Special educational needs (SEN) help in primary and secondary schools


The system is changing with the implementation of the SEND reforms. To see how children, young people and families with SEND will be supported visit our SEND Reforms pages.

Schools have a number of stages of support for children with special educational needs. The first two stages are School Action and School Action Plus. The stage that your child is at will depend on their individual learning needs. Each level of help is governed by a national code of practice.

School Action

If the school feels that your child is not making enough progress in class, school staff will provide additional support, known as School Action. This can take a variety of forms depending on your child's needs, and normally includes drawing up an individual education plan with you. This educational plan is regularly reviewed and amended to meet the changing needs of your child.

If your child has not been identified and you feel that they need special educational support then you should speak to their class teacher.

School Action Plus

If your child is still having difficulties then the school will move to the School Action Plus stage. The special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at the school can ask for help from outside specialists, such as an educational psychologist or a speech therapist, to make sure your child receives the effective and long term support that they need.

Your child's individual education plan is also reviewed and amended, based on the advice of the support services involved.

Statutory assessment

If your child has more complex needs that cannot be met by School Action Plus, the school may consider asking for a statutory assessment. Parents can also ask for an assessment to be made.

More information

Find out who to contact for more information on our page SEN – where to get help.