If a child or young person is struggling with their learning, they may need extra support to help them progress. This page looks at the types of support available and how you can access it.

Before you read through the information on this page, you may benefit from reading our What is SEND page.

Sometimes learners can seem like they are not progressing at the same rate as their peers, but this does not always mean that they require SEN support straight away. Settings should use inclusive High-Quality Teaching, including adaptive teaching, differentiation and reasonable adjustments, to support any additional need. You may hear this referred to as "Universal" level support.

This means that staff adapt their lessons to meet different learning styles for all children and young people within a setting. In addition to this inclusive High-Quality Teaching at universal level, some learners may require time limited interventions and additional support to secure effective learning and increase their rate of progress. This is known as "Universal +" support and may include an informal SEN support plan.

If a child or young person requires more assistance to support their learning and development needs, this will be offered through a process called SEN support. However, before SEN support is put into place, it should be considered if these methods have been fully utilised.

Find out more about High-Quality Teaching for all learners.

What is SEN support?

SEN support, or special educational provision, is support that is different from or additional to the support that is generally available to children or young people of the same age, in a mainstream setting. SEN support is designed to help learners with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school, or to study at college. The sooner the special educational need (SEN) is identified, the sooner arrangements for meeting the identified needs can be put into place. 

For more in depth information on SEN support, please speak the SENCO at your child's setting, or read through the information on the IPSEA website. 

A child does not need a diagnosis to receive SEN support. Once a special educational needs has been identified, a setting should work to meet this need without delay. If you would like to explore how to get a diagnosis for your child, please visit our GDA Pathways page

What support may be offered?

SEN support can take many forms, including:

  • A special learning programme for your child
  • Extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
  • Creating or changing materials and equipment
  • Working with your child in a small group
  • Observing your child in class or at break and keeping records
  • Helping your child to take part in the class activities
  • Making sure your child has understood things by encouraging them to ask questions and to attempt tasks they find difficult
  • Supporting your child with physical or personal care, such as eating, getting around school safely, toileting or dressing
  • Advice and/or extra help from specialist services such as educational psychologists, BOSS, ASCETS or specialist teachers. If your child's setting wants to call in specialists, they should discuss and agree this with you first.

This list is not exhaustive. Please speak to your child's SENCO about what support they may offer. 

How can my child get SEN support?

SEN support for all learners is part of what is known as the ‘Graduated Approach’ and generally works as follows:

  • You may be contacted by a member of staff from your child's setting if they think your child may need SEN support OR
  • You can approach your child’s setting directly if you think your child may have SEN.

To determine whether SEN support is necessary, your child's setting will make on-going assessments. You will be involved and your views will be required throughout the process. You should be kept up-to-date with your child's progress. Young people, aged 16 to 25, will be fully involved in designing their own SEN support and provision.

What are the stages of the Graduated Approach?

The four stages of SEN support are:


Your child’s difficulties must be assessed so that the right support can be provided. This should include, for example, asking you what you think, talking to professionals who work with your child (such as their teacher), and looking at records and other information. This needs to be reviewed regularly so that the support provided continues to meet your child’s needs. That might mean getting advice and further assessment from someone like an educational psychologist, a specialist teacher or a health professional.


Your school or other setting needs to agree, with your involvement, the outcomes that the SEN support is intended to achieve – in other words, how your child will benefit from any support they get – and you need to be involved with that. All those involved will need to have a say in deciding what kind of support will be provided, and decide a date by which they will review this so that they can check to see how well the support is working and whether the outcomes have been or are being achieved.


The setting will put the planned support into place. The teacher remains responsible for working with your child on a daily basis, but the SENCO and any support staff or specialist teaching staff involved in providing support should work closely to track your child’s progress and check that the support is being effective.


The support your child receives should be reviewed at the time agreed in the plan. You can then decide together if the support is having a positive impact, whether the outcomes have been, or are being, achieved and if or how any changes should be made.

Following the APDR cycle allows settings to monitor a learner's progress and make adjustments to the support they receive when necessary. 

Did you know: Children must usually go through two cycles (terms) of assess, plan, do review before they can be referred to the GDA Pathway. This is to ensure professionals on the pathway panel have a clear understanding of your child's needs, and the support and interventions they have already received.

What are the next steps if SEN support isn't working?

Some children will need more support than can be offered through SEN support. These children may require additional resources to make progress and meet their targets. They may require an Education, Health and Care Plan.

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document which outlines the special education needs, health and social care needs an individual has, and the provision required to meet these needs.

Like an SEN plan, an EHCP also contains targets (known in the plan as outcomes) which have been set for the individual to meet.

Find out more about Education, Health and Care Plans.

Frequently asked questions

What is a SENCO?

SENCO stands for special educational needs coordinator. You might also hear of them referred to as a SENCDO (special educational needs and disabilities coordinator). 

The main role of the SENCO is to lead in coordinating special educational support for learners in their setting. The SENCO also provides professional guidance to colleagues and works closely with staff, parents and other agencies to that ensure learners receive the best support possible.

As a parent or carer, the SENCO should be your main point of contact if you have concerns regarding your child’s SEND.

What is the SEN register?

The SEN register is a register of learners, in a particular setting, who have special educational needs (SEN). The register contains information on which learners receive support, and the type of support they require.

If your child has been added to the SEN register, their education setting must make you aware of this.

Does my child need a diagnosis to receive SEN support?

No. Once a special educational need has been identified, your child's setting should work to meet this need without delay.

Does my child need to attend a special school?

This completely depends on your child’s need, however, the majority of children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) do not need to attend a specialist school. A very small number of children have needs that can’t be met in a mainstream school so they attend a special school or specialist provision.

All children and young people who have SEND have the right to attend a mainstream education setting. Teachers should use inclusive High-Quality Teaching to ensure that every child has their learning needs met. They do this by making sure their lessons have been planned with all learning needs in mind, and adapting their teaching when needed.

The majority of children with SEND attend a mainstream setting where they receive additional support from specialist education and/or health services. The specialist services who work together with the child's school to ensure the environment is inclusive, and the learner's needs are identified and met. Find out more about specialist services.

How do mainstream schools ensure they meet the needs of children who have SEND?

Staff should use inclusive High-Quality Teaching (HQT) to ensure that everyone within the setting has their learning needs met. They do this by making sure their lessons have been planned with all children's learning needs in mind and adapting their way of teaching when needed.

If inclusive HQT alone is not sufficient, the setting will create a tailored SEN plan for your child. The SEN support process has been outlined on this page.

What services might support my child with their SEND?

There are lots of different services which can support your child in their setting. The types of services who may become involved will depend entirely on your child’s needs. Some of these services may include the Speech and Language Service, the Behavioural Outreach Support Service (BOSS), the Educational Physiology (EP) Service or the Autism and Social Communication Education and Training Service (ASCETS). You can find out more about each of these services on our Education Support Services page.

Who can I speak to if I'm not happy about the support my child is receiving?

If you're unhappy with the support your child is receiving, you should raise your concerns with your their key worker, class teacher or special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). You can request a meeting to discuss your concerns and find a resolution. 

You may also wish to gain independent information, advice or support from Doncaster's SENDIAS Service. The service is completely impartial and confidential, and they can advise you on SEN processes and, the law in relation to special educational needs and/or disabilities. 

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and the support stated in their EHCP isn't being followed, or is no longer suitable, then you may wish to also raise your concerns with the local authority. An emergency annual receive may be held to rectify any concerns.

How often should my child's SEN support be reviewed?

Settings should be continuously working through the assess, plan, do, review cycle to allow them to monitor a learner's progress and make adjustments to the support they receive where necessary. This ensures the child's needs continue to be met. 

You should be invited to meet with your child's setting three times a year (once a term) to discuss their SEN support. These meetings should be in addition to regular meetings offered to all children, i.e. parents evenings. 

Can I choose to home educate my child if they have SEND?

Yes, you have the right to home educate if you want to. As a parent/carer, you are responsible for ensuring that your child receives a suitable education. Education is compulsory, school is not.

If your child attends a special school, you will need to seek permission from the local authority before you decide to take your child off of the school roll. 

How is my child's education setting funded?

Since April 2013, education settings have been funded according to a national framework. Settings have a duty to meet the needs of all the children and young people on their roll, including those with SEN.

Mainstream school and post 16 settings

The national threshold is approximately £10k per year made up of an element for core quality first teaching for every child and up to £6k for effective additional support for children with special educational needs. This threshold is the responsibility of the setting before a local authority (LA) considers providing additional top up funding, usually through a statutory plan.

In mainstream schools a 'notional budget' for SEN additional support is made up of formula factors linked to the children who are on the school's roll when the School Census is counted in October each year. It is not the case that every child identified as having SEN has £6k that must be spent on them individually.

Education settings should be flexible in the use of this funding as some children may need more or less support at different times. Additional interventions may best be delivered in small groups rather than creating an over -dependency on 1:1 adult support.

Early years settings

Early years settings receive place funding for eligible 2 ,3 and 4-year-olds. Early years settings can also claim a top-up amount, worth up to £353.40 per year, for any disadvantaged or looked after 3 and 4-year-olds in their setting. This additional funding is called Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) and is paid at 62p per hour on top of a child’s universal 15 hours funding. Settings can also request a yearly Disability Access Fund (DAF) payment of £828 for 3 and 4-years olds who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The LA's Early Years Inclusion Team (EYIT) provides advice, support and training to these settings. Early years mainstream settings, whether Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) or a school-based nursery setting, can also apply for the Early Intervention Allowance (EIA) where additional adult support may be required to enable a child to participate and access learning alongside their peers. The request is submitted to the Early Years Panel via the EYIT who can also advise on the criteria and monitoring arrangements.

Special schools and mainstream attached specialist resource bases

LA maintained special schools and specialist resources attached to mainstream schools are funded on a ‘place plus’ model. These settings are funded at £10k per agreed place available. The school also receives an additional top up amount for each child on roll, agreed between the LA and the individual school. In Doncaster maintained special schools, the top up funding ranges from around £5k for children with learning difficulties and additional needs to around £15k for children with the most profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Non-maintained special schools in and outside the Doncaster borough are also funded on the basis of a £10k per agreed place plus a top up which the provider negotiates with the placing local authority.

Independent special schools, located in and outside the Doncaster borough, are not subject to the national funding formula. The cost of these placements is usually higher than other special schools and is negotiated between the placing local authority and the provider.

Independent and non-maintained special schools, which are not part of the Department for Education’s approved list of providers (Section 41), are not bound by the same duty to admit a child if their setting is named in section I of a child’s EHCP.

The local authority has a duty to comply with a parental or young person's preference for a particular setting but must also ensure that it uses public resources as efficiently as possible in making a decision on the most appropriate education placement to meet needs. Please note that assessed and agreed transport costs are in addition to all place and additional support costs described above.

What funding is available in schools for SEN support?

The majority of children with special educational needs (SEN) have their needs met within their local mainstream school. Each school has a designated Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), who has responsibility for co-ordinating special educational provision within the school. All local mainstream schools have funding within their school budget to meet the special educational needs of their children.

The Department for Education has set a minimum amount of approximately £10,000 per child for schools to use their own resources to meet core teaching and additional adult support costs. Above this threshold, schools can request the local authority to consider whether a statutory Education Health Care (EHC) needs assessment may be required or the need to issue an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The deployment of all available resources is the responsibility of the school's governing body and headteacher/ principal. It enables schools to deploy resources flexibly for provision that is additional to and different from that usually available to and required for all the children. Doncaster has published the following guidance: Core Principles - Descriptors Thresholds Document which sets out broadly what schools should provide and when this may need the Local Authority to provide further support. Mainstreams schools in Doncaster may reasonably be expected to make the following provision from within their own budgets for children with SEN but without an Education, Health and Care Plans.

Schools should have the following in place:

  • An Individual Plan such as an SEN Support Plan or an Individual/ group Provision Map may be in place for each child with SEN at SEN Support.
  • The arrangement of class or teaching groups, for the whole or part of the school day, should take into account the needs of children with SEN.
  • Access to specialist services provided by the Local Authority under agreement with the school, such as the Engagement and Behavior Support Service or the Educational Psychology Service.
  • School policies and programmes that enable children with SEN to be as fully included within the social and academic life of the school as possible.
  • Additional learning support to assist children with health or self-care needs, where these relate to children’s needs.
  • The provision of specialist resources to enable children with SEN to access the curriculum. Updated 4 April 2016
  • The provision of smaller items of equipment to enable individual children to access the curriculum.
  • Close liaison with parents/carers to support the child with SEN, including their involvement in the design of their SEN Support Plans.
  • Access to specialist facilities to enable curriculum materials and resources to be adapted for children with significant visual impairment.
  • Radio aids for children with significant hearing impairment, when recommended by the Local Authority's specialist teacher.
  • Reasonable adjustments to the physical environment of the school. Research shows that additional support should enable a child or young person to be as independent as possible and only in exceptional situations would a child need high levels of 1:1 adult support across the day.

What funding and services are provided additionally by the local authority?

Doncaster local authority (LA) funds a range of specialist services from its High Needs Block budget to meet the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN).

These services are available whether or not a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). All services work in close partnership with families and other agencies including health and social care.

  • Specialist teachers and other key workers provide support for early years children with SEN. This includes the Portage Service for children in the home and the Early Years Inclusion Team for children in early years settings.
  • Specialist teachers and support staff a) for children with a visual impairment (VI) and b) for children with hearing impairment (HI) provide advice and resources to education settings to enable these children to access an appropriately differentiated curriculum alongside their peers.
  • Specialist teachers and support staff in the LA's Autism Social Communication Education and Training Service (ASCETS), provide advice to education settings to enable children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to participate in the social life of the setting and access an appropriately differentiated curriculum. The LA also funds outreach workers from Stone Hill and Coppice Special Schools with expertise in meeting the needs of children with social communication needs and associated barriers to learning.
  • Specialist outreach workers to advise settings on the safe moving and handling of children and to enable children with a physical impairment and/or significant medical need to access the curriculum and participate in learning alongside their peers.
  • Support from outreach workers from Pennine View and North Ridge special schools, to advise schools on differentiating the curriculum, effective strategies and targeted interventions designed to support children with learning difficulties or social, emotional and mental health needs and/ or challenging behaviors. Schools can access funding from the High Needs Block to meet exceptional needs such as complex medical needs but no SEN, or if they can evidence a disproportionate SEN profile compared to their notional SEN budget. The local authority provides specialist services for education settings from resources other than the High Needs Block, including the Behaviour Outreach Support Service and the Educational Psychology Service. Guidance and training is also provided on the effective deployment and monitoring of SEN resources in schools.

What if a child has significant and complex SEN and needs extra resources?

If a child is assessed by the local authority (LA) as requiring more resources than the education setting can reasonably provide, the LA may allocate additional funding from its High Needs Block, part of the Dedicated Schools Grant. Since April 2013, Doncaster has used a banding system for allocating High Needs funding attached to an EHCP.

The banding system and the SEN Descriptors were reviewed through consultation with schools in April 2015 to reflect the SEND Reforms and allow for more flexibility if a Personal Budget is agreed as part of an EHCP.

Table 1- Funding Bands for Mainstream Settings where a Statement of SEN is still in place or a first final EHCP was issued prior to April 2015.

(above £10k for SEN and Alternative Provision)
Top Up (indicative per child)
Note: Primary Schools receive an additional £500
High Needs Band A - Mainstream £4,000
High Needs Band B - Mainstream £5,500
High Needs Band C - Mainstream £7,500
Individual Package

Individually determined

Table 2- Funding Bands for EHCPs issued after April 2015 in a mainstream setting

(above £10k for SEN and Alternative Provision)
Top Up (indicative per child)
High Needs Band A - Mainstream

A1 - £1,000
A2 - £2,000
A3 - £3,000
A4 - £4,000

High Needs Band B - Mainstream B5 - £5,000
B6 - £6,000
High Needs Band C - Mainstream C7 - £7,000
C8 - £8,000
Individual Package

Individually determined

All funding allocations are reviewed as part of the statutory annual review process.


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Last updated: 04 April 2024 12:26:18


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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