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Special Educational Needs and Disability

What is meant by Special Educational Needs?

Children and young people with SEN have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than others of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others.

The SEND Code of Practice describes four areas of SEN:

Communicating and interacting 

For example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.

Cognition and learning 

For example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age. This could mean experiencing difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties 

For example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people or are withdrawn. They may also behave in ways that may impact on their and other children’s learning or have an impact on their health and wellbeing.

Sensory and/or physical needs 

For example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.

Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.


Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability. A disability is described in law (the Equality Act 2010) as ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term (a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

The Equality Act requires that schools must not directly or indirectly discriminate against disabled children and young people. Schools must also make reasonable adjustments so that disabled children and young people are not disadvantaged compared with other children and young people.

If you think that your child has special educational needs it is important to discuss your concerns with first of all your child’s teacher and then a member of the Inclusion team.