Education & Schools

This page tells you about Northumberland schools and what support can be offered for learners with Special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).

This page tells you about Northumberland schools, what support can be offered for learners with Special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and guidance for professionals.

In England children are ‘school-age’ from the time they start Reception class to the end of Year 11. In Reception they have their 5th birthday and  in Year 11 they have their 16th birthday.
The SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 years states that the purpose of education is that young people:
  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
  • make a successful transition into adulthood, whether into employment, further or higher education or training
It also states that a child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.  It is the duty of the local area (schools and the local authority across education, health and social care) to ensure that appropriate special educational provision is made where it is needed.

Most children attend a mainstream school. Some children attend specialist schools for learners with SEND, or an alternative provision or they may even start college early aged 14-16 years.  A very small number are not educated in a school due to illness or other reasons.

The local authority and health professionals support schools through training, additional funding and specialist staff who can advise on individual learners as required. For a small number of learners, extra provision might be needed, and the local authority may need to consider what that provision should be through an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment.

Each school or college must have a member of staff who leads on SEND. They are often called the school SENCo. They can provide you with more information or help if you think that your child may have a special educational need.
Links to all the schools within Northumberland and special schools in the North East are provided below:

Click here for a list of all Northumberland schools. .
Other specialist schools for learners with SEND in the North East include:

Ashbrooke House School
Castle School  (Part of the Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust)
Harbour Schools Group
Kirby Moor
Northumberland College
Parkside House School
Percy Hedley
Northern Counties Hedleys Foundation
Nunnykirk School
Thornhill School
Kyloe House School  (part of Kyloe House childrens home)

In Northumberland, the majority of our learners with SEND will have their needs met in mainstream schools which are inclusive and person centred.

We have worked with parents/carers, learners and schools to produce the Northumberland Mainstream Local Offer - which describes what support all learners are entitled to. 
When there is a concern about a child or young person having an SEND, the school will follow an ‘Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ (APDR) model. This will help them to plan how to support any learning needs.  
Cycles of support will take place with teachers (and sometimes the SENCo) assessing what the needs are, planning with parents/carers and the learner themselves what should be put in place to support their needs, carrying out the plans, and then reviewing how effective the plans have been. 
Over time the cycles may be adjusted and repeated with the aim of the child or young person making good progress.  If concerns about progress continue, despite appropriate support being provided, more specialist support should be put in place, again following the APDR model.  This is known as the graduated approach to meeting need.
For more information refer to the Graduated Approach Information for parents and carers
All schools are required to publish an information report which explains how they meet the needs of learners with SEND. These SEN Information Reports can be found on the websites of individual schools, where you will also find lots of other useful information. The SEN Information Reports must be made available to everyone, and be updated every year.  
We have developed a guide with schools, parents, and carers and learners to help Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) in schools to fulfil their role in meeting the needs of children with SEND.

This includes identifying, planning and monitoring the needs of children, supporting their progress, making best use of available resources. Schools can use this guide to help bring together all of the information needed to get a more detailed picture of the child’s needs.

It is intended to help all schools and settings with their approach to meeting the needs of SEND learners across Northumberland and will ensure that learners receive the same approach whichever school/setting they attend.

We have worked with schools, parents and carers and learners via ‘In it Together’, the parent/carer forum, to produce all guidance documents and forms to support schools to deliver the graduated approach and improve information for families.

To support their work, schools can now request Short Term Additional Resource (STAR) for learners who are receiving school/setting SEN support but who might need extra interventions temporarily (for a maximum of two terms). This will typically be as a result of a sudden or significant change in the learner’s circumstances.

For 2, 3 and 4 year old children in early years who receive funding for additional support, the pathway is slightly different due to national guidance and the requirement for Local Authorities to support SEND in early years via an early years inclusion fund.

If a child in early years requires support  nursery schools, private or voluntary settings or childminders need to complete a request for inclusion and early support  For guidance about Northumberland’s inclusion fund, eligibility criteria and application process click here

Our Early Years Team manage requests and will provide information and guidance, which may result in support to a setting to submit an Early Years STAR request. The involvement of the Early Years Team is an essential part of the process.
We have a number of specialist teams who are available to support schools to deliver the graduated approach for learners of school age, and advice on interventions appropriate for different types of special educational needs and disabilities.
They can also provide extensive training and professional development for staff.
Follow the links for further information, contact details and referral forms for SEND Support Services:
If a child or young person has been receiving SEND support at school for a while and is still not making progress, the school or setting (or a parent/carer or learner themselves) may consider requesting that the local authority carries out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment.

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan may be required for a child or young person when their special educational needs cannot be reasonably met by the resources that mainstream nurseries, schools and colleges can normally provide. In these circumstances, we should consider undertaking an assessment of education, health and care needs to decide if it is necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

The main focus for an EHC plan is education. Children or young people whose needs are mainly based around health or social care will not be given a plan, unless those needs affect their education.
Parents, carers and learners themselves can ask us to carry out an assessment if they think an EHC plan might be needed.  However, because evidence will need to be provided by the school or setting about the learners’ needs and what is in place for them already, it is more usual for schools (in consultation with parents/carers/learner) to make the request.  These requests are now called ‘Consideration of Statutory Assessment’ (COSA)

A request can be made by:
  • anyone at your child’s school or college
  • a doctor
  • a health visitor
  • a nursery worker
  • a young person over the age of 16, subject to the Mental Capacity Act.

The request forms asks for information about what difficulties the child or young person  is experiencing, how school is supporting them currently, and the impact of the support. It must include supporting evidence including parent/carer views and learner views.

If a parent, carer or learner is requesting an assessment themselves, these requests should be put in writing and sent directly to the local authority SEN Monitoring and Assessment Team at  County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF.
Our SEND Commissioning Panel is made up of representatives from education, health and social care professionals and advises the local authority on both decisions to assess and decisions to issue EHC plans.
Find out more about the role of the panel here.

If the assessment is agreed, parents/carers will be informed and the process explained. All professionals involved with the child and family will be asked to submit information about their special educational needs, and what might be needed to meet those needs.  A case worker will be allocated, and they will collect the information. Parents/carers and learners will be asked for their views in writing.  The case worker will then write a proposed support plan which will be shared at a meeting of everyone involved. Parents and carers will be central to the decision making process.

Guidance documents
Parent/Carer views for EHC assessment (pdf)
Learner views for EHC assessment (pdf)

Blank forms 
Parent/Carer views for EHC assessment (word doc)
Learner views for EHC assessment (word doc)

The proposed support plan will then be discussed at the SEND Commissioning Panel again, and the decision made as to whether an EHC plan needs to be issued.

We have 20 weeks from receiving the request for assessment to issuing a Final EHC plan.

Decisions can be appealed by contacting the SEN Assessment and Monitoring Team in the first instance, who will advise about the process.
The Education, Health and Care needs assessment may result in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan being issued.  The plan says what kind of support that child or young person needs, and how that support will be provided. 

It is a legal document that lays out the child's specific needs, as each child and young person is different. The plan will say where the child will receive their education, and what extra support they will receive to help them learn. The plan will also list any health and social care that can be provided to help with their SEND. 

For further information, see this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) explaining EHC plans


For further information, see this video from the National Deaf Children's Society about EHC plans (with BSL)
If a learner has an EHC plan, it must be reviewed at least once every 12 months. The review will involve working with parents/carers and learners child and asking their views on what is working well and what is not working so well. It will focus on how well the support is working to help the child move towards the outcomes stated in their plan. 

A meeting will be held by the school/setting and everyone involved with providing support will be invited, along with child or young person and their parent/carer.  It should look at any changes that need to be recommended. A record of the meeting must be sent to the SEND team within 2 weeks of the meeting.  

We must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes, or stop the plan within four weeks of the review meeting.

For further information, see this video from the Council for Disabled Children:
If you have a child or young person with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND) you may need to know about the SEND tribunal process.

This is part of a process that can help to resolve disagreements including decisions by the local authority not carry out a statutory assessment of your child, not to issue an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, what’s in the plan, or a proposal to stop the plan.

If you are still not satisfied there is also a mediation service who can help try to resolve your concerns.
If this does not help resolve your concern the next stage of resolution is to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. 
There are no legal costs to present your case to tribunal (unless you choose to engage a legal representative to act on your behalf).

Tribunals can have a judge and panel member or members who are considered experts in their field.
They are impartial and do not favour one party over another. They base their decisions on the evidence and information they are presented with from both parties.

Once they reach a decision they make findings, recommendations and orders for things to be done, not done or reconsidered.

Decisions made at tribunal are binding on all parties, Local Authorities and parents or young people.

The exceptions to this are decisions made through The SEND Tribunal National Trial - Single Route of Redress which is a new system that also looks at health and social care aspects of EHC plans rather than just the education aspects. It can make non-binding recommendations about health and social care aspects of EHC plans as part of the SEND appeal process. You still need an education complaint to go to tribunal, but now all aspects of the plan can be appealed in one place.

Parents and young people need to contact the Northumberland mediation service before taking their concerns to a SEND Tribunal.

Mediation aims to resolve disputes by involving an impartial third party.

In Northumberland the mediation service is provided by Barnardo’s Disability and Inclusion Support Service (DIAS). You can access this service by speaking to your Local Authority (LA) Officer, contacting the Information Advice and Support Service, or contacting Barnardo’s DAIS Service directly at 20 Bewick Road, Gateshead, NE8 4DP. Telephone 0191 4784667. Email:

Families are required to obtain a certificate either once they have information about mediation or following mediation.

You must have this certificate if you wish to lodge an appeal.

Taking part in the mediation process does not affect your right, subsequently, to appeal to the tribunal.

Parents and young people can appeal to the tribunal about:
  • a decision by Northumberland County Council not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • a decision by Northumberland County Council that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
  • the description of a child or young person’s SEN specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
  • an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • a decision by Northumberland County Council not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by Northumberland County Council to cease to maintain an EHC plan
Parents and young people have 2 months to register an SEN appeal with the tribunal, from the date when the local authority sent notice containing a decision about a EHC plan which can be appealed or one month from the date of a certificate which has been issued following mediation, or the parent or young person being given mediation information, whichever is later.
The following people can make an appeal to a tribunal:
  • Parents of children aged 0-25 with SEND
  • Young People aged 16-25 (if they have capacity to make decisions relating to the case)

What is the National Trial?

The government are extending the powers of the SEND Tribunal to make recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two-year trial. The trial will apply to decisions made on EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018.

The important thing to understand is that you cannot go to a SEND Tribunal if you don't have an education complaint. The trial gives you new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specificied in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal.

What does this mean for parents and young people?

This gives families a "one stop shop" (or single route of redress) where they can seek redress for concerns in an EHC plan.

The tribunal can make "non-binding" recommendations about health and social care provision in EHC plans. This means that the law does not require health and social care commissioners to follow the judgements.
Although the judgements are non-binding, the local authority and health care commissioners are expected to follow them and because they are recommendations from a specialist tribunal, they cannot be rejected lightly.

The health or social care commissioner must write to the family and the local authority within five weeks to tell them if they are going to follow the recommendations or not. If they are, then they need to explain the actions they are going to take. However, if they decide not to follow the tribunal judgement, they must explain why they are not following the tribunal’s recommendations. In these instances, you can still take your case to the relevant ombudsman (for social care or for health) and / or judicial review as you can now.

What happens once the SEND National Trial ends?

The government are trialling this new process for two years. At the end of the period, they will assess how well it has worked and make a decision whether the new tribunal recommendation powers should continue after March 2021.

IFF Research will be contacting parents and young people who have been through the trial to find out about their experiences. They will be gathering evidence to help the government make this decision.

More information can be found at:

Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the DfE to describe a parent's decision to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition provided by a local authority or education provided by a local authority other than at a school. ‘Parents’ includes all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.

For a summary please view and download our leaflet:
  • 10 things you should know about elective home education
The local authority has duties under the Education Act 1996, with regard to Elective Home Education.  It has to ensure that pupils of statutory school age (5-16) receive their entitlement to full time education and are educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents.  In England, education is compulsory but school is not.

Under Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 local authorities also have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.  This includes ensuring that agencies that work with and have contact with children educated at home by their parents are aware of their responsibility to consider whether children are being adequately safeguarded within those settings and, where appropriate, to notify other agencies of their concerns. Section 175(1) does not give local authorities powers to enter the homes of children undertaking elective home education.  

The guidance on this webpage is intended to help parents who are either considering or have decided to educate their child at home rather than at school. The education of a child at home is a great responsibility for a family.  It demands a serious commitment in terms of time, patience and energy.  This information should make clear the current legislation, together with Northumberland County Council’s policies and ways of working.  We hope the questions and answers will clarify the situation and help you reach the best decision for your child. Disagreements at school
Children should not be taken out of school because of a disagreement with the school or because you have been asked to.  There are ways of solving problems such as contacting the headteacher, the governors of the school or you can contact the Education Welfare Service.
EOTAS is the name given to education provision which is not at school. Alternative education is arrange by the local authority for pupils who are unable to attend school as a result of permanent exclusion or for health and medical reasons.

Education provision for pupils who have been permanently excluded from school is provided through the Education Welfare Team.  The support provided for children and their families includes:
  • quality assurance of alternative providers on the Northumberland County Council Alternative Provision Framework;
  • supporting pupils and their families;
  • stabalising placements and liaising with altnerative providers about progress;
  • preparing pupils for re-integration into school;
  • advice and guidance on inclusive practice.
Alternative Providers on the Northumberland framework are quality assured through contract compliance, school improvement partners and the Education Welfare team.

To learn more about the alternative providers on the Council's framework please view the most recent brochure: For further information about commissioning places in Alternative Provision for pupils on the roll of your school, please see our guidance leaflet (revised version available from January 2019):
  • 10 things you should know about alterative provision placements
EOTAS Wellbeing provides for learners who are of statutory school age but who are unable to attend school full time due to health and medical needs.  Tuition is provided on a one to one basis or in small groups depending on the needs of each individual pupil.  Pupils can still attend school part-time and receive EOTAS tuition, or have their full time education provided by our team of teachers.For a summary of the service provided by this team please view and download our leaflet (revised version available from January 2019):
  • 10 things you should know about the education of pupils with health needs
Medical needs: referrals are usually made by Education Welfare Officers or school pastoral managers/heads of year with confirmation in writing from a medical professional (usually a consultant rather than a GP) that the learner is unable to attend school because of their medical condition.

Mental health needs: referrals are usually made by Education Welfare Officers or school pastoral managers/heads of year with confirmation in writing from a mental health professional that the learner is unable to attend school because of their mental health condition.
For advice or guidance if a pupil has been excluded from school please telephone 01670 624183 .

For advice or guidance if a pupil has medical or health needs, please telephone 01670 622720.
To find information about our adult education skills programme, levels of study, our centres, enrolment and course fees, and support for learners please below.

Find out information about adult education.