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Help & Advice

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    As a parent or professional it is not always easy to know where to go for support, who to ask for advice or what next steps are needed.

    We have included a list of services and support you might find useful but if you still have unanswered questions please contact us and we will try our best to support you with your query or put you in contact with someone who can help

    What do I do if I think my child has Special Educational Needs and / or a Disability (SEND)?

    If you think your child may have a Special Educational Need that has not been identified below are some steps that you may consider taking.

    Step 1 – Arrange a meeting

    • if your child attends a pre-school, meet with their teacher or key worker
    • if your child is at school, meet with their teacher about your concerns. The teacher will be able to tell you what they can do to help your child. You could also speak to the school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), who organises extra help for children with SEND
    • if your child is at college, meet with the person responsible for SEND (usually called the learning support co-ordinator)
    • If your child is not yet at school or not yet attending, you can talk to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to give you advice about the next steps to take.

    Step 2 - At your meeting

    • say why you think your child may have SEND
    • ask whether your child has more difficulty learning than other children their age
    • ask what the setting/school/college can do to help your child
    • ask what you may be able to do to help when your child is at home

    Step 3 - What the setting/school/college should do after the meeting

    They will use the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 – 25 to decide if your child does have SEND.

    Who can I speak to for advice about what my child's school should be doing to support my child?

    Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age.

    The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process.

    Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

    Where can I get more information, advice or support?

    You can find out more about SEN Support by:

    • looking at the SEN Information Report on the school website

    • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator

    • looking at the Local Offer

    • reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice

    You can also get in touch with SENDIASS (Formerly SEND Advice)  on 01234 276 267 or who can give you:

    • information about SEN support, including information about SEN funding

    • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing

    • information about other organisations, support groups and information services that could help

    • information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment.

    How do I apply for my child to have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

    When is an EHC needs assessment necessary?

    The school or early years setting can often give your child help through SEN support. This means that the school makes additional or different provision to meet their needs. Sometimes other professionals will give advice or support to help your child learn.

    Some children need more intensive and specialist help. If your child does not make progress despite the SEN support an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

    The SEND Code of Practice says:

    In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress. (9.14)

    The local authority will look at:

    • your child’s attainments and rate of progress

    • their special educational needs

    • what has already been done

    • the difference that support has made

    • your child’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs.

    The SEND Code of Practice says:

    A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan. (9.3)

    Some children and young people will have needs that clearly require an EHC needs assessment and EHC plan. Once the local authority is aware that this is the case it should start the process without delay. You can find out more about the criteria that local authorities should follow in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.3 and 9.14 to 9.16.

    Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment?

    • parents – by writing to the local authority

    • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25

    • the early years setting or school, but only after talking with you first.

    It is always a good idea to talk to the school or early years setting before asking for an EHC needs assessment.

    For more information about EHCP's and the support your child might be entitled to you can speak to the independent SENDIASS (formerly SEND Advice) service by calling 01234 276 267 or visiting

    Local advice and support lines

    There are many national advice and helplines that you can access as a parent or professional. Rather than have an exhaustive list of national advice lines Parents have asked us to include local advice and support that they can access.

    Below is a list of local advice and support lines, however if you are aware of any that are not on here please contact us so that we can add them in.

    You can also contact us directly with any query and we would we happy to help direct you to the appropriate support where we can.


    SENDIASS (Formerly SEND Advice) provide confidential support concerning educational issues for residents of Bedford Borough. We are impartial from school, local authority, health, social care and other organisations to provide advice and support

    01234 276 267


    Autism Bedfordshire Helpline is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for information, advice and guidance on all aspects of Autistic Spectrum Conditions and associated problems

    01234 350 704


    Parentline provides a secure text message service for parents and carers of those aged 0-19 years. Simply text 07507 331456 for free and confidential advice and support on a range of health issues such as weaning, sleep and emotional health. Texts will be answered Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm

    07507 331456


    Chathealth provides a secure text message service for children and young people aged 11-19 years. Simply text 07507 331450 to ask health related questions on mental health, drugs, relationships etc. Texts answered Monday to Friday, 9am - 4.30pm

    07507 331450


    Family Lives offers a confidential and free helpline service for families in England and Wales (previously known as Parentline). Please call us on 0808 800 2222 for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Our helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday

    0808 800 2222


    Bedford Borough Parent Carer Forum An independent forum for parent carers of children & young people with SEND (0-25) to participate in developing and influencing local services. An independent forum for parent carers of children & young people with SEND (0-25) to participate in developing and influencing local services.