Identifying and supporting SEND

Concerns about your child's progress

All children learn differently, some faster than others.  

You may notice an issue when your child is young. Your child's nursery or school may notice it when they get older. 

Two-year-old progress checks 

When your child is aged two, early years childcare providers, like nurseries, will review their progress. 

They will provide you with a short, written summary of your child's development. It will cover:

  • personal, social and emotional development 
  • physical development 
  • speech and language 

The two-year-old check is to identify development needs. It will help your child to get support if needed. 

Providers need your consent to share information with other professionals. 

Sometimes your child's learning and development may not progress as expected, even with teaching methods adapted to your child's education. In that case, your child might have special educational needs.  

What does SEND mean?

Children may need extra support with their learning at specific points in their life. It does not mean they have a Special Education Need or Disability (SEND).

How to identify SEND

Your child or young person could have SEND if they: 

  • have more difficulty learning than most others of the same age 
  • have a disability that prevents or hinders them from joining mainstream schools or colleges

If your child or young person falls within this definition, they may need special provision.

They may need extra help or support, which allows them to have the same opportunities as others of the same age.  

For some children, extra support may be for a short time only. For others, it is needed for their whole life. 

SEND support for early years providers

Our early years teams offer inclusion support for education providers and childminders.

We will help to identify the needs and disabilities of children aged 0 to 5.

How we can help

Our early years specialist teachers can provide support to help:

  • improve results
  • build links between education, health and social care
  • ensure appropriate provision for children with SEND and their transition into school

What support is available?

We need signed parental consent to involve an early years specialist teacher. They can provide:

  • advice about identification, assessment and intervention within the SEND Code of Practice 
  • regular support for setting-based SENDCos
  • arrangements to support children 
  • guidance on what works well
  • training for individual settings and on a broader basis 
  • links with SENDCo networks and support smooth transitions between providers  

Parents and carers can discuss this level of support with their early years provider. 

Starting school or college

Your child's teacher will use different teaching styles and lesson materials to help them. 

They will check the development of all pupils regularly. These checks can identify pupils where: 

  • their learning is slower than other classmates 
  • they fail to match or better their previous rate of development 
  • they fail to close the gap in attainment with their classmates 
  • the gap between them and their classmates widens 

Your child's school or preschool will call or write to you to discuss extra support if they feel it is needed.

SEN support can include: 

Under 5 years

  • a written development check when your child is two years old 
  • a health visitor carrying out a check for your child aged 2 to 3 
  • a written assessment in the summer term of your child's first year of primary school 
  • making reasonable adjustments for disabled children, like providing aids like tactile signs 

Nurseries, playgroups and childminders registered with Ofsted follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. It makes sure that there is support in place for children with SEND. 

If you think your child has SEND, talk to a doctor or health adviser. They will not go into a nursery, playgroup or childminder, but will give you other support options. 

Between 5 and 15 years

Talk to the teacher or the SENDCo if you think your child needs: 

  • a special learning programme 
  • extra help from a teacher or assistant, including help from a specialist teacher
  • to work in a smaller group 
  • help to take part in-class activities 
  • extra encouragement in their learning 
  • help to communicate with other children 
  • referral to other organisations for support 
  • support with physical or personal care difficulties. For example, eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet 

Young people aged 16 or over in further education 

Contact the college before your child starts to make sure they can meet your child's needs. 

The college and your local authority will talk to your child about the support they need. 

SEND support at school or college

A special educational needs and disabilities coordinator (SENDCo) is a teacher who is responsible for special educational needs in school. 

Every school in the UK must employ a SENDCo. They ensure all students with learning disabilities get the right help and support they need at school. They will advise you of how a school can meet your child or young person's needs.

Colleges have a named person to oversee SEND provision to ensure coordination of students' needs.

What a SENDCo does:

  • oversees the day-to-day operation of the setting's SEND policy 
  • coordinates provision for children with SEND 
  • liaises with the relevant designated teacher where a 'looked after' pupil has SEND 
  • advises on the graduated approach to providing SEND support 
  • advises on the resources to meet pupils' needs
  • liaises with parents of pupils with SEND 
  • liaises with early years providers, other schools, educational psychologists, health and social care professionals, and independent or voluntary bodies 
  • acts as a contact with external organisations, especially the local authority and its support services 
  • liaises with potential future providers of education to inform pupils and their parents about their options
  • ensures that the educational setting keeps the records of all pupils with SEND up to date 

All schools receive money to provide support for pupils who have SEND.

You can ask for a written copy of the support plan for your child. It will help you to understand when they receive extra support and what it looks like.  

Parents involvement  

There should be at least three meetings a year where you can discuss your child's SEND and the support they are receiving. 

These meetings are part of what is called the Graduated Approach. It is used to meet your child's needs and ensure the proper support and provision is in place for them.

After these meetings, there should be a written record with actions and support agreed. It is shared with the appropriate school staff and parents.  

SEND information report 

Every school must have a SEND information report either on the school's website or available as a hard copy. It will explain how the school manages SEND and:

  • how it implements the graduated approach 
  • where to raise concerns 
  • the support the school can provide 
  • which support organisations the school can ask for help 

The Graduated Approach

Your child's teacher or the school's SENDCo will discuss all options with you and put a plan in place. It will follow a four-stage cycle, known as the Graduated Approach. 

1. Assess 

To assess a child's needs, your early years practitioner or teacher will work with: 

  • parents or carers
  • the educational setting's SENDCo 

They will assess a child to make sure the proper support is in place. 

If a child makes little or no development, the SENDCo will review how they can change and develop their support. They may suggest a specialist assessment from other professionals. They must involve you as parents in this decision.

2. Plan 

The parents and SENDCo will agree: 

  • the results they are expecting 
  • interventions and support to put in place 
  • how they expect the interventions to help development
  • a review date 

Interventions should be strategies that:

  • provide support from practitioners with the relevant skills 
  • include learning activities to help achieve the expected results

The SENDCo will document all interventions. 

3. Do 

The person who supports the child each day must put the agreed interventions in place. The educational setting's SENDCo should: 

  • support them in assessing the child's response
  • provide advice on how to put the interventions in place

4. Review 

The educational setting works with parents and carers to: 

  • review a child's development in line with the agreed date 
  • check the effect and quality of support 
  • decide on changes to the expected results, depending on your child's development

If outside professionals are involved, the SENDCo will invite them to attend regular reviews.

What happens if there are still issues?

Most children and young people have their needs met in a mainstream educational setting using the Graduated Approach.

Your SENDCo will discuss your child's needs with you and all other supporting professionals.

You may feel that your child or young person is not making enough development with their SEND support.

If so, the school or educational setting, or you, may consider a request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment.

If you live in Lincolnshire, you can ask us for an EHC assessment if you are:

  • the child’s parent
  • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25
  • acting on behalf of a school or college (with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible)

You do not need a medical diagnosis to apply.

A multi-agency panel will consider the request at an 'allocation meeting'. It will decide if an assessment is necessary and let you know within six weeks.

Request an assessment 

What happens next?

If the panel agrees to issue an Education, Care and Health (EHC) plan, it will give you a draft.

It will then take four weeks to confirm the details and the educational setting that the child or young person will attend. 

During this time, the panel will ask you to suggest changes to the draft and state your preferred educational setting. You will have 15 days to respond. 

The EHC plan is finalised within 20 weeks of the initial request. 

Once in place, your SEND caseworker will ask the educational setting to arrange a meeting. They will introduce the EHC plan and discuss the short-term targets, support and monitoring.

Choosing a school

In your EHC plan, you have a right to request that we name:

  • a maintained school or nursery (mainstream or special)
  • an academy (mainstream or special)
  • an institution in the further education sector
  • a non-maintained special school
  • a Section 41 school 

To find a list of schools, use the Government's school finder.

We must accept a preference unless, following consultation with the setting, we decide that:

  • it is unsuitable for the child's age, ability, aptitude or SEND
  • placing the child there is not compatible with the efficient use of resources or education of others


We do not automatically provide home-to-school transport with an EHC plan unless we have identified an exceptional need. 

If we do not provide it, read our school and college transport policy.

Annual review

We will review your EHC plan at least once a year. It is known as an annual review. 

After the review, we may make changes to the plan, end it or leave it unchanged. Sometimes, it may be necessary to hold an early review.

You can ask for an early annual review if you believe:

  • your child's education, health or social care needs have changed and are no longer accurately described in the EHC plan, or 
  • the provision in the EHC plan no longer meets your child's needs. 

 An annual review gives you the opportunity to:

  • change things that are not working as expected
  • update aspirations   
  • review whether the desired results are still relevant  
  • include new concerns or needs
  • review a personal budget, if there is one. If there isn't, you can request one

The duty is on us to review the plan, but the educational setting usually organises the meeting. 

If your child is in year 9 or above, the annual review should look at preparing for adulthood and the transition pathway.

An EHC plan can stop at any agreed time. It is usually when your child or young person:

  • has their needs met, or
  • leaves an education or a training setting

Personal Budgets and direct payments

A Personal Budget is an amount of money that we identify to help deliver the provision within an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. It is for the parent or young person to help secure this provision.

Instead of us providing services, we identify a budget to help meet assessed needs. It allows control and choice over the support and care needs of a child or young person.

Making a request

A Personal Budget is optional. Parents or a young person can request one, but only when:

  • we have confirmed that we are preparing a draft EHC plan, or
  • we are reviewing or re-assessing the EHC plan

When considering your request, we will ensure that your Personal Budget:

  • does not include money paid as part of a larger budget that we cannot separate
  • would not harm services already provided for all children and young people with EHC plans
  • would not be an efficient use of resources

What happens next?

We will consider all requests for a Personal Budget on their merits. We will work with families and young people to access provision through this route where possible. 

In some circumstances, we may not agree to your request. For example:

  • if it is for provision delivered as part of an NHS contract to provide all speech and language therapy or occupational therapy
  • if the cost of provision is part of a larger budget paid to the educational setting

If we do not agree to your request, we will write to you. Your letter will include details of how to ask for a review of our decision.

The SEND Tribunal does not hear appeals about Personal Budgets. It will hear appeals about the special educational provision to which a Personal Budget may apply. 

If you disagree with the special educational provision to be secured through a personal budget, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) if you wish.


You can receive a Personal Budget payment via any combination of:

  • direct payment – you receive money to contract, purchase and manage the relevant services yourself. Either your local authority or health service will monitor spend and accountability.
  • an arrangement – your local authority, school or college holds funds and commissions the relevant support. Either your local authority or health service will arrange services on the family's behalf.
  • third-party arrangements – a third-party organisation, trust or nominated person holds the money. They support parents and young people to purchase the relevant services.

Using a Personal Budget

You cannot use a Personal Budget to fund a school placement, neither partly nor wholly. 

Where any provision proposed to be replaced by a direct payment takes place in an educational setting, we need the consent of the headteacher or equivalent. If they do not consent, we cannot make a direct payment.

If a Personal Budget is agreed upon, we can refuse to make direct payments to anyone who:

  • appears unable to manage the payments, even with assistance
  • we believe would not use the payments in an appropriate way
  • lacks capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • is subject to a rehabilitation order or being treated for drug or alcohol abuse

If direct payments are agreed upon, we will send a letter to you or the person you have nominated. It will state:

  • the name of the child it relates to
  • the goods or services to purchase
  • the proposed amount of money
  • any conditions on how the money can be spent
  • the dates for payments into the bank account we approve

You or your nominee must write back to us to say that you agree to:

  • receive the direct payments
  • use the money only for the agreed provision
  • comply with any specified conditions
  • notify us of any change in circumstances
  • use the bank account we approve
  • ensure that only you, or your approved nominees, can access the bank account
  • record money paid in and out of the account

You can nominate someone else to receive direct payments on your behalf. If so, you must tell us in writing so that they can use them to make the agreed provision. 

Your nominee should also write to us to confirm that they are responsible. You must let us know if you intend to use direct payments to buy services from close relatives. We must confirm with you that this is an effective way to meet needs.

Advice and assistance

You can contact a SEND caseworker for more information or discuss your options for Personal Budgets. You can find their contact details on letters about the EHC plan. 

You can also contact SEND business support:

The Penderels Trust supports adults and children who receive a direct payment in Lincolnshire:

Liaise is Lincolnshire's SEND Information, Advice and Support Service:

If you would like to explore the option of direct payment for services through social care, contact your social worker.

Moving into the area

You may need to transfer from one local authority to another in England.

What the family must do

  • your current local authority must transfer the EHC plan to the new authority
  • when moving area, it's essential to let your existing local authority know that you are moving
  • you must also contact your current SEND team to give them your new address and the date that you will be moving 
  • the EHCP transfer must take place on the day you move unless you have not given 15 days' notice. If you have not given notice, the 15 days starts from the day you inform them of the move

What the current authority must do

  • transfer the EHC plan and the opinion they reached
  • if your child doesn't have a plan but is awaiting a statutory assessment, they must also share all the information and advice received

What the new authority must do

The new authority becomes responsible for maintaining the EHC plan and the special educational provisions specified. 

Your child or young person should continue to attend the educational setting specified in the EHC plan or, if appropriate, the same type.

The new authority will inform the parent or young person of when they will review the plan. 

After the review, it is transferred into the EHC plan format used by that local authority. This will happen:

  • within 12 months of it being made, or
  • within three months of it being transferred

If you move after requesting or starting an EHC needs assessment, your new local authority will:

  • carry out an EHC needs assessment themselves, or
  • use the information provided by the previous authority

As the new authority, we will consider the former authority's EHC needs assessment information. We will use their information as part of our decision-making.

If you have a personal budget, we ensure adequate and timely arrangements for the continuity of your child's provision.

Moving to or from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

The requirements for special educational needs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all differ from arrangements in England.

Lincolnshire will apply the same principles to ensure your child's special educational needs are met. We will look to transition to an EHC plan at the next planned review if your child is moving with:

  • a Statement of SEND from Wales or Northern Ireland
  • a Co-ordinated Support Plan from Scotland

Children of service personnel in the armed forces

Service personnel families may move more than the rest of the population, sometimes at short notice. 

If these transitions are well-managed, it avoids service children with SEND experiencing delays in assessing and meeting their needs.

For advice, you can:

Dispute resolution and mediation

We are always keen to try and resolve any issues informally. 

If you are not happy about an EHC needs assessment or an EHC plan, contact your child's SEND Caseworker to discuss. We will work with you to try and come to an agreement.

If you would like impartial advice about SEND, you can contact Liaise.  

If we are unable to resolve an issue, you can access formal mediation. It is a positive way of trying to settle the dispute. 

It involves a meeting between you, us and an independent mediator who will help everyone reach an agreement on the points of dispute. It is free of charge and provided by Global Mediation:

If we are still unable to resolve the issue, you can appeal the SEND tribunal.

Appeals to the SEND Tribunal

We hope that we can resolve most issues by working with you. However, if you disagree with a decision we make, you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

A parent or young person can appeal:

  • a decision not to complete an EHC needs assessment
  • a decision not to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
  • the content of an EHC plan:
    • special educational needs (Section B)
    • special educational provision (Section F)
    • the placement (Section I)
  • a decision not to re-assess the EHC plan
  • a decision not to amend the plan following a review
  • a decision to end the EHC plan

You cannot register an appeal without a certificate to show that you have considered mediation. The exception to this is when your appeal is only around the setting named in the EHC plan.

Global Mediation provides the mediation advice service:

Whichever date is later, you must register your appeal within:

  • two months of the decision letter that you are appealing
  • one month of the mediation certificate issued to you 

Single route of redress 

The extended powers given to the SEND tribunal to hear appeals and make non-binding recommendations about health and social care aspects of EHC plans, providing the appeals include educational elements, will continue. 

The national trial ended as planned on 31 August 2021. The extended powers given to the SEND tribunal are continuing.

It allows parents and young people to raise all their concerns about an EHC plan in one place.

The Tribunal will only consider the health and social care aspects of the EHC plan where there is already an appeal about its educational aspects. The educational aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.

What does this mean?

As a parent or young person, you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you are unhappy with:

  • a decision not to issue an EHC plan
  • the special educational content or placement in an EHC plan 

The extended powers allow you to request recommendations about the plan's health and social care content at the same time. It means that the tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of needs.

You may still follow standard complaint routes if there are other aspects of your disagreement you would like to address.

If you would like impartial advice about SEND, you can contact Liaise.  

The local authority and health commissioner are expected to follow the SEND Tribunal's health or social care recommendations. However, they are not legally binding. 

If the recommendations are not followed, they will write to you and the Department for Education to explain why.

If they are not followed, you can complain to:

You may also seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. 

How to request recommendations about an EHC plan?

You can request that the SEND Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and social care aspects of an EHC plan. It must be part of an appeal by a parent or young person relating to:

  • a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child or young person who has an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
  • the description of the child or young person's special educational needs in an EHC plan
  • the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
  • the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan

To find out how to appeal an EHC plan decision on any of these grounds, visit the website.

For advice about appealing and the appeals form, read about the First-tier Tribunal.