SEN Glossary

Find explanations of terms and acronyms used in the field of special needs education.


Augmentative and Alternative Communication. A range of techniques which support or replace spoken communication, including gesture, signing, symbols, word boards, communication boards and books, as well as Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs).


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder / Attention Deficit Disorder - a chronic condition marked by persistent difficulty sustaining attention (ADD), sometimes combined with hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour (ADHD)


Autistic Spectrum Disorder - a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour and may include difficulties with communication and interaction with other people, restricted interests and repetitive behaviours, as well as a range of other symptoms that affect the ability to function properly in school, work, and other areas of life.


a mainstream school which receives funding directly from the Government and is independent from the local authority.

C & F Act 2014

Children & Families Act 2014, a government reform that changed the law on special educational needs and disability support


Code of Practice (A guide to schools and local education authorities about the help to be given to children with special educational needs. Schools and local authorities must have regard to the Code when working with a child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.)


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service


Clinical Commissioning Group


Council for Disabled Children

Cognitive Ability

Thinking and reasoning abilities


Department for Education


a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling due to problems with identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding)


a condition affecting fine and/or gross motor co-ordination, resulting in difficulties to perform well in daily physical activities and clumsy movements, sometimes also accompanied by difficulties in articulation and thought / perception processing.

EHC Plan

An education, health and care plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.


Educational Psychologist


Local Authority


Learning Disability


Least Restrictive Environment is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA says that children who receive special education should learn in the least restrictive environment. This means they should spend as much time as possible with peers who do not receive special education.


Learning Support Assistant

Local Offer

all local authorities are required to publish a ‘local offer’ which outlines information about provision it expects to be available to children with SEN and disabilities in their area both in and outside of a school


Multi-Disciplinary Team


Moderate Learning Difficulty


a language programme designed to provide a means of communication to children and young people who cannot communicate efficiently by speaking.

Named Officer

a local authority officer who liaises with parents and coordinates an education, health and care assessment and final plan.


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (a pattern of unusually hostile, disobedient, and defiant behaviors directed at adults or other authority figures)


Office for Standards in Education Inspection team responsible for inspecting schools and local authorities


Occupational Therapist


Pathological Demand Avoidance (a pattern of extreme avoidance of everyday demands and expectations, often accompanied by high levels of anxiety and hostility)


Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), a form of alternative and augmentative communication in which a child is taught to communicate with an adult by giving them a card with a picture on it.


Profound Learning Disability


Speech and Language Therapy


Speech, Language and Communication Needs


Special Educational Needs is a legal term. It describes the needs of a child who has a difficulty or disability which makes learning harder for them than for other children their age. Around one in five children has SEN at some point during their school years.


Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


Statement of Special Educational Needs


Specialist Teacher Advisors


Specific Learning Difficulties


Teaching Assistant


Team Around the Child

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