Find out how your child's educational needs can be assessed and supported in your region of the UK, and how you can appeal if you think they aren't getting the support they need. You can also read some general tips for parents on how to advocate successfully for your child.

What extra help is available?

The processes for assessing and supporting your child's SEN (or ASN in Scotland) needs are different depending which country you live in within the UK.

Find out what is available and how you can go about getting extra help for your child in England, WalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

You can get further support and advice on educational provision and entitlements that is specific to you from our Education Rights Service.

General tips for parents on getting extra help

Communicate with the school

Raise any concerns you have as early as possible with your child's class teacher. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the strategies and interventions being used by school staff so you are aware what is going on in your child's day at school.

Find out who is responsible for additional support needs/support for learning at your child's school.  In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, this responsibility falls to the SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator).

  • If you live in England or Wales, find out who the school’s special educational needs (SEN) governor is.
  • In Scotland, find out if there is a parent council member who is responsible for additional support needs/support for learning.
  • In Northern Ireland, the Board of Governors may have a committee monitoring the school's work for children with SEN 

Know your policies

Ask for a copy of the school’s policy on additional support needs/support for learning or SEN.

Get a copy of the code of practice. England: SEND Code of Practice 0 to 25 years; Northern Ireland: SEN Code of Practice and Supplement to Code; Scotland: Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice; Wales: SEN Code of Practice for Wales.

Ask for a copy of your local authority or education library board’s policy on special educational needs, or additional support needs/support for learning.

If you live in England, the Local Offer sets out local services for children with SEN. This must be published online or made available to you if you need it in a different format

Keep accurate records and meet deadlines

Keep records of discussions, meetings and a diary of events, and a diary of your child's difficulties. If appropriate, your child could also keep a diary.

Make sure that any deadlines are met. For example, your child's school, local authority or education library board may ask you to take action within a certain period of time.

Tips on writing letters

  • Make sure that your letter contains full details of your child's name, date of birth, the school your child attends, and any other key details.
  • Quote any references, for example, a tribunal case number.
  • Always date and keep a copy of any letters you send.
  • Hand deliver or send letters by recorded delivery.
  • Wherever possible, address letters personally, by using the name of the head teacher or education officer's.
  • If you are not sure who to write to at your local or education authority, address the letter to the Director of Education, or equivalent. Your local or education authority will be able to give you their name, or it will be on their website.

Manage your documents

Always keep the original versions of any documents you send to the school, local, or education authority – send photocopies. When you receive paperwork, check that all relevant documents are included and ask for any missing documents.

Read through all documents and highlight things you agree or disagree with. It's helpful to make a photocopy of documents so that you have a clean copy of paperwork to make notes on.

Check any paperwork you receive about your child to make sure it gives correct information about them.

Prepare well for meetings

Below are some general principles apply to preparing for meetings, whether you have a meeting at the school to discuss your child’s education, a meeting with the local or education authority, or you are attending a review meeting.
  • Ask for copies of your child’s school record before the meeting.
  • Read any reports that have been written about your child and highlight any areas that you would like clarified or that you have concerns about.
  • Mark any relevant sections in the code of practice which relate to your views.
  • Make a list of your views, concerns and any questions you want answered.
  • Use this list during the meeting and tick off points as they are discussed.
  • If there is someone else you think should attend the meeting, ask if they can be invited  
  • ask someone to go with you to the meeting, if possible, and let the school, local, or education authority know that this is happening.
  • Make notes of what is said and, if someone has accompanied you, ask them to take notes as well.
  • If anything is not clear, ask for it to be explained again.
  • Don't feel pressured to agree to anything in the meeting.
  • Remember that the other parties must work in partnership with parents and give proper weight to parental views. 
  • Make sure that everything you wanted to discuss has been dealt with; discuss some points again if necessary.
  • After the meeting, write a letter to the chairperson, with copies to all present, to confirm your understanding of what was discussed and any action agreed.

Further help

Read in-depth, nation-specific information on getting extra help at school for EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service

For general help and information about autism and related issues, contact our Autism Helpline on 0808 800 410.
If you are reading this information from a print-out, you can visit the web page and find out more at:  www.autism.org.uk/advocacytips.

Last reviewed: 7 August 2015.