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St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School ‘Serve the Lord with Joy’

3. How do you decide someone has special educational needs?

Even with the best teaching, some children continue to experience difficulties. These concerns may be raised by the class teacher, a member of support staff or by you as a parent.


Each term children are discussed in detail by the SENCO and teachers. Teachers bring assessment results and work samples. Concerns are raised if:

  • There is a lack of progress in spite of carefully tailored teaching and support as above
  • Attainment levels are significantly below expected levels and those of peers


We define lack of progress as that which:

  • is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
  • fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
  • fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
  • widens the attainment gap


Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has SEN and does not automatically lead to a pupil being recorded as having SEN. However, it may be an indicator of a range of learning difficulties or disabilities. Equally, it is not assumed that attainment in line with chronological age means that there is no learning difficulty or disability. For example, some children and young people may be high achieving academically, but may require additional support in communicating and interacting socially. Some learning difficulties and disabilities occur across the range of cognitive ability and, left unaddressed, may lead to frustration, which may manifest itself as disaffection, emotional or behavioural difficulties.


The purpose of identifying a need is to work out what we need to do next, and not to fit a child into a category. However, we would broadly consider SEN in four categories:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Sensory and/or physical needs
  • Social, emotional and mental health difficulties


You do not have to wait until these meetings to raise a concern – nor do the staff! We are always talking and sharing thoughts and ideas.