The SEND Code of Practice 2015 states in it’s Early Years chapter that “Where a health body (medical professional) is of the opinion that a young child under compulsory school age has, or probably has, SEN, they must inform the child’s parents and bring the child to the attention of the appropriate local authority.
The health body must also give the parents the opportunity to discuss their opinion and let them know about any voluntary organisations that are likely to be able to provide advice or assistance. This includes the educational advice, guidance and any intervention to be put in place at an early point and before the child starts school. (5.15)
This support can take a number of forms, including:
• specialist support from health visitors, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists or specialist teachers, such as a teacher of the deaf or vision impaired. These specialists may visit families at home to provide practical support, answering questions and clarifying needs
• training for parents in using early learning programmes to promote play, communication and language development
• home-based programmes, such as Portage, which offer a carefully structured system to help parents support their child’s early learning and development” (5.16)
In West Sussex, medical (and other) professionals can fulfil their duty to 5.15 by making a referral to the SEND Under 5s Team (up until September 2021 this was known as EYPARM).
You can read about how the process works along with more information from the SEND Under 5s team on the Local Offer.
Can my child be referred and discussed without my knowledge?
As mentioned above, parent carers must be informed that a referral is being considered. The duty is on the health body to make the LA aware of a child’s SEN (or potential SEN) and therefore do not strictly need your permission before doing so. However, we would expect discussions to be held, especially where there is a difference of opinion and these to be noted and addressed where possible, before the referral is submitted.
Either as part of the referral, or once it has been received, you will be asked to submit your parental views. You can complete a Parental Views Booklet or write your views in a letter or email.
If you need help completing this, you can ask the professional making the referral or alternatively you can contact us at SENDIAS to discuss ways in which we may be able to help.
Can I refer my child myself
Unfortunately this process if for professional referrals only. However if you have a concern about your child, speak to a professional (such as medical, portage, early years setting) yourself and they will be able to support you or may agree to make a referral themselves.
Referrals should be made to SENDunderfives@westsussex.gov.uk.
Is this the same as an EHC Needs Assessment?
No, they are very different. However, one of the stages may be to review and gather evidence to inform next steps which may include a decision to move to formal assessment (EHC Needs Assessment)
Can I make an EHC Needs Assessment myself, even if my child has been referred to SEND Under 5s?
Ideally if it is working well, the SEND Under 5s’ process will identify any children, in a timely way, who may need more support at school than would be reasonably expected to be given through their normal resources. Schools are expected to provide high standards of teaching and support including those with SEN. If a child is likely to need a higher level of support when they start school, then we would expect the SEND Under 5s process to have identified them in time, so that the process can be completed ready for their starting school.
However, if you feel that the process is not working for your situation, you do have the right to request that the local authority (“LA”) undertake an EHC Needs Assessment (which is the process to determine whether an EHCP is needed).