What to do if you think your child has SEN or disabilities

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Children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) do not necessarily have a disability, and some disabled children and young people do not have special educational needs. There is a lot of overlap between the two groups though.

What are special educational needs?

A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if they need extra support because they find it harder to learn than the majority of other children or young people of the same age.
Examples of special educational needs include:
  • Speech, language and communication needs
  • Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties
  • Autistic spectrum condition
  • Specific learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD
  • Moderate learning difficulties
  • Profound and multiple learning difficulties
  • Multi-sensory impairment

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What do we mean by disability?

A child or young person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Research suggests that about 6-7% of children are disabled.
Children and young people with the most complex needs will require specialist services. They will require support with their health, education or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development due to disabilities including:
  • Multiple and complex health needs or chronic illness
  • Sensory impairment such as hearing loss, visual impairment or deafblindness
  • A significant and long term learning difficulty
  • A physical disability
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • A severe communication disorder, or
  • A significant pre-school developmental delay 
There is support available for children and young people who have disabilities which do not affect their ability to learn. 

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Disability and special needs register

The register is completely voluntary and confidential for all children and young people aged 0 to 19 whose parents or carers have notified us of a disability or additional need that impacts on their day to day life. This information is then used to determine where funding could be best used for optimum benefits.

By registering your child, you will be made aware of specific support and leisure activities available in your local area. The register also helps us to ensure parents have the most up to date information and to help plan future services. You can find more information by going to our specific web page Disability and special needs register.

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What to do if you think your child has SEN

Children learn at different rates and in different ways from each other. The teacher will use different ways of teaching and different lesson materials to help individual children learn best. This is called “differentiating the curriculum” and is a normal part of the teacher’s role. Sometimes a teaching assistant may carry out the work with a child.  If a child is not making the expected progress even when the teacher has adapted their teaching methods and materials to suit the child’s style and rate of learning, then the child may have SEN. Extra support will be put in place. The preschool or school should discuss this with parents.
The child will receive more help, or a different kind of help, according to their needs and the support available in the school. Help could include small group support from the class teacher and/ or teaching assistant, special equipment, or a particular teaching program. It does not necessarily mean the child will have one to one support. Most children who are identified as having SEN will have their needs met within a mainstream preschool or school classroom.
A very small number of children will not make enough progress at school even with additional SEN support. In this case the school or the parent may decide to ask the council to carry out an assessment of the child’s needs. This may result in a decision to issue an Education Health and Care Plan.
If you have questions or concerns about the support your child’s school is providing then you can contact the SEND Partnership for free, impartial advice and support.

What is the Local Offer?

Peterborough's Local Offer is aimed at providing better support and services for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and their families.

Education, Health and Care Plans are replacing Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments. The changes have been introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014.

In this one place, you can find information about providers of the following services:

  • Special educational provision.
  • Health services.
  • Social care services.
  • Other educational provision.
  • Training.
  • Travel arrangements for children and young people to schools, colleges and early years education settings.
  • Preparing for adulthood, including housing and employment.
  • Leisure and social opportunities.

You can search the full Local Offer database here

The government have produced a simple guide to the Local Offer which you can look at below.

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Our aim

The Local Offer has been developed in close partnership with Family Voice (Peterborough’s Parent Carer Forum) and with a wide range of service providers. Our aim is: 

  • to improve outcomes for children and young people by making more information easily available to help make better choices 
  • to enable children, young people and families to be informed and empowered to make choices 
  • for you to be clearer about what is available and why, and what alternatives are available 
  • to provide more effective signposting and to get it right first time.

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If you or someone you know needs some information from the Local Offer in a different format (perhaps in a different language, or in larger print) please contact customer services or email info@peterborough.gov.uk.

Have your say

We want to make sure that Peterborough's Local Offer continues to develop to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families To let us know your views please fill in our online feedback form.