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Special Educational Needs and Disability glossary

A

Achievement

The result of striving towards a sense of personal success and achieving as highly as possible. A combination of a child’s progress and attainment.

Additional needs

Additional needs describes a group of children who require additional support to help them make improved progress or catch up, which may be a short-term intervention or a longer-term strategy.

Advocate

A supporter/person who speaks and acts on behalf of the represented person who is unable to have their own voice.

Alternative provision

Education in a setting that is not a mainstream or special school. The education should be based on the needs of the child and can be provided through a variety of routes, including pupil referral units (PRUs).

Annual review

The statutory yearly review of a statement of special educational needs. The local authority carries out such a review within 12 months of making an Education, Health and Care plan, or within 12 months of any previous review.

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome describes the higher-ability aspect of the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger Syndrome can have difficulty communicating, difficulty in social relationships and lack of understanding of how people feel.

Assessment for Learning

Using classroom assessment to improve learning. It helps to track pupil progress, set individual learning targets, tackle underperformance and provide structured feedback to pupils.

Assessment

Assessment is the systematic process of assessing the needs, circumstances or progress of a child against an established scale or standardised benchmarks, with the intention of understanding the child’s needs so that decisions can be made about appropriate support (or to confirm that no additional help is required).

Attainment

Achievement evaluated against specified standards, generally in national expectations.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A medical diagnosis related to the child’s behaviour and attention span, which can affect their ability to concentrate and learn.

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

A means of enhancing communication using signing, speech synthesisers, symbols, objects of reference or a combination of these.

Autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder. It affects how a person communicates with and relates to the people around them. 

C

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Provides multidisciplinary mental health services to children and young people with mental health problems and disorders.

Children’s Centres

Early years settings that provide personalised and integrated wrap-around care, education, services and support for children under five, and their families.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)

Clinically led groups that include all the GP groups in an area. The aim of CCGs is to give enable GPs to influence commissioning decisions for their patients.

Code of Practice

The revised Special Educational Needs Code of Practice was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2014. The code provides guidance on policies and procedures intended to enable pupils with SEN to reach their full potential, to be included in school communities and to make the transition to adult life successfully.

Cognition and Learning

The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgement.

Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The CAF is a nationally standardised approach to help practitioners in any agency to assess and decide how to meet the unmet needs of a child. The CAF will support earlier intervention, improve multi-agency working and reduce bureaucracy for families.

Commissioning

The process that ensures the right people and services are in the right place at the right time for all children, young people and families. It is the process by which services are planned, investment decisions are made, delivery is ensured and effectiveness is reviewed.

D

Developmental delay

A slower rate of development where a child learns more slowly than most children of the same age.

Disabled

A person is disabled if he or she has a physical or mental impairment, which has substantial and long-term effect on his/her ability to carry out day-to-day activities. The definition also covers pupils with sensory or intellectual impairments, those with a learning disability, severe disfigurements or progressive conditions.

Dyscalculia

A condition associated with specific learning difficulties in Maths. In its simplest terms this means that sufferers have problems with even simple arithmetic.

Dyslexia

A learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dyspraxia

A common developmental disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech.

E

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

EHC plans set out how services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs. EHC plans are based on a co-ordinated assessment and planning process which puts the child and young person and their parents at the centre of decision making.

Epilepsy

A condition in which the affected person has recurrent seizures because of an altered state in the brain.

F

Foetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD)

A condition caused by the mother consuming alcohol, resulting in abnormal brain development before birth.

Fragile X Syndrome

The commonest cause of learning difficulties after Down’s Syndrome; it is an inherited condition associated with a fragile site at the end of the X chromosome.

H

Hearing Impairment (HI)

Pupils with a hearing impairment range from those with a mild hearing loss to those who are profoundly deaf.

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

An experienced teaching assistant who plans and delivers learning activities under the direction of a teacher, and assesses, records and reports on pupils’ progress.

I

Independent Parental Supporter

Someone who can support parents for example by attending meetings, encouraging parental participation, and helping the parent understand the SEND system.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An IEP designed to set out a child’s learning targets and the strategies being used to meet a child’s identified special educational needs.

L

Learning difficulties/disabilities

Characteristics of pupils who have difficulty in learning new skills or who learn at a different rate from their peers.

Learning mentors

School staff who work with school and college students to help them engage more effectively in learning and improve achievement.

Local Authority (LA)

The local government body of a county or city that provides services, including education, for local people.

Local Offer

A website or part of a website in which LAs set out in one place information about provision they expect to be available for children and young people in their area who have SEN, including those who do not have EHC plans.

Looked After Child (LAC)

Any child who is in care of the local authority, or who is provided with accommodation by the local authority social services department for more than 24 hours.

M

Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Describes a general level of academic attainment that is significantly below that of other children of the same age. There may be difficulty acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills, speech and language difficulties and poorly developed personal and social skills.

Monitoring

Systematic checking of progress against targets and the gathering of information to work out how effective learning strategies and interventions have been.

Modification

Amendment or alteration of a programme of study, attainment target, assessment or any other component of the curriculum so that a child can access that area of the teaching and learning.

Multi-agency working

Practitioners from different sectors and professions working together to provide joined-up support for children, young people and families.

Multi-sensory impairment (MSI)

Pupils with multi-sensory impairment have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties. They are sometimes referred to as deafblind but may have some residual sight and/or hearing.

P

Peer support

Peer support is when other pupils provide emotional, social or practical help to each other.  Pupils are usually trained to provide this support.

Physical disability (PD)

Disabilities that limit mobility. Among the causes are congenital conditions, accidents or injury. Some pupils with PD may also have sensory impairments and/or learning difficulties.

Provision map

A provision map is a way of documenting the range of support available to pupils with SEN within a school.

Pupil Premium

Additional funding for schools to spend in order to raise the achievement of disadvantaged pupils. The Pupil Premium for each school is calculated according to the number of pupils eligible for free school meals.

Pupil Referral Unit

This is a school established and maintained by a local authority that is specially organised to provide education for children who are excluded, sick or otherwise unable to attend mainstream school.

Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)

Pupils with PMLD have very complex learning needs. Among pupils with PMLD are those learning at the earliest levels of development and who have physical disabilities, sensory impairment or a severe medical condition. Pupils with PMLD need a high level of adult support both for their learning needs and for their personal care.

Q

Quality First Teaching

The range of effective teaching strategies and techniques used by a teacher for all pupils in the mainstream classroom that ensure pupils’ progression in learning.

R

RAISEonline

A web-based system which contains information about a school’s basic characteristics, attainment and progress in the core subjects, to support evaluation and target setting.

S

Safeguarding

The process of identifying children and young people who have suffered or who are likely to suffer significant harm, and then taking the appropriate steps to keep them safe.

School SEN Support

Educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for others of the same age. This means provision that goes beyond the differentiated approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high quality, personalised teaching. It may take the form of additional support from within the school or require the involvement of specialist staff or support services.

Severe Learning Difficulty (SLD)

Pupils with SLD have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments. This will have an impact on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support.

Social, mental and emotional health

Social, mental and emotional difficulties, usually resulting in behaviour difficulties,  that present a barrier to learning and participation.

Special Educational Needs

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

(a) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or

(b) have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions. 

A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if they fall within the definition at (a) or (b) above or would so do if special educational provision was not made for them).

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

The SENCO is the person responsible for co-ordinating the provision for all children with special educational needs within a school. It is a statutory requirement that every school must have a SENCO.

Special Education Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)

SENDIASS offer advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs. They are statutory services which means there has to be one in every local authority. Parent Partnership services free, impartial and confidential.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)

A panel set up to arbitrate when disagreements occur between parents and the local authority about then provision for a pupil’s Special Educational Needs, or when a parent alleges discrimination on the grounds of a child’s disability.

Specialist services

Services provided by the local authority or health service to provide specialised services for children with acute or high level needs.

Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

A wide range of difficulties related to all aspects of communication in children and young people. These can include difficulties with speech, understanding what others say, and using language socially.

Speech and language therapy: a health care provision, the aim of which is to enable children with speech, language and communication difficulties to reach their maximum communication potential.

Statement

A document produced by the local authority that outlines a child’s needs and the support and additional provision necessary to meet those needs. These are being replaced by Education, Health and Care plans.

Statutory assessment

The assessments required before an Education, Health and Care Plan or a Statement of Special Educational Need can be agreed or produced.

T

Transition plan

A plan setting out the steps needed to move from one school to another or from school to adult life.

W

Waves of Intervention

Wave 1 is described as ‘inclusive quality first teaching for all’ and takes into account the learning needs of all pupils in the classroom. It covers high-quality inclusive teaching supported by effective whole school policies and frameworks, clearly targeted to all pupils’ needs and prior learning.

Wave 2 is Wave 1 plus additional and time-limited interventions provided for some children who need help to accelerate their progress, to enable them to work at or above age-related expectations. This usually involves a structured programme of small-group support, carefully targeted and delivered by teachers or teaching assistants (TAs) who have the skills to help pupils achieve their learning objectives.

Wave 3 is Wave 1 plus increasingly individualised programmes, based on independent evidence of what works. Wave 3 describes additional targeted provision for a minority of children where it is necessary to provide highly tailored intervention to accelerate progress or enable children to achieve their potential. This may include one-to-one or specialist interventions. 

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