The term 'special educational needs', often shortened to SEN, has a legal definition. Children and young people with SEN have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age.

There are several stages to statutory assessment and you will be involved throughout. The first stage is making a request following which the local authority determines whether special educational provision is required that is additional to, or different from, that ordinarily provided in a mainstream school or college.

Pupils with a statement who have been registered at a mainstream school can be educated at home providing arrangements are judged to be suitable and meet the child's needs as outlined in the statement.

In the majority of cases disagreements can be resolved by discussing the issue and reaching a suitable solution. If  we get to a point where we cannot reach an agreement, families have the right to formally appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). For the first time, young people over 16 will themselves also have this right.

Special educational needs are barriers to your child's progress in school. They mean that your child may need extra help with their schooling. Special educational needs are assessed by a school or the council - and they may only be short-term conditions. Find out more on the special educational needs page.

The local authority only has to produce an EHC Plan where it needs to determine SEN provision; if no SEN provision is required then there will be no EHC Plan, even if the child has health and/or care needs.

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A learning difficulty can be the result of, for example:

An online portal offering education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for meeting needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Funding nationally has been split into three elements as follows:

NHS England have produced a useful guide explaining the relationships between different Regulatory, Monitoring, Delivering and Commissioning Organisations involved in bringing you all the services in the NHS. Download below.

With the help of early years settings, school and colleges, we have developed the High Needs Matrix to support decision making relating to additional funding (such as Element 3). This tool is based on the areas of difficulty described in the 2014 SEND Code of Practice.

The Statement must also specify where your child will be educated although this may continue to be at the school which your child is already attending. Indeed, most children with Statements are taught in ordinary schools.

You can also write directly to us to request the assessment. We'll still need to complete the Family Conversation with a professional who knows you and the child well to make sure we have all the information available to make the right decision.

If you feel that you need further advice that is independent of the Local Authority, please contact:

We always aim to provide the best support and advice that we can. If you have any concerns, please contact us:

Note that the cognition and learning category, the final two columns, is capped at a maximum of 16 points.

View the descriptors used in the High Needs Matrix.

Once the High Needs Matrix is completed, the points and Top Up tariff are calculated. It is recommended that the completed High Needs Matrix is saved for future reference and/or discussion. For the above example, this is:

We carried out detailed sampling in schools and colleges during the development of the tool. This showed the Matrix to be accurate in determining an appropriate level of additional funding in the overwhelming majority of cases. But it is not intended to be definitive. In the rare instances where the High Needs Matrix doesn't appear to reflect the individual circumstances, a more detailed discussion will be held before determining the allocation of additional funding.

The advanced training materials are presented in a series of downloadable reading resources compiled by the Institute of Education (IoE). These are supported by interactive online elements, videos and audio clips.

We always aim to provide the best support and advice that we can. If you have any concerns please contact us:

All children are entitled to be included and supported with childcare, and parents should be able to find suitable childcare that meets their child's needs. Childcare providers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments for those with special educational needs and disabilities.

The change in system will not bring more or less support in itself but the EHC Plan should make it easier to have a more rounded view of the support required across each of education, health and social care. The support offered will only change if a child/young person’s needs have changed or new information comes to light. This is the same as currently when an Annual Review looks at progress and any changes to the statement that are needed.

If you require further clarification on the use of the High Needs Matrix, please contact the SEN Team:


For more detail visit Herefordshire council’s EHC Plans page:

In the example, the points total of 34 converts to a Top Up of £5,375.

This September (2014) we're making changes to the law for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The new law will result in changes to the way you and your child receive support from your local council, health and social care services and your child’s nursery, school or college. I therefore wanted to write to you with information about what this means for you.

Statements of SEN had to be issued within 26 weeks but under the new arrangements we must issue a completed EHC Plan in 20 weeks from the request for assessment.

The 2014 SEND Code of Practice describes what should be included in an EHC Plan.

If the discussion suggests that an assessment is needed then the Family Conversation should be completed. For school age children this will typically be completed with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), while for children under 5 this is more likely to be with the nursery or perhaps a health professional. The completed Family Conversation is submitted to the local authority and we must decide within 6 weeks whether to carry out the assessment.

Your child does not have a special need just because the language they speak at home is different from the language used at school.

Schools, colleges and other settings can help most children and young people overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily, but a very few will need extra help for some or all of their time. Schools, colleges and other settings will have their own local offer for SEN on their website but if you think your child may have a difficulty that has not been identified, talk to the teacher, the special educational needs coordinator or to the head straight away.

You have the right to be present at any examination of your child. If you refuse to let your child be examined by a health or educational professional, the Local Education Authority might take you to Court to compel you to do so.

We allocate Element 3 funding using the High Needs Matrix for:

For tips on choosing the right childcare provider for you visit the Choosing childcare and early education page.

The worked example below illustrates how the High Needs Matrix is used. The needs in each column are considered and a decision reached on which description best describes the pupil. On occasion, descriptors in more than one row seem to apply so best judgement should be used to decide which one is the best fit. For that reason the High Needs Matrix is well suited to being completed by someone who knows the child well or when a lot of information is available.

From September 2014, there will be Independent Parental Supporters who can give independent and neutral advice and information to support to families and carers with children or young people who have been identified as having special educational needs. You can contact an Independent Parental Supporter via SENDIASS or Herefordshire Carers Support on the above numbers.

You can find out more on our special educational needs page.