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Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)


What does SEN mean?

Many children and young people have special educational needs (SEN) at some point during their education. A child or young person with SEN may find it harder to learn than other children of the same age.

Special educational needs may include children having difficulties with:

  • expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
  • making friends or getting on with others
  • reading, writing and number work
  • concentrating
  • understanding instructions and following rules and routines
  • a medical condition that affects learning
  • a sensory or physical need which affects them in school

For some children, having a special educational need may only be a short term need that can be met through the expertise and resources of the school or with advice and support from outside professionals.

However, a small number of children will need a higher level of support than the school may feel they can provide from their normal budget. These will be pupils who have already received a high level of support within a school or early years setting, through the SEN Support category of the Code of Practice, and who despite this level of support, are not progressing or progressing sufficiently well.

Many children and young people may have SEN of some kind during their education. Child care providers - like nurseries or child minders - mainstream schools, colleges and other organisations can help most children and young people succeed with some changes to their practice or additional support. But some will need extra help for some or all of their time in education and training.

The London Borough of Hillingdon has a SEND Strategy to improve the outcomes of children, young people and young adults with disabilities and those with special educational needs.

Areas of SEN

Children and young people with SEN may need extra help because of a range of needs. The 0 to 25 SEND Code of Practice sets out 4 areas of SEN:

Communicating and interacting – Children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.

Cognition and learning – Children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – Children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning or have an impact on their health and wellbeing.

Sensory and/or physical needs – Children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.


Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability. A disability is described in law ( the Equality Act 2010) as ‘a physical or mental impairment, which has a long-term (a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

The Equality Act requires that early years providers, schools, colleges, other educational settings and local authorities:

  • must not directly or indirectly discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children and young people
  • must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of extra aid services (for example, tactile signage or induction loops), so that disabled children and young people are not disadvantaged. This duty is known as ‘anticipatory’. People also need to think in advance about what disabled children and young people might need

Where to go if you think your child has SEN or a disability

Children and young people with SEN or disabilities will usually be able to get help from their early education setting, school, or college, sometimes with the aid of outside specialists. When they do identify that your child has SEN, your school or other setting must contact you (or, if your child is over 16, they might contact them directly) and should discuss with you what support to offer your child. The setting must tell you if they are making special educational provision for your child.

If you think your child has SEN, you should talk to your child’s early education setting, school, college or other provider. They will discuss any concerns you have, tell you what they think and explain to you what will happen next. You can also discuss your concerns with your GP or health visitor.

SEND team


The SEND team is responsible for the management of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment process of special educational needs for children and young people from 0 to 25 and for ensuring that the Local Authority fulfils its statutory responsibilities listed within the Education Act 1996 and Children and Families Act 2014 and the Code of Practice.

The team aims to work closely with parents, young people and professionals, ensuring a person centred approach and a culture of ‘putting our residents first’ is maintained. All children and young people undergoing a needs assessment or those who already have an EHC Plan will have a named allocated officer.

Who they are

The SEND Team includes two Team Managers (primary and secondary caseload), two Senior SEND Officers, nine SEND Officers and two Annual Review Officers.

If your child is known to the SEND Team, he or she will have an allocated officer who is responsible for managing your child’s case and they will be your main point of contact.

What they do

The SEND Team have the case management responsibility for children and young people who are undergoing an education, health and care needs assessment or have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

This includes undertaking SEND key working functions during the special educational needs assessment process:

  • ensuring the special educational needs assessment process from children and young people ages 0 to 25 years is undertaken within the statutory deadlines
  • drafting outcome focussed draft EHC Plans following a needs assessment
  • managing the EHC needs assessment process, working in partnership with parents/carers, children and young people and external agencies, ensuring children and young people are centrally involved and consulted with in line with the Children and Families Act 2014 and Code of Practice

The team is also responsible for:

  • monitoring of EHC Plans through the statutory annual review and will attend annual review meetings as  required by settings and or parents/carers and young people
  • ensuring all transitions between education settings and/or life phases are well managed and seamless, with children, young people and their parents/carers involved in planning for their transition to adulthood
  • providing information, advice and guidance to support planning including preparation for adulthood for children and young people
  • providing information, advice and guidance to, parent/carers, young people and professionals on statutory processes
  • Working in partnership with education, health and care, and providing support for settings such as nurseries, schools and colleges in the implementation of the SEN code of practice


Parents/carers and young people and professionals supporting children and young people can contact the SEND team when they wish to make a request for an EHC needs assessment.

The team can also be contacted for guidance about statutory annual reviews and the transfer review assessment process.

In Hillingdon we have a strategy and plan in place to enable us to develop our provision for children and young people with SEND, which is our Additional Needs Strategy. You can find more information here.

Making a referral


If you are already open to the SEND Team, any letters you receive from us will have the details for the officer allocated to your cases, with their direct contact details.

If you do not have this, the pod coordinator can be contacted on:

Telephone:  01895 277088 


Once you/your child or young person has an EHCP it will be reviewed annually (or every six months if child is under five).

The Annual Review is a way of making sure that the child or young person is getting the support they require and it monitors the progress made against their outlined outcomes.


SENDIASS is the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service that provides parent/carers, children and young people aged 0 to 25 with free impartial information, advice or support in relation to any aspect of their education, health or social care needs.  This may relate to aspects such as assessment, planning or delivery of provisions necessary to ensure appropriate outcomes in life. Visit our website to find out more about us.

Tel: 01895 277001, Email:

Last reviewed: 09/08/2019

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