Bracknell Forest is an inclusive local authority and most children and young people, including those with more complex special educational needs, will attend a local mainstream school.
We are keen that our children and young people with special educational needs and disability get the right support from as early as possible, so they achieve the best possible outcomes to be well-prepared for life as adults. We recognise that supporting our children and young people towards greater independence and employability can be life-transforming, and will ensure the best opportunities for:
- education and/or employment
- independent living
- participating in society - including having friends, participating in, and contributing to the local community
- being as healthy as possible.
In this section, you will be able to find information on how your child can access the right support, which is graduated to respond their specific level of needs. For most children and young people with special educational needs, their needs will be met through additional school support SEN Support (for Children and young people with Special Educational Needs) . For those with more complex needs, they may need an Education, Health and Care Plan.
Children with SEN may find it harder to learn than most children of the same age and some children will need extra or different help.
If you think your child may have special educational needs, contact the person in your child’s school or nursery responsible for special educational needs. This person is called the SEN Coordinator or SENCO. If your child isn’t in a school or pre-school provision contact your GP.
The Information, Advice & Support Service (formerly Parent Partnership) provides confidential and impartial advice and information to support parents/carers and children and young people who have, or may have Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) in Bracknell Forest.
Local authorities may be able to provide your child with free or partially subsidised transport to their school if they are eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does ‘special educational needs’ mean?
Children and young people with SEN all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others. The definition of special educational needs as set out in the SEND Code is as follows:
“A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. -- A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
- has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
- has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if he or she is likely to fall within the definition above when they reach compulsory school age.”
English as an Additional Language
If your child’s first language is not English, that does not mean they have a learning difficulty. The law says that children and young people do not have learning difficulties just because their first language is not English, although, of course, some of these children and young people may have learning difficulties as well.
Four Areas of SEN:
Children and young people with SEN may need extra help because of a range of needs. The 0-25 SEND Code of Practice set out four areas of SEN:
- Communicating and interacting – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it
difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others
- Cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy
- Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning, or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing
- Sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment
- Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.
Most children of school age who have SEN or disabilities will attend a mainstream school. All children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities should have their needs met. Nurseries, schools and colleges have a legal duty to support children and young people with special educational needs and disability and treat them fairly.
If your child has SEN, their school has a legal duty to use its ‘best endeavours’ – that means to do its very best to give your child the support they need. This includes:
• Identifying their potential areas of difficulty as early as possible and ensuring:
• Good lesson planning
• High quality teaching.
• Additional support where needed.
Early years providers, schools and colleges should know precisely where children and young people with SEN are in their learning and development. They should:
• ensure decisions are take into account the view of you and your child, and young
• have high ambitions and set stretching targets for them
• track their progress towards these goals
• keep under review the additional or different provision that is made for them
• promote positive outcomes in the wider areas of personal and social development, and
• ensure that the approaches used are based on the best possible evidence and are
having the required impact on progress.
Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability.
Under the Equality Act 2010 – that is ‘…a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to- day activities’.
‘Long-term’ is defined as ‘a year or more’ and ‘substantial’ is defined as ‘more than minor or trivial’.
This definition includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer.
If you think your child has SEN, you should talk to your child’s early education setting, school, college or other provider. They will discuss any concerns you have. You will be involved, and your views will be needed throughout the process, and you will be kept up to date with the progress made. Young people aged 16 to 25 will be fully involved in designing their own SEN support and provision. You may be contacted – for example in schools, this will be by your child’s teacher or SENCO – if your early years setting, school or college think your child needs support.
Class and subject teachers, supported by the head teacher, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. This should identify whether or not your child is making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.
What does less than expected progress mean?
This means that your child’s progress:
- is significantly slower than that of their peers
- your child is behind their peers in attainment.
Progress can be looked at in areas other than attainment – for instance where a pupil needs to make additional progress with wider development or social needs to make a successful transition to adult life.
Where it is decided that your child does have SEN:
- You, your child and teaching staff should be involved in deciding the best support for your child so that they can achieve outcomes.
- This SEN Support will be set out in a SEN Support Plan.
- You and your child must be formally informed that special educational provision is being made.
- The decision should be recorded in the school records.
- A clear date for reviewing progress should be agreed.
- Arrangements for appropriate support should be made through the school’s approach to SEN Support.
The SEND Code of Practice says that where a child or young person has SEN but does not have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, they must be educated in a mainstream setting, except in specific circumstances they may attend a special school / special post-16 institution:
- Where they are to be assessed for an EHC plan or:
- There has been a change in their circumstances and an emergency placement is made by the local authority. An EHC needs assessment or re- assessment should be started immediately.
- Where they are in hospital and admitted to a special school which is established in a hospital, or:
- where they are admitted to a special academy (including a special free school) whose academy arrangements allow it to admit children or young people with SEN.
The above must be with the agreement of:
- the child’s parent or the young person
- the head teacher/principal of the special school or special post-16 institution
- anyone providing advice for the assessment.
You can request mainstream or special school/setting. As a parent or carer, you have the right to request a particular school, college or other institution, and the local authority must comply with this unless:
- it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
- the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others (the children and young people with whom the child or young person with an EHC plan will directly come into contact on a regular day-to-day basis) or the efficient use of resources.
The SEND Code says that ‘Children and young people with SEN have different needs and can be educated effectively in a range of mainstream or special settings’.
Alongside a child/young person’s entitlement to attend a mainstream school, parents of children with an EHC plan and young people with such a plan have the right to seek a place at a special school, special post-16 institution or specialist college.
The value of special schools and settings in meeting children/young people’s SEND needs is set out in the SEND Code, as they have an important role in providing for children and young people with SEN and in working collaboratively with mainstream and special settings to develop and share expertise and approaches.
Schools (including nursery schools and academies) have a duty to publish on their school websites information about what they provide for children and young people with SEN.
In addition to a SEN Information Report, most schools in Bracknell Forest also publish their ‘SEND Local Offer’ on their school website. This sets out SEND information in a standardised format, enabling parents/carers to compare and contrast SEN provisions available in different schools.
All children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities should have their needs met. Every school is required to meet the SEN of the children or young people that they support. Mainstream schools have a legal duty to use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN. And this should be underpinned by high quality teaching.
Potential areas of difficulty should be identified and addressed at the outset.
Lessons should be planned to address potential areas of difficulty and to remove barriers to pupil achievement. In many cases, such planning will mean that pupils with SEN and disabilities will be able to study the full national curriculum.
Early years providers, schools and colleges should know precisely where children and young people with SEN are in their learning and development. They should:
- ensure decisions are take into account the view of you and your child, and young people.
- have high ambitions and set stretching targets for them
- track their progress towards these goals
- keep under review the additional or different provision that is made for them
- promote positive outcomes in the wider areas of personal and social development, and
- ensure that the approaches used are based on the best possible evidence and are having impact on progress.
Most children and young people are educated in mainstream schools and this includes those with Education, Health and Care Plans.
A small number of children will need additional support and depending on complexity of need, will be able to access this through more specialist provision. The types of school places are listed here:
- Mainstream school with a package of support, either through SEN Support or also with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
- Mainstream schools with resource provision
- Special School
- Section 41 schools.
Youth in Custody
If you are a parent of a child, or are a young person, who is detained there are principles set out in the SEND Code to ensure the child/young person is supported:
- Your views, wishes and feelings are important and must be listened to.
- The timely identification and assessment of special educational needs and provision of high quality support at the earliest opportunity, whether the young person, or your child has an EHC plan or not.
- Greater collaboration between education, health and social care with a focus on continuity of provision; both when you, if you are a young person, or your child enters custody and after release. Custodial sentences are often short, it is therefore important for decisions to be made as soon as possible to ensure appropriate provision is put in place without delay.
The rights of the detained young person or child are set out in the SEND Code:
These rights include:
- The right to keep an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan on hold
while being detained.
- Having special provision as set out in the EHC Plan continued during custody (including health) arranged by the home local authority - as far as is practical.
- The right to request an EHC plan while the child/young person is detained (or youth offending team and education provider could do this on your behalf with your permission) This can begin while your child -or you as a young person- are in custody to ensure there is appropriate support while being detained or when released.
- If your request is turned down, you have the right to appeal to the SEN
and Disability Tribunal.
- An EHC plan cannot be ceased when a child or young person enters custody. If a detained person has an EHC Plan before being detained (or one is completed while the detained person is in the relevant youth accommodation) Bracknell Forest Local Authority must arrange appropriate special educational provision for the detained person while he or she is detained.
- The provision on the EHC Plan must be continued. If it is not practical to arrange the provision specified in the EHC plan, special educational and health provision corresponding as closely as possible to that in the EHC plan must be arranged.
- If it appears that the special educational provision or health provision in the EHC plan are no longer appropriate, the local authority or the health commissioner must change this.
- The EHC Plan must be maintained and reviewed when the detained
person is released.
- Bracknell Forest Local Authority would also need to consider whether any social care needs identified in the EHC plan will remain while the detained person is in custody and provide appropriate provision if necessary
- Where a detained person does not have an EHC plan, the appropriate person or the person in charge of the relevant youth accommodation can request an assessment of the detained person’s post-detention EHC needs from the local authority. The appropriate person can appeal to the First- tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) if they disagree with the decisions of the local authority about certain matters.
- Anyone else, including the Youth Offending Team (YOT) and the education provider in custody, has a right to bring the detained person to the notice of Bracknell Forest Local Authority as someone who may have special educational needs and a decision will be made as to whether an assessment of their post-detention EHC needs is necessary.
Bracknell Forest Youth Offending Service: 01344 354300
IASS: Information, Advice and Support Service: 01344 354011
The Council for Disabled Children: 0207 843 1900
What do colleges do?
Colleges prepare their students for life beyond college. They help their students to develop the skills they will need in their careers and/or for higher education and as active citizens in their own communities. They also provide a valuable stepping-stone between school and adult life. This can be especially helpful for young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) who need a staged progression from the highly supportive environment of school into their lives ‘in the real world’ and beyond full-time education.
What types of college are there?
There are three main types of college: general further education (GFE) colleges, sixth form colleges and specialist further education colleges. Most young people with SEND go to a GFE college.
General further education colleges typically cater for a wide range of students, both young people and adults, on courses from Entry level through to degree level in some cases. Some have multiple sites and large campuses but these are often organised into smaller zones, so that individual students do not have to spend time moving between buildings. They run courses in a wide range of vocational areas, like construction, catering, hair and beauty or health and social care. They have specialised facilities and many of their teachers also have industry experience. Some also offer A levels. Almost all general FE colleges have a department specifically focused on providing programmes for students with SEND. Some work mainly with students with moderate or severe learning difficulties but increasingly general FE colleges are also offering provision for students with profound and multiple learning difficulties and more complex needs. Staff working in these departments will be skilled in teaching and supporting these students. Teams may include therapists as well as teachers and learning support assistants. All general further education colleges have a learning support department which is responsible for ensuring appropriate support is in place for students with SEND on courses across the college.
Sixth form colleges provide for 16 – 19 year olds, with the possibility of extending beyond 19 for young people with an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan, who need a little extra time to complete their course. They offer a wide range of A levels with many also running vocational courses like the new T levels. They tend to focus on providing qualifications at level 3 (that is A level-standard) and level 2 (GCSE-standard) but some run courses at lower levels, too. Like general FE colleges, they will have a learning support department to support students with SEND throughout the college.
Specialist further education colleges specialise in meeting the needs of young people aged 16 – 25 with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and cater only for these students. Some colleges specialise in supporting students with a particular type of need, e.g. autism or visual impairment. Specialist college students generally have more complex needs or a lower incidence SEN and almost always have an EHC Plan. The highly skilled staff work together in multi-disciplinary teams including education, health (nurses and therapists) and care professionals, to plan and deliver students’ programmes and monitor their progress. Specialist colleges tend to have a smaller number of students. Many, though not all, will be located on smaller campuses. Some specialist colleges offer residential places or supported living options on site, with placements of between 36 and 52 weeks per year; almost all offer day places. They usually have a smaller range of courses on offer than a general FE or sixth form college, reflecting the needs of the particular student groups they serve, although they have the flexibility to offer a high degree of personalisation. Some specialist colleges have a partnership arrangement with a local GFE college, enabling students to access a particular course at the partner college (e.g. a BTEC or an A level) while undertaking the rest of their programme in the specialist setting.
What types of courses do colleges offer?
All courses for 16-19 year olds and 19-25 year olds with an EHC Plan are known as ‘study programmes’. They will usually include at least one qualification, some work experience and some enrichment activities like sports, clubs and societies and trips. All study programmes for 16-19 or 19-25-year olds include aspects of English and maths if the young person has not yet got a GCSE in the subject at grade 4 or above. If they are capable of achieving an English or maths GCSE, then they will be supported to do that, but other types of qualifications are also available. Some students with SEND will not take an English or maths qualification at all, but will work towards personalised English and maths targets instead.
Many young people with SEND, both those with and without an EHC Plan, starting out in further education will join their peers on a vocational or academic course and achieve qualifications such as A levels, the new T levels, BTECs or other vocational certificates. Alternatively, they might do an apprenticeship, in which case, the college will provide the necessary training for the young person. Colleges will put in additional support to ensure that students with SEND are able to access and make progress on all of these courses. They will also ensure that reasonable adjustments are in place to enable students to have fair access to assessments and achieve their qualifications.
Some young people with SEND may need a more targeted course especially designed for people with a learning difficulty or disability. These courses are usually simply called ‘Study Programmes’ but sometimes they might be referred to as ‘Foundation Learning’, ‘Inclusive Learning’, ‘Supported Learning’ or ‘Personalised’ Programmes. They may or may not include qualifications.
What do courses targeted at young people with SEND look like?
Courses – or study programmes - specifically designed for young people with SEND may focus primarily on preparation for employment or on building skills to increase independence or on a combination of these. Most colleges use the four preparing for adulthood outcomes (employment, independent living, community inclusion and health) to help them plan a broad and balanced curriculum for each individual. Where a young person has an EHC plan, their programme will be tailored to ensure it addresses the outcomes in their plan.
Study programmes that focus on preparation for employment may offer a taste of different vocational areas with students able to access the different specialist facilities in the college, or focus on a specific area, such as hospitality and catering. They will include an element of work experience or work placement, usually with an external employer, and there will be a strong focus on developing skills and behaviours for work. Many colleges now offer supported internships where the young person spends most of their time in the workplace with the support of a job coach, as they learn the skills they need for one or more particular job roles. Some of these preparation for employment courses may lead to qualifications at Entry level or level 1, for example in employability skills or retail.
Study programmes designed to build independence are often highly personalised to match the specific needs of the individual, with every student having a slightly different programme. There will almost always be a strong focus on communication skills, including expressing preferences and making choices and decisions, to enable the young people to become more active agents in their own lives. Programmes might also include skills such as independent travel, looking after your own home, healthy eating and exercise, making friends and managing relationships, shopping, handling money, personal and online safety, directing your own support, or using community facilities. While students will have a classroom base, they will usually spend a considerable proportion of their learning time out in the community or in other settings on the college site, such as the college shop, café or other social enterprise. They will typically be engaged in group activities with a strong emphasis on learning through doing. Some of these programmes may lead to qualifications at Entry level, for example in skills for independent living.
How long is a college course?
Most further education courses last for one or two years. Young people can move on from one course to another while they are at college, so long as they are continuing to make progress. All young people aged between 16 and 19 are entitled to two years of publicly funded education or training. Those with an EHC Plan may need longer to complete their course. They can continue to be publicly funded until they have achieved the education and training outcomes in their EHC Plan, provided they are under the age of 25, the outcomes remain relevant, and they are still making progress towards them. Typically, young people with an EHC Plan spend no more than three years in an FE college before moving onto their next step.
What are the key differences between school and college for young people with SEND?
- Courses at college tend to focus very strongly on preparing students for adult life, including employment for most young people. The content of their study programme will be determined by their post-college progression goals. Much of their learning may take place out of the classroom, e.g. in a workshop, a social enterprise, the workplace or the wider community. The variety of subject areas on offer at college is usually much greater than at school.
- College students are treated as young adults. For example, they may be supported to assess risks for themselves, rather than simply be protected from them. There is a more equal relationship between teacher and student. For example, students will typically address staff by their first names.
- While college students with SEND will have access to plenty of support, there will be a strong emphasis on working towards making each young person as independent as possible. This will happen in a gradual way, with support being reduced over time, wherever possible, as the young person’s independence grows.
- Most college courses are based on 3 or 4-day-a-week provision rather than 5-day provision. Time spent in college can be combined with other activities such as volunteering, work placement or pursuing other interests in the local community.
Schools cannot keep young people after the age of 19. However, specialist colleges and some sixth form colleges can take students up to the age of 25, if appropriate, and there is no upper age limit in a general FE college. This means that if a young person aged 19 is partway through their course and continuing to make progress towards the educational outcomes in their EHC Plan, they can stay on at college to complete their course and achieve their outcomes. Almost all young people who remain on course beyond the age of 19 complete their further education by the age of 23, with many finishing aged 20 or 21.
How do parents/carers of children age 5+, that are not in school access advice and support services if they have concerns about their child?
Home educators assume financial responsibility for their child, and the local authority may not continue providing services that your child previously received through school, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy or speech and language therapy (SaLT).
If parents have not electively de-registered (e.g. child is excluded, ill, or unable to attend school for other reasons), the LA does have a duty to arrange provision, which can be ‘otherwise than at school’, but, under current legislation (s19).
If a parent has concerns there are a number of ways to begin self-help. For example, the NHS offer a number of on-line 'toolkits'
The CYPF online resource also has a large number of leaflets to advise parents on a very wide range of concerns including anger, anxiety, sensory difficulties and much more https://cypf.berkshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/
There are also lots of charities and organisations supporting families of children with SEN, and they may be able to help with learning ideas that fit your child’s needs. The British Dyslexia Association, for example, offers resources to help with handwriting. The Local Authority Elective Home Education Officer may be able to help to signpost to appropriate organisations.
There may be other ways of accessing support. Your GP may be able to arrange the therapies your child needs on the NHS. Some charities also offer support or financial assistance to help you meet your child’s needs.
It is a good idea to get Bracknell Forest IASS involved. They provide free, impartial information, advice and support for children/young people with special educational needs. The contact details for them are on this page:
Often families find their child’s needs for therapy change when home educating; each child is different. If your child has a medical need then these therapies should continue but they are not arranged by the LA. If they stop because you’re home educating talk to the NHS service involved or, if you need a referral, approach your GP or child’s paediatrician.
A parent can request a statutory assessment or reassessment of their child’s needs in the same way as a child attending a school. Making a request for an EHC needs assessment: Model letter 1 | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice