SEN Support in Schools

SEN Support in Schools

Schools should work to ensure that all their pupils can access the curriculum and make good progress, socially, emotionally and in terms of their attainment, and where possible, catch up with other pupils. Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of all pupils in their class. All teachers are teachers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Parents of children attending mainstream schools in Portsmouth can expect that any special and additional educational needs their children have will be identified and supported, drawing on support from other agencies where needed.

Identification of SEN

Children are identified as having SEN in a variety of ways. Concern can be raised by a parent or teacher when a child is performing below age related expectations or for example, behaviour or self-esteem is affecting their performance.

Class teachers continually assess each child and note areas where they are improving and where further support is needed. Schools track children’s progress across the years they are at the school. Children who are not making expected progress are picked up through each school’s Progress Review process where discussion takes place between Class teachers and the Senior Leadership of the school about why individual children are not progressing as expected and what further action needs to be taken.

Every school and academy has a Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who supports teachers and teaching assistants with strategies and programmes and monitors children’s progress. They also liaise with other agencies, including other teams in the Education Department, and Health and Social Care, for help and advice and information sharing, when needed. SENCOs also help teachers draw up written plans that outline a pupil's needs, targets and the provision they need. These plans are shared with parents and pupils (depending on their age and understanding).

If you think your child may have special educational needs talk firstly to your child’s class teacher and if you require further information contact the SENCO or Head Teacher.

The information gathering to identify a child as having SEN should include an early discussion with the pupil and their parents. These early discussions with parents should be structured in such a way that they develop a good understanding of the pupil’s areas of strength and difficulty, the parents’ concerns, the agreed outcomes sought for the child and the next steps. A short note of these early discussions should be added to the pupil’s record on the school information system and given to the parents. Schools should also tell parents and young people about the local authority’s information, advice and support service.

Schools should provide a graduated response to each child dependent on the level of need. This is referred to as ‘waves of intervention.’ Portsmouth schools provide support to children at all wave levels across the four areas of special educational need of communication and interaction, cognition and learning, social, mental and emotional health and sensory and/or physical.

What are the three ‘Waves of Intervention’?

Wave 1: Inclusive high quality teaching and learning for all pupils. (Quality First Teaching)

All teachers should plan to include everyone in their lessons and, through differentiation, work should be provided at the appropriate level for each child to make good progress. Typically this might mean that in a lesson there would be three different levels of work set for the class, however on occasions this can be individually differentiated. This is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have special educational needs (SEN).

As well as differentiated access to a varied and stimulating curriculum, Wave 1 may include whole school initiatives, such as a Teaching Assistant in every class and a range of technology to support and aid teaching.

Wave 2: Targeted interventions for pupils whose needs are not fully met by the universal approach of Wave 1.

Targeted interventions are generally to accelerate the progress of groups of children who are achieving below age-related expectations. These interventions are generally time-limited and delivered to small groups of children who can usually be expected to ‘catch up’ with their peers as a result of the intervention.

Wave 2 interventions are not primarily SEN interventions, however children included in interventions may have been identified as having SEN (previously on School Action or School Action Plus). This will be where they have special educational needs such as emotional and behavioural difficulties, difficulties in communication and interaction, or sensory or physical impairment, for which they are receiving other forms of support but not necessarily have been individually referred to a specialist service.

The interventions could be in any area of need such as maths, spelling, hand writing or self-esteem.

Wave 3: Additional highly personalised interventions drawing on support from other agencies where needed.  

Where Waves 1 and 2 are not, on their own, enhancing the progress of identified children focused, individualised programmes should be provided for pupils working well below age expected levels.

Wave 3 interventions are generally for children identified as requiring SEN Support (previously on School Action or School Action Plus) or with a Education Health and Care Plan/Statement of SEN.

These interventions may also include support and services provided by specialists in education, health or social care following an individual referral of the child to that specialist.

The interventions could again be in any area of need such as writing, reading or speech & language and could include access to a Specialist Teacher Advisor, an Educational Psychologist or outreach support from special schools in the city and may lead to an application for an Educational Health Care Plan.

SEN Code of Practice 0-25 years 6.36 - 6.43

Assess Plan Do Review

Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to put effective special educational provision in place through an SEN Support Plan. This SEN support should take the form of a four part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are reviewed to support the pupil in making good progress. Once a Child or Young Person is receiving support it is recommended that parents meet with school staff regularly to look at progress, set new goals and discuss the activities and support that will help the Child or Young Person achieve them.


In identifying a child as needing SEN support the class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should carry out a clear analysis of the pupil’s needs. This should draw on the teacher’s assessment and experience of the pupil, their previous progress, attainment, behaviour, other subject teachers’ assessments and where relevant, advice from external support services.

As part of the information gathering the school will ask for the parent’s views, those of the Child or Young Person and any other professionals working with the family.


The teacher and the SENCO should agree in consultation with the parent and the pupil the planned support and interventions to be put in place, as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour. There should also be agreement on how and when progress is monitored and when the plan will be reviewed.

All teachers and support staff who work with the pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required.

The support and intervention provided should be selected to meet the outcomes identified for the pupil, based on reliable evidence of effectiveness, and should be provided by staff with sufficient skills and knowledge.


A range of measures could be used to achieve the planned goals including the use of specific resources or teaching strategies, support from teaching assistants in lessons, specific programmes of support run by teaching assistants in small groups or on a one to one basis and outreach support from special schools in the city.

The class or subject teacher should still remain responsible for working with the child on a daily basis and for the pupil’s progress. Where the interventions involve group or one-to-one teaching away from the main class, the teacher should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved, to plan and assess the impact of support and interventions and how they can be linked to classroom teaching.

The SENCO should support the class or subject teacher in the further assessment of the child’s particular strengths and weaknesses, in problem solving and advising on the effective implementation of support.


The effectiveness of the support and interventions and their impact on the pupil’s progress should be reviewed regularly in line with the agreed date. This will help ensure that support and intervention are matched to need, barriers to learning are identified and overcome, and that a clear picture of the interventions put in place and their effect is developed. If little or no progress has been made, alternative interventions could be provided. For some types of SEN, the way in which a pupil responds to an intervention can be a useful method of developing a more accurate picture of need. 

The class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should revise the support in light of the pupil’s progress and development, deciding on any changes to the support and outcomes in consultation with the parent and pupil. Parents should have clear information about the impact of the support and interventions provided, enabling them to be involved in planning next steps.

In cases where outside professionals from health or social services are already involved with the child these professionals should liaise with the school to help inform the assessments. If the school want to ask for additional specialist advice this will be discussed this with parents and professionals contacted if parents agree.

Where a pupil has an EHC plan, the local authority must review that plan as a minimum every twelve months. Schools must co-operate with the local authority in the review process and, as part of the review, the local authority can require schools to convene and hold annual review meetings on its behalf.

Pupils may move off SEN Support when they have reached age expected levels.

SEN Code of Practice 0-25 years 6.44 - 6.56

Details of individual Portsmouth schools local offers and support offered at each wave of intervention can be found at:Portsmouth Schools

Details of ordinarily available provision in Portsmouth schools can be found at:Ordinarily available provision

A copy of an SEN Support Plan and Review Plan for Portsmouth schools can be found at: SEN Support Plan  Review Plan

Print Email

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn