Does your child have special educational needs? Here SEN specialist and Legal Director at Tees Law, Polly Kerr answers some of your most common questions surrounding SEN and education.

What does Special Educational Needs mean?

Special Educational Needs (SEN) is when a child has learning difficulties or a disability that makes learning harder for them, compared to other children of a similar age. Not all children with disabilities have SEN; SEN is specifically about the extent to which the child can engage in education services. Someone with SEN may have difficulty with reading and writing, ability to understand things, behaviour, ability to socialise, concentration and sensitivity to external stimuli e.g. noise.

Can a school refuse entry to a child with SEN?

No, a school cannot refuse a child because they have SEN or a disability if your child would have otherwise qualified for a place under the school’s admissions criteria. The School Admissions Code of Practice states that all young people and children with SEN must be treated fairly. The only grounds on which a mainstream school can refuse a child with SEN is where their needs or disabilities would interfere with the education of other children. If a school is named in Section 1 of a child’s EHCP, the school must admit that child.

Do schools get extra funding for children with SEN?

Schools are provided with additional funding for children with SEN to help meet their needs, which is known as their delegated budget. This roughly equates to up to £6,000 from their school per academic year.

Is it a legal requirement to have a SENco?

All mainstream schools are required to have a SENco (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) by law. To be a SENco in a mainstream school you must be qualified as a teacher and achieve a National award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within 3 years of taking up the SENco post. There is no requirement to have a SENco in a special school, however, they may choose to employ someone to carry out the work a SENco would do.

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You’ll find our team of education lawyers friendly and easy to talk to and we understand the ins-and-outs of education law.

Our education law team is based in:

Cambridgeshire: Cambridge

Essex: BrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden

Hertfordshire: Bishop’s Stortford and Royston

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales.