What is SEND?

What is SEND?

The term SEND is used if a child or young person has a Special Educational Need and/or Disability.

A child or young person of compulsory school age is said to have SEND if they:

  1. have a significantly greater difficulty in learning that the majority of others of the same age
  2. have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

Children with SEND may need extra help or support, or special provision to allow them to have the same opportunities as other children of the same age.


Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability. A disability is described in law as 'a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term (a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.'

The Equality Act 2010 contains more information about what a disability is and what should be done by early years providers, schools, colleges, other educational settings and local authorities to support children and young people with a disability.

The Worcestershire County Council disabilities section of the website has information on a range of different services and support options available.

Different types of SEND

If a child has a Special Educational Need (SEN) their needs will fall into one or more of the following four areas:

Communicating and interacting

For example, a child or young person may:

  • have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language
  • have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others

Cognition and learning

For example, a child or young person may:

  • learn at a slower pace than others their age
  • have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum
  • have difficulties with organisation and memory skills
  • have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

For example, a child or young person may:

  • have difficulty managing their relationships with other people
  • are withdrawn
  • behave in ways that may hinder their and other children's learning
  • behave in ways that have an impact on their health and wellbeing

Sensory and/or physical needs

For example, a child or young person may:

  • have a vision impairment and/or hearing impairments
  • have a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment

Does my child have a special educational need?

The SEND Code of Practice says that staff in education settings / schools should make regular assessments of progress for all children / pupils in schools and settings. This will help to identify those children who are making less than expected progress. The education setting / school should then decide if your child needs SEN support and should talk to you about this. If a young person is 16 or older the school or post 16 providers should involve the young person directly.

Sometimes you may be the first to be aware that your child has special educational needs.

If you think your child may have a special educational need or disability you should talk to:

  • your health visitor
  • your GP
  • your child's early years provider, for example a nursery or childminder
  • your child's teacher or the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo)

Useful links

SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years– this statutory guidance explains the duties of local authorities, health bodies, schools and colleges to provide for those with special educational needs and disabilities

SEND guide for parents and carers – this government guide explains how the system that supports children and young people with SEND works

Sometimes words and abbreviations are used by professionals and services which are unfamiliar. We have included links here to a Glossary on the SENDIASS website and a Jargon Buster on Worcestershire’s Healthwatch site, which we think you may find useful.

Glossary Information - SENDIASS Worcestershire and Herefordshire

Jargon Buster | Healthwatch Worcestershire 


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