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Education and Training

This section helps you to find out what options might be available to you, your child or young person.  This will include details of schools, colleges and other educational services including traineeships, apprenticeships and supported internships. 

You can either "View all services" or use the Category buttons to narrow your search.

Together for Children and Sunderland City Council cannot recommend or endorse any providers or services listed.  Please read our full disclaimer here.

We have provided some information below which you may find useful:


Sunderland SEN Information Pack - Early Years & Education

Together for Children Sunderland have designed a booklet to assist parents/carers of disabled children and young people.  The booklet contains general information, advice and guidance around all aspects of support available to children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.

The booklet is split into categories that mainly follow the categories within the Local Offer.  A copy of the Early Years & Education section is attached.

A copy of the whole booklet can be found on the SEN Information Pack Advice and Guidance page, where you can download a copy if required.

What is meant by SEND?

SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Some children will have SEN of some kind during their time in education.  Often children can be helped to overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily but some children will need extra help for some or all of their time in education.

A child or young person is said to have SEND if they:

  • have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age
  • have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools

Children with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) have a right to education on an equal basis with their peers.  All settings are required to make provisions to enable children with SEND to achieve.

Every child with a SEND should have their identified needs met as far as possible within a mainstream setting, with access to a broad and balanced curriculum.

All Schools and Early Year's settings are required to appoint a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCo) and have a Special Educational Needs Policy and SEN Information Report in place.  The SEN Information Reports should be available on their website or in the Local Offer details on their record on the Sunderland Information Point.

If you have concerns about your child's progress it is important that you share these concerns with your child's class teacher, key worker or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCo).

What if I am worried that my child might have special educational needs?

If you think your child may have SEN that has not been identified by the school or early education setting, you should talk to your child's class teacher, key worker, Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCo) or to the Head Teacher.

They will be able to tell you about the setting's policy for SEN, the support and resources that the setting can provide and help available from outside the setting.

If your child has not started school or early education, but you are concerned they may have SEN there are several services that may be able to offer support and advice:

  • Health Visitor
  • Doctor
  • Social Worker
  • Pre-school or Nursery group
  • Portage
  • Educational Psychology Service

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

If you have a child or young person with SEN (they have a learning difficulty or disability) they may sometimes require a level of support that is more intensive than the resources usually available in their school.  In such a case, you or your child's school could consider asking the Local Authority to undertake an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which could lead to your child receiving an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?
An EHCP brings together your child's education, health and social care needs into a single plan which is a legal document. Your child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan. 

An Education, Health and Care Plan will describe the needs of the child or young person, the services required to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement.  It will be developed in partnership with you and your child or young person and will be carried out within 20 weeks of the needs assessment.

How do I apply for an EHC Plan?
A parent or young person would need submit a written request to the Local Authority asking for a formal assessment to be carried out.  The written request will need to contain information about which agencies are currently involved in working with the child or young person.   

Who decides whether a child needs an EHC Plan?
The Local Authority will make the decision as to whether a child or young person needs an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’.  The process leading to this decision will however be shorter (maximum 20 weeks) and more child/young person and family-focussed.   

Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment

In most cases the request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment will come from a school or education setting.  However, requests do not have to come from a school or education setting and can be made by:

  1. The child's parents (or somebody on their behalf)
  2. The young person if over the age of 16 (or somebody on their behalf)
  3. A person acting on behalf of an early years setting, school or post 16 institution (this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible.

In addition, anyone can inform the local authority about a child or young person who has (or may have) SEND. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Again, this should be done with the knowledge and agreement of parents or the young person where possible.

For more information see the Advice and Guidance page - "Requesting an Education, Health and Care Assessment".

What if the LA decides that an EHC plan is not necessary?

If, following assessment, the local authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary, it must inform the parents or young person, the early years provider, school or post 16 institution currently attended and the health service, and give the reasons for its decision.  This must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having been brought to the authority's attention. The local authority must also tell the parents or young person that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision and set out the time limits for appeal, and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.

If you would like to find out more information regarding the whole process you can find the Code of Practice at

What about children who do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Under the old legislation, children and young people at school who did not have a Statement of SEN may have been supported under arrangements known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’.  These terms reflect differing levels of need and support provided but they are not included in the new legislation 

However, there is still provision for children without EHC plans.  This will be set out in the Code of Practice which will support the new SEN arrangements.  The Code of Practice, which was published in July 2014, calls this ‘SEN support’ and gives an idea about what this might look like.  It indicates this should be a graduated approach which takes form of a four-part cycle Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

What if I disagree with the local authority's decision about EHC plans?

Disagreement Resolution - most disagreements can be resolved by talking with the early years setting, school or local authority.  If you need more help with this you can contact Sunderland SEND IASS Sunderland Carers Centre 0191 549 3768.

Mediation - is a voluntary process for parents and young people, which can be used if agreement cannot be reached about matters related to EHC plans.

SEND Tribunal - is an independent First-Tier Tribunal who hears parents' or young peoples' appeals against decisions of the local authority in relation to special educational needs.

For more information on all of the above see Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunal services.

Special Educational Needs Resourced Provision in Mainstream Schools

In addition to providing Special Day Schools, Sunderland Local Authority makes provision for Special Educational Needs in some mainstream schools.

For full details of these provisions, along with details of the referral routes for each of the provisions, see "SEN Resourced Provision in Mainstream Schools" advice and guidance page.

SEND Strategy 0-25 Consultation

Together for Children (Sunderland) Draft SEND Strategy 2019-2022 "Working together for children, young people and families" outlines the vision and the key objectives for supporting Sunderland's children and young people with SEND and their families.

Click here for more information about the draft Strategy and the consultation process.

A copy of the draft Strategy is attached and can be downloaded here.  

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