Children with brain injury conditions often need extra support in education –and how your child can be helped will be set out by the Local Educational Authority (LEA) in a Special Educational Needs (SEN) statement. This is also sometimes called a statement of special needs and is updated every school year to take into account a child’s changing needs as they grow.
SEN could offer extra help with certain subjects or aspects of school life, as well as making provision for help with travelling to or from school – or even being educated at home or receiving extra help with education at home from a specialist tutor.
The sort of children who might need the extra support of an SEN statement include:
It is important to discuss with your child’s health team and therapists as well as teachers exactly what their needs are – and might be in the future – before deciding whether an SEN statement would be appropriate.
Every school has a member of staff who is responsible for children with SEN at the school and they referred to as the SENCO (SEN co-ordinator). Discussing your child’s needs with this staff member can help you find out what support would be available – and whether there are other educational support issues you may have overlooked regarding your child (eg they may have difficulties with written work or numeracy which you may not be aware of). The SENCO member of staff at a school will use the SENCO Code of Practice to assess your child’s needs and decide whether they do need an SEN statement.
Sometimes it can be hard for parents to learn about their child’s needs from a teacher and so it is also important to remember that making an objective appraisal of the help your child needs is the best way of helping them achieve their full potential and happiness in the future – try and remain calm about the process, as addressing any issues is not a criticism of your child.
The SEN statement sets out the ways in which your child will be helped and supported, either at school or at home – eg specially adapted computer equipment or equipment to enable deaf/blind or physically disabled children to use a computer.
Parents can state on the application form which school they would like their child to attend. Sometimes schools offering certain therapies or specialist teaching methods which may suit a child’s needs better than a mainstream school. Attending this school could mean additional travelling costs or find a means of transportation to the school.
If you child has a special need which local schools in your school catchment area might not be able to address as well as a school outside the normal school catchment area, the SEN application offers parents the chance to opt for the school they prefer for their child – although there is no guarantee that the LEA will accept this and again, an appeal might be necessary.
Obviously there is enormous competition for the extra support which an SEN statement offers – and parents may find they may have to appeal if their application for SEN is not accepted in full, or is even rejected.
Your local Parent Partnership Service will be able to advise on SEN statements and the best course for your child. You can also search online for the Parent Partnership Service nearest to you.
With young or pre-school children, the first step to making an application for SEN is to speak to your GP about their needs and any concerns you have about their development or learning skills. You may have noticed your child is not as advanced in some ways as their peers – this does not necessarily mean they are having difficulties or will need an SEN statement; but the earlier you address any issues, the better the outcome for your child.
Children do progress at their own rate, however, and your GP will be able to help you with any concerns you may have.
Specialist children’s lawyers can also offer advice to parents who need help in making an SEN application or whose application has been turned down or amended.
More information about SEN statements is available from the government’s website GOV.UK.
If you child has a disability, the website Parents of Children With Disabilities offers useful advice about SEN statements in its user forum and details of how statementing can help children with physical disability and brain injury.