Additional support at school for deaf children with special educational needs

The Governments in Wales and Northern Ireland are currently proposing a range of changes to their special educational needs frameworks. The changes are expected to come into effect in the next few years. Once these changes are implemented, we will update our resources to reflect the changes.

What is a special educational need?

A special educational need (SEN) means that extra or specialised provision is needed in order for a child to access their education. For example, a deaf child may require speech and language therapy or a radio aid to hear the teacher.

The different countries of the UK, particularly Scotland, have different terminology around SEN. Country-specific information is provided on this page where relevant.

What support is available for children with special educational needs?

On this page you’ll find information about additional support and services that are available to children with SEN.

In England, local authorities are now required to publish information about what support is available to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities through a 'Local Offer'.

Download: Local Offers and Special Educational Needs factsheet

Download: Local Offer factsheet for deaf young people (England)

Take a look at our FAQ for parents of deaf children on SEN reform in England.  


Special educational needs (SEN) support

Image (credit: NDCS)

Where deaf children in England need extra support in a nursery, school, college or another education setting because of their deafness, they may be described as needing  ‘Special educational needs (SEN) support’. If this applies to your child, the education setting must take a number of steps to make sure the needs of your child is being met. Our factsheet explains what this means in practice and the rights that it gives your child.

Download: Special educational needs (SEN) support: meeting the needs of deaf children and young people without an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan (England)

The term ‘SEN support’ replaces what used to be known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’ in schools in England.



Statements and Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

A statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is a legal document which sets out your child’s needs, what support they will receive and where they will go to school. This is usually only needed if the school or education setting can't or will be unlikely to provide all the support your child needs.

In England, statements of SEN have been replaced by EHC plans. If your child still has a statement of SEN and you haven't been told when this will be replaced, please contact our Freephone Helpline.

Statements remain in place in Wales, but will be replaced in the future - probably from 2020 - by Individual Development Plans

If you live in England, to get an EHC plan, your child will need a statutory assessment to find out what their educational needs are.

Download our factsheet: Contributing to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment and the production of an EHC plan if you live in England and your local authority has either agreed to:

  • carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • carry out an EHC needs assessment, and to prepare an EHC plan after the assessment.

The guidance in the factsheet will help you to prepare for the assessment process, so that you’re able to share your views, and make sure that the EHC plan meets your child’s needs. It includes some examples of the sort of provision you might expect to see in a plan.

For more information on how to request an EHC needs assessment and EHC plans download our factsheet: A Parent's Guide to Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments and Plans (England).

We have also produced a version of this factsheet for young people: Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans factsheet for deaf young people (England).

Our factsheet for parents of children in Wales A guide to statutory assessments and statements of special educational needs for deaf children (Wales) explains the process of having a statutory assessment carried out and getting a statement of special educational needs for your child.

We are currently working on content about statutory assessments and statements in Northern Ireland, in the meantime the Special Educational Needs Advice Centre has lots of information. 

Where a child has an EHC plan, the family has the right to ask for a Personal Budget to give them greater control over what support is provided. Our factsheet Personal Budgets and Special Educational Needs provides useful guidance.


Annual reviews of statements / EHC plans

You will be invited by your child's school to attend a review meeting every 12 months, to make sure that the statement of SEN or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is still providing the right support for your child's learning. In year 9 the review meeting is used to plan what will happen when your child leaves school at age 16. This is called a 'transition' plan.

Download: Annual reviews of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans (England)

Download: Annual reviews of statements of Special Educational Needs plus transition plans (Wales)

Download: The annual review of a statement of Special Educational Needs and transition plans (Northern Ireland)


Appealing against a Special Educational Needs decision

If you can’t reach an agreement with the local authority about your child’s SEN provision, you have the right to appeal to a tribunal. For information about the appeals process, download the factsheet that’s relevant to where you live.

Download: How to appeal to the Tribunal against a decision about your child’s special educational needs (England)

Download: Making a Reference to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal (Scotland)

Download: Appealing to the Special Educational Needs tribunal in Wales

Northern Ireland
Download: Appealing to the SEN and Disability Tribunal in Northern Ireland about the Contents of Your Child's Statement


Additional support for learning in Scotland

In Scotland, the terminology 'additional support for learning' is used rather than 'special educational needs'. To find out about the provision of additional support for learning in Scotland, download the below factsheet, which covers:

  • Assessments of children’s additional support needs
  • The support that’s available for children with additional support needs
  • How to resolve disagreements with the education authority 

Download: A guide to additional support for learning (Scotland)


Is my child entitled to free school transport?

Some children with SEN are entitled to free local authority transport. This depends on:

  • whether or not the child’s special educational needs, disability or mobility problems are such that it would be reasonable to expect the child to walk
  • the walking distance between home and school
  • the child’s social and family circumstances
  • the suitability of the walking route for a child of that age/capability.

Download: School Transport

If you’re not already an NDCS member, you’ll need to sign up for free to access the factsheets on this page. NDCS members also have free access to a range of information resources, support services, and events.   


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