What is the SEN Register?

12th January 2022

Welcome. Join us as we introduce the SEN Register, what it is, how young people are added to it, what happens if you are considered to have SEN,  what support you can receive, SEN Support Planning and why you shouldn’t be worried.

So, what is the SEN Register/SEN Support?

There are some school-age children who require additional teaching and support alongside the standard curriculum and schedule. These children, if they are making less than expected, are added to the SEN register and identified as requiring SEN Support. This is a dynamic list that children can be added to or removed from at any time, depending on how appropriate it is to their needs.  The SEN Register must be managed following guidance from the SEND Code of Practice but it is not a guarantee of specific provision for your child.

Wait, what does SEN mean again?

SEN stands for Special Educational Needs, and it is the legal term describing the needs of a child with a disability or learning difficulty that makes school more difficult for them than their classmates. As many as 20% of children may have an SEN at some point, with others experiencing SEN throughout their educational life. SEN encompasses a wide range of difficulties, from comprehension to social behaviour.

Why might a child be added to the register?

Schools should assess a pupil’s skills and levels of attainment on a regular basis. If a pupil is making less than expected progress then they may be considered to have SEN, requiring additional support and to be placed on the SEN Register. Schools should consider the four broad areas of SEN when assessing a child:

  1. Cognition & Learning
  2. Communication & Interaction
  3. Social, emotional & mental health difficulties
  4. Sensory and/or physical needs

If a pupil is considered to have SEN then there is a four-step approach that must be adhered to and it looks like this:

  1. Assess
  2. Plan
  3. Do
  4. Review

It is the teachers and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), with case-by-case additional support from external specialists, to manage these four stages. They must carry out assessments, plan learning based on the findings, apply the best methodologies available to help the child, and then look at the results and outcomes. Results are a mixture of classroom progress, work produced, observations, discussions between teachers, discussions between SEN staff, and the thoughts of the parents or guardians.

SEN support is a wide and variable sphere and takes into account many considerations. There are instances where a child has not yet been added to the SEN register and is given a high-quality provision of support, but their progress remains unchanged, or even moves backwards. In these cases, the teachers and SEN support team can make use of additional specialist assessment tools to try and help with specific learning gaps or areas for improvement or development. When this happens, it’s quite clear that the child should be added to the SEN register, so the evidence is collected to show that there is a special education need and that further SEN support is required.

If you are worried that this graduated approach has been tried with your child but still progress is limited, then it may be time to consider the next step, which would be a request for an EHC needs assessment.

What happens after your child has been added to the SEN register?

Once the 4 previously-mentioned steps have been completed, the school and the SEN support will do everything necessary to help encourage progression for your child. Your child may be assigned an SEN Support Assistant who aids them in the classroom, or works with them privately in a more relaxed environment, such as the library. All progress will then be monitored and recorded in order to help your child get the most from the support offered. But it is important to remember that provision at this level is at the discretion of the school, it cannot be guaranteed.

If a child shows significant progress and a noticeable response to the support, they may later be removed from the SEN register, as long as the gaps in learning have been closed and there is an agreement between the parents and school. If as a parent you do not agree with the decision that your child has made appropriate progress then you may wish to consider the next step, which is a request for an EHC needs assessment.

What types of support are available to children on the SEN register?

Since SEN covers a very wide berth, so do the types of support available. There is personal support available for physical needs, guidance for behavioural needs, and knowledge for curriculum-based needs, like literacy and numeracy. Each school has a budget from their Local Authority to provide support, as described below but this is a limited budget and these types of support are just examples, not a guarantee. Sadly, it is often the case that the school cannot provide all of these supports without further funding and often parents will need to request an EHC needs assessment. There is a great deal of additional support, which can often only be accessed through an EHC needs assessment and an EHC Plan.

  • Cognition & Learning

    • Additional support from a Teaching Assistant

    • Handwriting programme

    • Visual support

    • IT programmes

    • Differentiated work

    • Peer support

    • Small group work

    • Extra time

  • Sensory and/or Physical needs

    • A programme designed by a therapist and delivered by a Teaching Assistant

    • Adapted resources

    • Training for staff

    • Manage sensory environment

  • Social, emotional and mental health needs

    • Social skills group work

    • Direct teaching of social skills

    • Mentor support

    • Managed social situations

    • Buddy schemes

  • Language and communication needs

    • Language programmes delivered by a Teaching Assistant

    • Communication aid

    • Adapt the language used in the classroom

    • Visual support

Which school ages qualify for the SEN register?

Nursery age students qualify for SEN, as do young adults in further education, up to the age of 25. Young people from 16 have different rights to children under the age of 16 and this means that they get a say in their support and will need to be included more at various stages of the assessment and planning.

If you are the point of requesting an EHC needs assessment then this can be requested before your child reaches nursery age.

What to do if the school contacts you about SEN support?

The school will contact you directly to discuss your child and their needs, especially if they are not making progress or keeping up with their classmates. Alternatively, if you feel that your child has an SEN and the school has not contacted you to discuss the matter, you can talk to the school, your child’s teachers, and the SENCo directly and begin a dialogue.

SEN support will require your express permission, at which point the four steps described previously will begin.

Is this something to worry about?

All young people develop differently, and just because a teacher has spotted a potential SEN, it is not something to worry about. Some children make progress more slowly than others and need a bit more support to fill in their knowledge gaps. Ultimately, it’s better to manage their education more proactively and responsibly rather than neglecting their educational needs and allowing them to struggle at a disadvantage.

What should you do next?

If you are concerned about your child and their school performance, the first thing to do is talk to your child’s school and teachers. They will be able to answer your questions and provide more insight. Reading guides, such as this one, may give you a good overview of knowledge, but the reality is that SEN are looked at on a case-by-case basis but there are requirements set down in legislation. If you are concerned that progress remains slow, or the school does not accept your concerns, do not be put off requesting an EHC needs assessment as the necessary next step.


For more information about SEN, EHCP, and anything else related to the educational support offered to your child, contact Education Advocacy today.