Education & Transition

What are Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

Some children and young people need more support than others to achieve their full learning potential.

They may need extra help if they have difficulty with, for example: Pencils in pot

  • Reading
  • Understanding
  • Talking
  • Managing their emotions or behaviour
  • Developing physical skills. 

A child who needs a lot of extra help in any of these areas has special educational needs (SEN).

Educational settings (schools, nurseries and colleges) have a legal duty to support children and young people with additional needs and disabilities and to treat them fairly.


The Portage Service for pre-school age children

The Portage Service is a home visiting education programme for pre-school children with additional needs and their families.

Families who receive the Portage Service are visited regularly in their home by a trained Portage Home Visitor who offers support, encouragement and advice through a home teaching programme.

The Portage team will work with families to:

  • Encourage children’s social interaction with their peers and adults Toddler learning numbers
  • Include children in early years activities outside of the home
  • Agree learning and development goals for children
  • Build on each child’s individual strengths and identify next steps for their development
  • Support multi-agency liaison
  • Support transition into nursery or school.


Portage is suitable if your child:

  • Is of pre-school age and has at least two terms before entering school or a maintained nursery class
  • Has a significant delay in two or more areas of their development
  • Parents are able to meet with a Portage Home Visitor at an agreed time and on a regular basis.


Who can refer?

Requests for Portage home support can come directly from parents and carers by contacting the Reading Portage team.

Reading Portage Team, 268 Northumberland Avenue, Reading RG2 8JP.

0118 937 4817

07773 197 400

Or visit

The Reading Portage Service is part of the Brighter Futures for Children's Education Department.


What is an EHC Plan?

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than their school or other setting can provide. Writing in a text book

EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

They replaced statements of Special Educational Need and Section 139 Learning Disability Assessments on 1 September 2014.

You can ask Reading Borough Council to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan.

A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.

A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.

If they decide to carry out an assessment you may be asked for: 

  • any reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
  • doctors’ assessments of your child
  • a letter from you about your child’s needs

The local authority will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.

Creating an EHC plan

  1. Your local authority will create a draft EHC plan and send you a copy.
  2. You have 15 days to comment, including if you want to ask that your child goes to a specialist needs school or specialist college.
  3. Your local authority has 20 weeks from the date of the assessment to give you the final EHC plan.

Disagreeing with a decision

You can challenge your local authority about:

  • their decision to not carry out an assessment
  • their decision to not create an EHC plan
  • the special educational support in the EHC plan
  • the school named in the EHC plan

If you can’t resolve the problem with your local authority, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.


Personal budgets

You may be able to get a personal budget for your child if they have an EHC plan or have been told that they need one.

It allows you to have a say in how to spend the money on support for your child.

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

  • direct payments made into your account - you buy and manage services yourself
  • an arrangement with your local authority or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
  • third-party arrangements - you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can have a combination of all three options.


Independent support for children of all ages

Independent supporters can help you and your child through the new SEN assessment process, including:

  • replacing a statement of special educational needs with a new EHC plan
  • moving a child from a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) to an EHC plan.

You can get impartial information, advice and support through Reading IASS for SEND. 

Reading Mencap Family Advisers can support you at school or local authority meetings.

National charities like IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Educational Advice), Contact, Cerebra and SOS!SEN also provide information and advice.


Reading Information, Advice and Support Service for SEND (Reading IASS)

Reading Information, Advice and Support Service for SEND (Reading IASS) offers free confidential and impartial advice to Reading parents and carers who have children – up to the age of 25 – with special educational needs.

Reading IASS for SEND is able to provide information, advice and support to parents/carers of children with SEND and young people with SEND in relation to the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment and the development of an EHC Plan, ensuring that parents, carers and their children understand the assessment and are able to fully take part.

Reading IASS can also support during an annual review of the EHC Plan.

0118 937 3421.

The service also offers all parents, whether the child has special educational needs or not, advice and support with secondary transfer. This service operates term-time only.

For advice about secondary transfer, call 0118 937 3421.



Preparing to move from Children’s services to Adult Social Care

Preparing for adulthood is a time when young people and their families are thinking about the future. If children are likely to be eligible for social care as an adult, early joint planning is needed from the age of 14. This will involve the young person, their parents or carers and other people who know the young person well from education, health, social care services or the voluntary sector.

Reading Borough Council has published its Preparing for Adulthood Policy 2019, which aims to ensure young people and their families have appropriate support as they move into adulthood and there are no gaps in the delivery of services

The document also outlines the Transitions Pathway, which outlines the steps to support young people transferring to adult services. See page 14.

Easy Read: Preparing for Adulthood

Easy Read: Preparation for Adulthood Transition