Right support at the right time

Essex’s vision for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities is the same as for all children and young people.

 Every child should have:

  • a positive experience of learning;
  • a sense of belonging;
  • the right support at the right time.

There are different levels of support which can be put in place to support children and young people at different points. Children and young people will often move between these types of support.

The levels of support are called universal, additional or specialist. This table explains what these mean:

Universal services

Additional services

Specialist services

These are for all children and young people.

These services might be the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, early years settings, leisure and play facilities, schools and colleges, voluntary groups or youth services. Many of these services can offer support, advice and help. Open access means that you do not need a diagnosis, an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a referral from a doctor to attend.

In education, the first step in helping children who may have special educational needs is high quality teaching. Schools are required to ‘differentiate’ for individual pupils. This means that teachers must make changes, or provide extra support, so that children are able to take part alongside the other children.

These might be parenting support, targeted learning programmes in school, speech and language support, or targeted youth work services. If a need is identified, services will offer additional support to help their progress.

In education, this is called SEN support. SEN support is additional support or help which builds on the high-quality teaching. The plan will set out what extra support your child needs, who will support your child and how they will support your child. Together you will set some short-term targets and you will agree when these targets will be reviewed. In Essex we call this ‘One Planning’.




These are people with complex needs – complex means the range, depth and significance of needs. For example, children and young people who have a disability or complex health needs, exhibit challenging behaviours or need highly personalised advice and support to access learning in school or college.

Different services provide more intensive support.  There might be an EHC Needs Assessment to plan how the family and involved intensive services will work together to meet the needs of the child or young person.





Next step

For a useful next step, read the ‘Planning support for a child with SEND – Outcomes’ page.