Providing your child’s support

Providing your child’s support

There are lots of different ways that your child might be supported at their school or nursery.

Finding the right support is an ongoing process that should include you, your child, their school or nursery, and any other people that support them.

What does the law say?

By law, it is your local authority’s responsibility to make sure the children in their area get the support they need. The law doesn’t say exactly what support should look like because every child is different. The support your child gets should be based on their individual needs, building on their strengths and helping them overcome any barriers to their learning.

Your child’s support must be ‘adequate and efficient’ and help your child to fully benefit from their education. This means that although cost should not be the primary consideration when planning support, the local authority should consider how best to provide support within their means and resources.

What might my child’s support look like?

What your child’s support will look like will depend on their individual needs. It may be a combination of different supports.

Some examples of the types of support that may be offered are:

Adapting the curriculum

  • e.g. revisiting earlier stages of the curriculum if your child needs more time to learn, or having work broken down into smaller chunks to make it more accessible

Support or advice from a specialist

  • e.g. a speech and language therapist or an educational psychologist giving advice to the class teacher on support strategies they can use

Support from a classroom or pupil support assistant

  • e.g. to help your child understand instructions, or to check in throughout a lesson to help them stay focused

Access to additional resources and materials

  • e.g. using a tablet or laptop to help them complete tasks or communicate with the teacher

Adapting the school or nursery environment

  • e.g. putting up extra signs to help your child find their way more easily

Individual or small-group teaching

  • e.g. working with a learning support teacher for 15 minutes each day to focus on a particular skill (e.g. literacy)

Access to a nurture or support base

  • e.g. having a ‘time-out’ card which allows them to leave class and spend time in a safe space to calm down when feeling overwhelmed

Peer support

  • e.g. support from an older pupil, for example a paired reading programme

How will my child and I be involved in decisions about their support?

You and your child should be involved in planning your child’s support, and you should have your views and ideas listened to. You may be asked to attend meetings or to contribute in writing as part of the planning process.

You are the expert on your child. You could share with your child’s school your understanding of their needs. For example, what works well for your child at home or in other settings, or any triggers that it would help the school to know about.

  • Working together with your child’s school

    This factsheet explains how you can have positive conversations with your child’s school or nursery, including advice for attending meetings about your child’s support.

How can we find the support that will be best for my child?

Your child’s school or nursery should work with you and your child to work out what support will work best. They should also take account of information from any other professionals that work with your child, such as an educational psychologist, health professional, or social worker.

Together, you can talk about your child’s needs and what support might help. You could share things you do at home to support your child, and their teacher(s) might have suggestions based on their professional knowledge. It is also important to include your child’s views – what do they think they need help with? How do they feel about the ideas you or their teacher have suggested?

Some other organisations have produced resources for particular needs which may help you and your child’s school to find the right support. For example, the Autism Toolbox and the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.

Remember, planning your child’s support should be an ongoing process. Your child’s support should be regularly reviewed. Their needs might change over time, and the support that works for them might change, too. Sometimes, it might be a case of trying out a few different things to see what works best.

  • Identifying and assessing your child’s needs

    Factsheet explaining what local authorities, schools and nurseries must do to identify your child’s support needs, and your rights to request assessments of their needs.

  • Planning your child’s support

    This factsheet explains the different ways that your child’s support might be planned, including descriptions of the types of written plans that might be used.

Can my child have one-to-one support?

There are lots of ways that your child could be supported, and one-to-one support from a dedicated member of staff is only one example.

The most important thing is that the support is designed to meet your child’s individual needs. Your child’s school or nursery should work with you and your child to find what is right for them.

It is fairly rare for a child to have full time one-to-one support. Whether this is possible will depend on the reasons why your child might need it, and whether there are other options that could also meet their needs. Although guidance on the law is clear that cost should not be the main consideration when deciding support, schools have to be sure they are making the best of the resources they have.

For example, your child’s school may feel that your child will gain similar benefit from working in a small group, rather than one-to-one. This would mean that your child would receive the additional support they need, and other pupils would benefit, too.

However, lack of staff/resources should not be the only or main reason not to provide one to one support, if it’s been identified that your child needs it. It’s ultimately the local authority’s duty to make sure your child is fully supported. The school (or you) can speak to them directly if there are concerns that your child isn’t getting the level of support they need.

If one to one support is not possible for your child, remember that they are still entitled to support that helps them fully benefit from their education, so their school or nursery should put in place other support that meets your child’s needs. For some examples, have a look above at ‘What might my child’s support look like?

Why are some children given more or different support than my child?

Your child’s support should be based on their individual needs. As every child and situation is different, some children will have different support to others, even if they might seem to have similar needs or the same diagnosis.

If you feel that your child is not getting the support they need, you should talk with the person responsible for additional support for learning at their school or nursery. You could ask for a meeting to discuss how they feel they are meeting your child’s needs and share your concerns about your child’s support.

  • Working together with your child’s school

    This factsheet explains how you can have positive conversations with your child’s school or nursery, including advice for attending meetings about your child’s support.

What can I do if I’m not happy with my child’s support?

If you are worried that your child is not getting the support they need, you should talk to the person at their school or nursery who is responsible for additional support for learning. You could ask for a meeting to discuss your child’s support and to share your concerns.

At the meeting, you could:

  • ask what support is currently in place for your child and how the school or nursery feel this meets your child’s needs
  • share your views and your child’s views about their support
  • share support that works for your child at home that they may be able to try at school or nursery
  • ask when your child’s support will next be reviewed

It may also be helpful to ask for a written support plan to help keep track of your child’s support at school. For more information on the types of support plan available, have a look at our factsheet Planning your child’s support.

  • Avoiding and solving problems

    This factsheet explains the steps you can take if you are worried or unhappy about your child’s support, and some of the further steps you can take if you are in a disagreement with a local authority.

Quick Tips

More like this

Still have questions about additional support for learning?

Our Helpline staff can help.

About the Enquire Helpline


0345 123 2303

Helpline closed. Opening hours.

Ask a question

Contact form