Special Educational Needs & Disability
The term ‘Special Educational Needs & Disability’ (SEND) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than other children of the same age.
If your child has a special educational need, they may require extra help in a range of areas, such as reading and writing, comprehension of information, building relationships and behavioral issues. They may also have a physical or sensory need which must be addressed.
The Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) is a tri-Service group for current Serving families or individuals who have a child or adult dependent with an additional need and/or disability.
The Family and Childcare Trust has produced a guide to childcare for children with special educational needs and disabilities in England, click here.
The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) was launched in 2011, and is funded by central government. The NNPCF is a network of local forums meeting in regional settings, working together to effect local and national service improvement through participation and co-production with parent carers, click here.
Capability Scotland campaigns with, and provides education, employment and care services for, disabled children and adults across Scotland, click here.
SNAP Cymru provides information, advice and support for parents, children and young people who have, or may have, special educational needs or disabilities. It provides impartial, confidential and free advice through its helpline and specialist casework service, click here.
The Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) is a charity providing confidential, independent advice and advocacy on behalf of children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN) attending schools in Northern Ireland up to the age of 19 years, click here.
Registering a Special Educational Need
A special educational need should be registered with the Service. Although it is not compulsory, it would also be beneficial to register with CEAS, so that they can liaise with your employer to ensure that your child’s needs can be met on future postings.
Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.
GOV.UK – the official government website for citizens with a comprehensive section on Money, Tax and Benefits. Visit the website to find out if you are entitled to any disability benefits.
Citizens Advice Bureau – Offer advice on many subjects, including welfare and disability benefits.
Those residing in Scotland should contact Citizens Advice Scotland.
Royal Navy Family & People Support (RN FPS) Information Office
Your local RN FPS Information Office is another excellent source of information regarding educational support agencies in your community.
Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS)
The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) has been established specifically for Service families. It is aware of the unique circumstances of Service families and can offer information, advice and support on all aspects of a child/young person’s education within the UK and overseas. You can contact CEAS on: 01980 618244 or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. CEAS is part of the Directorate Children and Young People; the MOD’s tri-Service lead for the delivery of statutory services for children and young people within the Armed Forces community worldwide.
Important Information for Parents and Schools regarding changes to the Special Educational Needs Addition to the MOD Continuity of Education Allowance
The MOD regulations for the Special Educational Needs Addition to the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA (SENA)) and CEA (SENA)(Day) have been revised with effect from January 2017; important changes which parents and schools should be aware of have been listed below including a list of frequently asked questions.
- The aim of Continuity of Education Allowance (Special Educational Needs Addition) (CEA (SENA)) is to contribute towards the additional costs associated with a specific support plan for an individual service child who has a level of Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) which cannot reasonably be met within the expected resources of a school.
- The previous SENA system defined Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) as solely being ‘Dyslexia’. The new sections have been updated so that SEND is defined in terms as used by other government departments such as the Department for Education.
- School generated information is required to evidence the level of a child’s special needs. School staff have the experience and knowledge of individual children and should be the best source of detailed information, collected over time, as to an individual child.
- State boarding schools already work within the existing SEND Code of Practice and therefore SEND provision within those schools is easily understood as well as it being inspected by Ofsted
- Independent schools other than Independent Special Schools are not bound by the SEND Code of Practice but do work with the duties outlined by the 2010 Equality Act – which requires all schools to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when working with a child with special educational and/or additional needs
- The requirement within the January 17 JSP 752 (version 29) regulations is that all SENA applications will now use the revised application paperwork and include a detailed individualised support plan for the child, articulated by the school and clearly outlining what the school can provide and also what the school believes is beyond what is ‘reasonable’ to provide from their existing resources
- The application process will therefore have a more transparent focus on any potential gap between what the independent school does provide and what they believe should be provided through additional funding.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If SENA is changing, will I have to re-apply now, although my eligibility is still valid for some time yet?
SENA has always been a time limited allowance and that will not change with the revised arrangements. As before it will be the case that each eligibility certificate will have an end date. The SENA application process can take between 4-12 weeks and that is the same whether it is a new application or a renewal application. Decisions on renewals are taken based on the evidence that is provided. There are times when the evidence provided by the school is not clear enough to make a decision and in those cases we may request that the school gives better detail – hence why it can take up to 12 weeks to reach a decision.
If you intend to apply for a renewal of SENA then it is best to do so 12 weeks before the expiry date on your current certificate. In the meantime it is also best to make sure that your child’s school is capturing the information that it should be doing routinely, i.e. the interventions that they are using and their rationale for what they are doing, the outcomes and progress of those interventions for your child.
My child has no history of SEND. Will I be able to apply for SENA as he has just started boarding school and they think they may have discovered he has a need?
SEN can and does emerge at different ages and can take many and varied forms. Not all SEND requires an allowance to support the child’s needs, since much SEN related support should be routine for good schools and good teachers to be delivering as part of their practice. Decisions as to whether or not a child’s SEN is complex enough to require additional funding can only be taken based on the quality of the information provided. That information includes information specific to your child but it also includes information on what the school is doing and what they think that they should be doing differently for your child. That kind of information takes time to generate as every child is different and schools may work in different ways.
If your child has just started boarding school then it will take time for that school to collate the information that they would like to present which has led them to believe that your child has SEND and that it is complex enough to require something that they do not routinely provide. In the meantime it would also be useful for you to obtain information from your child’s previous school as to what they understood as to how your child presented in that school. That would help us to be able to understand any potential future application for SENA.
Under the Equality Act 2010 schools should be making reasonable adjustments – what does this mean?
Reasonable adjustments are those steps that schools have a duty to take to avoid ‘substantial disadvantage’ for pupils with a disability. The term ‘disability’ itself is also one that needs explanation and there are many resources online which explain these terms in more detail for example here.
Many adjustments are about changes in practice rather than to do with provision of anything expensive. A simple example would be a pupil with a visual impairment, who may require information printed in a larger font and it is entirely reasonable for a teacher to print any hand outs in a way that the pupil can readily access. Differentiating the curriculum means that pupils in the same class may have information and teaching presented to them in slightly different ways within the same class and that would also be a reasonable adjustment. In the state sector a school is expected to provide additional services to pupils with SEND up to the first £6,000 of provision. While that same expectation is not applied to the independent sector, who can and do charge parents directly for various services, the SEND allowance decision process expects that a range of adjustments have already been made by the independent school before the parents are encouraged to apply for SENA.
Why is the SENA process changing?
The SEND system has evolved significantly over recent years. The level of skill and expectation for all teachers has risen and it is expected now that all teachers are teachers of children with SEND. The old system where by a child with SEND was removed from main stream classes to be taught separately, often in specialist units or special schools changed many years ago with the move towards better inclusion.
The 2017 update of the SENA process brings the allowance into a more current and evidence based system, where the allowance is available to support SEND on a case by case basis rather than it being tightly ring fenced to only one aspect of SEND. The change in the process will also allow a better body of information to be generated by school staff so that it includes information on the child themselves but also builds evidence of what additional support has been delivered and what works for that child.
Will the new process take longer for me to receive the payments?
The process of payments remains the same which requires you to have a current SENA eligibility certificate and to process your claims in the usual way. Decisions on eligibility will take between 4-12 weeks and will always been significantly quicker if the information from the school regarding your child’s needs and the plan for how they are providing for those needs or will provide for them in the future is presented with detail and clarity. The updated application form will help guide the schools in how they need to record and present information and CEAS is always available to guide you as parents in the questions and requests that you can be asking of the school.