What is SEND

Last modified: March 12, 2019
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There is often some uncertainty as to what is or isn’t Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.  As a parent, especially at the beginning, we may not quite be sure if our child actually has SEND, so we wanted to bring together the definitions and where you can find these definitions should you wish to quote them.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn.   They can affect their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends
  • reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia
  • ability to understand things
  • concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD
  • physical ability

Myth:

Please note you do NOT need a confirmed diagnosis to have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision.

Definition of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

The definition for Special Educational Needs is taken from the Children and Families Act.

Section 20(1) – Children and Families Act

“if he/she has a learning difficulty or a disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her”

Section 20(2) – Children and Families Act

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream post-16 institutions

Section 20(3) – Children and Families Act

A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is likely to be within 20(2) when of compulsory school age (or would be likely, if no special educational provision were made).

Section 20(4) – Children and Families Act

A child or young person does not have a learning difficulty or disability solely because the language (or form of language) in which he or she is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which is or has been spoken at home.

Definition of Disability

The definition for Disability is that used in The Equality Act:

‘a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’

A substantial effect on your day to day activities means one that is “more than minor or trivial”.  

A long-term effect means something that has affected you or is likely to affect you for at least a year.

Definition of Special Educational Provision

The definition for Special Educational Provision is taken from the Children and Families Act

Children over 2 and young people:

Section 21 (1) – Children and Families Act

“Special educational provision”, for a child aged two or more or a young person, means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in—

a)  mainstream schools in England,

b)  maintained nursery schools in England,

c)  mainstream post-16 institutions in England, or

d)  places in England at which relevant early years education is provided.

Children Under 2

Section 21 (2) – Children and Families Act

“Special educational provision”, for a child aged under two, means educational provision of any kind.

Four Broad Areas of Need

These four broad areas give an overview of the range of needs that schools and Local Authorities should plan for.  

These are the definitions used in the SEND Code of Practice 2015 (Chapter 6.28 – 6.35 – Code of Practice)

Communication and Interaction:

Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

Children and young people with ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.

Cognition and learning 

Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties 

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children and young people, including how they will manage the effect of any disruptive behaviour so it does not adversely affect other pupils. The Department for Education publishes guidance on managing pupils’ mental health and behaviour difficulties in schools – see the References section under Chapter 6 for a link.

Sensory and/or physical needs

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. 

Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties. 

Information on how to provide services for deafblind children and young people is available through the Social Care for Deafblind Children and Adults guidance published by the Department of Health.

Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

What is the purpose of the four areas of need? 

(Chapters 6.27 – Code of Practice)

The four broad areas give an overview of the range of needs that should be planned for.  They are to work out what action the school needs to take, not to fit a pupil into a category.  In practice, many children will have needs across more than one of these areas and some will have needs across all of the areas.

A detailed assessment of need should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need.

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Further Information

Children and Families Act:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/6/contents/enacted

SEND Regulations 2014

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1530/pdfs/uksi_20141530_en.pdf

SEND Code of Practice:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf

Social Care for Deafblind Children

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Lettersandcirculars/LocalAuthorityCirculars/DH_101114

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