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Special educational needs & disabilities (SEND)

Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) is a term used within education to describe a wide range of factors that can affect a child
Colourful child's drawing of child in wheelchair and child standing waving
© University of Bath

Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) is a term used within education to describe a wide range of factors that can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. For example, they can affect their behaviour or ability to socialise, their ability to read and write or their ability to understand things or concentrate.

If your child is at school in the UK and you have concerns in this area, the school will have a SEND co-ordinator (sometimes called a SENCO) who you should speak with. More information is available from the UK Government and in their SEND Code of Practice.

If your child has special educational needs (SEN), they will be able to access help – called SEN support – from their early years settings, such as nurseries or childminders, schools and further education institutions (up to the age of 25). SEN support replaces ‘school action/school action plus’.

Children and young people with more complex needs might instead need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. EHC plans replace ‘statements of SEN and Learning Disability Assessments (LDAs)’. The UK government has published a guide for parents and carers to explain the different help available.

The focus of this section of the course is on ‘learning difficulties’, which are also called ‘intellectual disabilities’. These two terms mean the same thing, but intellectual disability is used more widely internationally and we will therefore use it in this course. If you prefer to use the term ‘learning difficulties’ please do so.

© University of Bath
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