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Special Educational Needs

What are Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if he or she has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for him or her to learn than most other children and young people of about the same age.

Many children and young people will have special educational needs of some kind during their education. Early years settings, schools, colleges and other organisations can help most children and young people overcome the barriers their difficulties present quickly and easily. A few children and young people will need extra help for some or all of their time an early years setting, school or college.

So special educational needs could mean that a child or young person has:

  • learning difficulties - in acquiring basic skills in an early years setting, school or college
  • social, emotional or mental health difficulties - making friends or relating to adults or behaving properly in an early years setting, school or college
  • specific learning difficulty - with reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • sensory or physical needs - such as hearing impairment, visual impairment or physical difficulties which might affect them in an early years setting, school or college
  • communication problems - in expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
  • medical or health conditions - which may slow down a child’s or young person's progress and/or involves treatment that affects his or her education.

Children and young people make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Teachers take account of this in the way they organise their lessons and teach. Children and young people making slower progress or having particular difficulties in one area may be given extra help or different lessons to help them succeed.

You should not assume, just because your child is making slower progress than you expected or the teachers are providing different support, help or activities in class, that your child has special educational needs.

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