Parents: navigate the new SEND system

My last blog was about understanding how teachers differentiate work for children who fall behind in class. This often works well for the majority, enabling children to catch up without a problem. But what about those children who need more support than differentiation alone can offer? Recent changes to the SEND system have included the merging of what was previously School Action and School Action Plus. The ‘Plus’ bit was intended for those children who needed the support of an external specialist, such as an Educational Psychologist or a Speech and Language Therapist. Now that the distinction between ‘plus’ and ‘non-plus’ has been removed, many schools struggle to meet the needs of some children with SEND. Parents, understandably are feeling frustrated, angry and let down by the system. Who can blame them? Something must be done to stop children failing.

So what can the parents of children with learning difficulties actually do. Firstly they can ask the right questions: What are my child’s difficulties and needs – are they general (in most areas of the curriculum) or specific to one area of learning (perhaps reading, writing or maths)? What additional provision is my child receiving? Who is providing it? When and how? In what form is the additional provision happening? What are my child’s long term aspirations, medium term expectations and short term targets (those on the personal plan)?

Knowing this information is the first step towards working with the school to make the additional provision work for every child who needs it.

This is where my book comes in – ‘Support for Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: a parent’s guide’ ((available from Amazon) is targeted at parents whose children need additional help and provides parents with the knowledge, confidence and inspiration to ask questions, obtain answers and work collaboratively with the school to achieve success.

Next time I’ll explain more about long, medium and short term planning – because both you and your child need to know about the learning journey and have its destination in mind.

Sylvia Edwards: author of the ‘Parents Help Your Child Succeed’ series

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