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Difficult words explained

Difficult words explained

Applied Behavioural Analysis

A state funded school in England which receives its funding primarily directly from and is owned and controlled by central government, not a local authority.

“Access to Work”
An Access to Work grant from the Department for Work and Pensions helps to pay for practical support for young people and adults who have a disability, health or mental health condition so they can start work, stay in work or start their own business. It can pay for things like special equipment, fares to work if public transport is not practical, a support worker or coach in the workplace or a communicator at a job interview.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

“Additional needs”
The term used by further education providers to describe special educational needs (SEN). Also known as learning support.

Someone you trust who can speak on your behalf. They can support and represent you at a meeting.

“Advocacy service”
An organisation that helps you find an advocate.

“Alternative provision”
When a child or young person is unable to access mainstream school for reasons including school exclusion, behavioural issues, or illness, education outside of school will be arranged. This education is called alternative provision.

“Annual Reviews”
Once an EHC Plan is completed it is reviewed. At least every 6 months for children aged 0-5 or every 12 months from aged 5+. You will be invited to a meeting to discuss the progress your child has made over the last year and to set targets for the next year.

“Art Therapy”
A form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modelling, used as a remedial or diagnostic activity.

Asperger’s syndrome

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Advisory Support Teachers: Specialist teachers who advise teachers and parents on a child’s special educational needs and provide support.

“AWPU – Age Weighted Pupil Unit”
The AWPU is the amount of money that every maintained school receives for each pupil that is on the school roll, whether they have SEN. The value of the AWPU varies from one local authority to another and according to the age of the pupils.

“Annual Review”
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 local authorities must carry out a review of every EHC plan at least once every 12 months.

The Beacon School programme was established in 1998 and involved nursery, primary, secondary and special schools. It was designed to build partnerships between high performing schools across the country and represent examples of successful practice, with a view to sharing and spreading that effective practice to other schools to raise overall standards in pupil attainment. Beacon schools offer advice on a wide range of areas including specific curriculum subjects, pupil monitoring, school management and provision for gifted and talented children.

Behaviour Support Teacher

Common Assessment Framework

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

A carer is a person named by a local authority to care for a child for whom social services department has parental responsibility (child is subject to care order and has been paced in residential or foster placement). The person has a role to play in the consideration of a child’s special educational needs.

Carers Allowance – A benefit that you can apply for if you are a parent/carer of a child who receives middle rate DLA and if you earn less than £100/week.

“Care Plan”
A record of the health and/or social care services that are being provided to a child or young person to help them manage a disability or health condition. The Plan will be agreed with the child’s parent or the young person and may be contained within a patient’s medical record or maintained as a separate document. Care Plans are also maintained by local authorities for looked after children – in this instance the Care Plan will contain a Personal Education Plan in addition to the health and social care elements.

“Case Officer” (CO)
An officer of the LA who will deal with the child’s case and who will talk to parents if there are any enquiries or concerns.

Clinical Commissioning Group. This is an NHS organisation that brings together local GPs and health professionals to take on commissioning responsibilities for local health services. A CCG plans and arranges the delivery of the health care provision for people in its area.

Child Development Clinic/ Child Development Service

Child Development Clinic where medical assessments are made of children whose development is giving cause for concern.

“Children and Families Act 2014”
This law came into force on 1st September 2014. Part 3 of the Act sets out the new law on special educational needs and disability. The Act is supported by the SEND Regulations 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 Years. You can download a copy of the Act at

“Complex needs school”
School for children and young people with complex special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). Also known as a special school.

“Code of Practice”
A guide to LAs and schools about the help which can be given to children with special educational needs. LAs and schools must have regard to the CoP when dealing with a child with SEN.

“Compulsory School Age”
Parents/carers have a duty to provide their child with an education (subject to section 7 of the 1996 Education Act) during the ‘compulsory school age’ period. This period begins from the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday. It ends on the last Friday of June during the year that the child turns 16, provided that the child’s birthday is before the beginning of the next school year.

Working together and communicating as equals. Understanding and valuing one another’s unique insights and expertise to create a plan to bring about positive change.

The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. This is one of the main Acts of Parliament which entitle disabled people to social care.

“Curriculum entry levels”
Entry level qualifications are for young people from 14 upwards who are not yet working at GCSE level. To ensure that small steps of achievement are recognised entry level is divided into three group’s entry level 1, entry level 2 and entry level 3.

“Department for Education (DFE)”
The Department for Education is responsible for children’s services and education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.

“Delegated budgets”
Is regular funding given to schools on an annual basis by the local authority. It can be used to support pupils with special educational needs including those with an EHC Plan.

“Developmental Delay”
A delay in reaching the normal stages of development, for example sitting or talking

The way in which the early years setting/school’s curriculum and teaching methods are adapted to meet the needs of a child

A Diocese is the area to which a Bishop’s Jurisdiction extends and is only applicable to Catholic or Church of England Schools.

“Direct Payments”
Payments made in lieu of services being provided. Direct Payments may be available for health care, social care and for the special educational provision in an EHC plan.

“DLA”– Disability Living Allowance.
A benefit which you can apply for if your child has a disability (diagnosis not essential) and needs extra support over and above that of a typical child of the same age.

“Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)”
An allowance for undergraduate or postgraduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things such as special equipment, a note-taker or transport costs.

affects fine/gross motor skills and organisation and planning ability (e.g. difficulty using knife and fork, slow and unsteady coming downstairs, cannot ride a bike, needs help to organise belongings etc) If you think your child may have Dyspraxia it is best to ask for referral to an OT.

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.

“EA 1996”
Education Act 1996.

“Early Education Setting”
All pre-school education provision such as nursery classes and schools, day nurseries and play groups.

“Early Help Assessment”
A social care assessment of a child and his or her family, designed to identify needs at an early stage and enable suitable interventions to be put in place to support the family.

“Early Years”
Early years setting include private and voluntary day nurseries, preschools, playgroups, child-minding network, portage services and local authority day nurseries.

“Early years teacher”
An adult who works with pre-school children in an early years’ setting.

“Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)”
The foundation stage begins when children reach the age of three. Many children attend an early education setting soon after their third birthday. The foundation stage continues until the end of the reception year and is consistent with the National Curriculum. It prepares children for learning in Year 1, when programmes of study for Key Stage 1 are taught.

“Early years Practitioner”
An adult who works with pre-school children in an early years’ setting.

“Education Funding Agency (EFA)”
An arm of the Department for Education that manages the funding for learners between the ages of 3 and 19 years and for those with SEN or disabilities between the ages of 3 and 25. The EFA allocates funding to 152 local authorities for maintained schools and voluntary aided schools. It is also responsible for funding and monitoring academies, University 280 Technical Colleges, studio schools and free schools, as well as building maintenance programmes for schools and sixth-form colleges.

“Education Psychologist” (EP/EPS)
Educational psychologists are concerned with children’s learning and development. They use their specialist skills in psychological and educational assessment techniques to help those having difficulties in learning, behaviour or social adjustment.

“EHC needs assessment”
An assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of a child or young person conducted by a local authority under the Children and Families Act 2014.

“EHC plan”
An education, health and care plan as defined in section 37 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014.

“EqA” or “EQA”
The Equality Act 2010.

Equalities & Human Rights Act

Education Welfare Officer/ Education Welfare Service

“Family support process”
A family-friendly approach to Early Help (see above) through professionals, children and families sharing decision-making and planning.

Further Education. The FE sector in England includes further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes. It does not include universities

“First-tier Tribunal” (Special Educational Needs and Disability)
An independent body which has jurisdiction under section 333 of the Education Act 1996 for determining appeals by parents against local authority decisions on EHC needs assessments and EHC plans. The Tribunal’s decision is binding on both parties to the appeal. The Tribunal also hears claims of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

“Fine motor skills”
Fine motor skills are the movements and coordination of the small muscles of the body, typically thought of as the movements that involve the fingers and the hands. Fine motor skills are important for supporting independence with dressing, feeding, eating and performance in school.

“Foundation Stage”
This begins when children reach the age of 3 and continues until the end of the reception year.

“Free school”
A type of academy directly funded by the government. They have some freedom to change how they run things and can follow a different curriculum.

The way in which a child walks.

“Global Delay”
A general delay in acquiring normal developmental milestones.

“Graduated approach”
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice says that schools should follow a graduated approach when providing Special Educational Needs Support. This is based on a cycle of:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review

You can find out more about the graduated approach in the Special Educational Needs and Disability code of Practice sections 6.44 to 6.56.

“Gross Motor Skills”
Whole body actions, for example playing games, swimming or riding a bicycle

“Healthwatch England”
Healthwatch England is an independent consumer champion, gathering and representing the views of the public about health and social care services in England. It operates both at a national and local level and ensures the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account. Healthwatch England works as part of the Care Quality Commission.

Hearing Impairment (including those whose hearing loss may vary from mild to profound)

Hydrotherapy is any method that uses water to treat a variety of symptoms throughout your body. You might see it called water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy or balneotherapy. Hydrotherapy can be as simple as taking a warm bath at home, or you might use a special tank or pool.

Difficulty in concentrating or sitting still for any length of time. Restless,
fidgety behaviour, also a child may have sleeping difficulties.

Independent Appeal Panel – where 3 to 5 members of the public who has no connection to the school in question will hear your appeal. It is a new hearing after a complaint against the school and the panel will question the school’s evidence and will listen carefully to your reasons for appealing.

“Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS)”
IASS provide advice and information to children with SEN or disabilities, their parents, and young people with SEN or disabilities. They provide neutral and factual support on the special educational needs system to help the children, their parents and young people to play an active and informed role in their education and care. Although funded by local authorities, IASS are run either at arm’s length from the local authority or by a voluntary organisation to ensure children, their parents and young people have confidence in them.

Individual Education Plan – IEP is a planning, teaching and review tool. A document for all teaching staff recording short term targets for an individual pupil that are different from or additional to those in place for the rest of the group or class. The interventions are provided through SEN Support and EHCPs.

Ensuring that all children are, where possible, educated together at their local mainstream school. This is regardless of whether they have a disability or learning difficulty

“Independent Parental Supporter/Independent Supporter “(IPS/IS)
Independent Parental Supporters/Independent Supporter work on a voluntary basis offering parents and carers help and support on educational issues. IPS is often someone from a voluntary organisation, a parent partnership service, or another parent/friend.

“Independent school or private school”
A school that charges fees for pupils to attend instead of being funded by the government.

Someone who provides children, young people and parents with a single point of contact to help make sure the support they receive is co-ordinated. A key worker could be provided directly by a local authority or local health organisation, a school or college, or from a voluntary or private sector body.

Local Authority

“Learning Mentor”
A person working in school with groups and individual children to help them overcome barriers to learning. Mentors may also be trained volunteers working with individual children through an external organisation

“Learning Support Assistant (LSA)”
An assistant providing in-school support for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities. An LSA will normally work with a particular pupil or pupils, providing close support to those teaching him or her.

“Local Offer”
Local authorities in England are required to set out in their local offer information about provision they
expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Local authorities must consult locally on what provision the local offer should contain.

Learning Support Teacher

“Maintained school”
For the purposes of this Code, schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.

Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution. Every local authority must provide independent mediation to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities about:

  • A decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • A decision not to draw up an EHC plan
  • The content of a final EHC plan or amended plan
  • A decision not to amend an EHC plan
  • A decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan. Mediation must also be provided on the health and social care elements of an EHC plan. You can find more information on mediation in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 11.13 to 11.38

Moderate Learning Disability

Multi-Sensory Impairment

“Music Therapy”
Music therapy is a therapeutic approach that uses the naturally mood-lifting properties of music to help people improve their mental health and overall well-being.

“National Curriculum”
This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, determining what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

“NHS Continuing Healthcare”
NHS Continuing Healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals aged 18 and over who are not in hospital but have complex ongoing healthcare needs. It can be provided in any setting, for example in the home or in a residential care home.

“NHS Continuing Care”
NHS Continuing Care is support provided for children and young people under 18 who need a tailored package of care because of their disability, an accident or illness.

“NHS England”
NHS England is an independent body, at arm’s length to the government and held to account through the NHS Mandate. Its main role is to improve health outcomes for people in England by providing national leadership for improving outcomes and driving up the quality of care; overseeing the 283 operation of clinical commissioning groups; allocating resources to clinical commissioning groups, commissioning primary care and specialist services.

“NHS foundation trust”
NHS foundation trusts are not-for-profit corporations that provide NHS hospital, mental health and ambulance services. NHS foundation trusts are not directed by the Government, but are accountable to their local communities through their members and governors, to their commissioners through contracts and to Parliament through their annual report and accounts. Foundation trusts are registered with and inspected by the Care Quality Commission.

“NHS trust”
NHS trusts are public sector bodies that provide community health, hospital, mental health and ambulance services on behalf of the NHS in England and Wales. Each trust is headed by a board consisting of executive and nonexecutive directors and is chaired by a non-executive director.

“Non-maintained special school”
Schools in England approved by the Secretary of State under section 342 of the Education Acct 1996 as special schools which are not maintained by the state but charge fees on a non-profit-making basis. Most non-maintained special schools are run by major charities or charitable trusts.

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This is the body which inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Occupational Therapist a person trained to provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for children with physical difficulties. They are able to give schools advice on programmes of support, and to advise about suitable equipment and the provision of other facilities.

“P levels/scales”
provide a framework that is used to map a pupil’s progress with special educational needs who are working towards level 1 of the national curriculum. There are eight levels of P scales with P1 being the lowest and P 8 being the highest.

“Parent carer forum”
This is a group of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities, education, health and other providers to make sure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children and families.

“Parental responsibility”
Parental responsibility is defined under Section 3 (1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children’s property. Under Section 2 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility falls upon:

  • All mothers and fathers who were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth (including those who have since separated or divorced) 284
  • Mothers who were not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth, and
  • Fathers who were not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, but who have obtained parental responsibility either by agreement with the child’s mother or through a court order

Under Section 12 of the Children Act 1989, where a court makes a residence order in favour of any person who is not the parent or guardian of the child, that person has parental responsibility for the child while the residence order remains in force. Under section 33 (3) of the Children Act 1989, while a care order is in force with respect to a child, the social services department designated by the order will have parental responsibility for that child and will have the power (subject to certain provisions) to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian of the child may meet his or her parental responsibility for the child. The social services department cannot have parental responsibility for a child unless that child is the subject of a care order, except for very limited purposes where an emergency protection order is in force under Section 44 of the Children Act 1989.

Physical Disability

is used as an aid to communication, for children and young people with autistic spectrum disorder and special educational needs. It helps them to communicate their needs and wants. PECS is used in schools, home and other venues.

“Person Centred Planning (PCP)”
Person centred planning puts the young person at the centre of planning and focuses on their aspirations. It is about families and professionals making plans with a young person and not for them.

“Personal Budget” (PB)
A Personal Budget is the notional amount of money which an LA has identified as necessary to secure the special educational provision in an EHC plan.

“Physiotherapist” (PT)
A person trained to provide assessment and treatment in movement and physical development such as balance, co-ordination, ability to sit, stand and walk. They are able to give advice to schools on programmes of support.

Profound Multiple Learning Disability

Home-visiting education service for pre-school children with special educational needs and/or disabilities and their families.


Any school established and maintained by a local authority under section 19 (2) of the Education Act 1996 which is specially organised to provide education for pupils who would otherwise not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason

Pastoral Support Plan

“Reasonable adjustments”
Reasonable adjustments are changes schools and other settings are required to make which could include changes to physical features – for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing extra support and aids (such as specialist teachers or equipment)

Speech and language therapy is a health care profession, the role and aim of which is to enable children, young people and adults with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to reach their maximum communication potential and achieve independence in all aspects of life.

Special Educational Needs

“SEN Audit”
A scheme to make sure that school budgets are set in a way that takes account of how much support they need to provide for children with SEN. Every school has a fully delegated, whole-school budget. ‘Delegated’ means the school makes its own decisions about how to use its funding.

“Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)”
A qualified teacher in a school or maintained nursery school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision. In a small school, the headteacher or deputy may take on this role. In larger schools there may be a team of SENCOs. Other early years settings in group provision arrangements are expected to identify an individual to perform the role of SENCO and childminders are encouraged to do so, possibly sharing the role between them where they are registered with an agency.

“SEND Code of Practice”
This is the statutory guidance that supports Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014. It tells local authorities, early years settings, schools, colleges, health and social care providers and others what they must and should do to identify, assess and provide for children and young people with SEN or disabilities. You can download a full copy of the Code at You can download a shorter version for parents at

“SENDIST or SEND Tribunal”
An independent body which has jurisdiction under section 333 of the Education Act 1996 for determining appeals by parents against local authority decisions on EHC needs assessments and EHC plans. The Tribunal’s decision is binding on both parties to the appeal. The Tribunal also hears claims of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

“SEN Information Report”
All schools must publish on their websites information about their policy and arrangements for supporting children with SEN. This must be kept up to date. The information that has to be included can be found in Section 6.79 of the SEND Code of Practice.

Sometimes a service that provides information, advice and support may be asked for help that it is not able to give directly. When this happens the person seeking information, advice or support may signposted to other service providers. This means that they will be given information, including contact details, about other sources of help

“Special educational provision”
This is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils or students of the same age, which is designed to help children and young people with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school or to study at college.

“Special school”
A school which is specifically organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN. Special schools maintained by the local authority comprise community special schools and foundation special schools, and non-maintained (independent) special schools that are approved by the Secretary of State under Section 342 of the Education Act 1996.

“Specialist resource base (SRB)”
Specialist resource bases (SRBs) are hosted by mainstream schools. They provide additional support and intervention to children with special educational needs

Speech Language Communication Needs

Severe Learning Disability

“Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)”
Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs are a type of special educational needs in which children/young people have severe difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour. They often show inappropriate responses and feelings to situations.

Specific Learning Disability

“Statement of Special Educational Needs”
A statement of special educational needs sets out your child’s needs and the help they should have. It is reviewed every year to make sure that any extra support given meets your child’s needs.

“Statutory Assessment”
A detailed investigation to find out what your child’s special educational needs are and what provision is needed to meet those needs. An assessment is the step before a statement of special educational needs (often known simply as ‘an EHC Plan’) but doesn’t always lead to an EHC Plan being written.

Teaching Assistant. A person employed by the school to provide general support in the classroom. They work under the direction of the class teacher.

The “C & F Act 2014” or “CAFA”
The Children and Families Act 2014.

“Transition Plan”
This is drawn up with pupils with an EHC Plans or receiving
SEN Support in Year 9. They and their parents / carers attend a meeting held to begin to plan for when the young person will leave school. Connexions Personal Advisers play a key part in this plan, which is then reviewed every year until the young person leaves school.

University Technical College (which offers academic and technical education to secondary school pupils) – a type of Academy.

Visual Impairment or complete loss of sight

“Virtual school”
Teams within the county council that promote and support the educational progress and attainment of pupils with a specific need by providing specialist advice, guidance and support to their place of learning.

“Virtual School Head (VSH)”
The Virtual School Head (VSH) is an officer of a local authority who leads a virtual school team that tracks the progress of children looked after by the authority as if they attended a single school. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires every local authority to appoint an officer who is an employee of that or another authority to discharge this duty.

“Young person”
A person over compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16). From this point the right to make decisions about matters covered by the Children and Families Act 2014 applies to the young person directly, rather than to their parents.

“Youth Offending Team (YOT)”
Youth offending teams are part of local authorities and are separate from the police and the justice system. They work with local agencies including the police, probation officers, health, children’s services, schools and the local community, to run local crime prevention programmes, help young people at the police station if they’re arrested, help young people and their families at court, supervise young people serving a community sentence and stay in touch with a young person if they’re sentenced to custody.

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