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I am a parent or carer

Welcome to the Luton Local Offer - this is where you can find support or information aimed at helping you as a parent or carer of a child or young person with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

There are 3 ways to find what you are looking for:

  • You can use the search facility at the top of the page
  • You can search by topic
  • Or, you can read the answers to these questions by clicking on them (below)

I am worried about my child’s progress - what should I do?

What to do if you think your child has special needs

If you think that your child or young person has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) you should speak to someone about your concerns. This could be:

  • Health visitor
  • GP
  • Childminder
  • Pre-school / nursery teacher
  • Teacher / Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)
  • College or training tutor
  • Social Worker

They will be able to talk to you about the different steps they can take to help your child or young person.

If you child is of school age, you can find out more about how their school supports children with additional needs by reading their SEN(D) Information Report and Policy. These documents must be on their website, but it will also be available from teachers at the school.

Speak to your child’s teacher, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or Family Worker if they attend Nursery or school

What are special educational needs and disabilities?

What does it mean to have special educational needs and disabilities?

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she: 

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

For children aged two years or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers.

Children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) do not necessarily have a disability, and some disabled children and young people do not have special educational needs. There is a lot of overlap between the two groups though.

A child or young person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage

The four broad areas of special educational need are:

Communication and interaction

Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

Children and young people with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.

Cognition and learning

Children and young people with cognition and learning difficulties will learn at a slower pace than other children and may have greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy or numeracy skills or in understanding concepts, even with appropriate differentiation. They may also have other difficulties such as speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.

Cognition and learning difficulties covers a wide range of needs, from children with Specific learning difficulties (SpLD) through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). Specific learning difficulties affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.  In contrast children with PMLD are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties requiring support in all areas of the curriculum as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people’s social and emotional difficulties manifest themselves in many ways. These difficulties may be displayed through the child or young person becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as through challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.  Children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional and social development may have immature social skills and find it difficult to make and sustain healthy relationships.

Some behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

For some children and young people, difficulties in their emotional and social development, can mean that they require additional and different provision in order for them to achieve.  

Sensory and/or physical needs

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or rehabilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.

Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Related information

I am worried about my child’s health or development - what should I do?

If you are worried about your child’s health or development, speak to your GP, Health Visitor or someone at a Children’s Centre. If you child attends a Nursery or is in school talk to your child’s teacher, the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or the Family Worker.

Related information

How can I help my child stay healthy?

Are there any services I can contact with regard to my child’s mental health?

Good mental health and well-being are as important as psychical health. There is lots of support for children and young people where there are concerns about a child or young person’s mental health. You can also talk to your GP or child’s schools about getting support.

Related information

How can I get in touch with other parents or carers?

All parents can find their role both rewarding and challenging and many of us need or benefit from the support of other parents from time to time. For parents who have children with special educational needs and disabilities finding other parents to talk to and share experiences with can be a real source of support.

There are lots of support groups for parents of children with special educational needs in and around Luton.

Related information

What is an Education Health and Care plan and how do I request an assessment for my child?

After completion of an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment, the local authority will decide whether it is necessary for an EHCP to be put in place.

An EHCP is a legal document that details the following for the child or young person:

  • Their aspirations
  • Their desired outcomes
  • Their strengths
  • their needs,


  • the provision that they need to achieve those outcomes. This covers education, health and social care services.

As the child or young person gets older, the EHCP will also support them prepare for adulthood.

EHCPs will:

  • specify how services will be delivered as part of a whole package
  • explain how to achieve the outcomes sought across education, health and social care
  • be used to actively track progress towards their outcomes and longer term aspirations.

They must be reviewed by the local authority at least every 12 months.

In order to do this the educational setting will hold an Annual Review meeting.

The Review must consider whether the outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate and if any changes are required to the EHC Plan.

After the Annual review meeting the local authority will decide if any changes are required to the plan.  The decision will be shared in writing with parents/carers.  If parents/carers are not in agreement with the decision, they have the right to appeal this to the special educational needs and disability tribunal. 

Related information

Where can I learn more or access training about SEND processes and support available to support me and my child?

We have developed new SEND e-learning interactive modules for parents and professionals

Three e-learning modules are available for you to access free. They have been developed by SEND specialist and cover a range of important information.

  1. Module one covers:  context and the legislation, coproduction and the Local offer
  2. Module two covers: the graduated response and person centred planning
  3. Module three covers: the Education, Health and Care Plan

For more information watch this short promotional video.

Book SEND e-learning modules

Please note: you simply have to register on the site and set up an account

What is a personal budget?

A personal budget is funding allocated to meet the additional and individual support requirements of a child or young person with SEND. The personal budget is allocated when it is clear that a child or young person’s needs cannot be fully met by mainstream or targeted services without extra support being in place:

There are 3 types of personal budget available. 

  • Personal Health Budgets 
  • Personal Education Budgets 
  • Social Care Direct payments

Related information

Is my child able to access transport to their place of education or training?

SEN Home to School Transport

Parents are responsible for ensuring their child’s attendance at school and for their child’s journey to school. There are some circumstances in which the Local Authority can assist with the cost of travel.  Your child may be entitled to travel assistance if they can’t walk to school because of their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or a mobility difficulty, or if the closest, appropriate school to meet your child’s needs is above the qualifying distance criteria. The Local Authority may also be able to provide transport for young people attending care settings.

Find out more about home to school transport and travel assistance in Luton’s Home to School Transport policy.

Related information

Where can I get independent advice or support?

SENDIASS - Special Educational Needs & Disability Information, Advice & Support Service

A free service offering support and advice to parents and young people with SEND.

The SENDIAS Service aims to encourage partnership between parents, carers and young people with:

  • their school
  • local authority
  • social care
  • health and other agencies

This service’s aim is to give information to help you to make your own choices.

The service offers information about the law on SEND. 

This covers: 

  • Education
  • Health
  • Social Care
  • National and Local Policy
  • The Local Offer
  • Parent and child's rights and choices
  • The chance for parents to have a say about their, or their child’s education
  • Where to find help and advice
  • How to find support

The service may provide information in many ways, such as:

  • publications
  • at training events
  • conferences
  • Offering advice by email, on the telephone, face to face and through work with support groups or at workshops

Sometimes the service can offer more support if needed. This can include:

  • helping with letters
  • attending meetings
  • supporting talking with:
    • the local authority
    • school
    • college
    • other settings

The service aim to help parents/ carers or children and young people to feel confident to say what they want to say and be heard.  SENDIASS officers do not speak for others and do not take sides. Its aim is to affect positive outcomes of any meeting.

If the service is not able to help, officers will do their best to explain why.  They will try to put you in touch with other groups that can help. This is called 'sign posting'.

For more support:

  • you can call CONTACT's National Free phone Helpline on 0808 808 3555
  • visit the CONTACT website

Related information

Where can I get help with short breaks, respite care and other support for carers?

Parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities and children and young people themselves with SEND may benefit from support via short breaks. Find out more about what is available in Luton and about accessing direct payments.

Related information

Where can I get specialist toys or equipment?

Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may need or benefit from specialist toys or equipment however finding out about and deciding what your child might benefit from can be difficult. A good place to start is to talk your child’s health visitor, nursery or school setting. Ask for recommendations from professionals involved with your child such as occupational therapist or physiotherapist.

Related information

How can I get support for my child’s very challenging behaviour?

Most children demonstrate challenging behaviour at some points during their development and parents expect this and find ways of coping with this. Most children learn ways of managing their emotions and behaviours as they grow up. Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may continue to present with very challenging behaviours over much longer periods of their development and there may be a number of reasons for this. It may be because the young people struggle to communicate and become frustrated or because they have significant sensory sensitivities for example. Coping with significantly challenging behaviours on a regular basis over a number of years can be very difficult for parents. Here is information about support that is available to support parents and families with children’s very challenging behaviours.

Related information

How do I raise a concern or complaint?

We want our services to be excellent, but we know things can go wrong sometimes and although no-one likes to get a complaint, these can help improve services and service user experiences.

It is also nice to know when we are getting things right, and that people are happy with our services.

We will record your compliment and share it with the individual or team that you are complimenting. These are shared with senior managers who will congratulate the staff.

We welcome your views. We will record your comments and let you know if we use them.

To submit comments see related pages below.

Related information

How can I get involved in reviewing and designing SEND services or give feedback?

We welcome feedback and service user involvement. Use the feedback buttons on the Local Offer.

You can also get involved in giving your views on surveys and consultations that are often online on the Local Offer.

We are always keen to work in coproduction with parents and carers to improve experiences, services, provision and outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families. You can find out about our strategic SEND improvement work and how to get involved here.

Related information

What specialist schools or provisions are available in Luton?

There are three special schools in Luton that meet the needs of children with severe, profound and multiple special educational needs.

There are also specialist provisions attached to mainstream schools in Luton that support children with a range of special needs including autism, physical difficulties, visual impairment and hearing impairment.


Schools with specialist provision

Social communication difficulties

Hearing Impairment

Visual impairment

Physical difficulties

Related information

How can I find out what support is available if my child has neurodevelopmental difficulties?

If your child has or may have a neurodevelopmental difficulty or disorder such as autism, ADHD or learning difficulties Luton’s neurodevelopmental pathway can help you understand the processes involved in helping to identify your child’s needs and where to find support.

Related information

Are there any social activities or events taking place during the school holidays, evenings and weekends for my child to access?

Where can my child go once they have left school?

Thinking about a child leaving school can be daunting for parents and carers of young people with special educational needs and disabilities. There are a number of further education and social care options for young people in Luton who are leaving school.

Further education settings or social care settings are accessed and funded differently to school settings. As for all young people, full time education beyond school does not necessarily mean five days a week provision; what is needed will be considered with the young person where possible and their parent(s)/ carer(s) and the professionals who work with them and know them well.

The Transition Team can help guide you and your child through how further education settings can be accessed and what the offers from these are. The Learning Disability Team can help guide you and your child through social care assessment processes and about the provisions available.

The Transition Team is a specialist team that supports young people with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) aged 13 to 25.

The team focuses on Preparing for Adulthood (PFA) outcomes outlined in the SEND code of practice

  1. higher education and/or employment
  2. hndependent living
  3. participating in society
  4. being healthy.

The Transition Team Personal Advisor (PA) meets with young people and parents/carers to discuss transition to adulthood plans. During years 9, 10 and 11 the allocated PA will visit your child in school and where possible will attend annual reviews and other relevant meetings so they can get to know you and your child.

In year 11 you will receive a letter from the Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) asking where you would like your child to attend for their year 12 education. You will need to complete this and return as requested but don’t worry there are people who can help you with this.

The Transition Team Personal Adviser

  • helps parents and young people choose a suitable college or independent further education provider and supports young people with this transition
  • supports everyone with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to have a post 16 option when leaving school
  • works in partnership with key agencies and professionals who know the young person best such as their school nurse and school staff to ensure the right people are involved in supporting each young person to achieve their goals and aspirations
  • ensures all young people have a positive destination e.g. employment or a purposeful package of adult social care before ceasing their EHCP
  • signposts which services from Education, Health and Social Care will lead in supporting each individual to prepare for adulthood
  • makes sure young people with complex medical or educational needs have access to education training and health and social care opportunities.

At the end of the academic year in which the young person reaches 18 years of age if they would like to access support from Adult Social Care then the Personal Advisor will make a referral. If the young person is already known to social care the Personal Advisor will support this transition to Adult Social Care services.

Related information

What training or employment options does my child have once they have left school or further education?

There are organisations and services that can support young people who are leaving further education to find or access training or employment.