Special educational needs and disability (SEND) is a legal term. A child or young person has SEND if:

  • they have a learning difficulty or disability
  • they need special educational provision.

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Having a learning difficulty or disability means that a pupil has greater difficulty in learning than most pupils of the same age.  They may have a disability which makes it more difficult for them to use the school facilities. For example, they may have problems with:

  • Specific areas of learning. Areas like reading, writing or number work.
  • Expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying.
  • Making friends or relating to adults.
  • Managing their emotions or behaviour
  • Problems with seeing, hearing, or moving around.
  • Medical conditions that affect their learning.
  • Mental health difficulties. For example anxiety or depression.

Behavioural difficulties are often a symptom of unidentified SEN. They can also be caused by external factors, such as housing issues, trauma or family conflict. Schools should look to identify and address the underlying causes of the behaviour.  This would be in partnership with other agencies.

Having SEND is very common.

Over 1.5 million pupils have SEND needs in England.  This is around 13% of pupils. 4.3% of pupils have an Education Health and Care plan in England. Not all children with SEN have a formal diagnosis.

Children or young people who struggle at school for other reasons

If a child or young person:

  • Has suffered a bereavement, or
  • English is not their first language.

They would not class as having SEND. Other support would be provided for these children or young people.

Special educational provision definition

Provision is:

  • what a school provides for its pupils to support their learning and progress in school.

Special educational provision is:

  • provision which is different from, or extra to, what is normally available to pupils of the same age.
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