Expectations of Schools and Academies

Smiling female students wearing school uniforms walking through school corridor

Most pupils with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) go to their local mainstream school. Some children may need additional support to access their local school. This may be help with learning, communication, behaviour, or sensory needs. Schools and colleges in Cambridgeshire should work with parents so that pupils can access learning alongside children of the same age. 

Very occasionally, a mainstream setting may not be the right place for a pupil with SEND. The Government provide the Edubase directory to search schools and publish a list of approved, independent special institutions 

Statutory duties

All schools must publish details of SEND provision they make available through their School Information Report and co-operate with the LA in drawing up and reviewing the Local Offer. 

Mainstream Schools should have a qualified Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

Schools have a duty as part of the Equality Act 2010 to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled children and young people, to support medical conditions and to inform parents and young people if SEND provision is made for them. 

Schools should be able to evidence good outcomes for all children, including those with SEND as a result of interventions. Good provision mapping, individual planning and tracking of outcomes of any interventions will ensure that this evidence is always available. 

Schools should ensure good provision through Quality First Teaching, a graduated response.

Schools must be able to demonstrate that any child they put forward for consideration for statutory assessment has needs that are significantly outside and beyond those that can be provided for by using their delegated and devolved funding and the resources available through the SEND Information Hub (Local Offer) 


Schools and colleges should ensure good transition planning is in place to best support children/young people with SEND and their families to successfully transition to a new class or setting.  

What is a SENCo?

A Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is a qualified teacher who arranges additional support for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN). Their role within settings is to 

  • put the settings SEN policy into effect on a daily basis 

  • help staff to support children with SEN 

  • work with parents to help their child 

  • work with local authority support services 

  • work with other professionals e.g. health services 

All mainstream schools and maintained nursery schools must have a SENCO.  Smaller primaries might share a SENCO between them.  Other early years providers must meet the SEN of their children.  To do this they might find someone who can take on the SENCO job or share the SENCO job between a group. 

Identification of SEN

Early identification of special educational needs is an important part of ensuring that the best provision is made for all children and young people.  Where a child or young person continues to make less than expected progress, despite high quality differentiated targeted teaching, it is important to understand whether there is an underlying difficulty which is acting as a barrier to learning 


What to do if you have concerns

Speak to someone at your child's school that could be the: 

  • class teacher  

  • form tutor/ head of year 

  • Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo)

The school might even contact you first if they think your child could use some extra support. Usually, you'll meet to discuss any concerns and the way forward. 






Graduated approach to SEN

School may talk about APDR (assess, plan do review) or the graduated approach. 

This is a 4 step way of working that is talked about in the SEN code of practice 2014. 


  • What is preventing a child from accessing learning? 
  • What are the childs strengths/ areas of concern? 
  • What is the child/pupils and family view? 
In identifying a child as needing SEN support the class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should carry out a clear analysis of the pupil’s needs. This should draw on the teacher’s assessment and experience of the pupil, their previous progress and attainment, as well as information from the school’s core approach to pupil progress, attainment, and behaviour. It should also draw on other subject teachers’ assessments where relevant, the individual’s development in comparison to their peers and national data, the views and experience of parents, the pupil’s own views and, if relevant, advice from external support services. Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. These should be recorded and compared to the setting’s own assessment and information on how the pupil is developing. 


  • What will the school do to support needs identified at ‘assess’? 
  • This could be strategies or an intervention to help the child with an area of identified need 
  • What can the pupil or family do to help?

Where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN support, the parents must be formally notified, although parents should have already been involved in forming the assessment of needs as outlined above. The teacher and the SENCO should agree in consultation with the parent and the pupil the adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place, as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour, along with a clear date for review. 

All teachers and support staff who work with the pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required. 


  • The plan is put in place 
  • Who needs a copy of the plan? all adults working with the child/pupil in school or college should know about the plan. Parents and the child if appropriate should have a copy of the plan. 
The class or subject teacher should remain responsible for working with the child on a daily basis. Where the interventions involve group or one-to-one teaching away from the main class or subject teacher, they should still retain responsibility for the pupil. They should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved, to plan and assess the impact of support and interventions and how they can be linked to classroom teaching. 


  • The plan is discussed with parents, teachers, the SENCO, support staff, the child if appropriate 
  • Did it work, which bits might need changing?  
  • Did it tell us anything to add to the Assess part of the approach? 

The effectiveness of the support and interventions and their impact on the pupil’s progress should be reviewed in line with the agreed date. 6.54 The impact and quality of the support and interventions should be evaluated, along with the views of the pupil and their parents 

This should feed back into the analysis of the pupil’s needs 

SEND ordinarily available Provision Toolkit

Ordinarily Available Provision (OAP) can be defined as the provision made for children whose special educational needs can be met from the resources generally available to the school or setting.  This will apply to all children without an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), but children with an EHCP will also benefit from this type of provision in addition to the provision written in their plan.  

Cambridgeshire County Council have co produced a SEND Ordinarily Available Provision Toolkit. This is a resource created for schools but can also be used by parents and professionals.

How is school help supporting my child to move into education, employmet and Training?

You will often see work and career awareness introduced at the primary school stage. This often looks like employer visits/ Career Days at schools, so children start to think about different careers and jobs in the future  

The school curriculum will also weave employability & transferable skills into its timetable: Thinking skills, problem-solving, decision-making skills, organisational skills (cognition and executive functioning skills); developing curiosity, imagination, and interest; fostering the child's natural curiosity, developing language and reasoning; assisting in developing the new skills which are needed.  

Though no longer compulsory in schools, work experience is still offered at many schools in Yr 10 upwards and further education foundation learning departments and vocational qualifications.

What should I expect from my school to support my child with their future options?
  • Every school will be expected to publish details of their careers programme for young people and their parents  

  • Every school  must appoint a named person to the role of Careers Leader to lead the careers programme  

  • Every school should begin using the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks to improve careers provision now: Gatsby: Gatsby Benchmarks | The Careers and Enterprise Company  

  • From September 2012, every school must ensure that pupils are provided with independent and impartial careers guidance from year 8 to year 13. This will likely look different in different schools and may be offered in PSHE/Career Education lessons, in-house careers, external career guidance providers. 

What schools must publish online (Contractual and Legal Duty)

From September 2018, the government requires that schools and colleges publish the following information about their careers programme: 

  • The name, email address and telephone number of the school’s Careers Leader 

  • A summary of the careers programme, including details of how pupils, parents, teachers and employers may access information about the careers programme 

  • How the school measures and assesses the impact of the careers programme on pupils 

  • The date of the school’s next review of the information published. 

Related Pages

  1. Education, Health and Care Plans
  2. Education transitions
  3. Easy Read Information about Education
  4. Accessibility
  5. Know your rights

Related Services

  1. Pinpoint: Cambridgeshire Parent Carer Forum
  2. Autism Education Trust
  3. IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice)

External Links

  1. Cambridgeshire Learn Together
  2. GOV.UK - Independent special schools and colleges database
  3. Ordinarily Available Provision Toolkit
  4. Gatsby Benchmarks


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