Support for illness and SEND

What if a child or young person is ill? What if they cannot reach levels they should at school or college? What is a SENDCO? 

This page is about:

  • support children and young people can get in and out of school or college 
  • who is responsible for making sure they get support
  • support we give to schools and colleges
  • when an EHC assessment might happen

Education and medical needs

All children and young people under 16 should be getting full-time education. Between 16 and 18, they should be in education, apprenticeship or training at least part-time.

If a child can’t go to school because they’re ill, schools should make sure they still get education the first few weeks.

If they're ill for more than 15 days, or aren’t getting help from a school, we can help.

Education out of school might be:

  • teaching at home
  • a hospital school
  • a ‘virtual’ school
  • a mix of these depending on their needs.

FE Colleges have different rules. Parents, carers or professionals should check with the college to see how they will support a young person who is ill.

How to get support for an ill child or young person

If a child or young person is too ill to go to school or college for more than 15 days, a parents, carer or professional should talk to their teacher, the SENDCO, or Student Support at college.

Going back to school or college

Children who’ve been away from school or college for a while might need help go back. A the school or college about how they will help.

We can work with parents and carers, the child, and the school or college to plan the return and agree what help might be needed.

Getting help with education

If a child isn’t progressing as well as they should, is having difficulty at school or college, or if they have a disability, they should get extra help.

Many children and young people need extra help at some time during their education. For most, it will be a short time, and the school or college will do it, maybe with some advice and support from other professionals.

Very few children have needs that go on for a long time. Few have a disability or illness that gets in the way of their learning.

How to get help

If you think a child or young person is falling behind, or finding it hard for any other reasons, they should get extra help. The first thing to do is talk to someone who teaches them.

All school and college staff should be:

  • checking that they’re developing and progressing in a way that suits their age
  • if they’re falling behind, they should quickly work out what the reason might be, talk to parents or carers about what’s wrong, and plan something different, or extra
  • keep checking it's helping.

This is called 'quality first teaching' in schools, but it should happen in nurseries and colleges as well.

If the child does not quickly catch up, and they need even more help, we say they have a special educational need and/or a disability (SEND). This means they need SEND support.

Anyone who has SEND and needs SEND Support, should be having regular checks on progress. The support might need to change if it doesn’t work. This is called a ‘graduated approach’.

SEND support at school

All mainstream schools get money to provide special educational needs support. They must have a SEND Information Report on their website that says how they support children with SEND. This is called their SEND Offer.

What is a SENDCO?

SENDCO stands for special educational needs and/or disabilities coordinator. They are also called SENCOs in some schools.

All schools must have a SENDCO to make sure that needs are being identified, assessed and planned for. They are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy. 

A SENDCO is a qualified teacher who has had extra training about SEND. They:

  • arrange all the extra support for children and young people with SEND. 
  • work with class teachers to make sure support plans are in place, and checks that progress is being made. 
  • work with parents to help their child
  • work with local council support services
  • work with other professionals, for example, in health services

In colleges, the person responsible for SEND may have a different job title, like Additional Learning Support manager, or Student Support manager.

SEND support we give schools

We give Lambeth schools Graduated Approach Tables to help them support children and young people in school. This is called Ordinarily Available Provision.

We have set up a School Inclusion Fund. Schools can apply for extra money to help individual children and young people with the specific support they don’t offer.

SEND support for post-16 education

Colleges should work with schools to help young people with SEND prepare to make the move into post-16 education. They should be identifying, assessing and monitoring SEND student’s progress.

All mainstream sixth forms, sixth form colleges and FE (further education) get government funding to support special educational needs. They need to make sure they are looking for needs that haven’t already been noticed at school. Some students might not start struggling until they move into post-16 education. They should get the same type of support as they would in school.

What if a child or young person needs an EHC Plan?

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is for children and young people who have major special educational needs that will last a long time.

Most needs can be supported using the money schools and colleges already have, or by using the School Inclusion Fund.

If the needs are so much that parents and professionals think they can’t be supported by the usual funding, it’s time to ask us for an education, health and care (EHC) assessment.

Find out more about applying for an Education Health Care Plan