FAQs

  • Do you charge parents/carers or young people for your help and advice?

    No, our service is free.  Our aim is to help you to know what support or information you can ask for, feel more confident to make choices and understand local and national systems better.

    We have a number of videos on this website that explain how our service can help.

  • What information, advice and support does SENDIAS offer?

    We offer accurate, up to date and impartial resources and information about the law on special educational needs and disability. This covers;

    • education, health and social care
    • national and local policy
    • the Local Offer
    • your rights and choices
    • your opportunities to participate
    • where you can find help and advice
    • how you can access this support.

    We provide information in many ways, including publications, training events and information days.

    Sometimes information alone is not enough. You may want help to gather information, make sense of it and apply it to your own situation. We call this advice and we offer this service by email, on the telephone, face to face and through work with groups or in training.

    We can also offer more intensive support if you need it. This can include helping with letters, attending meetings with you or supporting you in discussions with the Local Authority, school or other setting.

    When we are not able to help, we will do our best to tell you about, or put you in touch with, other groups or organisations that can help. We call this signposting.

  • Is the service confidential?

    Yes. We will not share your information with anyone unless you tell us we can. The only exception to this would be because we have a specific concern about a child’s safety.

    You can find our Confidentiality Policy in the policy section on our website.

  • I am a young person over the age of 16, can I ask for help separately to my parent?

    Yes, we can support young people with SEN and or who have a disability themselves. Even if your parent and carer wanted support too, there are two SENDIAS Officers (one full and one part-time) in the Luton SENDIAS service, plus one Administrator, so one of us could support you and the other support your parent or carer.

    We have further information on support for young people available on our website.

  • I’m not sure if you are the right service for me.

    We have information sheets and a number of videos on our website that explain how our service can help.

  • How do I decide which is the best school for my child with SEN?

    All schools are different and the best way to decide which school will best suit your child and meet their needs is to visit a range of schools to get a clearer picture of what is available.

    Many schools will hold open evenings – usually in the Autumn term – and most are happy to arrange a guided visit to the school, if you are unable to attend a pre-scheduled event.

    You can also ask to meet with the school SENCO to discuss specific concerns you may have. It is a good idea to take along your child’s Support Plan and to prepare 4-5 questions which are relevant to you.

    It is also helpful to talk to other parents who live locally, though keep in mind that, because information about schools can very quickly go out of date, it is a good idea to talk to parents who have children in those schools currently.

    If you are deciding which school to name in your child’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the discussions you had when writing their EHCP with  professionals, who know your child, well may give you some pointers as to the school which can best meet your child’s needs.  Most children stay in the same local mainstream school they attended before they had the EHCP.

    We have information on how to find a suitable school on this website, this information can be accessed by clicking here.

    You can also ring the Luton SENDIAS service to talk things through. We hear from parents with children who have a wide range of SEN and are in different schools all across the county. Call us on 01582 548156 or email [email protected] .

  • My child goes to school in a different Local Authority to the one we live in. Which SENDIAS Service should I contact?

    In the first instance, you should contact the SENDIAS Service in the Local Authority in which you live.

  • I think my child might have some special educational needs, although the school haven’t said anything. Will the SENDIAS Service help me?

    Yes, Luton SENDIAS Service will be happy to discuss your situation further.

    If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact us on 01582 548156 (answerphone out of office hours) or email us: [email protected].  The Administrator will take your information and details of your enquiry, and one of our Officers will get back to you as soon as possible (usually within 2-3 working days).

    We can provide you with other organisations’ details if it turns out it’s not us who is best placed to help you.

    We have a number of videos on this website that explain how our service can help.

  • I think my child is struggling in school and may have SEN. How can I find out what their needs really are and who can help me?

    What are your specific concerns? Do you feel they are not picking things up as quickly as other children the same age? Are they struggling in a specific area of learning or development?

    The definition of SEN is that a child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others the same age. However, at the same time, it is true that all children learn at different speeds, and schools are aware of how important it is to identify children who may be having difficulties with their learning.

    We have a more detailed summary of SEN on our website, please click here.

    We would suggest you arrange to meet with your child’s class teacher to talk through your concerns. It is a good idea to ask for a meeting rather than just try to catch the teacher at the start or end of the school day when they are busy.

    Ask to see evidence of the progress your child is making, what they are finding difficult and look at targets your child has achieved. Ask the teacher to explain what help your child may already be given, and what supports them to learn. Discuss any changes to support that you think would help.

    We have information sheets on ‘Preparing for Meetings’ and ‘Questions to ask about SEN Support in school’. You can find them here on this website.

    If you are still concerned after you have spoken to the class teacher, you could ask them to involve the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). They have responsibility for what happens on a day to day basis in the school for pupils with SEN, and they also provide advice for other teachers in the school to help all pupils with SEN to make progress.

    An approach the SENCO might suggest is monitoring your child’s progress through an Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle, which should help identify their level of need and what works to support them to make progress. The SENCO may also suggest starting a SEND Support plan or similar document to help record this cycle.

    We have more information on the Assess, Plan, Do Review Cycle available on our website, please click here.

  • My child has SEN but I don’t think they are getting enough support in school. What are they entitled to?

    As your child already has identified Special Educational Needs, it is a good idea to ask to meet with your child’s class teacher, preschool setting leader and/or the Special Educational Needs co-ordinator (SENCO). You may already have a review meeting arranged to look at your child’s progress and support, as part of the Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle approach to supporting SEN. If not, you can ask for one to be set up.

    We have more information on the Assess, Plan, Do Review Cycle available on our website, please click here.

    Explain at the meeting why you think your child needs more help. Are you concerned that they are falling further behind in some or all of the subject areas, that they struggle with friends or showing you that they are unhappy at school?

    Ask to review your child’s Support Plan or to see evidence of the progress your child is making, such as an Individual Progress Tracker. Look at targets your child has achieved and what supports them to learn.  Discuss any changes to support that you think would help.

    It may be that the school have already started a SEND Support Plan, which brings all this information together and helps to make sure that the support being given. The support plan normally changes as your child’s needs change. If a support plan isn’t currently in place it is a good idea to ask the school if they can start this.

    We have information sheets on ‘Preparing for Meetings’ and ‘Questions to ask about SEN Support in school’. You can find them here on this website.

    SEND Support Plan Guidance – The majority of young people are supported at SEN Support with the school, using its existing resources and expertise. If your child is not making progress, then perhaps they need more individual support, more targeted support or a different approach to helping them learn. The school could offer increased support or adapt the ways they are teaching them. It maybe that the school refer to an external specialist such as an Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist or specialist Advisory Teacher to help them give targeted support for your child.

    The Luton Local Offer provides detailed information on these specialist services and their role in supporting with learning, please click here.

    Who else can help? – The school should always be able to show you what support your child is getting and how they are monitoring their progress and who else is involved in planning their support, and how they are following their advice.

    Our service can assist if required to help you explore what support is currently in place to support with learning in school. To assess support from our service please call 01582 548156 or email [email protected]

  • My child with SEN is not doing well at school and I am wondering about taking them out of school and teaching them at home. How do I go about it?

    Sometimes a child or young person is finding it difficult to manage a whole day at school. They may be feeling very anxious about school, they may find the environment too busy, noisy or overwhelming to manage, they may struggle to make sense or conform to the demands placed on them at school. This could mean that they are finding it increasingly difficult to control their emotions or behaviour, they may be reluctant to go to school or finding they are often getting into trouble. In these instances, a school might suggest a reduced or part- time timetable.

    As the parent or carer, you must be part of this discussion and in agreement with the decision. There may be better alternatives. You don’t have to agree to a reduced timetable and, if your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you should contact your child’s SEN officer at the LA before making a decision.

    In any case, a reduced timetable should only be a short-term measure intended to help your child successfully return to school full time, as they are entitled to do.

    The school must inform the Local Authority that your child is only attending part- time and the reduced timetable has to be reviewed regularly.

    You may also wish to contact Luton’s Access to Education Team who support families to access education for children and young people who live in Luton, please click here for further details.

    For information on Elective Home Education and important points to consider prior to making a decision you can access information and support from Luton’s Elective Home Education team, please click here for their website and resources.

    For independent advice and support on Elective Home Education the SENDIAS Service would be happy to discuss this further with you to assist you in making an informed decision. Please call 01582 548156 or email [email protected].

  • My child’s school is suggesting my child starts attending school for only part of the day. Do I have to agree?

    Sometimes, if a child or young person is finding it difficult to manage a whole day at school, perhaps because they are struggling to follow the expectations and there are concerns about this leading to an exclusion or they are feeling anxious about school and are reluctant to attend, a school might suggest a part-time timetable.

    You must be part of this decision and, before any decision is made, you should be able to discuss things with school and others and a risk assessment should be carried out. There may be better alternatives. You don’t have to agree to a reduced timetable and, if your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you should contact your child’s SEN officer at the LA before making a decision. In any case, a reduced timetable should only be a short-term measure intended to help your child successfully return to school full time, as they are entitled to do.

    The school must inform the local authority that your child is only attending part- time and the reduced time-table has to be reviewed regularly.

    For independent advice and support on the use of part time timetables the SENDIAS Service would be happy to discuss this further with you to assist you in making an informed decision. Please call 01582 548156 or email [email protected].

    You may also wish to contact Luton’s Access to Education Team who support families to access education for children and young people who live in Luton, please click here for further details.

  • My child has been excluded from school. What happens next?

    An exclusion is when a Head Teacher decides that a child is not allowed to attend school.  It may result from a series of incidents or from one very serious incident. There are specific procedures that the school and you must follow when a student is excluded.

    Luton SENDIAS Service is able to offer information, support and advice if your child has a special educational need or disability and is at risk of being excluded, or has been excluded already.  

    Further information on the different types of exclusions and your rights can be found on this website by clicking here. Alternatively you may wish to talk through your concerns with a SENDIAS service advisor by calling 01582 548156 or [email protected].

    In addition Luton Council website also can provides a comprehensive information on the different types of exclusions and the rights of the young person and parent/career when an exclusion has been given. You can access this information by clicking here.

  • I would like to know more about applying for an EHCP?

    Luton SENDIAS Service is able to offer information, support and advice on what EHCP’s are and the process of exploring whether there is a need for an EHCP. Most children with special educational needs (SEN) go to a mainstream school. Mainstream schools provide this extra help through a system called SEN support. Where a child requires additional support that goes beyond what a school, college, or nursery can typically deliver from their own budgets or staffing then they may need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

    Further information on the EHCP and how an initial request to SENAT is made can be found on this website by clicking here. Alternatively you may wish to talk through your concerns with a SENDIAS service advisor by calling 01582 548156 or [email protected].

  • What if I do not agree with decisions about SEN provision?

    If you are not happy about the help that your child has at school, the first step is to talk to their teacher, or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO or SENDCO) or the Head Teacher.

    If you think the school is doing all it can, but your child needs even more help, you can ask the Local Authority for an EHC Needs Assessment.

    If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan, you can also contact Luton SEN Team.

    Luton SENDIAS service can help you prepare for, and attend a meeting. If you still have concerns, we can help you decide what to do next.

  • I am a Teacher/Social Worker or other professional. Can I refer a family to you?

    We provide a service to parents/carers and young people, as and when they want our help. If you feel a family can benefit from our help and advice, please ask them to contact us, or alternatively, pass their contact details to us, after getting their consent for us to contact them.

  • What do I need to know if I want to home educate my child?

    Click on Education & Learning to take you to our Education and Learning Page, where you’ll find information and FAQs on Elective Home Education.

  • What can I do if my child won’t attend school?

    What can parents do?

    Go and see your GP

    Explain the difficulties your child is experiencing and ask for the GP’s help, which could include:

    • Referring your child to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
    • Writing to the school to confirm that they suspect your child has an anxiety disorder and is currently medically unfit to attend school
    • Documenting anxiety symptoms and any other difficulties in your child’s medical records (for evidence if needed)

    Please note that GP’s do not have a statutory duty to provide informal sick notes for children.

    Speak to the school

    • Ask the class teacher, SENCO and or senior management team for a meeting to discuss what might be behind the school refusal.
    • Consider the school’s duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 to identify and support any special educational needs or disabilities that the child may have.

    Click here to view the Children and Families Act 2014, review Part 3.

    Click here to view the Education Act 1996.

    • Remember that the term “special educational needs” covers a broad spectrum which includes social, emotional and mental health needs. Your child does not need to be struggling academically in order to access SEN support.
    • The school may need to seek support from outside agencies. The LA’s Education Welfare Service and Access to Education team can be helpful in providing strategies and support for children who are beginning to school-refuse.

    Click the link to learn more about these teams Education Welfare Service team and Access to Education team

    • If the school may not be able to meet your child’s needs by itself, it may be appropriate to request an EHC needs assessment (the first step towards getting an EHC plan).

    Click the link to learn more about requesting an EHC needs assessment.

    Keep a diary and file documenting everything

    • Describe what happens daily with your child – what they say or do, if you are able
    • Keep notes and records of all conversations with school or medical staff – if possible, follow up conversations with written summaries so that you have written records.  Also ask for written confirmation of any verbal agreements
    • Keep records of all medical appointments and any assessments or meetings
    • Keep all relevant letters and print-outs of emails
    • For every absence, send an email to school detailing why, each time

    What can school do?

    • Assess the student for SEND and offer support in accordance with the SEND Code of Practice (2015) as anxiety disorders are a diagnosable disability, particularly when a parent has reported this as the reason for absence.
    • Schools are advised to involve specialists;

    where a child continues to make less than expected progress, despite evidence-based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need”.

    The decision to involve specialists should be taken with the child’s parents.

    Click here to view the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and look through section 6 to review the guidance for schools.

    • Make a referral to an Educational Psychologist and/or CAMHS for an assessment.
    • Schools have had a duty to provide “reasonable adjustments” for disabled pupils since 2002: originally, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and, from October 2010, under the Equality Act 2010.

    Click here to view Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Pupils Guidance for Schools in England.

    • Schools have a duty to use its “best endeavours” to secure the special educational provision called for by the pupil’s or student’s special educational needs. Section 66 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

    Click here to view section 66 of the Act.

    • If the school is unable to provide suitable educational provision that the child can access, they should apply to the Local Authority for an EHCP assessment.
    • If the child is absent for more than 15 days, whether consecutive or cumulative, the school is required to inform the Local Authority who should arrange alternative full-time educational provision and should do so at the latest by the sixth day of the absence.

    Click here to view statutory guidance for local authorities in relation to health needs.

    • Provide homework whilst the student is unable to attend – their duty to educate does not stop because a student does not attend due to showing traits of SEN (diagnosed or not).

    Explore the Luton Local Offer and make a referral to Access to Education team who can provide strategies for attendance difficulties.

    • Put in place a support plan which has been shared with parents to identify a structured way forward including the strategies in place to phase back to full attendance when appropriate and a backup plan if this fails.
    • Help them reintegrate at school when they return.
    • Make sure the child and family are kept informed about school events and clubs.
    • Encourage the child to stay in contact with other pupils, e.g. through visits or videos.

    Click here to view the government’s guidance for illness and education.

    What if my child has an EHCP?

    1. It is likely that the plan needs to be re-examined. Your child may need extra or different support, and/or a different school.
    2. You should consider asking for an early review of the EHC plan or a re-assessment of needs, especially if your child’s mental health needs have arisen relatively recently and are not covered in the plan.
    3. The LA must continue to secure the special educational provision in the EHC plan while your child is out of school (section 42, Children and Families Act 2014).

    Click here to view section 42 of the act.

    Further information advice and support

    When a child has been refusing to attend school and their behaviour and/or anxiety appears to be worsening, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

    Please contact a member of the SENDIAS service on 01582 548156 or email [email protected], if you require additional assistance.

    More information can be found on the “Not Fine in School” website

    Click here to view their website:

    Not Fine in School have produced a detailed report of evidence which provides information on the theory of school refusal and the challenges that young people and families face:  

    Click here to access the PDF