Get started with SEND
If you are new to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), this page will help you to:
- understand important issues that affect all parents and carers of children and young people with SEND
- see the support that is available to parents, carers and young people with SEND in Buckinghamshire
SEND is short for special educational needs and disabilities.
For children and young people, having SEND means that they may:
- find it harder to learn than other people their age
- need extra help to learn
- have physical difficulties that make it harder to go to an education provider such as a school or college
Full definition of SEND
The Equality Act 2010 says a disability is a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on a person's ability to do normal day to day activities.
In this definition, 'substantial' is more than a small or minor impact, and 'long term' means more than 12 months.
Special educational needs, often written as SEN, are defined in the Children and Families Act 2014.
It says that children or young people with SEN need extra support in education because they:
- find it harder to learn than other people their age
- have difficulty using the facilities in a mainstream education provider without special help or equipment
In the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years, SEN is split into 4 categories:
- Communication and interaction: difficultly talking to or understanding other people
- Social, emotional and mental health difficulties: challenges in making friends and forming relationships
- Sensory or physical needs: extra support or special equipment is needed to learn effectively
- Cognition and learning: difficulty learning or learning more slowly than other people of the same age
You can also see the government's legal definition of SEND.
There are professionals and organisations in your local area who can help you with SEND.
If you do not have experience with SEND, the first services you may contact for support are:
GPs and schools
If you are worried about your child's development and they go to a mainstream education provider, you should first speak to their teachers.
Mainstream education providers include:
- early years settings such as nurseries or preschools
- providers of further education such as colleges
The best person to speak to is an education provider's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).
If your child is not in education, you should speak to your GP about getting a diagnosis.
You can find your nearest GP.
In education, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) are the main point of contact for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND.
SENCOs also work closely with young people with SEND to ensure they get the best from education.
SENCOs make sure that children and young people with SEND are supported in education through SEN support.
They can also help you to apply for an education, health and education (EHC) plan if necessary.
Buckinghamshire Family Information Service
We are responsible for publishing the SEND local offer and can help if you:
- need help to find information
- are unsure who to contact
- are having difficulty using this website
To contact us:
The SEND Information, Advice and Support (SENDIAS) team is at arm's length from Buckinghamshire Council.
They can help you to find accurate and impartial information about SEND and the law.
To contact the team:
Parents and carers of children with SEND can find help and support at our family centres.
Services vary between family centres, but they all provide health services for children and young people with SEND up to the age of 25.
The health services provided by family centres are universal, meaning that they are open to everyone, not just children and young people with SEND.
Family centres can give you support if you are worried about your child's development, and can help you take part in the Healthy Child Programme.
Find your nearest family centre in our directory:
All children and young people with SEND are entitled to a mainstream education.
This means that all education providers must support children and young people with SEND. This includes early years settings, schools and colleges.
All education providers help their pupils with SEND through special educational needs (SEN) support.
SEN support is provided by all early years settings, schools and colleges, using the normal funding they get from the council and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
All education providers across Buckinghamshire should provide the same level of SEN support.
In most cases, children and young people with SEND get all the help they need from SEN support.
But where an education provider is unable to give a child or young person with SEND the help they need, you can consider applying for an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
In our SEND local offer health section you can read about support for children and young people with SEND, including:
You can also find support for children and young people's mental health, and help for other conditions associated with SEND including:
- development and behaviour
- speech and language
Our Autism Toolbox also has help and advice for parents and carers of children and young people with autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
As the parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND, you may be entitled to extra benefits to help care for your family.
Young people with SEND over the age of 16 can get benefits to help them in education, find a job or become independent.
Parents, carers and young people with SEND may also get extra money from universal benefits. Universal benefits are available to everyone, not just people affected by SEND, and include funded childcare and Universal Credit.
Find out about the SEND money and benefits you can apply for.
All childcare providers must give the same opportunities to children with SEND as they do for every other child. This includes nurseries and preschools.
We can help you to find childcare that suits children with SEND, and point you towards other sources of support.
For more help see the SEND local offer childcare and early years section.
There are lots of activities and clubs in the local area that are suitable for children and young people with SEND.
Search our directory to find out what's happening near you, and use our filters to narrow your search:
As the parent or carer of a young person with special educational needs (SEN), you will help them to make important decisions.
Learning disability charity Mencap's Mental Capacity Act resource pack can help you to understand:
- how to make sure people with SEN are involved in decision making
- who can make decisions if a relative cannot
- how to follow the law and complaints procedures
This video about the Mental Capacity Act is also helpful.
When young people can make their own decisions
A child becomes a young person when they are no longer compulsory school age.
That is, the end of June in the year they turn 16.
A young person then has the right to make decisions for themselves.
Parents and carers should still be included in making important decisions, as they have parental responsibility until a young person is 18.
But it should always be assumed that a young person has the mental capacity to make their own decisions, unless proven otherwise.
Also, while a young person may have trouble making complex decisions, they may have the capacity to make simple decisions.
Mental capacity assessment
An assessment can be helpful for parents and carers, as it will allow them to formally decide if a young person has the mental capacity to make decisions or not.
This assessment can be performed by a:
- GP or medical practitioner
- mental health professional
- occupational therapist
Speak to your GP first for advice.
If a young person does not have the mental capacity to make decisions, their rights can pass on to:
- a person appointed as a deputy through a court
- professionals at the council
Responsibilities of a deputy
If a young person reaches 18 and does not have the capacity to make important decisions about education, living arrangements, care or money, another person can apply for a deputyship order through the court of protection.
That person can then make decisions on behalf of the young person.
- be over 18
- know the young person well
- have regular contact with the young person and understand their wishes
Deputies are usually a parent, but could be a sibling or another appropriate person.
When to apply for a deputyship order
It is best to apply for a deputyship order when the young person is 16 or 17.
This is so the order is in place when they turn 18 and there is no longer parental responsibility.
Appointing an attorney to make decisions
Young people who have trouble making decisions can also choose to ask someone to act on their behalf.
This person will act as the young person's attorney.
A young person must have the mental capacity to appoint an attorney, and has control over the powers given to their attorney.
Where a young person lives
A young person’s right to live separately from their parents depends on:
- their age
- their mental capacity to make a decision about where they live
- whether or not they are looked after by the council
There is no single rule that covers everyone, and the options may vary depending on circumstances.
We always do our best to help children and young people with SEND and their parents or carers.
But if you are not happy with a decision we have made, or disappointed in how a process run by the council was managed, you can make a complaint.
There are different ways to share your concerns, and take the matter further if you are not satisfied with our response:
Talk to the professionals involved
You should first raise your concerns with a professional who was involved in the decision or process you are unhappy with.
Problems can often be resolved quickly when concerns are shared and discussed.
Education, health and care (EHC) plan co-ordinators
If you are unhappy because we have chosen not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, or give your child an EHC plan, you should first speak to the EHC co-ordinator or assistant EHC co-ordinator involved in your case.
They can arrange a meeting to bring together:
- parents or carers
- the child or young person with SEND
- teachers and other professionals
This is a chance to discuss the current and future support your child with SEND needs.
Integrated SEND Service
If you have explored the options above and would like to take your complaint further, you can contact our Integrated SEND (iSEND) Service.
If you telephone, you will be asked to select the area you live in by pressing one of the numbers listed below. If you don't know, press 4.
- Chiltern and South Bucks
- High Wycombe
SEND Resolutions team
If you are not able to resolve your concerns with the Integrated SEND Service, you can contact our SEND Resolutions team.
They will work with you to try and reach a resolution.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support (SENDIAS) team can help if you need SEND support.
SENDIAS is at arm's length from Buckinghamshire Council. It provides free, impartial information, advice and support for children and young people with SEND and their parents or carers.
Buckinghamshire Council feedback team
If you have not been able to resolve your concerns using one of the methods listed above, you can raise a formal complaint by contacting the Buckinghamshire Council feedback team.
If you plan to take your concerns to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), you first need to contact an independent mediation adviser and get a certificate to show you spoke with them.
You can use an independent, unbiased mediation service by calling Global Mediation on 0800 064 4488.
This service is free of charge.
After speaking with a mediation advisor, you can decide if you would like to go to a mediation meeting.
If you do not wish to go through with mediation, the mediation adviser will send you a certificate within 3 days, confirming that mediation advice has been given.
First-tier Tribunal (SEND)
If the council is not able to help resolve your concerns, you can contact the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).
The First-tier Tribunal can help with appeals against decisions made by the council, including a refusal to:
- assess a child’s education, health and care (EHC) needs
- make a statement of their special educational needs (SEN)
- reassess their SEN
- create an EHC plan
- change what’s in a child’s SEN needs statement or EHC plan
- maintain the statement or EHC plan
Read more about the First-tier Tribunal (SEND).
Concerns with health services
Find out how to raise concerns about health services you have received in Buckinghamshire.
Concerns with social care services
Find out how to make a compliment, complaint or comment about social care provided by Buckinghamshire Council.
Short for Families and Carers Together in Buckinghamshire, FACT Bucks is a group of parents and professionals who meet to discuss issues that affect children and young people with additional needs and disabilities locally.
FACT Bucks gives parents a place and opportunity to:
- improve the services and support for children and young people with SEND
- help ensure children with additional needs are fully included in society and have access to the support and facilities necessary to sustain and improve their wellbeing
- meet directly with decision-makers and those providing and delivering services
- join local meetings, events and training
FACT Bucks work with the Local Offer for SEND to provide insight on topics and help improve our information.
If you're a parent or carer of a child or young person with a SEND and live in Buckinghamshire, email [email protected] to find out how you can get involved.