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What are Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, and how do we identify them?

Our school is an inclusive school where every child matters; we aim to address children’s needs and support their development in the most appropriate way possible and celebrate effort as much as achievement. Our school’s SEND policy document is available on this website, detailing our inclusive philosophy in relation to SEND.

The definition of Special Education Needs and Disabilities from the SEND Code of Practice is as follows:

"A child or young person has SEND if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or 

Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions."

(Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0-25 years, January 2015, p. 15-16)

High-quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils will always be the first step in responding to pupils who may or may not have SEND.

In addition to this Kent County Council provides the following clarification of what constitutes a child needing SEN Support:

"SEN support is intensive and personalised intervention which is required to enable the child to be engaged in learning. It will usually involve significant amounts of resource from the educational setting. Each child identified as SEN Support will have Outcomes which have been agreed through a process of collaboration and discussion. A personalised programme of support will be devised and be reviewed and adjusted frequently (at least three times per year) with close child and/or parental involvement."

At Pilgrims' way, we recognise the importance of early identification of special educational needs and/or disability. It is important that additional needs are identified at the earliest stage and effective provision is put into place to ensure successful long-term outcomes for the child. As a school, we follow our own school ‘Early Identification Flowchart’ which highlights the stages of our continuous SEN provision. We encourage parents to be part of this journey and to work in partnership with us as a school. Please contact us if you have any concerns.

The school and nursery has a dedicated Inclusion lead/SENCO, Mrs Watts, who alongside class teachers, and the Inclusion Team are responsible for identifying and providing support for children with special needs.

Through regular meetings and collaboration, the class teacher/SENCO will gather information about a pupil and their learning needs to identify any special education needs.

Parents are always informed if school staff consider that their child has an additional need and parents and children (as appropriate depending upon age and capability) are involved in the planning to meet the need.

We often recommend initially that eyesight and hearing are checked to discount these aspects as possible underlying causes of learning issues.

At Pilgrims’ Way a range of specific, more specialised tests are used (usually by the SENCO or other trained staff) to assist in the identification of an individual child’s needs in order to plan targeted programmes for them and to use as a benchmark for measuring the impact of subsequent interventions. These can include:

  • Sandwell Early Numeracy Assessments (for pupils aged 4–8 years & for pupils aged 8+)
  • LASS screening to identify strengths and challenges with literacy skills and executive function
  • Speech Link and Language Link
  • Social, emotional, behavioural checklists – e.g. Boxall Profiles, Leuven Wellbeing Scale, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • Observation schedules e.g. for behaviour, concentration, attention
  • Sensory Profiles
  • Assessment of hand and fine motor skills

What are the areas of Special Education Needs and Disabilities?

Additional and/or different provision is currently being made in school for children with a range of needs, including the following 4 main areas as identified in the SEND Code of Practice 2015:

  • Cognition and Learning – Moderate learning difficulties; Specific learning difficulties - dyslexia, dyscalculia and developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
  • Sensory, Medical and Physical – hearing impairment, sensory processing difficulties, epilepsy and diabetes.
  • Communication and Interaction – autistic spectrum condition (ASC), selective mutism, speech and language difficulties including developmental language disorder (DLD).
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attachment disorder, emotional and behaviour regulation, social difficulties, anxiety and general ability and readiness to learn.

Provision, strategies and approaches are drawn from the updated Mainstream Core Standards, which can be found here:

There is also a parent guide to the Mainstream Core Standards, which can be found here:

How do we support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities?

SEND support arises from a four part cycle, known as the graduated approach, through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised, leading to a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes.

The four stages of the cycle are: • Assess • Plan • Do • Review.

The class teachers use provision maps and personalised plans to outline specific interventions and outcomes which are regularly reviewed, evaluated and shared.

All our staff are trained each year on the needs of new students joining the school – this can include training from specialist agencies or consultants, as well as from our Inclusion Lead/SENCO or other staff with relevant expertise.

SEND training forms part of the continuing professional development of all teachers and TAs and is organised in accordance with the needs of the students. The school works closely with other local schools, sharing training opportunities including INSET days and outside experts.

The Inclusion Lead/SENCO meets with the senior leaders regularly to review and plan the training, guidance and advice that staff across the school need to ensure they meet the additional learning requirements of our students.

Our school’s Accessibility Plan (available on request in school) outlines adaptations made to the building to meet particular needs and enhance learning.

How do we evaluate the effectiveness of provision for children with SEND?.

Class teachers and the Inclusion Lead/SENCO make use of assessment information/progress rates etc. pre- and post- interventions as well as making use of attainment and progress data for children with SEN across the school to evaluate the effectiveness.

As part of our person-centred approach we use pupil/parents interviews/questionnaires to gain pupil and parent voice.

An Annual Review is held for children with EHC Plans; interim reviews are also arranged throughout the year to discuss progress against outcomes and next steps.

What additional support for learning is available for children with SEND?

Some TAs are deployed in classes to support children individually or in small groups or to cover the class in order that the class teacher can provide individual or small group support. We use a team approach to delivering provision in order to foster independence and generalise skills. In addition to this we have an Inclusion Team who provide more specialised support across the school.

We teach an adapted curriculum to ensure that the needs of all children are met.

We have a large number of intervention programmes in place for children who require additional support including:

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programme) - a programme to develop reading and spelling skills

Precision Teaching - boosting reading potential

Numicon - to support maths

Clever Hands - for fine motor skills

Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations – supports understanding

Widgit software

Language through Colour  -  support writing and sentence construction

Drawing and Talking - a child-centred therapy focusing on prevention, early intervention and recovery of mental health issues

Lego/Duplo Challenge - develop and reinforce play skills and social skills

Sensory Diets -  supporting individuals to improve their levels of attention and focus.

Active Listening groups - to support effective listening and learning

Language Link groups and NELI groups - for receptive and expressive language skills  

Zones of Regulation - to help manage emotions

5 Point Scale/emotion support

Specific resources or strategies are in place for many children recommended by external agencies e.g. coloured overlays/exercise books, sloping boards, sensory cushions, use of ‘brain breaks’, access to area of quiet retreat, personalised timetables or now/next strips, Busy Boxes

Who can I contact?

If you wish to discuss any of the above information or a specific need for your child, please contact the office to arrange an appointment with Mrs Watts, our Assistant Head, Inclusion lead & SENCo

Telephone: 01227 760084            Email

Our SEND governor is Mrs Taylor-Williams who can be contacted via email on

Additional information on the SEND Information Hub (formerly known as the Local Offer) can be found  here

Furthermore, IASK offers support and advice to parents and families of pupils with special educational needs or a disability here: or via their Facebook page 

Kent PACT is a forum for parents and carers of children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) within Kent local authority. They empower parents and carers and help them to have their say about the support that their family receives:

Other useful links

Community paediatrics website has useful information and advice on  Autism, ADHD, sleep, anxiety & emotional regulation

'Children's Therapies The Pod' is a website offering support and advice. The speech and language section is particularly helpful.

The BBC Bitesize website provides a SEND toolkit for parents:

SNAAP - Special Needs Advisory and Activities Project provides support and advice to families for children with SEND:

Information on Autism and ADHD

Autism Apprentice currently offer free advice clinic appointments for families across Kent . These are for children and young people with or without a diagnosis.

Ways to support children's mental health

7 ways to support children and young people who are worried