Special educational needs and / or disabilities (SEND)

The Children and Families Act 2010 introduced significant changes to the way services are provided for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families. This included:

  • Joint commissioning of services across education, health and social care
  • Publication of a ‘local offer’ of services available
  • Implementation of a new multi-agency co-ordinated statutory needs assessment process to identify the education, health and social care needs of children and young people with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities to be set out in a statutory Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • A new duty on health to deliver the health element of the plan
  • And for those who have an EHCP to have the option to request a personal budget.

In Portsmouth, partners have been working hard to successfully implement the reforms in compliance with the new SEN Code of Practice to ensure everything was transferred to the new system by April 2018. This was successfully completed, with all SEN statements transferred to EHCPs by the deadline of 31 March, but there is ongoing work to ensure we remain compliant and processes and practices are fully embedded. A Progress Report on the implementation of the SEND reforms in Portsmouth was produced following the stakeholder conference in March 2018.

Alongside the introduction of the new system there are existing pressures on SEN provision including demand for school places to meet some areas of need, as well as the pressures on the budget that is available to resource provision through the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG).

We will work with commissioners to promote inclusive practice and ensure that the eligibility criteria for services promotes inclusion. We will work with partners to ensure that all services contribute to the shared outcomes of increased school attendance and reduced fixed period exclusions from school for children with SEND, by ensuring that there are clear pathways in place to resolve issues of managing inclusion particularly in relation to children and young people experiencing social emotional and mental health difficulties.

We’ve worked closely with young people, parents, carers and professionals in Portsmouth to agree what inclusion means to people in our city. Click here to find out more.


A detailed citywide SEND strategy 2016-19 is in place and has been agreed by the Portsmouth Children’s Trust Board and Health and Wellbeing Board. The strategy seeks to implement the reforms, promote inclusion and improve the outcomes for Portsmouth children and young people aged 0-25 years with SEND and support their families. Effective implementation of this strategy, including a strong partnership with parents and carers, is a priority for all agencies. There are six strands to the strategy:

Arundel Court Primary

  1. Promote good inclusive practice across all education settings to improve outcomes
  2. Successful implementation of the SEND reforms
  3. Effective joint commissioning to improve outcomes
  4. Co-production, embedded as a way of working with children, young people and their parents and carers
  5. Early identification and early support for children with SEND and their families
  6. Effective preparation for adulthood and smooth transitions to adult services.

The Portsmouth Education Strategy will be focusing on the first strand of the SEND strategy ‘promoting good inclusive practice’ within universal services for 0-25s, including schools, colleges and early years settings, and will be overseen by the Inclusion Group.


Portsmouth currently has a higher proportion of children with an EHCP (3.1% compared to the national average of 2.8%), although the proportion of children receiving SEN support is in line with the national average. Added to this, the following are increasing:

  • Requests for statutory assessment
  • Requests for increased element 3 funding as a result of annual reviews and assessments
  • Requests to place pupils in specialist provision.

The most common main area of need in primary schools is communication and interaction difficulties (including speech, language and communication needs and autism). In secondary schools, the most common primary area of need is social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

Portsmouth mainstream schools are now better resourced to deliver inclusive practice and make provision for SEND. Underpinning pedagogical approaches such as quality first teaching and the waves of SEN interventions are now well embedded and since 2009 all SENCOs have been required to achieve accreditation at MA level and be recognised as senior leaders within their schools. In line with the national funding guidance, Portsmouth’s SEN funding formula makes resources available to schools in order to make up to the first £6,000 of additional and different provision. The Local Authority commissions specialist teaching advice and support for training to mainstream schools.

The Ordinarily Available Provision guidance sets out the support and interventions which are expected to be available for pupils attending mainstream schools in the city. This guidance has been co-produced and refreshed during 2018 and can be found here.

The full range of education, health and care services and support available in the city is published on the Local Offer website www.portsmouthlocaloffer.org.


Cottage Grove Primary School

Special schools

Cliffdale Primary Academy
Cliffdale Primary Academy is a designated special school which caters for children between 4 and 11 years of age who have complex learning difficulties; many of whom also have autism. All pupils have an Education, Health and Care Plan or a Statement of Special Educational Needs.
Mary Rose Academy
Mary Rose is a designated special school which caters for children aged between 3 and 19 years of age who are experiencing severe and complex learning difficulties. Some children may have a complexity of special educational needs including physical difficulties, medical conditions and varying degrees of sensory impairment.
Redwood Park Academy
Redwood Park is a designated special school which caters for children between 11 and 16 years of age who are experiencing severe learning difficulties and austism spectrum disorders.
The Harbour School
The Harbour School is a special school for pupils aged 9 to 16 who have a wide range of social, emotional, mental health (SEMH) and medical needs. The Harbour school also provide alternative provision placements for secondary school pupils and provides a behaviour support service for all ages to mainstream schools.
The Willows Centre for Children
The Willows is a community special school. It is also a children’s centre and a day care provider. Children who are referred as pupils have a wide range of special needs and they learn and play alongside typically developing children who attend the day care provision.

Inclusion centres attached to mainstream schools

Inclusion centres are mainstream schools with additionally resourced provision to enable them to support children with an EHCP who require a higher level of support than ordinarily available within a mainstream school. There are nine inclusion centres in the city, providing additional specialist support for children with the following needs:

Autism spectrum disorders
Sensory impairment
Social emotional and mental health / alternative provision

Highbury College is a large general further education establishment that provides a full range of courses and student support services including additional learning support. It offers support for students with learning, emotional, behavioural, personal and mental health difficulties.

Portsmouth College offers a broad range of courses for both the 16-18 and 19+ age groups.


The Educational Psychology team is part of the Inclusion Service. Our key purpose is to promote all aspects of a child or young person’s development (aged 0-25), through the application of psychology. In order to help children and young people reach their full potential, we work with the children and young people directly, with their parents or carers, with their teachers and support staff and in partnership with other agencies.

The Educational Psychology team is guided by the following key values:

  • We are child advocates: the wellbeing of the child is paramount.
  • Psychological research and evidence underpins our practice; we are committed to continuous professional development in order to improve outcomes for children and young people.
  • The importance of collaborative work with families, educational settings, partner agencies and the voluntary sector.
  • A commitment to inclusion, equal opportunities and non-discriminatory practice.
  • A belief that change is possible.

As well as working with schools and academies with whom we have a service level agreement, we are also commissioned by Portsmouth City Council Education department, to support children and young people with special or additional needs in a variety of ways.

As part of the Inclusion Service, we have strong links with a  number of teams dedicated to removing the barriers to achievement for all Portsmouth children and young people, in particular those with special educational needs or from vulnerable groups.

We contribute to statutory processes such as the Education, Health and Care needs assessments and reviews, we provide training to a range of client groups and we are commissioned by Southampton University to contribute to the training of educational psychologists.


Portage is for families who have a child with SEND (learning difficulties, special needs, or significant developmental delay/social or communication issues) who are aged 0 – 5 years. Support is given to the family in the form of regular home visits, teaching the parents and carers how best to help their child learn, grow and develop.

Portage Plus is a specialist home and nursery based teaching service for children over 2 years old to starting school age, displaying significant difficulties with social interaction and communication or has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Portage Plus generally runs in blocks of 6 weeks on, 6 weeks off.

Portage Home Visitors work in partnership with parents and /or carers to support the child’s learning at home and in some circumstances the early years setting the child attends. Parents are empowered to make a difference to their child and given support in other matters that may impact on their parenting and enjoyment of their child.

Portage Visitor and Parents Together plan developmental goals in areas such as learning, communication, relationships and movement. Parents learn how to combine learning new skills through play and integrating therapies i.e. physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy where appropriate.

Portage is a city wide service with an open referral process so anyone may refer.

Coaching Model

A coaching model is used with parents and carers including foster carers, childminders and extended family. Teaching activities or strategies are used and integrated into the families’ daily routines or the routines of the child’s natural environment. In addition, it is vital to be including and combining the other therapies the child is receiving. The interventions may include strategies to support the child in participating in family activities or the activities of the child care setting/other environment. Weekly or fortnightly teaching activities modelled on visits are left for parents to practice until the Portage Visitor returns.

Every child is assessed in all areas of development including those relating to the EYFS;  gross and fine motor, speech, language and communication, cognition and learning (knowledge and understanding of the world), self-care and independence (personal, social and emotional development), literacy, mathematics and creative skills. Hearing, or vision issues are included as well as sensory processing difficulties.

Portage Plus is a more structured intervention that takes place in the home and in the child’s early years setting. The focus is on social and communication difficulties e.g. children who may go on get a diagnosis of ASD. This is for children from 2 years to starting school age. A weekly teaching session takes place in the home and in the early years setting for six weeks. The intervention is reviewed and another 6 week block is repeated or a break of 6 weeks is agreed to allow for skills to be practiced and embedded.  Strategies for Portage Plus include PECS, Intensive Interaction, Teacch, Makaton, Indentiplay, Visual rewards systems etc.

Links for further information:

Vision and Hearing Team

Who are the Vision and Hearing team?

The Vision and Hearing team are a team of specialist teacher advisers (hearing impairment), specialist teacher advisers (visual impairment), communicators (who hold qualifications in British Sign Language) and a qualified habilitation specialist who supports children and young people with visual impairment.

We work with children and young people with a sensory impairment (hearing, vision or a multi-sensory impairment – a combined hearing and vision loss). We can support children and families from the time of referral to when they leave school/college. The level of support for each child and family is based on the child’s needs, their stage of development and the knowledge and support they have around them.

There are two sensory impairment inclusion centres in Portsmouth:

  • Primary age children: Northern Parade Federated School
  • Secondary: St Edmunds Catholic Secondary school

Our work includes:

  • Provide training and advice for school staff.
  • Work closely with other agencies that may be involved with the family such as portage, therapy services such as SALT, OT’s and the Educational Psychology service.
  • Contributing to assessments, monitoring and reporting of needs both formally and informally.
  • Promote programmes of support for vision/hearing.
  • Provide training on the use of equipment and maintenance of equipment.
  • Support transition to and between early years schools and colleges.

How are young people’s needs met?

At school or college most needs can be met through ordinarily available provision, there are some children and young people who require an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to provide additional support in the school or college setting. A child or young person does not need an EHCP for our involvement. Please contact the team if you have any questions about a child or young person’s hearing or visual impairment.

If you would like support from our team please download a copy of our request for support form.

Or contact Amanda Richards, Vision and Hearing team leader or by secure email.

Click here to see an example of how our team supported a blind student to learn how to travel by train independently so that he can travel to London to continue his studies.


The two local authorities of Portsmouth and Southampton jointly commissioned a strategic review of the provision for children and young people aged 0-25 years with special educational needs and / or disabilities (SEND) to ensure future demands can be met and which are financially sustainable.

The review has now come to an end and the report has been published, including 49 recommendations which will be taken forward as part of the SEND Strategy. The full review can be found here.

For further information please contact: Pippa Cook or Liz Robinson.


The majority of children and young people with SEND will continue have their needs met within mainstream schools and colleges. Schools receive delegated funding to meet the needs of children and young people on SEN support.

Schools provide a range of support and interventions for pupil on SEN support as part of their Ordinarily Available Provision. This document has been coproduced with SENCOs following extensive consultation with head teachers and and partners. It contains information on provision that the local authority expects to be made available for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

Please note that Portsmouth is a needs led city and any provision or support should be provided in line with the needs of the child or young person and is not dependant on any formal diagnosis.

Information on the support provided by each school for pupils with SEND can be found on the school SEND information report. For schools in Portsmouth these can all be accessed through www.portsmouthlocaloffer.org.

The educational attainment of pupils in mainstream schools who are on SEN support has been identified as an area of concern as these pupils significantly underperform in KS2 and KS4 when compared to their peers nationally. This is being addressed through the work of the PEP Inclusion Group and the PEP School Improvement Board.

Through the Portsmouth Education Partnership we have successfully secured funding through the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) for the The Portsmouth Teaching School SEND Project. This is a focused programme through which National and local Specialist Leaders of Education (NLEs and SLEs) are with 22 schools in the city to raise standards through a bespoke package of support of training using a evidence based, quality assured, collaborative approach. The learning from this project is being shared with schools across the city through regional events and existing networks.

A summary of the project and the outcomes can be found here and the full evaluation report is here.

We will build capacity within universal services through the provision of outreach support and workforce development in order to increase the confidence and competence of practitioners in meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND.


The Portsmouth Local Offer details the special education provision and training provision that Portsmouth City Council expects to be available in Portsmouth for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and or a disability.

It also includes special educational provision and training provision that the local authority expects to be available outside of Portsmouth for children and young people aged 0-25 with special education and or a disability.  The term ‘expects to be available’ is determined by the provision that Portsmouth City Council commissions directly or through its partnership arrangements.

In addition the Local Offer also includes universal provision such as leisure services that may cater for children, young people and their families with SEND  where there may be a charge. It also provides information and advice that  parents and young people have requested through feedback.

The Children and Families Act 2014 requires that the Local Authority must publish an annual report on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

This annual report details feedback about the Local Offer from parents and carers and young people and describes what we have done over the last year, and what the priorities are for the coming year.


Admiral Lord Nelson School

A termly network meeting is convened for SENCOs working in the city. The purpose of this is to provide information and professional development for SENCOs to enable them to deliver their role effectively. This includes national updates and information about local policies and procedures. This is also an opportunity for SENCOs to network, share best practice, ideas and resources.

Upcoming dates of SENCO network meetings:

  • 20 January 2021

For more details on the SENCO network please contact Queralt Barrau.

We offer a wide range of workshops and professional development opportunities for SENCOs. Details can be found here. Places should be booked via the Portsmouth Learning Gateway.



Stronger Futures SEND toolkit

This toolkit has been created with the Stronger Futures team. It covers the same areas as the early help assessments (EHAs) but the questions might feel less intrusive.

The EHA provides the record of a conversation, which can sometimes be quite difficult. However, we cannot and must not make assumptions about a family who might not tell you something unless you ask them.

They will also help assess the care needs that historically have not always been covered in the EHCPs.

Supporting children and young people with reading difficulties

This document has been written by the Portsmouth Educational Psychology team to provide guidance to schools, parents, support teachers, and other professionals on the issues involved in helping children and young people with reading difficulties. On a day-to-day basis, schools are responsible for supporting pupils with literacy difficulties and each school should describe their provision in their provision map or Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support plans.

Portsmouth Inclusion Outreach Service

The revised Portsmouth Inclusion Outreach offer as of September 2020 includes:

  • Support available includes:
  • Specialist advice for school staff working with individuals or groups of children and young people
  • Telephone line / email for general advice and enquiries
  • Professional development – central and bespoke
  • Support for staff working with children on the waiting list for specialist provision
  • Support for staff working with a child transitioning back to mainstream
  • Peer support from experienced mainstream SENCOs (or SENCO cover)
  • Action learning sets for senior leadership teams or other groups of staff
  • Guidance and support with the Portsmouth Inclusive Education Quality Mark
  • Team around the school – multi-agency support, working in partnership with a school senior leadership team to implement interventions at a systemic level.

In addition, this year we will be offering:

  • Support, advice and resources for school-based loss and bereavement champions
  • Specialist advice to create SLCN / sensory friendly environments within mainstream settings.

The outreach support is available to all mainstream schools, delivered by a range of professionals from a partnership of services including MABS, Solent Academies Trust, Children’s Therapy Service, and experienced outreach SENCOs from mainstream schools in the city.

Please call the helpline or email [email protected].

The Inclusion Outreach Service offers a wide range of workshops and professional development opportunities. Details can be found here. Places should be booked via the Portsmouth Learning Gateway.

nasen (The National Association of Special Educational Needs)

nasen provides support for practitioners by providing relevant information, training and resources to enable staff to meet all pupils’ needs. Working with dedicated education professionals, nasen aims to ensure that practice for special and additional needs is both effective and current.

SEN information reports

School SEN information reports should be updated on an annual basis and dated for the academic year. SEN information reports should be easy to find on the school website and should link to the Local Offer website www.portsmouthlocaloffer.org. Please note it should be called the SEN information report (NOT the school local offer). This checklist serves as a reminder of what should be included in a SEN information report.

‘What works’ resource for those working with pupils and students with SEN

A new interactive ‘what works’ resource for those working with pupils and students with SEN has been published.

The resource – ‘SEN support: research evidence on effective approaches and examples of current practice in good and outstanding schools and colleges’ – provides school and college leaders, teachers and practitioners with information and evidence-based practice that can be effective for SEN support.

School and colleges leadership teams, SENCOs and classroom teachers are encouraged to review their provision against the seven key features of effective support. Practitioners can look at the detail of interventions and approaches and consider what would be most beneficial for meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs in their settings.

Both the development of the resource and the underpinning research were undertaken by ASK Research and Coventry University. The resource is hosted on  nasen’s SEND gateway and the Education & Training Foundation Excellence Gateway.

Examples of effective practice include:

  • Reorganising lesson structure, learning environments and curriculum
  • Measures to address attendance issues
  • Effective transition support and preparation for adulthood
  • Effective progress monitoring.

Home to school transport

Portsmouth City Council provides transport to mainstream or special schools for children and young people who meet specific criteria set out in the Home to School Travel Assistance Policy and the Post-16 Learners statement. Further details can be found on the Portsmouth City Council website.

Wessex Healthier Together Website