Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)


If you are an Army family with a child who has additional needs, then there is lots of advice and information available to you – some of which we have highlighted on this page.

For those of you who live in England, the Department for Education has compiled a series of flow charts that can help you through the assessment process right from the very beginning. You can find these on the Special Needs Jungle website.

If you live elsewhere, a good place to start is relevant devolved government websites. The Education Advisory Team (EAT) (UK) will also help you wherever you live in the world.

AFF is monitoring how you are supported through this and we would like to hear your feedback and experiences.

Please contact the Education & Childcare team at educationsupport@aff.org.uk or the Health & Additional Needs team at healthsupport@aff.org.uk


01   Registering your child’s additional educational needs/SEND

If your child has additional educational needs the MOD advises that you register your child with the Education Advisory Team (EAT) (UK).

If your child has additional educational needs and/or disability it is mandatory for Army personnel to register this with the Army Personnel Centre (APC) by following the process laid out in AGAI 81, Part 8 – Supportability and Additional Needs. For more information, see our additional needs page.

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02   Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans (England only)

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is a single integrated care plan which should ensure that all local agencies for education, health and social care work together to meet your needs and stop you as parents having to undergo repeated assessments with different agencies.

It should also improve the transition process for young people when they leave school.

An EHC Plan is a legal document which sets out a description of your child’s needs and what support needs to be provided through education, health and social care to meet those needs.

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03   Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment

Local Authorities (LAs) have a duty to assess a child or young person’s education, health and care needs if it is thought they may have SEND and possibly require special educational support. This assessment is known as an EHC Needs Assessment, but it is also sometimes called a “statutory assessment.”

The LA is required to carry out this assessment in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014.

The SEND Code of Practice 0-25 provides all the statutory information on the EHC needs assessment.

See EHC needs assessments for more information on how to start the assessment process.

How long does the assessment process take?

Once the LA has agreed to an EHC Plan for your child or young person they will prepare a draft plan.

This will be sent to you, and once the draft plan has been received, you have 15 days to check that all the needs and provision required has been included in the EHC Plan; the whole process must be completed within 20 weeks.

If the LA decides not to provide your child or young person with an EHC Plan, they must inform you within 16 weeks from the original request for an EHC Plan. You have the right to appeal this decision through the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

See What happens in an EHC needs assessment for more information.

Who can make a referral?

Parents, a young person over 16 (but under 25) and a person acting on behalf of a school or institution for post -16 education (this should ideally be with the agreement of the parent or young person), all have a specific right to ask the LA to conduct an EHC needs assessment.

Anyone else who may think an EHC needs assessment is necessary can bring a child or young person to the LA’s attention. This could include foster carers, health and social care professionals, early year’s practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, school or college staff or a family friend.

Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the LA is done on an individual basis and should be done with the knowledge, and where possible, the agreement of the child’s parents or the young person.

There is also more information available in the SEND Guide for Parents and Carers which has an easy read version for parents and an easy read version for children and young people.

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04   Transferring EHC plan in England

It is important to inform your current LA and the LA that you are moving to in writing about your move and if possible include a copy of your assignment order. Also provide them with the date you would like your child to begin their new school.

The LA should assign you a caseworker and it is advisable to keep records of any communication or correspondence you have with the LA, so dates and names of the people you have spoken with. If you speak to them over the phone try and follow up with an email, so you have a paper trail.

Do some research about schools in the new location and the LA Local Offer page has some useful information on schools in their area. You can also search for the school performance tables in the new location too.

If you find a school that you think may be suitable check their SEND policy and arrange to speak to the SENDCo or other key staff. Often it is useful to visit the school with your child, if this is possible.

You can express a preference for the school you would like your child to attend and request that the new LA begins consulting with your preferred school or other suitable schools before you move to your new location.

Remember that the Education Advisory Team (EAT) (UK) is there to support you through this process, so it is important to register your child with them.

Also it is important to be aware that an EHC Plan cannot be transferred outside of England, including the Devolved Administrations.

For more information on transferring EHC Plans between LAs, see Moving to a new local authority

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05   The Local Offer

The Children and Families Act 2014 gave Local Authorities (LAs) a statutory duty to produce a ‘Local Offer’ for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and/or a disability (SEND) from 0 to 25.

All LAs have published a ‘Local Offer’ of support, so parents and young people know exactly what is available in their location; this information can be found on the LA website, either on the schools/SEN pages or on the education, training and skills pages.

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06   Devolved Administrations

SEND is the term used for special educational needs and disability in England, however different terminology used across the devolved administrations for those children with additional education needs.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland they use the term Special Educational Needs (SEN) and still use a Statement of Educational Needs, which is similar to the EHCP.

See Special educational needs: statements

You can also contact the NI Children’s Education Support Officer for more information and advice about SEND support and schools in NI on: RC-AWS-N-38X-0mailbox@mod.gov.uk


Scotland has a different system to England and use the term Additional Support for Learning (ASL).

More information and advice on ASL can be accessed through Enquire or Let’s Talk ASN

Forces Education Scotland has published a moving to Scotland booklet with some advice too.


In Wales they use the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and they have recently updated their Additional Learning Needs Code.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) are the Welsh equivalent to the EHC Plan and more information about this can be found on the SNAP Cymru website.

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07   Overseas assignments

Before you move overseas your child will be required to undertake the educational pre-screening MOD Assessment of Supportability Overseas (MASO) process to ensure they can be supported in the overseas location. More information about this can be found in MOD Policy Assessment of Support Needs For Accompanied Assignments Overseas. It is important to be aware that EHC Plans (or equivalent) cannot be reviewed or updated in overseas locations.

If your child is identified as having SEND whilst overseas then the school will provide a Service Children’s Assessment of Need (SCAN) when you move back to the UK. The MODLAP group is working with key LAs in England to recognise the SCAN as part of the EHC assessment process.

Schools overseas may either be Defence Children Services (DCS) Schools and Settings or non-MOD schools locations. See Education overseas for service children for more information.

The Overseas Education and Supportability (OES) Team advises families and commands on overseas education issues, educational clearance and coordinate the educational element of the MASO process. The OES team can be contacted on RC-DCS-HQ-OES@mod.gov.uk

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08   Personal budgets

All Army families who are awarded an approved EHCP will have a legal right to request a personal budget.

When you receive your draft EHC Plan from the LA you will be invited to apply for your child or young person’s personal budget.

Parents will have the option to directly buy in any support they require, as identified in the ECH Plan. You can also choose whether to take control of the personal budget, or agencies.

Parents or young people should state how they would like the personal budget allocated in the draft EHC Plan.

There are three ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:

  1. direct payments made into your account, so that you buy and manage services yourself
  2. an arrangement with your LA or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
  3. third-party arrangements – you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can also have a combination of all three options.

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09   Mediation, tribunal and children’s right to appeal

If you’re not happy with the LAs decision to not assess your child for an EHCP, or to provide an EHCP after an EHC assessment, or the SEN part of the EHCP, you can appeal the decision with the SEND Tribunal.

However, before you appeal you must first contact a mediation advisor. See ipsea.org.uk/mediation

More information on Tribunals can be found at ipsea.org.uk/what-is-the-send-tribunal and you can contact the IPSEA tribunal helpline for more support.

There is also more information on mediation and tribunals at First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and the SEND Code of Practice 0-25.

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10   Support and Information


Charitable and other support

For other useful links and information relating to SEN and SEND, see our additional needs page.

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