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What to expect from SEN Support

See our flowchart in the download section of this page. This explains SEN support and the assess-plan-do-review process. Information in alternative languages is also provided in the download section of this page.

SEN Support is the first level of extra support provided by mainstream schools, colleges and early years settings. It is given to learners who have special educational needs but no EHC (Education, Health and Care) plan.

SEN Support is delivered through a four-part cycle, known as the “graduated approach”. This means that the school will assess your child’s needs, plan the support they need, do the work, and review whether it has made a difference. With each cycle, the school should gain a better understanding of your child’s needs, and refine the provision they put in place.


The class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator), carries out an analysis of your child’s needs.

If the school feels that it would be helpful to refer a child to an external professional, such as an Educational Psychologist or a Speech and Language Therapist, they must seek the parents' permission first. Afterwards, you and your family should be given a note of what was discussed or agreed with the professional.

If a child is on the waiting list for an assessment, the school should not delay putting support in place; this can always be refined following a diagnosis and/or advice from professionals.

If your child has recently had an assessment or a diagnosis from an NHS service (e.g. the Neurodisability Service), it is important that you share this information with the SENCO. Parents sometimes think that the school will be notified automatically – this is not always the case.


The school will use the Sheffield Support Grid to help them make decisions about your child’s package of support. They should tell you at which level(s) your child has been placed on the grid, and talk you through the package of support they will receive. They should use the advice from the assessment stage to do this. More information about the Sheffield Support Grid

You and your family should be given written information about your child’s SEN, the outcomes they are working towards, and the support that is being provided. This is likely to start with a Learner profile and SEND Support Plan and may progress to a MyPlan dependent on your child's needs. The plan should be developed together with you and your child. See our flowchart in the download section of this page. This explains what MyPlans are. Information in alternative languages is also provided in the download section of this page.

More information about the documents used at the SEN Support stage


SEN Support can take many forms, for example:

  • Adjustments to the school environment, e.g. creating a quiet base for a child to access when they feel overwhelmed, or installing safety catches on doors
  • Changes to the way a child is taught, e.g. small-group work or a special learning programme
  • Reasonable adjustments and exemptions from school policies, e.g. exempting a child from homework or from specific subjects or topics, or some specific relaxation of school rules, e.g. school uniforms
  • Help with personal care, e.g. dressing, toileting or eating
  • Support at break times, e.g. a “circle of friends”, a library pass, or access to a staffed base
  • Training, advice and support for school staff who work with a child

The responsibility for the progress of all pupils, including those with SEN, lies with their class or subject teacher. This applies even if a pupil is receiving support from a teaching assistant or external professional outside the classroom.

It is important that all teachers and support staff who work with a child are made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, and the support and teaching strategies that are required.



The school should meet with you at least three times a year to review your child's progress and decide whether the support provided has been effective. These “SEN review meetings” should be led by the class teacher or form tutor, supported by the SENCO, and should be longer than most parent-teacher meetings. You and your family should be given a written summary of the outcomes, actions and support agreed at these meetings.

If a child has not responded to the help they were given, the review should decide what to do next. This may include additional assessments, or more or different help. Sometimes the next step will be to draw up a My Plan, or to request an EHC needs assessment.

Last reviewed: 12/02/2021
Information owner: SEND Assessment and Review Service (SENDSARS)

Last Updated: 17/09/2021
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