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What are Special Educational Needs and Disabilities?

Young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most young people of the same age. These young people may need extra or different help from that given to others. 

Many young people will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education. Mainstream schools, colleges and other organisations can help most young people succeed with some changes to their practice or additional support. But some young people will need extra help for some or all of their time in education and training. 

Young people with SEN may need extra help because of a range of needs. The 0-25 SEND Code of Practice can be found on the GOV.UK website.  It sets out four areas of SEN:  

  • Communication and interaction – for example, where 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 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difficulties – for example, where young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning, or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing 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, young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment. 

Some young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.

What should I do?

As a first step, if you have concerns about your son or daughter’s needs, you should contact their school.

You can speak with either your child’s tutor, Head of Year or the Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and share your concerns.

Contact details can be found on school websites. Schools should also have a SEN Information Report which details the support they provide. All schools have this report published on the websites.

Alternatively, if you need independent support and advice around Special Educational Needs visit the Plymouth Information Advice and Support website.