SEN & Disabilities

Children and young people with SEN all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others. 

Many children and young people will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education. Early years providers (for example, nurseries or childminders), mainstream schools, colleges and other organisations can help most children and young people succeed with some changes to their practice or additional support. But some children and young people will need extra help for some or all of their time in education and training. 

Children and young people with SEN may need extra help because of a range of needs. The 0-25 SEND Code of Practice (available in the navigation bar on the left) set out four areas of SEN:  

  • Communication and interaction – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others 
  • Cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or 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– for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning, or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing 
  • Sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.  

The basic principles you need to keep in mind when thinking about your child’s needs are that all children have a right to an education that enables them to make progress so that they: 

  • achieve their best 
  • become confident individuals and live fulfilling lives 
  • make a successful transition into becoming an adult – whether that’s into further and higher education, training or work. 

All children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities should have their needs met, whether they are in early years settings (like a nursery or a childminder), in school or in college. 

When making decisions about SEN or disabilities,  the local authority must:

  • have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of children, their parents and young people
  • make sure that children, their parents and young people participate as fully as possible in decisions that affect them
  • provide support to children, their parents and young people so that children and young people do well educationally and can prepare properly for adulthood. 

Parents should have a real say in decisions that affect their children, should have access to impartial information, advice and support (Plymouth Information, Advice and Support for SEND) and know how to challenge decisions they disagree with.

Local authorities must also involve children, their parents and young people in developing local provision and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Further details on the principles can be found in chapter 1 of the 0 - 25 SEND Code of Practice (available as a link on the left hand navigation bar).

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are worried about your child's education you should talk with your child's education setting this is usually the class teacher. They will discuss any concerns that you have, tell you what they think and explain to you what will happen next. If you would like independent impartial support you can contact Plymouth Information, Advice and Support for SEND who will be able to advise and support you at any meeting.

Children and young people with SEN all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others this is known as SEN Provision.

A disability is described in the Equality Act 2010 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.' This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

SEN Provision means educational or training provision that is different from that made generally for other of the same age in mainstream maintained settings across the whole of England.