Identifying special educational needs (SEN)

Three boys playing.A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

  • have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age.
  • have a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

For children aged two or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by:

  • mainstream schools
  • maintained nursery schools
  • mainstream post-16 institutions
  • relevant early years providers.

For a child under two years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind.

A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if they are likely to fall within this definition when they reach compulsory school age or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them (Section 20 Children and Families Act 2014).

Post-16 institutions often use the term learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD). The term SEN is used on this website across the 0 to 25 age range but includes LDD.

The Inclusive Framework Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities outlines the council’s shared vision, principles, and priorities to ensure inclusive practice in providing for children and young people with SEND.