3 mins read

Some children may need more support than others to achieve their potential in early years settings and at school. This may be because they have a disability, medical condition or other additional needs that mean they experience difficulties in learning and/or in making use of the educational facilities provided. 

Early years settings, schools and colleges have legal duties to support children who have difficulty learning and to treat children fairly. 

Parents should always be fully involved in the early years setting and the school’s response to meeting their child’s needs. However, they may not be familiar with the process or know what support can be put in place. 

What areas families encounter difficulties in 

  • who to approach if they think their child needs additional support 
  • finding a suitable school for their child or accessing home tuition or other alternative education if their child is unable to attend full time school 
  • differing views about the nature and/or severity of a their child’s SEN, especially if the child appears to behave and achieve well at school 
  • lack of access to support services such as educational psychology, speech therapy and CAMHS 
  • navigating the system of educational support that your child is legally entitled to, for example assessments of needs 
  • being refused a statutory assessment or being unhappy with their child’s statement, Education, Health and Care plan (coordinated support plan in Scotland) and not knowing what to do next 
  • accessing support at school for their child’s medical needs or personal care 
  • exclusion from school or school activities because of challenging behavior due to unmet SEN 
  • home to school transport, particularly when the disabled child attends a different school to siblings 

How you can help families with their child’s education 

  • treat parents as experts and take their concerns seriously 
  • support parents to talk to other agencies about their child’s needs 
  • encourage parents to seek help early if their child is likely to need additional support for their special educational or medical needs 
  • explain how support can be put in place to meet a child’s additional needs 
  • help parents to think about all their options and rights when choosing a school for their child 
  • signpost parents to further sources of support: for example their local Information, Advice and Support service in England 
  • research and build relationships with local schools so you know what’s there. 

How Contact can help 

We have lots of information and resources that you can share with families or direct them towards. 

Our helpline 

Education experts on our freephone helpline (0808 808 3555, Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5pm) can inform parents about the special education systems in the UK and deal with any query they have on transport to and from school, exclusions and home education. 

Online information 

We have lots of advice and information on our website that you might want to share with parents, including: