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What Support do Pupils with Down’s Syndrome Need at School?

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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If your child has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, you’ll want to ensure they get the support they need to thrive at school.

You may be a little worried about your child with Down’s syndrome’s transition when it comes to going to school, and this is perfectly normal. Watching your child going to school for the first time is emotional for everyone, and it can be even more difficult when it comes to children with additional needs like Down’s syndrome.

There are a few things you may be worried about when it comes to your child with Down’s syndrome going to school, like how they’re going to integrate socially. Any parent wants their child to fit in and make friends when they go to school, and even more so when your child has additional needs.

You may also be worried about your child’s ability to pick up on and develop numeracy and literacy skills. For any child, this is already a big step up, but for children with additional needs, extra support is often needed to make sure the child can work on these skills.

It’s normal to be worried about your child with Down’s syndrome starting school because you want them to be happy and do well in life. Your child may just need a little extra support in this transition to school, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to get this support in place before your child starts attending school.

Our Education Law Solicitors are very experienced at helping families in England and Wales ensure adequate provision is made for children and young people with Down’s syndrome.

For legal advice get in touch with our Special Educational Needs Solicitors.

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What Educational Support Does a Child with Down's Syndrome Need?

As with any child, the education support a child/ young person requires will vary, as it will depend on what provision is required to meet their needs. For example, this could include:

  • Using pictures and visual aids
  • Giving short and simple instructions, to help them understand and remember clearly
  • Providing support during break and lunch times
  • Attending differentiated classes
  • Access to a speech and language and/or occupational therapist
  • Access to a Learning Support Assistant

Much of this may come over and above the provision that a mainstream school may be able to deliver from their resources. Therefore, a child/young person with Down’s syndrome may require provision to be arranged by the Local Authority through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) . This is a legally enforceable document which specifies the level of help the child/young person requires in a clear, concise and understandable way for education providers and families.

The EHCP should give an accurate and detailed description of the child/young person’s education needs and the steps that should be taken to address them. For example, if the child has language difficulties, the EHCP may state that they require regular sessions with a qualified speech and language therapist.

The EHCP is there to make sure everyone is aware of your child’s additional needs and the processes, steps and support that must be put in place to help your child achieve their goals, which will also usually be specifiedin the EHCP The EHCP is a legally binding document and must be complied with.

What is Down’s Syndrome?

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that, according to the NHS, “typically causes some level of learning disability and certain physical characteristics”. It happens when a child is born with an extra chromosome.

This can be discovered before a child is born and while these tests provide no guarantee, they do tell you the likelihood of the child having Down’s syndrome.

People with Down’s syndrome have different personalities, abilities and care requirements. Therefore, things like the EHCP must be personalised and tailored to the particular person and the provision  they specifically need. As your child with Down’s syndrome gets older, their needs may change and develop, and you might start discovering new things they need help with. In particular, caring for babies and toddlers with Down’s syndrome may not be all too different from caring for those without Down’s syndrome. But, as these children grow and develop, they may do so at a slower rate than children without Down’s syndrome, which is something to remember and keep in mind.

What Difficulties Might My Child with Down's Syndrome Have?

A child with Down’s syndrome can experience difficulties in many areas, such as:

  • Speech and language, including understanding instructions
  • Recalling information and events
  • Fine motor skills, including writing and gross motor skills
  • Emotional, behavioural and social skills

 Down’s syndrome can also present differently in different people.

That’s why, when diagnosing Down’s syndrome, and suggesting the areas where people with Down’s syndrome may struggle, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. And that’s because one-size-fits-all approaches don’t work.

While one person may exhibit all the characteristics of having Down’s syndrome, explained in the list above, another person may only experience one of the difficulties, but they both still have Down’s syndrome.

Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to approach getting your child with Down’s syndrome help and support before they start school. It often feels like there’s so much information out there to work through, and it can be hard to know what exactly applies to your child and to your situation, and what support your child may be entitled to.

If you don’t know much about that side of the law, it can be stressful and confusing, trying to figure out how your child can get the tailored support they need to help them integrate and settle into a school environment, and so they can be safe and happy.

But, if you get in touch with our Education and SEN team, we can talk you through the support your child with Down’s syndrome can get, so that they can settle into school life in the right way.

How We Can Help You

Our Education Law Solicitors can help ensure that children/young people with Down’s syndrome get suitable provision at school. This way, we can give you peace of mind that your child will be given the support they need to settle down well in their new school, so they can be happy and get on with learning the skills they’ll need in later life.

We can also make sure that an EHCP is fit for purpose, that it’s being followed and advise you on what to do next if it isn’t being implemented in full. You don’t have to be intimidated by questioning and challenging the support given to your child, and it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Your child has the right to get full and proper support, and you have the right to make sure this happens.

Our aim is to make the law around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities  as transparent and accessible as possible for parents of children with additional needs like Down’s syndrome. We want to help you get your child the support and help they need to settle into school as smoothly as possible.

In addition, we get that you know your child best, meaning you understand how their Down’s syndrome affects them.

Perhaps your child with Down’s syndrome needs extra support with making friends and settling in socially, or maybe they need more support on the academic side of things, to help them develop literacy and numeracy skills.

Either way, you’ll know and understand what your child needs, which is why we’ll listen to your case to truly understand what your child needs, so that we can help you get the result you and your child with Down’s syndrome deserve.


KidsHealth. (n.d.). Down Syndrome. Retrieved from

NHS. (n.d.). Down's syndrome. Retrieved from

Down's Syndrome Association. (n.d.). About Down's Syndrome. Retrieved from

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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