What is SEN / SEND?

SEN / SEND stands for Special Educational Needs / Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. A pupil is deemed to have Special Educational Needs if they are finding it harder than other pupils to make progress. This may be due to a specific learning difficulty, a recognised disability such as hearing impairment, emotional or social difficulties, or speech and language difficulties. Some pupils will only receive SEN support for a short time, others may do for the rest of their time in school. Schools have an SEN register which records all SEND children, and schools are expected to track the progress of these pupils closely. SEN / SEND children are likely to need extra or different support from that given to other children of their age.

The term SEN covers lots of different difficulties children may have. There are considered to be four main types of SEN which are:

  • Thinking, understanding and learning - this does not mean that every learning activity will be difficult, but children may have a specific area they find trickier such as reading or spelling.
  • Emotional and behavioural - these children may struggle with confidence or find it difficult to follow the rules and settle down.
  • Speech, language and communication - these children may have difficulty expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying to them.
  • Physical or sensory impairments - physical and sensory impairments require special education provision because they are medically established as a disability which hinders children from using general educational facilities effectively. SEND children may have a vision impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability or multi-sensory impairment, and will require specialist support and adaptations to access their learning.

SEN covers a huge range, and you'll find a lot of overlap in some of the terminology that is used. The way they have been grouped is typically used for schools to understand how best to support different children.


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