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Special Educational Needs Glossary

Posted on 28 October 2015

Special needs glossary of terms


ADHD:  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A learning disorder which involves being unable to follow instructions, acting impulsively and being unable to keep still. 

Anger Management:  A programme designed for specific students addressing reasons and strategies for their difficulties.

Annual Review:  A review of a Statement of Special Educational Needs which an education authority must undertake at least every 12 months.

Asperger’s Syndrome:  A learning disorder which causes the child to have difficulty building social relationships, communicating and reading body language.

Auditory memory:  Things remembered from what has been heard.

Autism:  Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.  Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. 

DfES:  Department for Education and Skills.

Disagreement Resolution :  Arrangements to help prevent or resolve disagreements between parents, whose children have special educational needs, and a local education authority.

Dyscalculia:  A learning disability known as “maths dyslexia”, where numbers become inverted, making it difficult to perform basic maths calculations.

Dyslexia:  A learning disability where letters become inverted, making reading and writing difficult.

Dyspraxia:  A developmental disorder affecting organisation and planning of physical movement.


Early Years Settings:  All pre-school education provision such as nursery classes and schools, day nurseries and play groups.

Early Years Action:  When an Early Years setting identifies that a child has special educational needs, action is taken by giving help that is additional to or different from the help most children receive. 

Early Years Action Plus:  When the Early Years setting identifies that a child has special educational needs that require advice and/or support from other agencies.

Educational Psychologist:  Help in assessing your child’s special educational needs and giving advice to schools.

Hypermobility:  Joints which are excessively mobile. 

IEP:  Individual Education Plan. All children who are on the SEN register will be set targets and reviewed twice yearly.  These targets are written on their IEP, and given to all staff who teach that student in order that they can reach their targets.

Learning Support Assistant (LSA):  An assistant providing in-school support for pupils with special educational needs.  An LSA works under the direction of a class teacher as considered appropriate.


Named LEA Officer:  An officer of the local authority who will deal with your child’s case and who will talk to you if you have any enquiry or concern.

National Curriculum:  What the Government has decided that all children in mainstream schools will learn. 

Note-in-Lieu:  A document that describes your child’s special educational needs, explains why a Statement is not required and which sets out what should be done to help your child.

OFSTED:  Office for Standards in Education.

Parent Partnership Service (PPS) :  Provides support and information to parents/carers whose children have special educational needs (for further details see separate leaflet).

Pragmatic language:  Pragmatics are the “unspoken” parts of our language, for instance body language, eye contact and the other many ways in which we communicate non-verbally.

Red card:  A card which is given to specific student’s (following discussions with their Head of Year), which allows them to be excused from a lesson where they feel angry or unable to cope.

School action:  A category on the SEN register. Students in this category may need assistance in class at a fairly low level.

School action plus:  A category on the SEN register.  Students in this category will need assistance in class and are also being serviced by outside agencies.

Scribe:  A person who writes for the student in exams.

SENCo:  The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, who is the head of the Special Educational Needs department.

SEN Code of Practice:  A document from the government which provides practical advice to those carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children’s special educational needs.

SEN register:  A list of students who have Special Educational Needs.

Speech and language difficulties:  Difficulties with building vocabulary, word finding skills and in reading the unspoken tools of communication, such as body language and inference.

Statutory Assessment :  A very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs.

Statement of Special Educational Needs:  A legal document that sets out a child’s needs and the specific help he or she must receive.

Transition Plan :  A plan drawn up after the Year 9 Annual Review of a Statement to draw together information from a range of individuals within and beyond the school to plan for the young person’s transition to adult life





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