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Special educational needs (SEN) support in colleges

Where a student has a learning difficulty or disability that calls for special educational provision, further education colleges, sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies must use their best endeavours to put appropriate support in place. Young people should be supported to participate in discussions about their aspirations, their needs, and the support that they think will help them best.

Colleges should ensure that there is a named person in the college with oversight of special educational needs (SEN).

SEN support should provide a cycle of assessment of progress, planning and putting in place the appropriate support, and reviewing the student’s progress. Colleges should involve the student and, particularly for those aged 16 to 18, their parents, closely at all stages of the cycle. 

In a small number of cases, a young person may require a higher level of specialist resourcing which is different from and additional to that which is usually provided by colleges and it may be necessary for the local authority to complete an education, health and care needs assessment in order to determine whether it is necessary for provision to be made through an education, health and care plan.

1. Assess

Colleges should assess the young person’s needs, so that they give the right support. This information should be discussed with the student.

The student should be offered support at this meeting and can be accompanied by a parent, advocate or other supporter. This may identify the need for a more specialist assessment from within the college or beyond.

2. Plan

If the college decides that the student needs SEN support it will discuss this with young person.

It might include, for example:

  • assistive technology
  • personal care (or access to it)
  • specialist tuition
  • note takers
  • interpreters
  • one to one and small group learning support
  • independent living training
  • accessible information such as symbol based materials
  • access to therapies

3. Do

Colleges should ensure that the agreed support is put in place and that appropriately qualified staff provide the support needed.

4. Review

If the college decides that the student needs special educational needs support, they will discuss this with young person. It might include, for example: assistive technology, personal care (or access to it), specialist tuition, note takers, interpreters, one to one and small group learning support, independent living training, accessible info.

The college should review the young person’s progress, and the difference that the help the pupil has been given has made. The student should be involved in the review and in planning the next step.

If the child or young person has not responded to the help they were given, the review should decide what can be done next.

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