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What do I do if I think my child may have Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

If you are concerned about your child's progress in school, the first person to talk to is his or her teacher.

If you are still concerned after this, you should arrange to talk to the school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).

In small schools the head teacher may also act as the SENCO. Similarly, if your child is in an early years setting you should talk to the staff there.

You can also seek independent support from the Parent Partnership Service at Tower Hamlets:

Parents Advice Centre
30 Greatorex Street
London E1 5NP
020 7364 6489

You will be able to seek help from the Parents Advice Centre in preparing for meetings at schools and understanding and responding to letters. A range of information leaflets in English, Bengali and Somali and books, DVDs and other resources about special educational needs is also available.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

The role played by SENCOs is to help your child's teacher identify, assess and respond to the needs of children with SEN or a disability. This will include:

  • taking a lead in any further assessment of a child's individual strengths and weaknesses
  • planning support for your child
  • ensuring that records are made of actions taken to support your child and the progress they make as a result
  • advising and supporting other members of staff within your child's school
  • liaising with specialist staff who visit your child's school
  • ensuring that parents are properly involved

Early years settings are also required to have access to the support of a SENCO and in the case of small or part-time settings, a number of different groups can pool resources and appoint a shared SENCO.

You can contact your child's school SENCO directly at your child’s school.

If your child attends a nursery or pre-school setting in the City of London you can contact the area SENCO by telephoning the Education and Early Years Service on 020 7332 1002 or by emailingfyi@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Teaching arrangements 

Children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Your child's school or early years setting should vary the way they support your child's learning by choosing from a range of activities based on the way your child learns best - this is called differentiating the curriculum. This should be the normal teaching arrangement for all children in schools or early years settings.

If you are concerned that your child is not making the progress they should be making through the school's normal teaching arrangements, you should continue to discuss this with your child's teacher at the school or early years setting. This discussion may also continue to involve the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).

This may then result in the school deciding to carry out an informal assessment of your child's needs and creating what is called an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This should include:

  • short term targets for your child to achieve
  • the teaching methods that are additional and different to the normal teaching arrangements
  • any additional resources that may be allocated such as special teaching materials or more adult help
  • when the plan is to be reviewed

What if I still have concerns?

If it is agreed during the review of the IEP that your child is still not making the expected progress for their age, then the early years setting or school may need to seek additional help or advice from an outside specialist such as an educational psychologist or advisory teacher.

Educational psychologists (EPs) are trained teachers who have additional qualifications, including a degree in Psychology. Their training helps them understand more about the ways children learn, think and behave. They work with children and young people up to the age of 19 with a variety of needs, such as learning needs, speech and language needs and medical and physical needs.

For more information about educational psychology services in the City on the FYi Directory.

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