Who to speak to

The first person to speak to could be your child's key worker, teacher or tutor.

Many issues can be addressed by a key worker, teacher or tutor. If your child's needs are more than they can help with, they can refer you to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO). They can work with you and professionals to plan support for your child. You can ask your school or setting who the SENCO is.

What a SENCO is and how can they help

A SENCO arranges extra support for children and young people with SEND.
Their job is to: 

  • help identify children with SEND 
  • provide help to staff supporting children with SEND 
  • talk to parents to make sure children are receiving the right help for them 
  • work with local council services, such as educational psychologists 
  • work with other professionals, such as health services 
  • make sure the SEND policy is followed 

All mainstream schools and maintained nursery schools must have a SENCO. Smaller schools might share a SENCO. 

Early years settings must make sure they provide the right support for children with SEND. This means they may have a SENCO. Others might share this role amongst a group of people. Childminders usually cover the role themselves.  

Colleges should have a named person responsible for making sure support is provided for students with SEND.  

How to prepare for a conversation with the education setting

It can help to write down a list of things you have noticed to speak to your child's education setting about.

This could include:

  • what makes you think your child has SEND
  • what people working with your child have noticed
  • asking what you can do to help
  • what the school can do to help
  • any difficulties your child experiences outside of pre-school, school, or college

Next steps

  1. If you have spoken to school, and you need more information or advice about early support for your child’s emerging needs, then phone the Dorset Education Advice Line (DEAL) or book an appointment online.
  2. If you need further support, visit the Dorset SENDIASS website for free, confidential, accurate and impartial advice and support to families living in Dorset.