The council has a policy to make suitable provision for children with special needs. This can either be in mainstream schools, in provision attached to mainstream schools, or in special schools.
Special educational needs - what does it mean?
The term "special educational needs" has a legal definition. Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age.
The law says that children do not have learning difficulties just because their first language is not English. Of course some of these children may have learning difficulties as well. Children with special educational needs may need extra help because of a range of needs, such as in thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, or difficulties with speech and language or how they relate to and behave with other people.
Many children will have special educational needs of some kind at some time during their education. Schools and other organisations can help most children overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily. But a few children will need extra help for some or all of their time in school.
Help for children with special educational needs will usually be in the child's ordinary, mainstream early education setting or school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists.
The Government has set out in the Early Learning Goals of the foundation stage education for children from three to five years what most children should be able to do by the end of school reception year. The National Curriculum for children from five to 16 years also sets out what most children will learn at each stage of the education.
Of course children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Teachers are expected to take account of this by looking carefully at how they organise their lessons, the classroom, the books and materials they give to each child and the way they teach. So all teachers will consider a number of options and choose the most appropriate ways to help each child learn from a range of activities. This is often described as "differentiating the curriculum".
Children making slower progress or having particular difficulties in one area may be given extra help or different lessons to help them succeed. The National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies also provide for children to learn to read and write and understand numbers and mathematics in different ways and speeds, including special "catch-up" work and other kinds of support.
So you should not assume, just because your child is making slower progress than you expected or the teachers are providing different support, help or activities in class, that your child has special educational needs.