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SEND Jargon Buster

The language of Special Educational Needs can be difficult to understand. Here is a guide to some of the abbreviations and jargon commonly used by professionals and by practitioners in schools and in other settings.


Attention Deficit Disorder.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Areas of Need

Four broad categories used to describe a pupil’s SEN. They are: communication and interaction, cognition and learning, SEMH (see below), sensory and/or physical needs


Additional Resource Provision. An umbrella term for a wide range of provision where the Local Authority contracts resources in addition to those provided by a school to support children with SEN


Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Condition


Behaviour Emotional and Social Difficulties - where a child's emotions or behaviour are barriers to their learning.


British Sign Language


The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. A local service encompassing services working with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing


A carer is a person named by a Local Authority to care for a child for whom the social services department has parental responsibility, i.e. a child who is the subject of a care order and who has been placed in a residential or foster placement

Case Officer

This person liaises with parents/carers and schools regarding a child’s statutory assessment. They also work on producing the Education Health and Care Plan and may be invited to the annual reviews, then will make any necessary amendments following the review.


Children in need


A disease or abnormality present from birth

Complex needs / Severe needs

Used to talk about children who will require input from a range of professionals because of the impact of their difficulties are having on their learning or ability to do physical things others do easily

Code of Practice (CoP)

Also SEND Code of Practice. A guide for Local Authorities, parents and schools about how help should be given to children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Local Authorities, schools and other settings must have regard to the code

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 groups: entry level 1, entry level 2 and entry level 3.


Disability Discrimination Act.


The way in which Early Years setting / school curriculums and teaching methods are adapted to meet the needs of a child

Direct payments

A payment of personal budget given to a parent, young person or someone on their behalf so that they can arrange the support detailed in an EHC plan themselves. See also: Personal Budgets

Disagreement resolution (mediation)

Arrangements which all local authorities must provide to help prevent or resolve disagreements between parents/carers whose children have SEN and the local authority or school. These must include an independent service with trained mediators, designed to bring the different parties together in an informal way to try to resolve the disagreement through discussion.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance or DLA is a benefit you can claim if your child needs extra help or looking after because of their special needs

Disabled Students Allowances (DSA)

Disabled Students Allowances. A monetary allowance for disabled students to cover some of the extra costs incurred because of their disability. You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance and will not need to repay DSA


Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

Educational psychology service (EPS)

The Educational Psychology Service provides advice and support to parents and schools. This service carries out assessments of children and young people who are having difficulties with learning, development, behaviour or social well-being. They can help to find out why some children are having difficulties with learning in school.

Education Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments

A formal assessment carried out by a local authority to decide how much extra support a child or young person needs. Can be requested by parents, young people or schools. It is the step before an Education Health and Care Plan, but the assessment doesn’t always lead to a plan.

EHC plan (EHCP)

An Education Health and Care Plan. A legal document issued by the local authority describing a child or young person's education, health and social care needs and the support that will be given to them. EHCPs have replaced Statements of Special Educational Needs.


Global development delay. The term used when a child has not met two or more milestones in all areas of development

Graduated Approach

Educational settings are expected to follow a ‘graduated approach when providing SEND support. It involves four key phases: access, plan, do, review.


Hearing Impairment


Ensuring that all children (with or without disabilities or difficulties in learning) are, where possible, educated together in a mainstream school.


A person in an educational establishment who gives parents/carers and young people one single point of contact to deal with and help ensure they receive the support agreed.


Learning Difficulty


Looked after children / Children in care


Merton’s Special Educational Needs and Disability Independent Advice and Support Service; every local authority must have one. They provide independent advice and support to parents about SEN


Moderate Learning Difficulties


Multi-Sensory Impairment


Occupational Therapy, sometimes used to refer to the occupational therapist.


Person centred planning. This 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

A Personal Budget allocates a sum of money to deliver support and services that meet education, health and care needs of children and young people with EHCPs. Eligible children young people and their families receive an allocation of money, via a fair assessment and allocation process. This is paid as a Direct Payment

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS 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.


Physical Disability


Personal Independence Payment. If you are over 16, PIP can help you with some of the extra costs associated with having a long term ill-health or disability.


Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties


Planned, individual educational support for pre-school children with special educational needs, provided by the Local Authority

Preparation for Adulthood

A section in the Code of Practice which lays out the need for Local Authorities and their partners to work together with young people to help them achieve successful outcomes in the long term as they become adults


Pupil Referral Unit. A type of school which caters for children who aren’t able to attend a mainstream school because they require greater care and support than their mainstream school can provide. PRUs are a form of alternative education provision

Reasonable Adjustments

These are the changes that educational establishments are expected to make to help meet a child’s additional needs


Speech and Language Therapist / Therapy


Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs are a type of SEN in which children/young people have difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour.


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

SEN support

An overall term that refers to support for pupils needing SEN provision who do not have EHC plans

SEN Information Report

A document published on a school’s website, setting out the school’s provision for pupils with SEN. Every maintained school must have one.

Short Breaks

Short Breaks Services (previously called respite care) are fun and /or educational activities for children and young people with disabilities and additional needs who can't use universal services. They give children and young people with a disability time away from the family


Speech and language communication needs


Severe Learning Difficulties

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Integrated Service (SENDIS)

Education, social care and health professionals in Merton work together as one team to deliver the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Integrated Service (SENDIS) for children, young people and their families.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)

A SENCo is a teacher who is responsible for co-ordinating the special educational needs support in schools and settings. Every nursery, preschool and school has a SENCo.

Special educational needs tribunal

This is an independent body that hears appeals by parents against local authority decisions on assessments and EHCP’s. A tribunal decision is binding to both parties.

Special school

A school that provides education only for pupils with special educational needs. Some special schools provide for pupils with specific types of SEN


Specific Learning Difficulties. SPLD affect one or more particular aspects of learning. Examples include dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia


An independent body that determines appeals by parents or young people against LA decisions on EHC needs assessments and EHC plans, as well as claims of disability discrimination


Visual impairment

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