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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 three ways to find what you are looking for where you can either:

  • use the search facility at the top of the page
  • search by topic
  • 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 or Health Visitor. 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?

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 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

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

Can my child have someone to be their ‘Lead Professional’?

Many children and young people in Luton require additional support of some kind during their time in education.

Some children and young people require more support and may need support from several professionals. 

Some might need an Education, Health Care Plan to meet their educational needs.

Where there are several professionals involved, best practice is for there to be one person who plays a coordinating role, called a ‘Lead Professional’.


This role includes someone who:

  • You trust and feel happy to talk to and share your views, hopes and wishes for your child; someone your child feels they can talk to also if appropriate.         Your views in choosing the Lead Professional are very important.
  • Acts as a single point of contact and can coordinate the work of all the professionals working with your child so that all the services work together as effectively as possible.
  • Helps you and your child to identify their strengths and areas of need and the provisions and services to meet those needs.

Supports you and your child to ensure that transfer of schools or provisions during their time in education goes as smoothly as possible.

The Lead Professional - information for young people and parents

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.

Use the link below to register. Then search for the 'SEND Collection' in the course library.

Register for SEND e-learning modules

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

Bedfordshire and Luton Community Health Services have online training videos you can watch any time and a series of workshops - face to face or virtual.

To access their website, click on the external link on the right of the page or click here

Related information

How can I find out what benefits I am entitled to?

There are many different sources of help for families with financial and legal concerns so it can be confusing knowing what's available, what you're entitled to and how to access the help you need. If you're worried about benefits or tax credits, housing or schools or if you have debts then you will be able to find financial or legal help through the local services or national websites or helplines listed here.

Benefit Advice can be sought from an organisation called Contact they can provide telephone support via their helpline 0808808355, or online 

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

How can the SENDIAS service support you?

SENDIAS - 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 aims to help parents/ carers or children and young people to feel confident to say what they want to say and be heard.  SENDIAS 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

I'm new to Luton where can I find advice regarding special educational needs for my child?

As a new family to Luton, here's some information for you about who to contact and where to go for advice regarding special educational needs for your child.

Advice for new families - English

Advice for new families - Romanian

Advice for new families - Urdu

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

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

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?

I have concerns about a child or young person’s education, health and care (EHC) needs or plan

If you are not happy with what is happening at any stage, you should contact your named Assessment Officer. Very often, these difficulties can be resolved quite easily. You may also contact the Special Educational Needs Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIAS).

If you are still not in agreement you have the right to appeal to an independent Tribunal, called the SEN and Disability Tribunal.

Find out more about resolving EHC Plan disagreements

I have concerns with the service

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

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 specialist nurseries or provisions are available in Luton?

Placement and funding for children with severe and complex/profound special Educational Needs in Luton.

Luton aims to ensure that, where possible, all children with severe/complex additional educational needs are educated in their local community.

Families with children with severe/complex and profound Special Educational Needs in Luton can access Early Years Education in a number of ways.

A place in a Resourced Nursery

There are six nursery schools spread across Luton that have additional resources provide by Luton Council to meet the needs of children with severe and complex needs.

These resourced nursery schools are:


  • offer a full time or part time care and education for children under five years
  • are usually open during the term time only, however some do offer ‘wrap around’ care and may be open during school holidays.
  • are classified as a school and are inspected by Ofsted under the school inspection criteria and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS framework)
  • have a head teacher
  • employ qualified teachers and highly trained and experienced early year’s educators who understand the complexities of children with additional needs.
  • employ Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs)
  • have a governing body, with regular governors meetings

Places for children with severe and complex needs in these nurseries are called Resourced places. Resourced nurseries will apply to Early Years Panel at Luton Council on your behalf for a resourced place and will need to demonstrate that your child may have one or a numbers of needs including:

  • a high degree of physical or sensory difficulty.
  • be dependent upon adults for most needs (beyond that expected of their age) including their safety and wellbeing.
  • have a limited ability to interact with others
  • communicates mainly through babble, reaching and pointing.

For a child to be described as having severe or complex needs their development will be shown to be at half or less than that of a child with typical development. This is reported through assessments (level of developmental age for example 3 months) and descriptions of what you child can do.

A place in a Private, Voluntary and Independent Nursery (PVI)

Day nurseries are run by either a private, independent or voluntary organisation. There are currently 75 day nurseries throughout Luton (April 2021). Some are part of a bigger chain of nurseries and may have different sites under the same company name.

Day nurseries:

  • offer full time or part time care and education for children under five years
  • are usually open for up to 50 weeks per year and some offer school holiday care for children from five to eight years old
  • are Ofsted registered and inspected against the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS framework)
  • have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator

Funding Support for Private, Independent and Voluntary Settings

If your child has been identified as having severe or complex Special Educational Needs requiring additional support to access early year’s education, Luton’s private Voluntary and Independent settings can apply for additional financial support.

This support may be used to increase the number of adult to children ratios in the setting in order for them to plan and deliver inclusive programmes or interventions to support your child’s specific individualised needs and to enable the nursery to work with parents/careers and specialist services.

The funding is not to be used to provide an additional member of staff who will work solely with your child. It is to ensure that there are increased opportunities for all staff to support your child when appropriate to do so.

Luton places the highest importance on professionals working in collaboration with parents/carers. This is to ensure that assessment of a child with special educational needs reflects a sound and comprehensive knowledge of your child. Any planned and recorded actions will need to take account of what you know about your child, your wishes and aspirations for them.

Funding is for 38 weeks a year (15 hours a week*) and is generally used during school term time.

Settings will apply for funding to the Early Years Panel at Luton Council on your behalf and will need to demonstrate that your child may have one or a numbers of needs including:

  • a high degree of physical or sensory difficulty.
  • may be dependent upon adults for most needs (beyond that expected of their age) including their safety and wellbeing.
  • have a limited ability to interact with others
  • communicates mainly through babble, reaching and pointing.

For a child to be described as having severe or complex needs their development will be shown to be at half or less than that of a child with typical development. This is reported through assessments (level of developmental age for example 3 months) and descriptions of what you child can do.

*Some working families may be entitled to 30 hours a week. Where eligible additional funding for these families will be agreed to match this

A place at a Special School Nursery

Lady Zia Wernher school is a maintained local authority school, which includes a nursery. All children attending the school have a severe or profound learning difficulty. Their needs can include physical, sensory and communication impairment, autistic spectrum disorder and/ or complex medical needs. All staff are highly skilled in understand the complexities of children with additional needs.

Places at Lady Zia Wernher Nursery are obtained through application to Early Years Panel. An Educational professional can apply on your behalf.

Early Years Panel is made of representatives from;

  • Special Schools
  • Resourced Nursery’s
  • Private Voluntary and independent nursery settings
  • Authority Special Educational Needs Service (SENS)
  • Advisory Teachers for Visual Impairment and Hearing Impairment
  • Health

These representatives have in-depth knowledge of Special Educational Needs, and how this can prevent or hinder a child accessing educational provided for typical children of the same age. They are experienced in understanding the type of support a child will severe and complex needs will require.

Time for 2s – funded hours for 2 year olds

If you are the parent/carer of a 2 year old child with SEND, you may be entitled to a Time for 2s funded place for your child.
This provides 15 hours per week of free childcare during school term time at some Ofsted registered childcare providers.

What specialist schools or provisions are available in Luton?

There are four 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

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

What happens when my child reaches 18?

When your child reaches 18, the services your child has been receiving will be provided from different people in adult services or at college.

The information in the Moving from children’s to adult services will help you understand these changes.

Moving from children’s to adult 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.

What can my child do if they want to leave home and live independently?

What are my child’s options if they want to leave home?

Many young people reach a point when they would like to leave home and live independently.  Mostly they will rent a home from a private landlord, either by themselves or in a shared house.  Tenants have rights and responsibilities and can get housing advice from Luton Council or other advice partners such as Citizens Advice Bureau. The Housing advice line for LBC is 01582 510371 or email For people at risk of homelessness, we advise seeking advice as early as possible and the council can help you to access rented accommodation for example by providing a rent deposit.

Local residents can also apply to the council’s housing register and bid for available affordable housing properties through the Bedfordshire Homefinder system. It is important to be aware that it can take many years to secure a suitable property in this way, and, as there are more applicants than properties available, most people who apply do not find accommodation through this route.

What are my child’s options if they want to leave home and they need support to live independently?

For young adults who are unable to live independently in the community there are a number of supported living and residential homes in Luton and surrounding areas and these can be found on this local offer website.

Supported living means a young person having their own tenancy and support from a care provider who have staff who stay nearby. The ranges of support can vary depending on the young person’s needs. It may involve have staff coming in occasionally or being present 24 hours a day. Staff can support young people with a range of things such as cooking a meal, paying bills or helping young people have a shower. Some supported living arrangements involve having an independent flat with a young person having their own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room whilst others might be larger bedrooms within a house with shared communal space.

Residential care offers 24 hour care for young adults with higher needs such as at night time and there will always be staff present. Usually residential homes are quite small now and a young person may have their own room and there will be shared communal areas. Some residential homes have nurses there if people have certain health needs, these are usually referred to as nursing homes.

Talking to young adults and their families is really important to help us understand what type of residential care and supported living is needed. This helps us co-produce new supported living and residential accommodation that is local and is designed around what young adults need and want. We work closely with NHS England, Housing Providers and Commissioners to plan for the future.

If you would like to find out more about local supported living and residential/nursing homes search what’s available on the local offer.

What support is available to my child to support independent living?

Luton Council’s prevention and enablement team work closely with voluntary and community groups to support young adults living independently in the community. Their support can range from supporting young adults to learn the practical skills to live independently via training plans such as paying bills, cooking, using apps via your phone to shop. Local Area Coordinators will also support young adults to make new friends and become more connected and move actively involved in their community.

Many young adults who move in to residential care or supported living aspire to live more independently and their transition worker will sit down with them and their family and the supported living or residential home to plan what they would like to do and achieve. Our residential homes work closely with Luton Council to support people to move to transition to supported living when the time is right for them.

Recently we created three training flats that support young adults to move on to independent living, each flat has its own bathroom, living area and bedroom with a shared kitchen and is equipped with personal technology to really maximise independence. Young adults can live there for up to two years in which time along with gaining independence we will support you to move in to independent living.

Penrose – an organisation that can help

Penrose is an organisation that provides housing related support for anyone living in Luton.
Anyone can self-refer to Penrose who provide housing related support for citizens of Luton. This would cover issues such as accessing benefits and understanding your tenancy agreement. Referrals can be made via the email or 01582 343230. If you are in touch with a support worker or social worker, they can also make a referral.

Related information

How can I get support for my health and wellbeing?

It’s important as a parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND to take care of your own health and wellbeing.

These services in Luton offer help if you’re experiencing anxiety, stress or depression; or are concerned about your own health and wellbeing.

Related information

How do I get support for other family members?

Support for other family members can be found on the Sibs website