Special Educational Needs SEN
Special Educational Needs Support at Mayfair Consultants
At Mayfair Consultants, we offer support for special educational needs, including screening, assessments and one-to-one tutorials. Our team of educational psychologists administer tests including intelligence tests, achievement tests and screening services. We also offer educational advice, tutorials and interview preparation, either in our central London office or remotely, to fully adjust to you and your requirements.
What are Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
Special Educational Needs (SEN) is a practice of educating students while accommodating their differences, disabilities, and special needs. SEN is impelemnted through careful planning and monitoring of teaching procedures. School equipment and the setting are adapted with accessibility in mind. The goal is to help all students reach a higher level of self-sufficiency and success in school.
First and foremost, special education aims to provide accommodated education for students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and dyscalculia, as well as disorders like ADHD, autism and dyspraxia. Brief descriptions of those disorders are provided below:
Dyslexia is a language-based reading disorder, affecting 5% to 10% of the population (Cavalli, 2017). Compared to non-dyslexic readers, individuals affected by dyslexia read with a lower speed and efficiency and often have poor spelling.
Dyscalculia is a mathematical disorder, affecting about 5 to 7% of the population. Dyscalculia has a relatively low public awareness compared to dyslexia and received about 50 times less funding (US data 2000 – 2011). Despite this, the consequences of dyscalculia are at least as severe (Butterworth, 2011). Dyscalculia is a coherent syndrome, reflecting a single core deficit. This disability can be highly selective, affecting learners with normal intelligence and working memory. It can co-occur with other developmental disorders such as ADHD and dyslexia.
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviours or being overly active.
Autism is a behavioural disorder characterized by deficits in social interactions and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviours or interests. Autism is a highly variable disorder and there are five different types, including level 1 spectrum (known as Asperger’s Syndrome) and Kanner’s syndrome. About 1.5% of children meet autism diagnoses. Often occurring with autism, dyspraxia is a developmental form of dysfunction, resulting in an impaired ability to carry out learned skilled movements (Miller, 2014).
The umbrella term ‘Special Education’ includes education opportunities given to gifted students, who also benefit from specialized teaching techniques. This is not within the scope of this article and we would like to invite you to check our educational offer on one-to-one tutorials led by experts, many of which hold postgraduate degrees. Please also refer to our page on IQ tests.
How are Special Educational Needs identified?
Local Offer and SEN Support:
Every council must have a local offer of support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (as described by Mencap here). You can find your local offer on your council’s website.
Tests and assessments by educational psychologists:
To assess whether a learning disability is present, comprehensive assessments can be administered by schools and psychologists. Frequently used tests are listed below:
– IQ Tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
The test assesses cognitive abilities linked to academic achievements and subsets of learning disabilities. WISC results can also be used for admission to high intelligence societies such as Mensa. For more details refer to our page on IQ tests here.
– Dyslexia Screening Tests
The screening tests are brief and sort individuals into two groups: those at risk of dyslexia and those not at risk. For more details refer to our page on Dyslexia Screening tests here.
If at risk of Dyslexia, a Dyslexia Assessment needs to be performed by a certified psychologist to diagnose the disorder. Early intervention, from kindergarten through grade three, is proven effective for struggling readers to help them catch up. For more information see the International Dyslexia Association’s page here.
– Literacy and Achievement Tests
An achievement test is a test of developed skills or knowledge. Standardized achievement tests are commonly used to compare a student’s skills to results obtained by others in the same grade. Achievement tests can be used to indicate whether a learning disability is present and determine how to support the affected child. Highly gifted students can also be discovered through these tests (for example, WJ IV ACH). For more details refer to our page on Literacy and Achievement Testing here.
Please note that if a private learning disability assessment is carried out without consultation with the child’s school, it cannot be used to grant Access Arrangements for GSCE or A-Levels. Consult your school before you do a private assessment. Please see this page for more details.
How are Special Educational Needs met?
Teaching at school:
SEN support is used by schools to find and meet the needs of children with special educational needs. All education institutions should meet the “reasonable” educational needs of children, as specified by the Equality Act 2010. The British Dyslexia Organisation gives the following examples of reasonable adjustments (here):
– Instead of writing, students have different ways of recording the lesson content
– Instructions are repeated to students and the teacher checks if the pupils understand the task
– Teachers use multisensory ways of teaching
– Students who struggle to read a large amount of text or write quickly enough in the class are offered e.g. access to a computer
Each school sets the arrangements for supporting students in an online policy. You can view the policies via your council’s local offer. For more information, see here.
Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP):
The Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a plan for children and adults below 25 years old, who need more support than available through SEN Support (as described here). EHCP is a legally binding document and can be requested through a local authority (local council).
EHCP identify student needs using information available from teachers, health professionals, parents etc. and set out additional support. EHCP is reviewed at least once a year to ensure it stays up to date.
The EHCP can help to support your child in the following ways (those examples come from an excellent page on EHCP created by Worcestershire County Council. The page is available here):
– Enable the school to apply for funding for i.a. teaching assistants, external support professionals, and extra equipment.
– Apply for a place in a special school
– Arrangements are more easily arranged if your child requires to move from one school to another
The EHCP takes about 20 weeks to complete from the date of request.
GCSEs and A-Levels Exams:
As noted on the British Dyslexia Association website, the Access Arrangements can include for example:
– Extra Time
– A reader or a scribe
– Supervised rest breaks
– A separate room to take the test in
In the UK, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) oversees Exam Access Arrangements for GCSEs and A-Level qualifications. It is important to note that:
– the student does not need a diagnosis of a learning difficulty to receive access arrangements
– diagnosis of learning difficulty does not automatically mean the application of Exam Access Arrangements.
Note: a private assessment carried out without consultation with the school cannot be used to award Access Arrangements. Please see this page for more details.
What agencies provide support for children with Special Educational Needs?
Outside of school, you can access the following agencies to support your child with Special Educational Needs:
– Educational Psychologists
Educational psychology is the branch of psychology, that is focused on processes that affect learning. Educational psychologists study how people absorb and retain information (see here for more information) and hence can offer advice on how to improve the academic outcomes of a student. Students with learning disabilities are affected by a range of developmental disorders and hence can be helped with structured advice on how to support their learning.
Educational Psychologists are also qualified to conduct assessment tests and recognize present learning disabilities. For this purpose, educational therapists can also be consulted.
People with Dyspraxia can experience difficulties in coordination to varying degrees. Physiotherapy focuses on improving motor ability to support emotional and social skills.
– Speech and Language Therapy (SLT)
Children with learning disabilities and/or autism may experience difficulties in understanding verbal language or attention and listening skills. SLT supports communication and supports safe eating and swallowing.
Would your child benefit from additional tutorials to better understand materials taught at school? Consider whether your child needs a tutor who specializes in working with children who learn and think differently. If in doubt, consult your school SEN Coordinator and your child’s educational psychologist.
At Mayfair Consultants we provide one-to-one tutorials, in-person in our London office or remotely, led by our experienced tutors. We co-operate with our educational psychologists to give you comprehensive support and help you to succeed in your educational journey.
Special Educational Needs Support at Mayfair Consultants
We offer support for different special educational needs through screening, assessments, certified educational psychologists’ advice and one-to-one tutorials. For further information or if you have any questions about our testing services in London please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.
Understanding how disabilities
Exam Access Arrangements: