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An Intro to Special Educational Needs (SEN) & Funding.

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Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) refers to students with learning disabilities or difficulties. It means that it is more challenging for them to learn than their peers.

The disability or difficulty may be associated with with schoolwork, communication or behaviour. They might also have additional sensory or physical needs, that affect their performances in school.

The cause of the difficulty or disability can be very different, including: genetic factors, and injuries (pre- and post- birth). Sometimes the cause of the needs can be very difficult to ascertain.

Some of the signs that a child may have learning difficulties include:

1. Difficulty in understanding new or complicated information;
2. Difficulty in learning practical skills;
3. Difficulty in communicating; or
4. Poor memory, attention or concentration.

There are many aspects of learning that children with SEN may require additional help with including:

1. Reading, writing, or understanding information;
2. Communication: expressing themselves or understanding others;
3. Interacting with adults;
4. Behaving properly in school; and
5. Organising themselves.

Schools work extremely hard to help SEN students.

All mainstream schools must appoint a Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). In some schools this is a responsibility given to a senior member of the teaching staff or a teacher who works solely with SEN students.

Local Authorities have the ability to award schools more funding based on an EHCP (an Education, Health and Care Plan) to help fund the extra resources schools need to help support SEN students.

So why do some still feel that students with SEN are not getting enough help?

The biggest and most obvious reason is funding.

“Figures from 2015 showed that when families challenged their local authority refusal to grant an EHCP at a tribunal, 86% of council decisions were overturned. But the strain and cost of preparing a tribunal case mean many families cannot even try.”

Vic Goddard, principal of Passmores academy in Harlow, Essex, says that “performance on SEN should be a limiting provision in Ofsted inspections, meaning a school could not be graded outstanding if its share of this group of children on roll was not representative of the need in the community”.{1}

The best way for parents to help their SEN child, is to talk to your child’s class teacher or the SENCo. Work with them to help determine whether your child has SEN. You could ask them if your child is having problems in school, or is your child able to work at the same level as others of the same age. If the school find your child has SEN in some areas, they’ll try to help with the schools’ protocols.


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