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SEN vocabulary explained

Academies - academies are independent schools that are publicly funded and free from local authority control. They have freedom over how to deliver the curriculum, and can set their own lengths of school days and terms. Schools are able to apply for academy status.

ADHD - attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

Annual review - the review of a statement of special educational needs which a local authority (LA) must carry out within 12 months of making the statement, and then on an annual basis.

ASD - autistic spectrum disorder.

BESD - behavioural, emotional and/or social difficulties.

CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service: an service to provide help, support and care for children and young people with mental health difficulties.

Children's centres - Sure Start Children's Centres are places where children under five years old and their families can receive seamless holistic integrated services, and where they can access help from multi-disciplinary teams of professionals offering: full day care, early years education, child and family health services, including ante-natal services, parental outreach, family support services, childminding support for children and parents with special needs, links to Job Centre Plus.

Code of Practice - a guide for parents, schools and LAs about the help they can give to children with special educational needs. Schools, local authorities and children’s social services must adhere to the code when they work with a child with special educational needs.

Clinical psychologist - a clinical psychologist is a health professional who helps children with specific problems with learning or with overcoming behavior difficulties. The team dealing with this area is known as the CAMHS team (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service). They offer both long- and short-term support to the child and family.

Department for Education - the DfE is responsible for education and children’s services nationally.

Early Years Foundation Stage - this begins when children are born and lasts until the end of their Reception year.

Early Years settings - all pre-school educational provision nursery classes and schools, day nurseries and preschools.

Education welfare officer (EWO) - offers specialist support to parents and schools on pupil welfare and attendance. They work with other agencies to promote attendance and welfare.  They have responsibility for ensuring attendance in school of children of statutory school age.

FE - further education.

Graduated response - a model of action and intervention in schools and early education settings to help children who have special educational needs. The approach recognizes that there is a continuum of special needs and that, where necessary, increasing specialist expertise should be brought in to help with the difficulties that a child may be experiencing.

Health visitor - a qualified NHS nurse who gives advice on general child health, particular health problems and has specific responsibility for monitoring a child’s progress and advising parents when needed.

HI - hearing impairment.

Key Stages - there are five key stages of education:

  • Foundation Stage: birth - five years old (end of the Reception year)
  • Key Stage 1: years 1-2 / ages 5-7
  • Key Stage 2: years 3-6 / ages 7-11
  • Key Stage 3: years 7-9 / ages 11-14
  • Key Stage 4: years 10-11 / ages 14-16

LA - local authority.

Mainstream school - an LA-maintained school that is not a special school. Mainstream schools form the majority of schools and include infant, junior, primary and secondary schools.

Maintained school - a state school including community, foundation and voluntary schools, as well as community special and foundation special schools.

MLD - moderate learning difficulties.

Multi-disciplinary - involving professionals from a range of disciplines (education, social care and health).

Occupational therapist (OT) - a professional employed by the Health Trust to work with the child, parents and teachers. Occupational therapists use therapeutic techniques (advising on equipment and environmental adaptations where appropriate) to improve a child's ability to access the physical and learning curriculum.

OfSTED - takes responsibility for the inspection of all schools, Early Years settings and residential children’s establishments in England. Find reports on individual establishments on the OfSTED website

Paediatrician - a doctor specialising in the needs of babies and children.

Physiotherapist - a therapist who supports children with physical and medical needs, helps with exercises and provides advice to parents and schools.

PMLD - profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Pupil referral unit - provides education for excluded pupils or others who may be out of school for a variety of reasons.

SEN - special educational needs - a child is said to have a special educational need if he/she has learning difficulties that need special educational provision.

SEN co-ordinator (SENCo) - member of staff of a school or early education setting, who has responsibility for co-ordinating special educational needs (SEN) provision within that school.

SI - sensory impairment

SLD - severe learning difficulties

SLT - stands for speech and language therapist. They help children who have speech, language and communication difficulties.

Special school - a school which is specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with special educational needs and statements whose needs cannot be met in a mainstream school.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND) - an independent body within the Tribunal Service that hears appeals by parents against LA decisions on assessments and EHCPs.

Teaching assistant/learning support assistant/general assistant (TA/LSA/GA) - a person employed in school to support children’s learning under the direction of a class teacher.

Transition plan - a plan devised following the Year 9 Annual Review and updated at subsequent annual reviews.  The purpose of the plan is to draw together information from a range of individuals within and beyond the school in order to plan coherently for the young person's transition to adult life.

VI - visual impairment (loss of sight).