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Education for children with Special Educational Needs

Children with Special Educational Needs may need extra help because of a range of needs, such as in thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties, or difficulties with speech and language or how they relate to and behave with other people.

Many children will have Special Educational Needs of some kind at some time during their education. Schools and other organisations can help most children overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily, but a few children will need extra help for some or all of their time in school.  In Peterborough we have 67 primary and secondary schools, and a further 10 special schools or pupil referral units.  

"In year" transfers from one school to another within the same local authority for children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) should be done via the Statutory Assessment and Monitoring (SAM) Service, not the admissions service. You can contact the SAM Service on 01733 863733 or by email to

You may well have heard the term Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). You can find more information about these plans on our Assessment and Education, Health and Care Plans webpage

Information on COVID-19 support can be found on the Local Offer COVID-19 - Information page and the SEN and Inclusion Services COVID-19 Support page. 

Local support groups can be found by using the search term 'COVID-19' in the search box at the top of the page.


What does the term special educational needs mean?

Children engaging in craft at school

A child of compulsory school age or young person will have special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which means that they:

  • have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others
    of the same age; or
  • have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities provided for others of the same age in mainstream
    schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

This definition is set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2015). You can find out more about the SEND Code by going to the GOV.UK website.

SEN can be characterised by a range of needs and difficulties, children and young people with SEN may have problems with;

  • physical or mental impairments
  • concentration levels
  • ability to read or write
  • behaviour or ability to socialise
  • ability to understand things

Assessment and Education, Health and Care plans

You may well have heard the term Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). You can find more information about these plans on our Assessment and Education, Health and Care Plans webpage

Specialist Hubs

School children eating their lunch at school

To keep improving the expertise available to our children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in all education settings in the Peterborough area, we have established a growing network of specialist hubs. View our guide to the Peterborough hub network here.

The purpose of the hubs is to help raise the quality of support for all children with SEND in all schools in the Peterborough area. Each hub is a commissioned service arising from a partnership between the City Council and the host school / academy, with senior staff from each organisation working together. 

View the map of special schools and hub in Peterborough.

Each hub has a designated type of SEND, eg Autism or Physical Disability.  A centre of expertise might support a local school by:

  • Offering specialist resources and training;
  • Modelling high quality support in mainstream classrooms;
  • Providing telephone helpline and/or drop in sessions.

You can also find a link to an individual leaflet describing each hub below. There is also a link to the schools website.:

Autism (Primary School Hub - Welbourne Primary School) - view website

Autism (Secondary School Hub - Nene Park Academy) - view website

Early Years and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Caverstede Nursery School) - view website

Hearing Impairment (Primary School Hub - Middleton Primary School) - view website

Hearing Impairment (Secondary School Hub - Jack Hunt School) - view website

Hearing Impairment (Secondary School Hub - St John Fisher Catholic High School) - view website

Physical Disabilities (Primary School Hub - Ormiston Meadows Academy) - view website

Physical Disabilities (Secondary School Hub - Jack Hunt School) - view website

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (Primary School Hub - Nenegate School) - view website

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (Secondary School Hub - Ormiston Bushfield Academy) - view website

Specific Learning Difficulties (Queen Katharine Academy) - view website

Speech, Language and Communication Needs (Southfields Primary School) - view website

There are a limited number of places in the hubs for children and young people with particular types of SEND to be directly supported by the school / hub. These places are allocated by the SEND Panel as part of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment process. For full details please see the Assessment and EHC Plan page of the Local Offer.

SEND In Peterborough Conference 28 February 2019

Resources from this conference are available in the SEND in Peterborough conferences dropdown on the SEND resources page.

Post 16 Education Offer for 2020-21

Peterborough Post 16 Education Offer 2020-21 - For any young adults who are transitioning to college this academic year and have not decided on a place this may help.  We are currently planning how to help with this transition stage and will hopefully be able to include updates after Easter.

What can I expect from a school or educational setting?

Every school is required to identify and meet the learning needs of every child in their school, including those learners identified as having a special educational need or those with a disability.

At school, most children will make progress with the support of their class
teacher through the school’s arrangements known as SEN Support.  School
governing bodies are required to publish detailed information about their
arrangements for identifying, assessing and making provision for pupils with SEN.
This must be school-specific and describe a school’s arrangements for providing a graduated response to children’s SEN.

For the small number of children with complex/severe needs who do not make enough progress despite intervention from the school, it may be necessary for a statutory assessment of the child’s special educational needs to be undertaken by the Statutory Assessment and Monitoring Service (SAMS).

‘Mainstream schools’ are maintained schools and academies (that are not special schools); maintained nursery schools, 16 to 19 year old academies and Pupil Referral Units.

Mainstream schools must:

  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s special educational needs
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • Designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision (the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCo)
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • Prepare an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time

Admissions Guidance for Peterborough Special Schools

Children at school

Peterborough special schools provide appropriate placements for children and young people with the most significant needs and who require a curriculum which is wrapped around them so that they can engage in learning.

There are overlaps between the provision of services in some of the Peterborough special schools to enable the right of parents to express a choice for a type of school (including a mainstream school).

Peterborough recognises the 'presumption' of mainstream outlined in the Code of Practice. However, for some children and young people the combination of their needs and current context suggests the appropriateness of a special school placement.

The Local Authority is responsible for the decision to place a child or young person in a special school.  A provision panel with a multi-professional membership considers individual children or young people with a statement or Education Health and Care Plan where a special school placement is requested and advises the Local Authority.

Children and young people who are successful in a specialist setting may return to a mainstream setting at any time, following appropriate review of their statement of SEN/EHCP.  However it is especially important to consider mainstream options at times of transition, e.g. transfer between primary and secondary phases.

Detailed guidance for making the decision about whether a child or young person would be appropriately placed in a particular special school is available to download

Request for involvement of Specialist Teachers and Portage Service

The SEN and Inclusion Services have updated the Request for Involvement form, responding to feedback from education settings and partners.

Education Settings (nurseries, schools and academies) can request the support of the Specialist Teaching Services including:

  • Advisory teachers for ADHD and Autism
  • Specialist teachers for children and young people with vision, hearing or multi sensory impairment
  • Specialist teachers for children and young people with physical disabilities
  • Portage Service (for Early Years children)

Through the Request for Involvement form.

The form must be signed by the Headteacher / Lead practitioner in the setting and submitted to

The request will be reviewed by the SEN and Inclusion Services Management Team in order to ensure the most appropriate service responds in a timely manner.

If the matter is urgent, please contact SEN and Inclusion Services directly (the contact details available on Peterborough Local Offer).

For further information please contact or 01733 863702



SEN Information Report

Schools are required to produce a SEN Information Report every year.  The report
must include:

  • the kinds of SEN that are provided for
  • policies for identifying children and young people with SEN and assessing their needs, including the name and contact details of the SENCO (in mainstream schools)
  • arrangements for consulting parents of children with SEN and involving them in their child’s education
  • arrangements for consulting young people with SEN and involving them in their education
  • arrangements for assessing and reviewing children and young people’s progress towards outcomes. This should include the opportunities available to work with parents and young people as part of this assessment and review
  • arrangements for supporting children and young people in moving between phases of education and in preparing for adulthood. As young people prepare for adulthood, outcomes should reflect their ambitions, which could include higher education, employment, independent living and participation in society
  • the approach to teaching children and young people with SEN
  • how adaptations are made to the curriculum and the learning environment of children and young people with SEN
  • the expertise and training of staff to support children and young people with SEN, including how specialist expertise will be accessed
  • evaluating the effectiveness of the provision made for children and young people with SEN
  • how children and young people with SEN are enabled to engage in activities available with children and young people in the school who do not have SEN
    support for improving emotional and social development. This should include extra pastoral support arrangements for listening to the views of children and young people with SEN and measures to prevent bullying
  • how the school involves other bodies, including health and social care, local authority support services and voluntary sector organisations, in meeting children and young people’s SEN and supporting their families
  • arrangements for handling complaints from parents of children with SEN about the provision made at the school

It should also include arrangements for supporting children and young people who are looked after by the local authority and have SEN.

Funding for SEN

Funding for SEN

Arrangements for funding educational provision for pupils and students with high needs were introduced in 2013 for maintained schools and academies. Funding for all high needs pupils in mainstream schools and academies is broken down into 3 main elements.

Element 1 - the basic entitlement

This is the basic amount funded to the school for each pupil and varies between primary and secondary schools.

Element 2 - additional need funding

Part of the overall school budget is classified as the notional Special Educational Needs budget. It is from this budget that mainstream schools and academies are required to put in place support for all children with SEN and to contribute the first £6,000 (equivalent to approximately 11.8 hours teaching assistant time per week).

Element 3 - top up funding

Where the cost of additional support is more than £6,000, the council will provide funding from their high needs block. The level of need is agreed by the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities panel and funding is provided to the school for that pupil.

Although academies receive their main funding directly from the Education Funding Agency, the top-up funding (element 3) is still the responsibility of the council.

Defining high needs

Children and young people with high needs are those who need educational provision that costs more in total, including the provision given to all pupils, than about £10,000 per year. This threshold defines the level of need that would be expected to be met through mainstream funding and those for whom additional funding is required.

Post-16 students with special educational needs

Like academies, all post-16 providers receive their main funding directly from the Education Funding Agency. However, the funding for students with special educational needs follows the same principles as for mainstream schools and academies.

They will receive:

Element 1 – core funding for each student calculated by a national 16 to 19 funding system
Element 2 – an allocation of up to £6,000 to support identified students with special educational needs based on agreed numbers
Element 3 – top-up funding from the council to meet the agreed needs of individual pupils placed with them who require additional support.

This funding applies to:

  • Mainstream school sixth forms
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Post-16 in special schools
  • Colleges of further education
  • Specialist colleges
  • Other providers such as training providers
  • Out of area post-16 providers

Independent Special Schools and Colleges

Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 allows the Secretary of State by order to publish a list of approved independent educational institutions, independent special schools and post-16 institutions for the purposes of satisfying Section 38 (Preparation of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan by local authorities) of the Act. Institutions can only be included on the list with their consent.

The Children and Families Act places specific duties upon institutions on the approved list:

  • Institutions on the approved list must "have regard" to the SEN Code of Practice;
  • Institutions on the approved list have a reciprocal duty to co-operate with the local authority on arrangements for children and young people with SEN;
  • local authorities’ published local offer must refer to the institutions on the approved list;
  • Specific duties and rights relating to admissions, in line with maintained schools, Academies, FE colleges and non-maintained special schools:

A child or young person has a right to request that an institution on the approved list is named in their EHC Plan;

  • If the institution is named in an EHC Plan, the local authority is under a qualified duty to secure a place;
  • If the institution is named in an EHC Plan, the institution must admit the pupil or young person.

The Government produces a list each term of the approved independent special institutions who have specific duties to work with the council in relation to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

SEN Home to School Transport

Girl in wheelchair in school library

Travel assistance is not automatically given because a child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, and many children with special educational needs and disabilities travel to school without special provision.

However, some children with specific needs will require additional support, often for an agreed period of time and in such cases we will arrange transport to meet the specific needs of the students.  This might include various forms of transport including public transport, taxi, minibus, wheelchair accessible vehicle and bus/coach. 

See our school transport page for more information.


Youth Custody

Professionals at a desk discussing a report

The Local Authority (LA) will promote the fulfilment of detained young people's learning potential whilst they are in custody and on their release.  The LA will use the EHC plan to actively monitor progress towards outcomes.  The LA and Youth Offending Service will prepare for release of the young person by reviewing their educational progress and their continuing special educational and health needs.

The LA will keep the EHC plan while the detained young person is in custody and will review it as soon as possible on release.

Support will be available to young people who are being released from custody. On the day of release from custody, they will report to the Youth Offending Service office, where their educational needs will be reviewed, linking to any agreement made whilst the young person was serving a custodial sentence and ensuring agreed provisions are in place.

Support to engage with provision being offered will be given by either the Youth Offending Service case manager or the Youth Offending Service Education, Training and Employment Officer or both to maximise the young person’s opportunity and ability to engage with the education, training or employment provision offered. The level of support provided will depend on the young person’s assessed needs and wishes.

Complaints and Mediation

Two ladies looking at a booklet

If parents or young people are unhappy about certain decisions made by the Local
Authority, they have a right to appeal. This would include the following areas:

  • not carrying out an EHC needs assessment
  • not issuing an EHC plan
  • content of a final or amended EHC plan
  • decision not to amend an EHC plan
  • cease an EHC plan
  • placement named in a plan

More information can be found on the Appeals, Mediation and Complaints page.

Educational Psychology Service

Thought bubble drawn on a blackboard with a lightbulb in the thought bubble

The Educational Psychology Service is for children and young people aged 0 to 25. All of the Educational Psychologists (EPs) we employ are registered with the Health Care Professions Council and have specialist training and qualifications in Child Development, Psychology and Education.

You can see more on our Educational Psychology Service page

Alternative Provision Census

The Alternative Provision Census is a statutory return that Local Authorities are required to send to the Department for Education on an annual basis.

The census covers pupils attending a school not maintained by an local authority for whom the authority is paying full tuition fees, or educated otherwise than in schools and pupil referral units, under arrangements made (and funded) by the authority.

You can view the Alternative Provision Privacy Notice and the Education Privacy Notice on this page.

Special Provision Capital Fund Plan

Local authorities must ensure there are sufficient good school places for all pupils, including those with SEN and disabilities. The Government has committed £215 million of capital funding to help local authorities create new school places and improve existing facilities for children and young people with SEN and disabilities, in consultation with parents and providers. This capital is not ring-fenced and local authorities can use it as they see fit to improve special provision for children and young people with education, health and care plans. This funding can be invested in mainstream schools and academies, special units, special schools, early years settings and further education colleges, or to make other provision for children and young people aged from 0 to 25.

Local authorities can invest their share of the special provision capital fund in:

  • Creating new (additional) places at good or outstanding provision
  • Improving facilities or developing new facilities

This can be through: 

  • Expansion(s) to existing provision including at the same site or at a different site.
  • Reconfiguring provision to make available the space for the additional places or facilities.
  • Re-purposing areas so that they meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Other capital transactions that result in new (additional) places or facilities’ improvements.
  • Investing in provision that is located in another local authority where this supports providing good outcomes for children in their area.

The Government requires local authorities to complete and publish a short plan that sets out how they intend to invest their allocation, which is visible to parents, carers and other local groups. You can also view the published input form.

The plan for local authorities’ SEND capital provision allocations should sit coherently with their wider plan. 

Feedback from the Local Government Association SEND Peer Review

Peterborough City Council approached the Local Government Association (LGA) to undertake a peer review of our special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services, in order to assist the system in its preparations for a Joint Ofsted / CQC inspection.  The peer review was undertaken in October 2018. The Council received a robust report from this review including the following highlights:

  • The team saw strong leadership around the SEND agenda, which is clearly a priority for the senior leadership team. It is equally apparent that there is also a commitment from council officers, councillors and school governors to progress the SEND reform agenda. The push from senior leaders has enabled partners to ‘come around the table’.

  • Partners are engaged and committed to making SEND everyone’s business. The review team saw examples of good collaboration and a collective problem solving approach has been employed to resolve challenges and establish specific initiatives.

  • There has also been an increase in pace over the last two years. There is a rigour and energy to drive progress and a collaborative approach is producing improvements.

  • Staff are passionate and dedicated, with a strong team ethos, across the whole partnership. Staff work positively together to maximise the local offer.

  • We prioritise the voice of parents, carers, children and young people and we saw how this is being weaved into strategic planning.

  • We are increasing our collaboration and joint working with Cambridgeshire County Council. This is producing synergies and learning for both authorities. As yet the desired end point of this journey is yet to be defined.

  • Demographic and other data suggests changing patterns of need and increasing demand at a time when financial pressures on all partners are increasing. It will be a challenge to meet these competing trajectories.

  • Developing our approach to the use of data; we have good sources of data which could be used more effectively by including consideration of 'softer' intelligence.

  • Co-production is an evident priority and was consistently referenced by a range of stakeholders but there are inconsistencies in understanding and application of the term.

These recommendations will be incorporated into the Joint Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SEND Strategy Action Plan for monitoring.  The Joint SEND Executive Board will monitor progress.

Information from neighbouring authorities

Image of a school

If you are interested in finding out about schools in neighbouring local authorities, included here are links to Local Offers nearby.

Cambridgeshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council

Northamptonshire County Council

Leicestershire County Council

Easy links to the SENCO Network and SEND resources pages