SEND is short for special educational needs and dificulties. The official definition is
A pupil has SEND where their learning difficulty or disability calls for special educational provision, that is provision different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age.
What is a SENCo? What is the role of the SENCo and who is the SENCo in our school?
A SENCO is the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator. This is the person within the school who can give teachers advice about resources or strategies to use. The SENCO’s role is to advise and train adults in school, to offer strategic advice to the senor leaders, to liaise with outside agencies, to fill in forms …
You can find out who the SENCO in your school is by contacting your child's school or look on the Local Links page.
We identify children with SEND by three main routes:
The first is through identification by the class teacher. If a teacher has tried a wide range of different and targeted approaches to teaching a child and still the child’s difficulties persist, the teacher might ask the SENCO for advice and support. They will probably call a meeting with you in order to seek your expertise on your child.
The second route is during regular pupil progress meetings, when the teacher meets with a member of the senior leadership team in school in order to discuss pupils’ progress. Sometimes at that meeting it becomes clear that a child isn’t making expected progress. Again, the teacher and SENCO will discuss the child, and then you will be invited into school for a meeting.
The third route is not school identification but by a paediatrician or other expert. School doesn’t diagnose conditions like autism or ADHD- these are diagnosed by a doctor.
Are all of the staff qualified to teach children with SEND?
Yes. All staff are trained to work with all of the children in their class. Depending on experience, they may not have worked with a child with your child’s SEND before, but they will have the support of the SENCO and access to resources to help them to meet your child’s needs.
In each term that answer is different as new children arrive at school or move on. The vast majority of children with SEND in school have difficulties with reading, writing and/or maths. But we also support children with physical, hearing and vision difficulties; those with autism and ADHD; children with medical conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis or cerebral palsy. If children in our catchment area want to come to our school, we will use our best endeavours to make sure that they get the support they need.
How is the British approach to working with children with SEND different to that in the U.S.?
The British schools don’t have an on-site Special Education route. If a child attends a mainstream school, they are entitled to follow the same curriculum as all other children, with the same access to teachers.
How do British schools work with U.S. schools and Medical Services?
Different schools have different experience of working with US schools and medical services. When service families are redeployed, we complete forms for the US schools and if possible, we will work closely with the schools to ensure a smooth transition for the children.
Unless your child is registered with an English GP they can’t access UK health services (except speech therapy). However, we will write reports for the US medical services, take phone calls with paediatricians and do what we can to ensure that each child has their health needs met.
Is there a specific age at which children can be tested for things like dyslexia and ADHD?
No. If you think your child might have ADHD, you should talk to your Doctor because ADHD is a medical diagnosis. Similarly, it is the health services who make a diagnosis of autism.
Although there is no minimum age for a diagnosis of dyslexia, in practice it is unlikely to be confirmed in a child under the age of about 7. However, if we think that a child may have a dyslexic profile- and teachers sometimes feel this to be the case as early as reception- we work with the child as if they were dyslexic. This means that they will be taught in a way which will give them support if they are dyslexic.
How do you support my child’s speech and language needs?
If we are concerned about a child’s speech and language we would normally recommend a referral to a Speech and language therapists (also known as SALT or SLT). This takes up to 18 weeks.
Meanwhile, we support children in a range of ways in school depending on their age and their individual needs. We have Teaching Assistants who have been trained through a process called ELKLAN, which gives them a basic understanding of how speech sounds are made and how language develops. Many children with speech and language needs are supported by ELKLAN trained teaching assistants.
If you are worried about your child’s speech and language, please talk to their teacher. It is such an important area of learning that we need to do what we can to support a child. Language needs, in particular, are often ‘hidden’ and it is easy to miss them in a busy classroom, so if you have concerns, please come and talk to us.