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Support with learning in school

Portsmouth is a needs led city. Any provision or support should be provided in line with the needs of the child or young person and is not dependant on any formal diagnosis.

This section explains the different types of education support for school age children and what schools are expected to do to help those with SEND in their settings.

In Portsmouth, schools are expected to use the Ordinarily Available Provision document to support children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities in their settings.

What is SEN Support?

If your child is not making expected progress in their education setting or is struggling to cope with the environment, even when their setting has changed teaching methods and materials to suit the child’s/young person’s style and rate of learning, then your child may have Special Educational Needs (SEN).
The teacher/tutor, in partnership with yourself and the school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), will work together to identify if your child has SEN and what extra support they might need. If agreed your child will be placed under SEN support and extra help will be given to them.

Your child will receive extra support in school according to their needs. The SENCo at the education setting should talk to parents/carers and discuss the support that could meet the child’s needs. The school might decide the graduated approach to SEN Support is needed.

This graduated approach is known as ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’. A regular cycle of Assess, Plan, Do, Review is used to ensure that pupils with SEND are making progress.

The graduated approach ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’

Your child’s needs are identified so that the right SEN Support is given. The assessment should include:
• Asking parents and the child for their views.
• Talking to professionals who work with the child (such as their teacher)
• Looking at records of assessment and other information.

• The child’s educational setting with parents/carers agree the outcomes (the benefit or difference made to an individual as a result of an intervention) that the SEN Support will achieve.
• Everyone is involved in deciding what kind of SEN Support will be provided. Together they will decide when the SEN support is reviewed.
• The plan should be written down. This makes sure that everybody knows what different, additional support is going to be put in place to meet the child’s identified needs.

• The education setting will put in place the planned support.
• The teacher remains responsible for the child and will work with them daily.
• The SENCo and any support staff or specialist teaching staff involved in providing support, should work closely together. This is to check that the support is making a difference.

SEN Support should be reviewed by the time agreed in the plan.
Everyone who is involved in the process, should decide together:

  • Whether the SEN Support is working effectively and having a positive impact.
  • Whether the outcomes have been, or are being, achieved.

Outcomes and next steps
If the SEN Support is working effectively and the child is making expected progress, it has been successful. This SEN Support should continue. The child is likely to not need any new SEN Support.

If the SEN Support isn’t making a difference, or if new needs emerge during the graduated process the setting should put in place new and different support for the child. They should then start the ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ process again, for a second cycle.

Click here to see the SEN Support flowchart created by Special Needs Jungle.

Portsmouth City Council’s SEND Ordinarily Available Provision Guidance

The Ordinarily Available Provision guidance  sets out the support and interventions which are expected to be available for pupils attending mainstream settings in the city. It has been produced in co-production with schools, parent carers, young people and SEND support services. If you are looking for extra support in school for your child or young person, this is a really helpful document you can chat to your child’s school  about.

Arranging an appointment with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator is a good place to start when your child needs extra support. The animation below explains this further.

Frequently asked questions

My child is struggling in school what should I do?

Your first port of call should really be the class teacher or tutor to discuss your child’s needs and how best they can be met. Additional support/advice can also be requested from the SENCo.

Look at the school’s website to read the SEND policy and SEND information report as this will outline what is available at the school.

The Ordinarily Available Provision document on Portsmouth’s Local Offer is also a valuable tool.

What is a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator ( SENCo)?

The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator is the member of staff responsible for coordinating support for all children needing additional support to access learning. The school’s SEN Information Report (available on the school’s website) will outline the specific role for the school’s SENCo, but generally they will: 

  • Give advice to parents and staff on issues related to Special Educational Needs, Social and Emotional difficulties, pupils with English as an additional language.  
  • Meet with parents to discuss any concerns they may have about their child’s development or learning difficulties. 
  • Facilitate assessments of individual pupils to identify need and strategies to support the child. 
  • Arrange referrals to other professionals such as: Educational Psychologist (EP), Speech and Language Therapists (SALT), Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) or Specialist Teacher Advisors in the city.

What is a school expected to do when they think a child might have SEN?

It is important that schools work with parents to both identify need and agree strategies to support the child. Schools are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure no child is disadvantaged so all can participate in learning. Any provision or support should be provided in line with the needs of the child or young person and is not dependant on any formal diagnosis.  The Ordinarily Available Provision document, which can be found on the local offer website, details the provision that the local authority expects to be made available for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

What should I do if I'm not happy with the support school is putting in place for my child?

It is important that you discuss your concerns with the present school. Be very specific when outlining your concerns and present the strategies you feel would best meet the needs of your child. Remember that all schools are expected to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of any child. 

If your child has been assessed by an Educational Psychologist (EP) or a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT), their reports will outline the child’s needs and include strategies to support your child. Discuss these with the school to explore how this advice has been used to support your child to access learning.  

If your child has an Educational Health Care Plan (EHC Plan) there are specific targets and interventions that should be in place. Ensure that your child is receiving this support. 

My child has a physical disability, what support should a school provide for them?

It is important that schools work with parents to both identify need and agree strategies to support children. Schools are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure no child is disadvantaged and all can participate in learning. 

There is also more information on this in our Ordinarily Available Provision document.

  My child has SEND, how do I choose an appropriate school?

All schools have a responsibility to accept all children, regardless of need. However, it is always best to visit schools. The school’s website will also provide you with useful information about what is offered. The school’s SEND Information Report is a useful document as it should outline all of the support available. Ensure you arrange a meeting with the SENCo to discuss needs and how best these can be met. 

 What happens if my child needs to change education setting?

There are a number of reasons why children may need to move to an alternative educational setting. It is always best to ensure you have discussed all moves with your child’s present school. If a move is agreed then ensure you visit the next placement. 

How do I know if my child needs the support of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

Only a small percentage of children with Special Educational Needs will need an EHC Plan. An ECH Plan outlines additional support a child needs to enable them to access learning.

Normally this will mean your child is receiving a higher level of provision at SEN Support and the school will be already trying to meet their needs using the SEND notional budget. There needs to be some good supporting evidence to show that your child may need the support of an EHC plan – your child/young person’s education setting can help with this.

You can also speak to any health or social care professionals who are working with your child and they will be able to advise if the level  of health or social care support is likely to be needed through an EHCP.  


Portsmouth SENDIASS

An impartial service providing information, advice and guidance on SEND.

Portsmouth SENDIASS


IPSEA offers independent legally based advice, support and training to help get the right education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

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Portsmouth Parent Voice

Helping parent carers of young people aged 0-25 with additional needs and disabilities to shape and improve local services

Portsmouth Parent Voice

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Contact the Portsmouth Send Local Offer to gain help, get more information or to leave feedback about the website.

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