My child is having difficulties

Many children need extra support during their time at nursery, school or college. This doesn’t always mean that they have special educational needs.  But if you have noticed your child is having difficulties and think they might have special educational needs, then these pages guide you through who to talk to and the steps to take to help your child get the right support.

What SEND means

SEND stands for special educational needs and/or disability.

A child or young person may have a special educational need if they have:

  • significantly greater difficulty in learning than most others of the same age, or
  • a disability which prevents them from making use of the facilities which are generally available in nurseries, schools or colleges

This definition is taken from the SEND Code of Practice.  The SEND Code of Practice is the official guide for organisations who work with children who have SEND.

The role of education settings

All early years providers, schools and colleges must identify and support the development of disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs. The expectations are set out in the SEND Code of Practice (2015): 0 to 25 years.

There is also parent’s version of the SEND Code of Practice.

Special educational provision

You will probably hear or, have heard the term ‘special educational provision’ used.

In the SEND Code of Practice, it states that for children aged 2 and over, special educational provision is  “educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers.”

For a child under two years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind.

Read more

The ‘Identification of SEND’ section in the One Planning Guide has information on who might identify special educational needs and what the Code of Practice says.


If your child is having literacy difficulties, read the Literacy difficulties – information for parents page to find out more.

Next step

If you think that your child or young person may have special educational needs, read the ‘Who to talk to’ page to find out about the first steps to take.