An overview of SEN support

Find out what special educational needs (SEN) are, what support is available and who provides it.

A child or young person may have special educational needs when a learning difficulty or disability means that they require support that is different or additional to that which is normally available to pupils of the same age.

SEN can be characterised by a range of needs and difficulties. There are four broad areas:

  • Communication and interaction - speech, language, and communication needs and difficulties with interaction with others.
  • Cognition and learning - learning difficulties vary in severity and may make it difficult to learn everything or just certain things.
  • Social, emotional and mental health difficulties - this covers a wide range of needs and these may be seen in a child or young person as withdrawn and isolated behaviours or as challenging and unsafe behaviours.
  • Sensory and/physical needs - these include visual and hearing impairment and physical and mobility needs.

Education settings and SEN Support

Education settings are the main source of support for children and young people with SEN; they offer extra support to help them achieve their potential.

Teachers are trained to identify children and young people with SEN and will notice if your child is not making progress. They will discuss this with you and your child so that strategies can be put in place to help them. 

If you believe your child has SEN you should speak to their teacher. You can also speak to the school's Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). This is a specially trained teacher responsible for making sure children and young people with SEN are correctly supported. Children and young people with SEN should receive SEN support from their education setting to help them progress.

Education settings provide information on the support they give as part of their record on the Local Offer website.

Local Offer website

In Suffolk the Local Offer website pulls together information about how children, young people and their families can access from local agencies including:

  • schools
  • charities
  • local clubs and groups
  • health and social care agencies.

You can also find information about support groups, clubs and leisure activities in your area - visit www.suffolklocaloffer.org.uk If you need help finding information on the Local Offer website, call the Local Offer navigator on 0345 606 1490.

Additional and specialist support & advice

The majority of children and young people with special educational needs will have their needs met through SEN Support. Where a child does not make expected progress despite SEN Support, an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment may be appropriate. The Local Offer website has more information about how to a request EHC assessment, and frequently asked questions about the referral and assessment process.

The Suffolk County Council special needs team is split into three areas.

The Suffolk County Council (SCC) sensory and communication service provides specialist support for children and young people aged 0-25 with hearing, visual or multi-sensory impairment and speech and language difficulties. They:

  • Provide educational and social support for the children and young people with sensory impairment, their families and educational settings.
  • Deliver training for practitioners who works with children who have speech and language difficulties.
  • Work with colleagues in health services for children with SEN.

Further information about the sensory and communication service is available on the Local Offer website. You can also contact the service on 01473 264717.

The SCC disabled children and young people’s service (DCYP) within children’s social care are responsible for assessing the individual care needs of children and young people. This may include looking at needs relating to domiciliary care, assessments within the home environment (occupational therapy), support for carers, personal budgets and transition support. Further details about the support available and assessment process is on the Local Offer website.

Independent advice and support

The SENDIASS service provides impartial advice and information for parents, carers and children and young people (aged up to 25 years) in relation to special educational needs and disabilities. You can contact them by emailing sendiass@suffolk.gov.uk by calling 01473 265210, or visiting their pages on this website

The charity Scope provides independent supporters for families with children with special educational needs. For further information please look at their website or call 0808 800 3333.