This is a list of special educational terms and words. This is intended to clarify and explain the common language used with SEND and has been adapted for local use.
From A - E
Academy schools are state-funded schools in England which are directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of Local Authority control.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 Local Authorities must carry out a review of every EHC plan at least once every 12 months.
The SEND Code of Practice (2015) suggests that plans for children under 5 should be reviewed every three to six months.
Children and Families Act 2014
This law came into force on 1st September 2014. Part 3 of the Act sets out the new law on special educational needs and disability. The Act is supported by the SEND Regulations 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 Years (2015). You can download a copy of the Act at
Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
CCGs are groups of professionals that work together to commission health care services. They ensure that enough of the relevant health care services are provided for the needs of their local area.
A payment made directly to a parent or young person to purchase specific services. Under the Children and Families Act 2014 a Direct Payment may be made as part of a Personal Budget so that the parent or young person can buy certain services that are specified in their EHC plan.
The Local Authority decides if a direct payment is the appropriate funding mechanism; there is no right of appeal.
Direct payments can only be used for provision provided on the school or college premises if the school or college agree.
Local Authorities must provide independent disagreement resolution to help parents and young people resolve disputes with Local Authorities, schools and other settings about SEND duties and provision.
Call us or see the Local Offer for more details.
You can find more information on disagreement resolution in the SEND Code of Practice 11.6 to 11.10.
Children aged 0-5, including ‘reception’ but not Year 1 in schools.
Education Funding Agency (EFA)
The EFA is the government agency that funds education for learners between the ages of 3 and 19, and those with learning difficulties and disabilities between the ages of 3 and 25.
The EFA allocates funds to Local Authorities, which then provide the funding for maintained schools. The EFA directly funds academies and free schools.
EHC Needs Assessment
Local Authorities must carry out an EHC needs assessment if a child or young person may need an EHC plan. The assessment is a detailed look at the special educational needs that the child or young person has and what help he or she may need in order to learn.
You can find out more in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.45 – 9.52.
Education Health and Care plan (EHC plan)
An EHC plan describes the special educational needs that a child or young person has and the help that they will be given to meet them. It also includes the health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the Local Authority and is used for children and young people who have high support needs.
From F - L
Family Support Process / Common Assessment Framework (FSP/CAF)
The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is multi-agency process bringing together professionals to working with families who need support. The framework puts the family’s needs at the heart of decisions made about how they get help.
In Norfolk the CAF is known as the Family Support Process.
First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability)
The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) is a legal body. The Tribunal hears appeals from parents of children with SEN, and young people with SEN, about EHC needs assessments and EHC plans.
You can find out more at https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-special-educational-needs-and-disability
See SEN support
In the United Kingdom, independent schools (also private schools) are fee-paying private schools, governed by an elected board of governors and independent of many of the regulations and conditions that apply to state-funded schools. For example, pupils do not have to follow the national curriculum.
Someone who provides children, young people and parents with a single point of contact to help make sure the support they receive is co-ordinated. A keyworker could be provided directly by a local authority or local health organisation, a school or college, or from a voluntary or private sector body.
Local authority/authorities (LA)
Local authorities are administrative offices that provide services within their local areas. There are 152 across England which are education authorities. For more information about local government, see
The Local Offer, published by every Local Authority, tells you what support is expected to be available for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, and their families. It includes information about education, health and care provision. It also gives information about training, employment and independent living for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
From M - R
This is a school that provides education for all children, whether or not they have special educational needs or disabilities.
Maintained nursery school
Maintained nursery schools are overseen or ‘maintained’ by the Local Authority. They provide education and other services to children under 5 and their families.
Maintained schools are overseen or ‘maintained’ by the Local Authority. These schools must follow the national curriculum and national teacher pay and conditions.
Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution. Every local authority must provide independent mediation to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities about:
- a decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
- a decision not to draw up an EHC plan
- the content of a final EHC plan or amended plan
- a decision not to amend an EHC plan
- a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan.
Mediation must also be provided on the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.
You can find more information on mediation in the SEND Code of Practice 11.13 to 11.38.
Mediation Information and Advice Session (MIAS)
The purpose of mediation advice is to give information about what mediation involves. Parents or young people who wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) must first seek mediation advice. The advice must be factual and unbiased. After mediation advice has been given the parent or young person can choose whether they wish to go to mediation. If they do not go to mediation, then a mediation certificate is issued.
However, it is not necessary to seek mediation advice if the appeal is only about:
- the school or college named on the plan,
- the type of provision specified in the plan (e.g. mainstream or special school)
- the fact that no school or other institution is named.
You can find more information on mediation advice in the SEND Code of Practice 11.21 to 11.25.
The SEND Code of Practice says in Section i of the Introduction:
....where the text uses the word ‘must’ it refers to a statutory requirement under primary legislation, regulations or case law.
This means that wherever the term ‘must’ is used all the organisations listed in Section iv of the Introduction to the Code have a legal duty to do what the Code says.
Nursery schools tend to cater for children aged between 3 and 5, offering early education in the couple of years before children start ‘big school’.
Those which receive funding from the Local Authority are known as ‘maintained’ nursery schools.
Nursery schools can be run by various organisations such as businesses, community groups, schools, employers.
In England, early years education follows the Early Years Foundation Sateg (EYFS) Framework.
Section 9.66 of the SEND Code of Practice says:
An outcome can be defined as the benefit or difference made to an individual as a result of an intervention. It should be personal and not expressed from a service perspective; it should be something that those involved have control and influence over, and while it does not always have to be formal or accredited, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART). When an outcome is focused on education or training, it will describe what the expected benefit will be to the individual as a result of the educational or training intervention provided.
Parent Carer Forum
A Parent Carer Forum is a representative local group of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities, education, health and other providers to make sure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children and families. They have been established in most local authority areas. For more information please visit:
A Personal Budget is money set aside to fund support as part of an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan) for a child or young person with special educational needs. It can include funds from Education, Health and Social Care.
Parents of children with an EHC plan and young people with an EHC plan can choose whether or not they wish to have a Personal Budget.
Playgroups and pre-schools
Playgroups and pre-schools perform the same function as nursery school, but are open to children from the age of 2.
‘Reasonable adjustments’ is a term used in the Equality Act 2016. It is used for changes that schools and other settings are required to make which could include: changes to physical features – for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing extra support and aids (such as specialist teachers or equipment)
From S - T
Every Local Authority has a Schools Forum. It made up of representatives from schools and academies, and some representation from other bodies, such as nursery and 14-19 education providers. The role of the Schools Forum includes looking at the local formula used to fund schools and SEN provision.
SEND Code of Practice 2015
This is the statutory guidance that supports Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
It tells Local Authorities, early years settings, schools, colleges, heath and social care providers and others what they must and should do to identify, assess and provide for children and young people with SEN or disabilities.
You can download a full copy of the Code at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25
You can download a shorter version for parents at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-guide-for-parents-and-carers
SEN Information Report (SIR)
All schools must publish on their websites information about their policy and arrangements for supporting children with SEN. This must be kept up to date.
The information that must be included can be found in Section 6.79 of the SEND Code of Practice.
SEN support / The graduated approach
SEN support includes any help for children and young people with SEN that is additional to or different from the support generally made for other children of the same age.
The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process.
The SEND Code of Practice says that schools should follow a graduated approach when providing SEN Support. This is based on a cycle of:
You can find out more about the graduated approach in the SEND code of Practice sections 6.44 to 6.56.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
See First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability)
‘Should’ is a word that occurs frequently in the SEND Code of Practice.
Section i of the Introduction to the Code says:
… where the text uses the word ‘should’ it means that the guidance contained in this Code must be considered and that those who must have regard to it will be expected to explain any departure from it.
This means that wherever the term ‘should’ is used all the organisations listed in Section iv of the Introduction to the Code must consider what the Code says. However, they may depart from it.
Sometimes a service that provides information, advice and support may be asked for help that it is not able to give directly.
When this happens the person seeking information, advice or support may signposted to other service providers. This means that they will be given information, including contact details, about other sources of help.
Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)
A SENCO is a qualified teacher in a school or maintained nursery school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision.
Early years settings that are part of group provision arrangements are expected to identify an individual to perform the role of SENCO.
Statutory guidance is guidance that local authorities and other local bodies have a legal duty to follow.