What are Special Educational Needs and Disabilities?

A child has a special educational need or disability (SEND) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

  1. have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or
  2. have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

The SEND Code of Practice 2014 (updated January 2015) sets out four broad areas of special educational need that include a range of difficulties and conditions:

What is the SEND code of practice?

The SEND Code of Practice is statutory guidance for organisations that work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  It can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25

The code states that:

Many children and young people have difficulties that fit clearly into one of these areas; some have needs that span two or more areas; for others the precise nature of their need may not be clear at the outset.

Identification and Assessment of Children with SEND

As set out in the SEND Code of Practice, the school follows the Graduated Approach to Assessment, which follows the four stages of Assess, Plan, Do and Review.  This allows for a more personalised approach to the identification, planning and assessment of SEND.

1. Assess – the school will use a variety of methods to assess the SEND need. These include:

  • Teacher assessment
  • Internal data on attainment, progress, behaviour, attendance and Work samples
  • Parent and student views
  • Advice from external agencies
  • Information collected from primary school

2. Plan – The school will create a support plan for the student in partnership with parents/carers, the student and teachers. This will include:

  • Reasonable adjustments teachers should make to provide high quality teaching
  • The development of a ‘student profile’
  • What additional provision/intervention is needed to ensure they make progress
  • SMART (Specific, Measureable, Acheivable, Realsiitc and Timed) targets are set

3. Do – The plan will then be implemented for a period of time before it is reviewed again. For example, if a child is on a My Support Plan, this will be reviewed every 3 months.

4. Review – The plan will be reviewed by parents/carers, the student and teachers. They review will be looking at:

  • Have student met/on track to meet expected targets? What evidence is there?
  • Has there been any improvement on their rate of progress?
  • How is the pupil responding to the targeted provision?
  • Are there changes to the SEND?

At this stage it is hoped that a fuller understanding of the need has been established and from this it will be decided to either:

  1. continue with the current plan since it is proving to be successful
  2. try different strategies that might prove to be more successful

This is known as a graduated response.

In York we use the councils ‘Banding Documents’ to identify thresholds of need.  These can be found at:  https://www.york.gov.uk/SEN.

The banding documents describe good practice and entitlement across all areas of need. They aim to ensure clarity, consistency and transparency for schools, parents, practitioners, the Education, Health and Care Plan Panel, and the equitable use of finite resources.

SEND Waves of Intervention

Once a need has been identified, students will be given a ‘Wave of Intervention’. This is decided by the SENDCo, in cooperation with staff and parents/carers, and outlines the type of support that the individual student receives.  These are summarised below:

High quality inclusive teaching

High quality, inclusive teaching ensures that planning and implementation meets the needs of all pupils, and builds in high expectations for all pupils, including those with SEN. It is about the day-to-day interactions that take place in the classroom and the different pedagogical approaches teachers use to engage, motivate learners which ensure good pupil progress.

High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN. Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good quality teaching.

SEND Code of Practice, p.99

Additional interventions

Any additional interventions and support are developed in partnership with parents, the student and the school.  These are wide and varied, but should all be part of a clear plan of support to address the specific need identified.

SEND register and support plans

The school informs all staff of the exact needs of all students with a Special Educational Need.  We also inform staff how to best implement ‘Quality First Teaching’ for each child as an individual and explain any other additional support they are receiving and how this can be incorporated into the classroom.  Below is a summary of the different SEND levels and support plans that we use to support a child:

  • Monitoring
    • For the majority of students, the school will support the child’s need by completing a Pen Portrait’ in partnership with students and parents.
    • These will be led by that student’s pastoral team after being developed in partnership with the SENDCo classroom teachers, parents and the child.
    • These children will typically be a Band 0 or 1 on the City of York’s SEND banding documents.
  • SEN Support
    • Some students will require a greater or more specialised level of support/intervention.  In partnership with students and parents, either a Pen Portrait’ or a ‘My Support Plan’ will be completed and implemented.    This will be developed in partnership with the school, parents and the child.
    • These children will typically be a Band 2 on the City of York’s SEND banding documents.
    • Interventions for students on SEN Support will be led by the SENDCo in partnership with the school’s pastoral team.
  • ECHP
    • A small number of students with significant learning difficulties might need an assessment that could lead to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
    • These children will typically be a Band 3+ on the City of York’s SEND banding documents.
    • These will be led by the SENDCO and developed in partnership with parents, the child, classroom teachers and any relevant external agencies.

What is an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP)?

If your child’s needs are very complex and/or severe the school may ask the Local

Authority to carry out a Statutory Assessment:

  • This is a very detailed assessment of your child’s needs. Parents or carers, the school and a range of professionals will all be asked to provide written reports.
  • At the end of the assessment phase the Local Authority will consider these reports to help decide whether or not to issue an Education Health Care Plan/Single Plan for your child.
  • As a parent/carer you also have the right to ask the Local Authority to carry out this assessment although it is usually best if you can do this with the support of the school.
  • Statutory Assessment is only appropriate for a small number of children. Your school SENCO or the Parent Partnership Service will be able to advise you about this.

Summary of how school would apply for an EHCP

If the Statutory Assessment shows that your child needs an Educational Health Care plan they will produce a detailed individual plan advising schools what they must do to support your child.

If your child has an Education Health Care Plan the school must:

  • Hold an Annual Review Meeting to which you and other professionals must be invited.
  • The meeting will also look at the Health and Social Care needs of your child.
  • Provide your child with the full range of support specified in their statement. This usually equates to additional support and may be group or individual support. This is extra money provided to the school to fund the required support.

For more information on Educational Health Care Plans and the process of how requesting an EHCP, please see:



The school are able to complete some tests and screens if we feel your child may benefit from extra support, intervention or Access Arrangements in examination settings.


It is possible your child has had screening or intervention at primary school, if this is the case any additional support they have received in line with a Special Educational Need will have been passed on by their Primary School during the transition period.

We only screen those that have been identified as having a special educational need or those students who have been flagged by teaching staff as experiencing barriers. If your child is to be screened you will receive communication from school outlining the process.

We can complete the following testing:

 Reading: WIAT III:

    • This is a battery of individual educational tests which measure reading accuracy, spelling, reading comprehension and reading speed.

 Handwriting (Where appropriate): DASH.

    • This assesses free writing speed and legibility.

 Dyslexia Screen: GL Dyslexia Screener

    • (please note this is not diagnostic, it merely gives us information about the likelihood of dyslexia and prevalent traits).  This assesses across 6 attainment and ability areas – non-verbal reasoning, reading, spelling, vocabulary, perceptual speed and phonological processing.

 Processing: CTOPP  II.

    • This is a battery of tests that focusses on processing speed.

In order to satisfy JCQ guidelines your child must be assessed by a qualified assessor no earlier than Year 9. In most cases your child will be assessed in the Spring Term of Year 9.

Any results worthy of note are shared with the student and their parent/carer and also with the student’s teaching staff in order that strategies are put in place in order to best support the young person.

Exam Access Arrangements

Exam Access Arrangements (AA) are the reasonable adjustments that can be made for an exam candidate, and might include things such as extra time to complete an exam paper, permission to use assistive technology, or provision of rest breaks.

Exam arrangements can only be granted if they are a candidate’s ‘normal way of working’ and the candidate has a history of need. Any arrangements made must reflect the support that the candidate has had in the past few years, alongside their assessment test results.  An assessor’s report must show that the candidate has a significant and long-term impairment. For example, a candidate who is eligible for extra time would need to have scores that are below average in speed of writing, reading, reading comprehension or cognitive process, demonstrating they work much more slowly than others. This must then be backed up by teachers, and evidence must be provided that this is the candidate’s normal way of working.

Who to talk to…

If you think your child should have Exam Access Arrangements please contact our SENCO, Miss Meg Holmes by either phoning  01904 411341 or Email sendco@ahs.pmat.academy

REMEMBER – We do not look at Exam Access Arrangements before your child is in the Spring Term of Year 9.

What sort exam arrangements are available?

This list is not exhaustive, but these are some of the most common arrangements:

  • Extra time: The most frequent AA is extra time which is 25%. More time can be allocated to candidates with more severe difficulties and disability on an individual case by case basis.
  • A reader: Readers can be used for candidates who have visual impairments or a disability that affects their ability to read accurately themselves. In some cases, a computer reader will be allowed.
  • A scribe: Scribes can be allocated to candidates who have a disability or injury that affects their ability to write legibly.
  • Modified papers: These are papers which must be ordered well in advance of the exam in different sizes, fonts, colours, braille, or modified language.
  • Assistive technology: If the candidate uses assistive technology as their normal way of working they will be able to continue this for exams. Some of the most common requests are for word processors, exam reading pens, computer text readers, and voice processors.
  • Separate room: This is suitable for candidates with very specific needs.
  • Rest breaks: Supervised rest breaks, these are not included in the extra time allowance.

Candidates who have a history of needing rest breaks and/or a separate room do not necessarily have to apply for AA, the school’s SENDCo can organise this as long as it reflects the person’s normal way of working and can be evidenced over a period of time.

The SENDCo must be satisfied the need is genuine, and those eligible might include pupils with learning, communication and interaction needs; a medical condition; and sensory, physical, social or mental and emotional needs.  Access Arrangements should neither advantage those with them or disadvantage those without them, all students should have equal access to exams.

Not every student who is entitled to Access Arrangements (AA) has a Special Educational Need.  We assess all our students if they qualify for AA in Year 10 and inform parents of the outcome.

If you believe your child is entitled to AA, please contact the schools SENDCO to discuss.  For further information please visit:


Useful external links