SEND FAQs: Mixed subject FAQs

SEND portal

The SEND Portal is a secure online resource provided by council that enables parents/carers/young people and those professionals working with a child or young person to register and then provide information to the SEND Service (in relation to SEND) about a child/young person.

Please contact the SEND Service by email:

SEND service

EHCP co-ordinators work in the SEND service in the statutory team at Swindon Borough Council. They are the point of contact for parents. They give information and advice about statutory assessments and EHC plans.

For more information on EHCP Co-ordinators, visit meet the SEND service.

To find contact details, visit meet the SEND service.

There are no national minimum standards for SEND co-ordinators and this is an issue that we are constantly raising with the DFE. If you consider this in the same arena as social workers they have minimum standards; their caseloads are capped at 15 and there is an annual requirement for a minimum amount of CPD – SEND Caseworkers, no minimum standards, caseloads of approximately 200 and no agreed CPD.

We have just undertaken a huge amount of recruitment and we have been able to appoint staff from a wide range of backgrounds from early years to post 16 and it is our intention to develop these skill sets within the team.

First and foremost though we need to invest in these staff to ensure that they have a robust induction and training, keep caseloads manageable and ensure that they are support as we need to keep a stable workforce. Stability is the key to the success of any SEND team.

There is room for improvement without a doubt and front door is a part of the process. We have introduced a day one call for all new assessments; we have secured significant investment to recruit additional staffing for both the operations team, and Statutory Team – this is a unique model in Swindon with a dedicated operations team to support the statutory functions but still very new; new ways of working from September as just described.

Weekly SEND News Splash; Monthly newsletter for parents (which is not a repeat of the News Splash); updated Local Offer; social media plans; working with SSFV to develop other ideas, but would love to hear your suggestions please email

This links to the question about how the communication between parents and the SEND Service can be improved. In the main parents were complaining about this previous system so a front door was introduced to ensure that all contacts are captured. Each contact that comes through the front door is recorded, triaged and passed on to the relevant Co-ordinator to action and/or respond. Also if contact goes direct to EHCP Co-ordinator’s we will not be able to report any data around this and, in order to ensure we are able to maintain a stable team, we use the data to make cases for more officers. The data over the past six months has been crucial in demonstrating that the capacity within the operations team is not sufficient and we have just been able to recruit another full time Delivery Support Officer to support this function. Without capturing this data this would not have been possible.

Yes agreed and this has already been changed - we had a multi-birth family who had a few co-ordinators as this is how the rota fell, this was picked that up and it was changed immediately and this will not happen going forward and in fact the new ways of working will also ensure that this does revert back to previous system. If this happens to you in the future please highlight immediately and this will be resolved (pending previous co-ordinators remaining in the team).

Read our jargon buster.

They are constantly juggling conflicting priorities and legal timeframes. So from September 2021 we have created an Assessment Hub which will be led by Ben Stone as team leader and will work on new requests for assessment from Day one to completion within 20 weeks. Alongside this we will have a Reviewing Hub that will consist of three teams – A North Team, a South Team and a Preparing for Adulthood. To find out who is in the Statutory SEND Service Team and how to contact them, visit meet the SEND service page.

All of the team received IPSEA training, the new recruits need to complete this and there will be plans in place for this to happen. All SEND staff complete the council’s mandatory training, including the nine SEND training modules.

This is difficult to answer as each case is individual and some will involve more officer time and expert time than others. To obtain this information would require a significant amount of work but moving forward it is something that we need to consider how we capture this.

Recruitment of SEND Co-ordinators is a national problem; retention of good quality staff is difficult for all the reasons stated previously, no national minimum standards, no CPD pathways, large unmanageable caseloads, juggling conflicting priorities on a daily basis, lack of professional respect from other sectors and abuse are not unique to Swindon it is a national issue but one that must be addressed.

It is important for everyone to remember that case co-ordinators are human and to feel a ‘dread’ of coming into work every day is not appropriate. We need to develop an open honest culture where there is an acceptance that case co-ordinators have a difficult job to do and are doing their best, no one comes into work to do a bad job. Case co-ordinators in Swindon are currently working exceptionally long hours and weekends to try and keep on top of workload and this is not touching the surface as we see an increase for statutory needs assessment. This will ease once our new recruits are fully operational.

The Code of Practice enables the local authority (LA) to name a type of provision and there are a few cases where this has been necessary whilst work continues to identify the right placement for the young person so this is not creative accounting as the legislation allows this. The LA has a number of trackers that show where it has been necessary to name a type rather than specify a provision and the individual case co-ordinators will also be aware that there is further work to do and will be doing this work to identify the appropriate provision in consultation with the young person and their parents. Once a placement is agreed an amendment to the plan will be issued to update Section I.

Education, health and care (EHC) plan process

The school SENCO should arrange the date for annual reviews in conjunction with pupils, parents/carers and other professionals involved.

More information: Annual review of an EHC plan

To find out more about the panel process, see SEND panel information and feedback.

The ‘assess – plan – do – review’ approach known as the graduated response is the expected response to the identification of SEN, as outlined in the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 (2015).

To find out more about the graduated response, see Swindon core standards for SEND.

Information on how to appeal will be on the decision letter from us. There is more information about this process on Appeal an education, health and care (EHC) plan decision page.

If you need advice or support with this process you can contact the SEND information advice and support service (SIAS).

No this will not happen, we are aware that in the past that this was the case but we have made a decision at strategic level that EHCPs will not be signed off without a full range of reports.

This question probably relates to a parental request, as a school request would usually provide all the information as part of the graduated approach; however with a parental request it is our duty to ask the school for advice they do not need to respond, most do but some don’t and if this is not forthcoming within the 6 week period the LA still has a legal duty to consider the request, make a decision and inform the parents. To wait outside of this period would mean that the LA is prejudicing the parental right of appeal and would be in breach of its legal duties and would be operating a non-compliant process. It is really important that if you are considering a making a parental request for assessment that you speak to the school first to ensure that they have sufficient evidence to support this unless there are exceptional circumstances that require urgent assessment.

Health services

PDA is not a diagnosis, it is an element of the ASD diagnosis and some CYP have traits of PDA but what is important here is to be able to meet the young person’s presenting needs and not the diagnosis. There are a range of ASD awareness courses available and our Autism Support Service (ASC) team is constantly looking to improve the offer. To contact the ASC team, see Swindon Autism Support Service.

There are no plans to invest in commissioning PDA specific training as any specific training related to the PDA elements of the ASD spectrum would be for the CCG. More information: Autism: Demand avoidance in children and young people.

Swindon Send Families Voice will be raising local position statements re PDA with Clinical Commissioning Group colleagues at their next meeting, and should be able to offer further information in due course.


A SENCo or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator is a teacher with responsibility for the planning and monitoring of the special educational provision within your child's school

For more definitions like this, read our jargon buster.

Yes they are. It is the allocation decision ,and the reasons why the allocation was made, that are recorded. They are not, however, recorded individually by the panel but on a spreadsheet with all the children and young people (CYP) discussed. Therefore, this spreadsheet is not released, however, the co-ordinator presenting the case will have an individual record of the decision. If you wanted to obtain a decision specific to your CYP you can make a subject access request to the council.

We have commissioned an additional 90 special school placements in Swindon for September 2022 due to the increased demand and we are currently writing a specialist provision sufficiency plan which will include reviews of other provisions within the area e.g. SRPs and Units, we are keen to have the right provision in the right place at the right time.

A good approach would be to firstly develop such provisions within a cluster of schools however with the Governments drive for MATS and Free Schools this limits the LA’s opportunities to develop.

They are not, this is not something that the Local Authority would suggest. It maybe that the school are seeing parental involvement as a way to escalate discussions but this is not appropriate. Provision listed on the EHCP must be delivered and School’s receive three different elements of funding to deliver this.

There are currently no plans for such a provision but that said we do not know what the findings of the specialist placement review will be and there is a commitment for the right support at the right time in the right place.

Many councils do not have the budgets available to enter into invest to save projects and Swindon has just received an allocation of funding from the DFE for SEND Capital Development of £1.6 million does not even touch the surface. There is currently a South West regional project that is looking at future requirements for very specialist provisions, this is in the early stages of gathering data sets across the region but this has the potential for some exciting developments over the next five years.

No time is reasonable and we are aware that this has been an issue in the past, each case is individual but rest assured we are working hard to address this.

It is rare that parents disagree with school on the need for assessment as school requests require parental agreement to proceed but what we do see is schools disagreeing with parental requests for assessments and this is where we encounter some difficulties. We would really advocate that if you are considering making a parental request for assessment that you discuss this with the School and SENCo prior to making the request.

As part of the ‘new’ process all requests for social work advice is managed through MASH and triaged as to what actions are needed. We are not aware of the statement above.

This is not true.

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