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About Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

What does Special Educational Needs (SEN) mean?

Special Educational Needs (SEN) describes the needs of children who have a difficulty or disability, which makes learning harder for them than other children of the same age.

SEN can cover a range of difficulties or disabilities:

  • physical development
  • visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • communication and interaction difficulties
  • social
  • emotional and mental health
  • learning difficulties

You are classed as being disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do daily activities.

Not all disabled children have SEN

Not all disabled children have SEN. For example, if your child has severe asthma, they may not have SEN, but may have a disability under the Equality Act. Or, your child could have SEN but not come within the definition of 'disability' under the Equality Act.

How / when might my child be identified with Special Educational Needs?

If your child attends school or an early years setting (nursery or pre-school), staff there will share any concerns they have about your child with you.

If you think that your child has additional needs, speak with your child's teacher. If your child is not yet at school or nursery/playgroup, speak with your doctor or health visitor.

Read more about Education and employment (SEN and Disabilities).

What local services are available?

There are many services available to support you, your child and your family. There are a range of services which your local authority and health service must provide for you by law.

Education services

  • Provide education for your child and additional support at nursery or school if your child has an identified special education need. Staff can provide practical help to promote development and learning, and if appropriate, assess and monitor your child's progress.

Read more about Education and employment (SEN and Disabilities).

Health services

  • Look after your child's health and provide treatment when necessary
  • First point of contact may be a hospital specialist or GP who can refer you to other services

Read more about Health (SEN and Disabilities).

Social care services

Social Care Services can provide practical help including:

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