Special Educational Needs (SEN) and the law

We're here to support parents as they navigate the sometimes bewildering world of SEN support and the services that are available. We've helped many parents get a better outcome and we can help you too.

Polly Kerr, Royston
Polly Kerr, family and school specialist in Royston

If you have a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) you may be having difficulty accessing the education that is your child’s right. Since the Covid crisis of 2020, hard to access services have become even more stretched. 

Our specialist education solicitors can be there to support and advise you as you navigate the complex rules regarding the support your child needs and is entitled to. 

Our SEN legal services

Our education law experts can help you with all aspects of SEN and education law including: 

  • asking your local authority for an EHC needs assessment and advising and supporting you during the assessment process
  • we can challenge decisions such as refusing to do the EHC needs assessment, or not issuing an EHCP at all or disagreements regarding amendments to the EHCP, as you need
  • sometimes the Local Authority will want to stop maintaining an EHCP and we can help you challenge that 
  • we can support you and represent you at mediations, meetings such as the EHCP annual review or appeals to the SEND Tribunal
  • we can invoke the complaints procedure or even judicial review proceedings and question any failures to fund schools adequately regarding SEND provision.

What are the four areas of Special Educational Need (SEN)?

There are four broad areas as identified by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice:

  • cognition and learning
  • communication and interaction
  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  • sensory and/or physical needs. 

What is an EHCP?

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is, as its name suggests, a plan that describes all the needs relating to the education, health and social care of a child. It is a legally-binding document which also sets down the support that will be needed to fulfil those needs. 

It is very beneficial to have an EHCP because putting all of a child or young person’s needs and provision into one document significantly helps with co-ordinating all the services needed.

When applying for an assessment, the parent or carer of the child should provide the Local Authority with evidence that the young person either does or may have SEN and that special provisions may need to be made. If the Local Authority agrees, it is obliged to carry out an EHC needs assessment, after which it may write a plan and then maintain that plan. The Local Authority is obliged to provide the family with a draft of the plan in order that they can input their views.

We’re here to help

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.

Call our specialist education solicitors on 0808 231 1320

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 is able to engage in education services. Someone with SEN may have difficulty with:

  • reading and writing 
  • ability to understand things 
  • behaviour 
  • ability to socialise 
  • concentration
  • sensitivity to external stimuli e.g. noise

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. In order 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. 

Legislation relating to Special Educational Needs

Starting with the most recent, here is a list of relevant legislation and guidance with links to the legislation online which you may find useful.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

SEN Code of Practice 2014

Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 – information re Education Health and Care (EHC) assessments

The Care Act 2014

The Equality Act 2010

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