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The special educational needs (SEN) process

Special educational needs (SEN) can affect a child or young person's ability to learn. Identifying children with SEN as early as possible means we can aim to give them the support they need to succeed.

Step 1 - identifying special educational needs

It's not always obvious to tell when a child has special educational needs. Many children have additional needs of some kind during part of their education.

Some ways to identify special educational needs in a child can be if they:

  • Have trouble communicating their needs, such as letting you know when they're hungry or hurt
  • Usually seem sad or disconnected from those around them
  • Seem to have poor co-ordination compared to other children their age
  • Have difficulty following instructions
  • Aren't able to engage in a conversation with their classmates
  • Seem to make very slow progress when learning new skills

Who will identify special educational needs?
Your child's school or nursery will usually identify special educational needs. They'll let you know if they have any concerns about your child.

I think my child has special education needs that haven't been identified
If you think your child has special educational needs that haven't been identified, you can:

  • Contact the SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) at your child's school or nursery. Find school contact details
  • Contact us using the details on this page if your child isn't in a school or nursery
  • Contact Rochdale SEN and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) for confidential advice and information about support. Rochdale SENDIASS service

Step 2 - supporting your child in school

Once your child has been identified as having SEN, your school will give your child SEN support. Schools provide SEN support provision in a number of ways, which are usually published on their website. Find school contact details

SEN support can include:

  • Running extra sessions for your child either in groups or individually
  • Providing specialist equipment for your child to use
  • Having additional adults in your child's classroom
  • Moving your child to a class with fewer pupils

How will I stay informed about my child's progress?
Your child's school should meet with you at least 3 times a year to talk about your child and how they're getting on with their extra support.

If your child isn't making progress, the school may talk to you about the next step of assessing your child.

Step 3 - assessing your child for special educational needs

If your child isn't making progress in their learning, the SEN co-ordinator at your school may request for us to carry out an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment. You can also request an EHC needs assessment yourself, if you're worried about your child's progress.

The assessment will help us to work out what kind of special educational needs your child has and whether they'll need an EHC plan. The assessment may include interviews, observations, tests or a medical.

Step 4 - supporting your child using their EHC plan

If we decide to give your child an EHC plan following their assessment, your child's school will begin delivering the support outlined in the plan.

Your school or college will receive additional funding so they can provide the support relevant to your child's needs. SEN provision is individual to each child and will be listed in section F of their EHC plan.


Step 5 - reviewing the support your child receives

Your child's school will review the EHC plan based on the progress your child is making. It's reviewed at least once a year.

You'll attend an annual review meeting with your child, your school's SEN co-ordinator and any other professionals working with the child. This is an opportunity for you to discuss what's working well for your child and what's not.

During the meeting, if you decide that you'd like some changes to the EHC plan, your school will send these recommendations to us. We'll review the proposed changes and will make a decision about the changes we will make to the EHC plan.


If you're not happy with the changes to the EHC plan, you can appeal the decision.


01706 925981

Phone: Monday-Friday 8.30am-4.45pm.

Education, Health and Care Team
Early Help and Schools
Floor 4
Number One Riverside
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU