Children, young people and families
This College of Occupational Therapists Frequently Asked Questions document has been developed to assist occupational therapists who may be required to provide professional advice for a Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Additional Support Needs (ASN) statement/coordinated support plan, or a tribunal
Some of the underlying legislation, guidance and terminology concerning special educational needs differs across the United Kingdom (UK). However, the process of identifying the child’s educational needs through observation and assessment, and the recording of the required intervention to allow the child to benefit from education, is the same for all four UK countries.
The Warnock Report: Committee of enquiry into the education of handicapped children and young people stated that 'education, as we conceive it, is a good, and a specifically human good, to which all human beings are entitled.' (Warnock 1978, Chapter 1, Section 1.7).
The purpose of the special educational needs/additional support needs process is to enable a child to make use of and benefit from education. The occupational therapist’s role of working with individuals to facilitate their achievement of a fulfilled and satisfied state in life, using 'purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability and which develop, improve, sustain or restore the highest possible level of independence' (American Occupational Therapy Association 1994), fully coincides with the purpose of SEN support.
Download Defining and Presenting a Child’s Educational Need for Occupational Therapy
COT response to SEN and Disability Green Paper highlights need for Education Authorities and schools to fund occupational therapists.
COT have responded to the Consultation regarding SEN and Disability in England (‘Support and Aspiration: a new approach to SEN and Disability’ DFE March 2011), by highlighting the need for Education Authorities and providers to fund occupational therapy posts, in order to better meet the needs of children in schools and early years settings. Highlighted in the report:
- The role of occupational therapists in enabling participation of children with SEN and disabilities
- The potential for occupational therapists to educate the Early Years workforce and teaching staff
- The possibilities for occupational therapists to assist in the development of a whole school approach to SEN, as outlined in the Green Paper.
- The need to reduce delays and inequalities in provision of equipment and technology. COT pointed out that delays in providing these (or indeed a lack of provision) can hamper children's participation and achievement.
- The need to make parental choice of school a reality for all, by increasing the number of schools accessible to those with mobility difficulties, (stressing the role of occupational therapist in building adaptation).
- The reliance of the proposed ‘Education, Health and Social care plan’ on services’ capacity to meet assessed need. This is a major problem for many occupational therapists and occupational therapy departments across the breadth of children services.
- The need to establish better mechanisms for schools to measure the effectiveness of their provision to children with SEN and Disabilities. COT recommended that the goals and feedback of children and young people themselves form the basis for planning and outcome measurement where possible, and children’s participation across the whole school day be considered. The response pointed out that the child's voice is a significant omission from the Green paper.