Roles and responsibilities

Principles for all professionals working with children and young people who have SEND

Alongside the expectations of all teachers identified within the DFE teacher standards, the DFE also sets out the following principles that will be observed by all professionals working with children and young people who have SEND. These include:

  • Considering the views of children, young people and their families; ensuring that they are involved in discussions and decisions about their individual support (this is a must in the CoP para 1.3)
  • Enabling children, young people and their parents to participate in decision-making
  • Collaborating with partners in education, health and social care to provide support
  • Making high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people
  • Focusing on inclusive practices and removing barriers to learning
  • Helping children and young people to prepare for adult life from the earliest possible age.
  • SEN support should be evidence based, informed by effective practice and personalised to the students.

In all schools and settings teachers are:

  • Responsible and accountable for the progress and development of all pupils in their class, including where support staff are involved
  • Appropriately qualified and experienced
  • Supported to gain skills and knowledge in areas that will improve their teaching and their support of child or young person with SEND
  • Able to access support and guidance from the SENCo in school
  • Supported to access advice and training where needed
  • Responsible for differentiating the curriculum to accommodate the needs of all pupils and students in the class
  • Equipped with the skills to implement the assess, plan, do and review cycle effectively.

All staff:

  • Are aware of the needs of the pupil or student as necessary
  • Have access and are familiar with planning documents, pupil passports, pupil profiles, learning plans
  • Are clear about what is expected of them in relation to named pupils/students and groups of pupils/students
  • Plan to implement a child or young person’s individual targets into their teaching where the child or young person is in their teaching group.

Responsibilities of the governing body/board, trust or proprietor

All governing boards (GBs, trusts and proprietors) have legal duties under the Equality Act 2010, Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015 in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Under the SEND Regulations 2014, the GBs of maintained schools, maintained nursery schools and academies must publish information about their SEN provision, including:

  • Information about the arrangements for the admission of pupils with disabilities, the steps taken to prevent them being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to assist access, and their accessibility plans. A summary of the plan should be readily accessible on the school website.
  • Arrangements for learners looked after by the local authority and have SEN. This is regardless of whether the school or setting currently has looked after learners on roll.

There should be an individual on the board or a committee with specific oversight for the school's arrangements for SEND. In practice, the board can delegate these functions to a committee, an individual governor or the headteacher who may in turn delegate to a senior member of staff. The responsibility to ensure that the functions are carried out remains with the governing board itself. (Governance handbook 2017)

Governing boards must:

  • Co-operate with the local authority in reviewing the provision that is available locally and developing the Ealing local offer
  • Use their best endeavours and provide reasonable adjustments to make sure that a child with SEND gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEND. Through reviewing support plans, they should consider what reasonable adjustments have been made to ensure fair and equal access to the curriculum. This may include transport, staffing, timetable changes, adjustments to the physical environment, while also acknowledging that what matters most – and has the biggest impact – is quality first teaching.
  • Work in partnership with the headteacher and school leaders to ensure the curriculum offered meets the needs of all learners and that there is a teaching and learning policy that is understood by all staff. It should reflect equalities legislation and accessibility requirements, including the treatment of disabled learners.
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEND engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEND
  • Ensure information is provided to parents when special educational provision for a child is made and that the provision made, is accurately recorded and kept up to date.
  • Ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions
  • Have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEND
  • Determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEND
  • Ensure that a member of staff is designated as the SENCO. The SENCO must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENCO who has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months must achieve the National Award in SEN Co-ordination within three years of appointment.
  • Ensure that the SENCos key responsibilities are outlined and monitor how effectively they are carried out. (Paragraph 6.84 on page 108 of the SEND Code of Practice).
  • Ensure that the school’s budgetary priorities reflect the needs of children with SEND, and they should assist staff in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of SEND resourcing decisions within the school. Most children and young people with SEND will not require an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Key Questions

  • How does the SEND governor in your school hold leaders to account to have a positive impact on learners at SEN support?
  • Has the SEND governor attended appropriate training to do this?
  • How do school leaders, including governors, ensure that the school has created a culture and ethos which actively welcomes learners with SEND?
  • How do school leaders, including governors, ensure that the school has successfully includes parents and carers to support high quality outcomes?

In early years settings

All early year’s providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors that a local authority funds, are required to have regard to the 0-25 SEND code of practice.

Early years providers must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities and to promote equality of opportunity for children in their care. These arrangements should include a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEN.

All early year’s providers have duties under the Equality Act 2010. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at substantial disadvantage.

All early year’s providers should also take steps to ensure that children with medical conditions get the support required to meet those needs. Early years providers and educational settings should have arrangements in place that include a clear approach to assessing SEN.

SEN support should include planning and preparing for transition, before a child moves into another setting or school.

The headteacher and school leaders

It is the role of the headteacher / principal to:

  • Advise the governors on policies to meet their SEND and disability responsibilities.
  • Work to agree the SEND strategy and to implement the agreed vision and strategy.
  • Oversee all aspects of operational leadership and management.
  • Ensure that the SENCo has enough time and resources to carry out their duties. The Code of Practice 2015 recommends that SENCo’s are most effective when they are a member of the senior leadership team.

In early years settings

Those in group provision are expected to identify a SENCo. Childminders are encouraged to identify a person to act as SENCo and childminders who are registered with a childminder agency or who are part of a network may wish to share that role between them.

The role of the SENCo:

In maintained schools, nursery schools and academies

The SENCo should:

  • Be a qualified teacher and meet the requirements for SENCo qualification where necessary (Code of Practice 2015 (6.87)
  • Play an important role in the strategic development of SEN policy and provision in the school advising the leadership team of what is necessary regarding staff and resources.
  • Have day-to-day responsibility for the operation of SEND policy and coordination of specific provision made to support individual pupils with SEND, including those who have EHC plans
  • Be allocated enough time and resources to carry out these functions
  • Have access to appropriate levels of administrative support and time away from teaching to enable the fulfilment of responsibilities
  • Support staff with guidance and direct assistance in the identification and assessment of learners considered for SEND Support.
  • Provide advice and guidance on suitable interventions and strategies
  • In colleges of further education and sixth form colleges

In line with the SEND Code of Practice most colleges:

  • Identify a named person with oversight of SEND provision to ensure co-ordination of support. In many cases this is like the role of the SEN Coordinator (SENCo) in schools
  • Are involved in transition planning between schools and college. All students should be given the opportunity, before or on entry, to declare if they have a learning need, disability or medical condition which will affect their learning. SEN Code of Practice para 7:22 (p10).

Key questions

  • From their different starting points, and considering their individual academic and non-academic needs, how well do learners with SEND achieve at your school?
  • How do you use internal and national data sets to evidence this?
  • To what extent does the leadership team, including the headteacher and SENCO, work collaboratively to further develop your whole school strategy for SEND?
  • To what extent do you and your leadership team, including the headteacher and SENCO, help ensure that all teachers are aware of their responsibilities to learners with additional needs?

Adults in the classroom

‘Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.’ (0-25 SEND Code of Practice, sections 6.36, 6.52, 6.54)

There is ‘most impact on teaching and learning when teaching assistants clearly understood their role and knew exactly what they needed to do in order to help pupils make progress. Key to this is effective communication between teachers and TAs’. (Ofsted 2008). Recent intervention studies, including two randomised controlled trials conducted in England in 2013, provide a strong indication that TAs can improve learning if they are trained and deployed carefully.

Adults support learning in the classroom by:

  • Reducing children’s anxieties, helping them to feel safe and secure in their classroom/school
  • Being familiar with how the learner gains knowledge and by understanding the learners individualised targets
  • Engaging and motivating learners to learn
  • Assisting with pre-teaching, including on subject vocabulary, new concepts, early experience of practical activities
  • Facilitating engagement and learning of learner in whole or small group learning activities
  • Teaching daily programme of skills / concepts in fixed timetable periods, and monitored by teacher
  • Classroom presence to refocus, encourage, explain, facilitate responses
  • Supporting targeted subject areas, being prepared for what is to be taught and understanding the learning needs of the pupil/student
  • Making sure transactional supports are consistently available e.g. Schedules, and within task check lists) this will help to increase independence and avoid over- reliance on adult support
  • Monitoring the impact of any support provided.

Staff should be trained in the needs of the pupil / student and understand how to:

  • Communicate instructions
  • Communicate new knowledge and concepts
  • Provide opportunities for skills reinforcement and practice
  • Recognise when a child is using behaviour to communicate
  • Deliver specific programmes / interventions.

Key questions

  • To what extent are teaching assistants deployed strategically at the school?
  • How have you ensured that the deployment of TAs and support staff is reviewed regularly and evaluated for impact?

Parents and carers

The Lamb Inquiry (2009) concluded that there was a lack of aspiration and focus on securing good outcomes in the school system for children with special educational needs and disabilities. It found that parents, children and young people’s views were not properly listened to and acted on and highlighted the need for schools to communicate openly, honestly and frequently with families.

To address these issues, the Children and Families Act 2014 sought to put parental and learners’ involvement at the heart of achieving better outcomes. This is then linked to ensuring better outcomes in the Department for Education’s 2015 Code of Practice which recognises that effective engagement with parents and carers has a clear impact on children reaching their potential.

Embedding parental involvement is based on extensive but often ignored evidence that greater parental involvement has a dramatic impact on progression, attainment and wider outcomes as well as improved attendance and behaviour. This is especially relevant for children and young people with SEND who are already vulnerable learners.

The SENCO and key pastoral staff often act as a communications bridge between their school, colleagues and parents and carers. In the context of the Teachers’ Standards and the Code of Practice, the Three-Wave Model is increasingly accepted and used as the basis for high-quality, universally differentiated provision in schools. This approach broadly entails:

  • Wave 1: Inclusive quality first teaching for all
  • Wave 2: Additional interventions
  • Wave 3: Additional highly personalised interventions.

For it to work accurate and updated information from parents is an absolute pre-requisite. This is most effective in the context of a mutually trusting relationship between school and home.

To create the best partnerships there needs to be:

  • A commitment to joint working and building the relationship between school staff and parents
  • opportunities for parents to communicate with the key staff on a regular basis- open channels of communication, whether that is face-to-face, phone or email

There is strong evidence from schools that the structured conversation approach is having a significant impact on improving the engagement of parents with the education of their children and young people. Through structured conversations, many schools have been able to develop effective partnerships with parents, getting them more involved in their children’s learning, developing effective learning targets and developing more individualized approaches to learning.

Key questions

  • Do your school systems promote parent and carer contributions to maximise outcomes for learners with SEND?
  • How have you and other school leaders created a culture and ethos that welcomes and engages parents and carers of learners with SEND?

Planning for adult life

The Children and Families Act introduced a model of transition to adult life and employment and affirmed the principle that high aspirations are crucial to success. An increased focus on outcomes for life, ultimately leading to employment and independence will raise aspirations for children and young people. At the heart of this is planning for smooth transitions across all phases of a child’s education.

It is essential that all adults working with children and young people contribute to the fostering of good transition planning. Parents and carers should play an important part in the support of children and young people through the transitions and into adulthood.

Everyone working with children and young people who have SEN or disabilities should support them to prepare for adult life and help them go on to achieve the best outcomes in employment, independent living, health and community participation. To support schools the DFE developed outcomes to be used when planning for adult life:

Preparing for adulthood from the early years

Early years settings should support children and young people so that they are included in social groups and develop friendships. This is particularly important when children and young people are transferring from one phase of education to another (for example, from nursery to primary school). Maintained nurseries and schools must ensure that, subject to certain conditions, pupils with SEN engage in the activities of the nursery or school together with those who do not have SEN and are encouraged to participate fully in the life of the nursery or school and in any wider community activity.

Preparing young people needing SEN Support for adulthood, further study and employment

Secondary settings should support children and young people by building discussions around aspirations and further study, this is often through the careers programme within schools. SENCO’s can support students with SEN by:

  • Reviews in Year 9 which help young people to develop knowledge of their own capabilities and strengths, not just in terms of GCSE attainment
  • Access to information about different pathways in KS4 and KS5 providing additional advice and guidance in preparation
  • Support for attending college interviews – and to ensure college choices are appropriate e.g. travel from home
  • FE colleges should be involved in transition planning between schools and college.

16-19 study programmes

It is a principle of 16-19 education that each pupil has a programme of learning that allows them to attain the skills and qualifications that will help them achieve their aspirations. A 16-19 programme should be personalised. For students with SEND it is particularly important that their 16-19 study programme includes appropriate support to achieve their goals, and that where a young person transfers to a new post-16 provider, the provider has enough information to ensure this is managed.

Within schools, pupils on post-16 programmes with SEN support needs should continue to have their additional needs met, including where these involve learning aids. New and additional arrangements to support independent learning and study may be required. Heads of sixth form may need to work with SENCo to ensure they can meet these needs.

Local colleges have a range of programmes to help young people to access jobs. Study Programmes can include traineeships, apprenticeship opportunities and work experience as a core aim. Study Programmes can focus on work placements rather than qualifications to prepare young people for a job role or work within a sector. Colleges will usually offer work pathways for ages 16-19 and programmes ensure that students can develop appropriate skills and work behaviours in college. Additional needs can be supported in these programmes.

Funding of provision for SEN support

Early years SEN inclusion funding support

Local authorities must ensure that all providers delivering funded early education places meet the needs of children with SEND and disabled children.

To do this, local authorities should make sure funding arrangements for early education reflect the need to provide suitable support for these children.

Early years providers should consider how best to use their resources to support the progress of children with SEND.

Early Years Pupil Premium can be used to support children in early years provision with SEND.

SEND funding for primary and high schools

Schools have an amount identified within their overall budget, called the notional SEND budget. This is not a ring-fenced amount, and it is for the school to provide high quality appropriate support from the whole of its budget.

It is for schools, as part of their normal budget planning, to determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEND. The SENCO, headteacher and governing body or proprietor should establish a clear picture of the resources that are available to the school.

They should consider their strategic approach to meeting SEND in the context of the total resources available, including any resources targeted at groups, such as the pupil premium.

This will enable schools to provide a clear description of the types of special educational provision they normally provide and will help parents and others to understand what they can normally expect the school to provide for pupils with SEND.

Schools are not expected to meet the full costs of more expensive special educational provision from their core funding. They are expected to provide additional support, which costs up to a nationally prescribed threshold per pupil per year, normally £6000.

High needs block funding is high-need, low-incidence SEND that comes directly from the commissioning local authority into schools (this is often the LA where the child or young person lives or is legally responsible for the care of the child or young person). It is aimed mainly at pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

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Last updated: 30 Aug 2023

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