service or the Inclusion Service, eg: Early Years Area SENCO, Specialist Advisory Teacher or Educational Psychologist to meet the needs of the child or young person then the following should be undertaken:

  • fully complete the EHA form
  • decide on one service to request
  • gain written parent/carer consent
  • send the assessment form to the local SEND office
  • register the assessment with the Early Help Team

For further information on the Early Help Process and to download documents please go to Cumbria CSCP.  

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