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How to get your child the extra help they need in school
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Extra help in school. (Applicable mainly to the UK)

The British government promised "that a child with special educational needs should have their needs met" (sec. 1.3, SEN Code of Practice, 2001). Even though it's printed for all to see, they won't be able to keep the promise, as they don't have the resources.

The British government has mandated that "a child with special educational needs should have their needs met" (sec. 1.3, SEN Code of Practice, 2001). With limited resources, this is almost certainly a promise made to be broken. However, the rules are there to be enforced!

Regular mainstream schools are able to meet the educational needs of most children. When they realize that someone isn't doing well enough, the school staff needs to act. Some possible problems are:

a. social interactions and communication skills (e.g. autism, speech problems)
b. general learning and reasoning (e.g. poor memory and/ or concentration, low IQ, dyslexia)
c. emotional development, social development, behaviour, sensory and/or physical disabilities (e.g. deafness, paralysis)

If you have concerns about your child's educational progress, talk to her teacher and/ or the SEN Coordinator (SENCO) at her school. If they think she's having problems, they will add her name to the Special Education Needs Register, if they haven't already done so.

If you have concerns about your child, discuss them with your child's teacher and/or the school's SEN Co-ordinator. If they are in agreement with your concerns, they may place his or her name on the Special Educational Needs Register. In fact, they may have already done so.

Once the school have identified that there are special needs, they then have the responsibility to meet those needs. There are many way by which this may be done. But the important point is that everyone (which includes you, the parents) should agree on what goals you are trying to achieve for your child.

Normally this is done by drawing up an individual education plan (IEP)

The IEP includes certain targets to achieve and the timeframe for completing them. The targets are then reviewed every six weeks or so. These targets may be a variety of skills: some academic, such as reading or writing; some behavioral, such as responding appropriately to questions and getting along with others during play time; or they may be physical and require help with physical disabilities or medical needs.

It may turn out that the school can't meet enough of your child's needs. In that case they will need to bring in experts from outside. Generally this would be an educational psychologist, although there are a number of other professionals that might be included. These people might work with your child directly, or they may advise the school as to how best proceed. This level of support is known as "School Action Plus".

Occasionally it will become apparent that the school alone does not have sufficient resources to solve the problem. In that case, outside experts are brought in to assist. Often times this will consist of an educational psychologist or some other type of professional. These experts may extend their advice to the school, which is called "School Action Plus".

Sometimes when the child's needs are severe, the intervention by school is not enough. In those cases, you may apply for a Statutory Assessment of SEN, which is usually conducted by the Local Education Authority (the county council). If the Authority's assessment agrees that the needs are severe, they may issue a Statement of SEN which further documents what the needs are, and what the school (and others) are legally required to do to meet those needs. Should the LEA refuses to complete a statutory assessment or issue a statement, you have rights (as the parent) to appeal their decision.

Just because the LEA grants a statement, that doesn't necessarily mean that the school will receive any extra money to do provide the services as indicated in the statement. The school will continue to be put in an awkward position of determining how to divide up their limited cash amongst all the SEN children in their school.

You can probably see by now why it is so essential for parents and schools to work together. Fighting the school won't help your child receive help. Listen carefully to what teachers and others say about your child, and try to remain calm and polite. Don't be afraid to ask questions, however. If you have concerns that something is missing from the help your child should be eligible for, then be sure to voice them. No one can speak for your own child but you.

If all goes well and your child's educational needs can be diagnosed, she should learn to enjoy and benefit from school. The less stressful environment there will help her be happier at home as well.

By Noel Swanson
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.


Biography: Dr. Noel Swanson runs a fascinating website on parenting, so if you are needing any help with your children it might be worth a visit.

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