Support in Education

How should education settings be supporting a child or young person without an EHCP?

Mainstream schools and academies have a range of duties found in the SEND Code of Practice 2015 that set out how they should identify and support children with SEN.

Children wearing school uniform are sat at desks with exercise books in front of them. They are listening to a teacher who is sat in front of them

Special schools do not have the same duties as they are specifically set up to provide for children with SEN. Typically many children in a special school will have an EHCP.

Needs are typically set out in four categories

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Sensory and/or physical needs

Schools should plan and set out how they will support each of these areas of need and ensure that their staff have relevant training. This activity is managed by the SENCO, whose role it is to coordinate the provision in the school.

The school’s approach to SEN support should be documented in its SEN policy which should be available on its website.

A group of children in casual clothes sitting on a carpet and looking forwards, some children have their hand up to answer a question

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

This is the statutory framework for children aged 0-5 years. All early years providers in the maintained, voluntary and independent sectors that a LA funds must have arrangements in place to support children with SEND which includes a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEND.

Maintained nurseries must use best endeavours to ensure that a child with SEN gets the right support.

The EYFS framework includes 2 specific points for providing written assessments for parents and other professionals at 2 years and at the end of reception year.

Early intervention is important as delay can lead to learning difficulties and lack of self esteem

All settings should adopt a graduated approach to provision: Assess, Plan, Do, Review are the four stages of support required for a child without an EHCP.


Every school is required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support.

Mainstream schools (including maintained schools and academies that are not special schools), maintained nurseries, 16-19 academies, alternative provision academies and pupil referral units (PRUs) must use best endeavours to make sure that a child or young person with SEN gets the support they need.

Secondary school children wearing uniform are sat at individual desks one behind the other in a school hall taking exams

This means doing everything they can to meet their SEN.

The approach a school takes to how it assesses and identifies SEN is set out in the Local Offer.

All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments including the provision of aids, equipment and services for disabled children to make sure they are not disadvantaged compared to their peers.

All pupils should have access to a broad and balanced curriculum.

Pupils’ skills should be assessed on entry to determine any needs and what adjustments may be required. SEN Support should take the form of the Graduated Approach – the four-part cycle which identifies, reviews and adjusts provision to support a child or young person.

Further education: post 16

There are several types of settings including school sixth forms (both mainstream and special schools), sixth form colleges, further education (FE) colleges, 16-19 academies, special post 16 institutions and vocational learning and training providers.

The range of qualifications is broad and includes A/AS levels, vocational qualifications at all levels, apprenticeships, traineeships, supported internships and bespoke packages of learning.

6 college students dressed casually standing outside a college building and smiling

FE colleges, sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies have certain statutory duties:

  • to cooperate with the LA on arrangements for children and young people with SEN
  • to admit a young person if the institution is named in the EHCP
  • to have regard to the SEND Code of Practice 2015
  • to use their best endeavours to put in place the special educational provision that the young person needs. Support should promote independence and help the young person make good progress towards employment and/or higher education and independent living.

Common Myths and Questions

We suggest you organise a meeting with the SENCO at the school. Provide whatever evidence you have from your own resources to support your conversation. If it's a mainstream school, remind them of their duties under the SEND Code of Practice 2015 to identify and arrange support for children with SEND. Refer to their own SEND policy which should document how SEN is identified and also point to the Local Offer on the approach taken.
Dyslexia is a special educational need and as such, may require specialist educational provision to be made to support the child or young person over and above what is available within the typical mainstream resources. This might include specialist teaching, a high level of support from a TA, or a specialist setting. Each case is an individual one. This would then require an EHCP. Dyslexia is also considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and therefore, depending on the scale of need, a school will be required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that the child or or young person is not disadvantaged compared to his or her peers.
No this is not accurate. The legal threshold contained in Section 36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014 does not require that the school spends £6,000 before you can apply for an EHC needs assessment. If you receive a refusal to assess where this is stated, the LA has applied a higher level criteria to its decision-making which would not be a lawful reason to refuse.
No. This is not the case. A child or young person does not need to have received a formal diagnosis in order to get support from a school or apply for an EHC needs assessment.
That might be a LA policy, but it’s not law. The legal threshold identifies only 2 criteria that the LA must consider when deciding whether or not to assess: may your child have needs, and may special educational provision be necessary.

Find out more:

  • Take a look at our webinars (£10) on transition from nursery, and provision in secondary schools and post 16 education
  • Find out about applying for an EHC needs assessment
  • Read about the SEN Journey