Hugh Sexey Church of England Middle School
Together we believe; Together we achieve

Support for Families of Children with Additional Needs

There are an estimated two children in every classroom who are growing up with a brother or sister who is disabled or has special educational needs or has a serious long-term medical condition. The needs of these children are often overlooked leading to problems with wellbeing and progress in school.


Siblings are vulnerable to isolation and bullying. They are more likely than their peers to experience public prejudice, family breakdown and bereavement.


Cuts to services for families of disabled children has increased the negative impact of disability on siblings and reduced the referral options for siblings to get support through community groups and CAMHS.


At HSMS our pupils are at the age when the difference between their sibling and other siblings can become more apparent. They are reaching their teenage years when conforming in looks and behaviour are so important. This means that they often feel more embarrassed by their sibling.


Siblings of disabled children face a number of barriers to learning. By being aware of these, school staff can take action to identify them and so remove or reduce them.

  • Poor concentration
  • Missing time in lessons
  • Poor pupil-staff relationship
  • Homework not completed
  • Emotional or behavioural problems
  • Limited opportunities outside the home. 


There is a high possibility that lockdown will have exacerbated all the issues faced by families of disabled children. Much support and respite care was suspended and this will have adversely affected the siblings.


What we do at HSMS?

  • Protect siblings from harm. A significant number of siblings are hurt by their brothers and sisters who have aggressive behaviour.
  • Acknowledge the role that siblings play in their families. It is vital to value the skills and attributes acquired through their relationship with a disabled person. Eg being a great advocate or teaching new skills or empathy and patience.
  • Be zero-tolerant of derogatory language about disability or SEND. Siblings and pupils with SEND are often teased and bullied because they or their family are different.
  • Give siblings some extra time and attention as siblings find it hard when they see most of the attention from parents and professionals being directed at their brother or sister.
  • Be sensitive to siblings’ feelings when discussing topics such as genetics, death and disability.  Many siblings worry about issues such as the implications of having children of their own or their brother or sister’s life expectancy.
  • Tell siblings where they can get more help in school. Have a named member of staff who can support the sibling.
  • Signpost siblings to – the UK online support service for siblings of disabled children under 18. Let siblings know that they are not alone and that other siblings have similar feelings and experiences.
  • Raise staff awareness of the issues.


If you feel your child would benefit from this, please contact Anna Fox via the school office or contact the charity Sibs ( which offers excellent advice and information for families.