Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

Support in school for the four areas of SEND need

When a child needs additional support at school or college, early support should be provided through a graduated response and schools must:

  • identify and assess if a child has SEND and put in place additional support
  • inform parents about the assessment and put in place a plan for additional provision
  • use best endeavours to make sure children get the support they need
  • ensure that children with SEND engage in the same activities that all other learners do
  • review progress with the family.

You can talk to the class teacher or the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) about this support. Schools have access to specific SEND funding as well as additional funding accessed through the local authority.

Schools can also get support from Babcock LDP – an organisation commissioned by Devon County Council to provide support for vulnerable children. Their services include support for children with physical disabilities, deaf and hearing impairment and visual impairment. Babcock has also created guidance about educating children out of their year group, which should only happen in exceptional circumstances.

Most children can be supported within mainstream schools and facilities. However, if the needs of a child require the local authority to provide more specialist educational support, you can request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment.

If the assessment shows that an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is needed, this plan will give details of the provision required to meet the child or young person’s needs. This could be:

  • specialist provision in mainstream schools (includes special units)
  • a placement in a special school or specialist independent placement

Every teacher, practitioner and professional that is working with your child is responsible for ensuring they have the right support when they need it and depending on what their individual needs are.

Support for communication and interaction needs

To support communication and interaction needs, schools may do some or all of these things as part of their support for all children and young people:

  • Explicitly teach important skills and model rules of social interaction.
  • Create a buddy/befriender system at break and lunchtimes.
  • Positively reinforce good behaviour, with individualised motivators.
  • Use positive redirection to stop inappropriate behaviour.
  • Use visual supports to define areas and structure the day, for example, visual timetable, drawers labelled with pictures as well as words, emotional thermometers.
  • Give pupils a specific role in group work to support their interaction with peers, or provide an alternative individual task if group work is proving too difficult.
  • Understand and manage health and safety considerations, e.g. lack of an awareness of danger about running away/off site or using certain equipment.
  • Ensure pupils are seated in the best place to reduce distraction.
  • Each pupil’s special interests are incorporated to focus attention and increase motivation.
  • Staff check that information has been understood, by asking the child to explain what they have to do rather than repeating instructions.
  • An appropriate level of language is used, with short, simple sentences if needed.

Targeted and specialist support for communication and interaction needs

There are a range of services and professionals available to help with more specialist needs. These include:

  • Nursery Plus is a service that helps early years setting to provide additional support for children who are not reaching age-related expectations. Early years settings will apply for access to this service if a child meets all the criteria.
  • Babcock LDP’s Communication and Interaction Team (autism, speech, language and communication needs) work with education settings to help staff to understand the learning, emotional wellbeing and behaviour of children and young people with communication and interaction needs and to develop strategies to support them more effectively.
  • Children and Family Health Devon’s Autistic spectrum conditions teams can assess and help to diagnose children with an autistic spectrum condition.
  • Children and Family Health Devon’s Speech and language therapy team provides assessment, training and support for children with language or speech disorders or delay.
  • Babcock LDP’s ICT/SEN Team supports access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and provides advice on using ICT to enhance learning for children and young people with sensory, physical, significant learning or communication and interaction difficulties.
  • Accessing Communication Services in Devon is a project which aims to ensure we meet children and young people’s speech, language and communication needs through early identification and intervention.

Support for physical and sensory needs

To support a child with physical and sensory needs, schools may do some or all of these things as part of their support for all children and young people:

  • The classroom is adapted to reduce visual or auditory distraction.
  • There are opportunities for alternative forms of recording eg using ICT.
  • Staff use the pupil’s name and if appropriate physical prompts to gain attention.
  • Visual supports such as a shaker are used to gain class attention, for example, “Stop!” showing palm of hand and waiting for attention before speaking.
  • Clear expectations of activities are established with visual cues.
  • Specific activities are implemented to encourage attention and listening skills.
  • Staff use specific positive reinforcement for good listening behaviour, for example, “Good sitting still”.
  • Staff use visual supports to back up good listening, for example, widgit symbols.
  • Teaching areas are kept uncluttered.

Targeted and specialist support for physical and sensory needs

  • Specialist child assessment centres support young children who have severe and complex learning or physical needs. These centres enable a range of professionals to assess and help children in one place.
  • Children and Family Health Devon’s Occupational Therapy (OT) Team provides advice, assessment, intervention and support for children who have a range of disabilities, disorders and additional needs that prevent them from carrying out the activities of everyday life.
  • Portage is a home-based education service for the parents of babies and pre-school children with a range of severe and complex learning or physical needs.
  • Rehabilitation officers for visual impairments (ROVICS) work with children who have a visual impairment, their families and educational settings.
  • The Deaf and Hearing Impairment Team provides specialist support for deaf and hearing-impaired children and young people through home and education setting visits.
  • The Physical Difficulties Team visits children and young people who have a primary need of complex physical difficulties in mainstream schools and settings.
  • The Visual Impairment Team supports children and young people through home and education setting visits.
  • The ICT/SEN Team supports access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and provides advice on using ICT to enhance learning for children and young people with sensory, physical, significant learning or communication and interaction difficulties.

Social, emotional and mental health needs

To support social, emotional and mental health needs, schools may do some or all of these things as part of their support for all children and young people:

  • Have a knowledge of the pupil and possible triggers and help to develop the pupil’s self-awareness
  • Anticipate impending sensory overload in order to intervene at an early stage, or allow the pupil to remove themselves from the situation
  • Have discussions with pupil and parents/carers about how support for emotional and mental health needs is managed
  • Prepare the pupil for new or unusual experiences
  • Implement self-monitoring strategies so that pupils can indicate to staff when they are not coping

Targeted and specialist support for social, emotional and mental health needs

  • Early Help for Mental Health (EH4MH) – This programme aims to build resilience in children and young people by tackling mental health issues before they become more serious.
  • Babcock LDP’s Behaviour Support Team takes a lead role in developing provision for young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.
  • Babcock LDP’s Early Years Team provides high-quality support and advice in the wide range of early years settings across Devon, in relation to young children’s learning and development.
  • Babcock LDP’s Educational Psychology Team specialises in understanding how children and young people learn, think and behave.
  • Babcock LDP’s ICT/SEN Team supports access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and provides advice on using ICT to enhance learning for children and young people with sensory, physical, significant learning or communication and interaction difficulties. 

Cognition and learning needs

To support a child’s cognition and learning needs, schools may do some or all of these things as part of their support for all children and young people.

  • Anticipate and plan for difficulties listening to and understanding instructions or stories
  • Regularly monitor pupil’s understanding by asking the pupil to show or explain the instructions in their own words
  • Provide visual supports for the pupil to indicate when they haven’t understood, for example, a traffic light system
  • Provide additional processing time to respond to questions and tasks
  • Offer alternatives for the pupil to choose, for example, “Is it…or..?”
  • Use multi-sensory approaches to teaching new vocabulary and concepts
  • Provide opportunities for repetition and reinforcement
  • Give information in small ‘chunks’ in clear, concise language
  • Explain expressions, for example, “Up you hop” “bright as a button.”
  • Relate the work to the pupil’s direct experience whenever possible
  • Differentiate questions to suit individual children e.g. “what/where” questions are easier than “when/why”
  • Encourage the pupil to use strategies to process information e.g. silent rehearsal of instructions, identifying the important words in the instruction
  • Emphasise key words using slight stress and/or appropriate non-verbal communication
  • Avoid the use of sarcasm, ambiguities and idioms.

Targeted and specialist support for cognition and learning needs

  • Learning disability teams give advice and support to families with a child who has a cognitive impairment that limits educational and practical development.
  • The ICT/SEND Team supports access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It provides advice on using ICT to enhance learning for children and young people with sensory, physical, significant learning or communication and interaction difficulties.