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Educational Terms - SEN Jargon Buster


All children with an Education Health and Care Plan should have their provision reviewed once a year to ensure it still meets the child’s needs. If you are unhappy with a decision following an annual review, please call our team for advice.

ARP is an umbrella term which covers a wide range of provision where the Local Authority contracts additional resources over and above those allocated to all schools and settings. ARPs can only be accessed by children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan. The additional provision is to increase the Local Authority’s capacity to meet the needs of pupils with SEND.


Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs) are multi-agency teams that support schools, families and young people up to the age of 18 who already have, or are at risk of developing emotional, behavioural and/or attendance problems.

The BESTs focus is identification, prevention and early intervention.

A behaviour support plan is a document which is used in schools for learners with behavioural difficulties. The plan will usually set out what expectations the school has of a child or young person and outlines the strategies and support that will be put in place to help achieve them and improve their behaviour. Often, if a child or young person has a BSP and is still struggling with education, it may be appropriate to seek an EHC needs assessment.


CAMHS are the NHS services that assess and treat children and young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. There are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK with teams made up of psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, nurses, support workers, occupational therapists as well as other professionals.

Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for the delivery of NHS services in England and monitoring the use of funding. Each CCG has a geographical area for which it is responsible and this may differ from the area covered by Local Authorities. CCG’s are involved in preparing and delivering support identified in Education, Health and Care Plans.

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 refers to a child in need as any child that is:

  • Unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have the opportunity to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without provision from the Local Authority;
  • Their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision of services from the Local Authority;
  • They have a disability.

  • Children in need can include children and young people with special educational needs and additional learning needs. There is a statutory requirement to consider what support they may need in school and consideration should be given for a statutory assessment or EHC needs assessment.

    The Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA) is a law which introduced a new system of how children and young people in England with special educational needs and disabilities are supported. The CFA introduced Education Health and Care Plans which have replaced Statement of Special Educational Needs.


    The Department for Education is a department of the UK government which is responsible for education in England. The DfE is responsible for implementing all new law issued relating to education. It also makes policy and issues consultations regarding the quality of education and the way it is provided in England. The DfE publishes the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice.

    The Disability Discrimination Act made it unlawful to act or fail to act in a way which had the effect of causing disadvantage to a disabled person as compared to a person without a disability. The DDA now only applies to Northern Ireland. The DDA was replaced by the Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales which unified all statute concerning discrimination.


    The Education Funding Agency is part of the DfE and was replaced by the Education and Skills Funding Agency in April 2017. The ESFA brings together the Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency to create one single agency. It is responsible for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults.

    The Education, Health and Care Plan is a legally binding document which sets out the educational, health and social care needs that a child or young person has and the support they need. A child or young person only qualifies for an EHCP if they have special educational needs. EHCP’s should have replaced all Statements by April 2018.

    An Educational Psychologist is a medically qualified professional who has specialist training in identifying, assessing and diagnosing special educational needs. They can recommend support and plan what special educational provision a child or young person may need.

    The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it is unlawful to treat someone.

    It is against the law for schools and other educational providers to discriminate against children and young people with disabilities on the basis of their disability. Educational providers should not deny admission to a child or young person on the ground of their disability. Instead, educational providers should try to accommodate for the disability through the provision of SEN services.

    An Education Welfare Officer is employed by the Local Authority and often becomes involved when a child or young person is struggling to attend school full-time. The EWO liaises with the child/young person and their family to establish what support may be required. Often non-attendance is linked with special educational needs and additional support may be required and if appropriate, consideration should be given for an EHC assessment.

    The Early Years Foundation Stage refers to the pre-school stage of learning. It starts at age 3 and runs until the end of reception. EYFS is for all children, not just those with special educational needs and is designed to prepare children to move into Level 1(in Year 1) of the National Curriculum. If a child is struggling with EYFS it can be helpful to identify early on if they may have special education needs and require additional provision.


    Further education is referred to the period of education after compulsory education ending at 16 but below degree level. It is commonly referred to as school years 11 and 12. Young people with special educational needs in further education can be supported by an Education, Health and Care Plan.

    The First Tier Tribunal is part of the courts and tribunals service of the UK. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) is part of the FTT. This is a specialist tribunal set up to deal with disagreements between parents, young people and local authorities about how special educational needs should be supported and provided for.


    Higher education is the period of education after further education, typically university. It is the form of education which results in a qualification at degree level or above.


    An Individual Behaviour Plan is a school-based document which is prepared to help support children and young people whose behaviour is causing them difficulties in accessing education. Behaviour difficulties can be a sign of special educational needs and it may be necessary to seek an Education, Health and Care needs assessment if the IBP is not adequately supporting the child/young person’s needs.

    An IEP is a school-based document which records, tracks and reviews the special educational provision that a child/young person with special educational needs receives in school. The document should set out the child/young person’s special educational needs, the targets for support and the provision that will be made available. The IEP should be reviewed at the end of each school term. If a parent is considering an application for an EHC needs assessment, the IEP can be very useful.


    Judicial Review is a court process which involves either the High Court or Upper Tribunal reviewing a decision or action taken by a public body and deciding whether to overturn it. For parents, Judicial Review may be available if an Education Health and Care Plan is not being complied with.


    This is an old term as local education authorities no longer exist. The correct term is Local Authority (LA)

    The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent organisation set up to consider complaints about local authorities, adult social care and education admission appeal panels. The LGO does not have the same powers as the Court does in an application for Judicial Review.

    If parents are concerned about how their Local Authority has behaved such as delays, poor communication or conduct, a complaint to the LGO may be appropriate however, if parents are seeking an action for the Local Authority to comply with deadlines or legal duties, an application for Judicial Review may be appropriate. The LGO can also look into complaints concerning special educational needs if it is something that the SENDIST cannot deal with.

    The Local Offer is a publication prepared by the Local Authority which details all of the provision that is available in its area for children with special needs and disabilities. The Local Offer was introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 and should be updated and reviewed by the Local Authority.

    A Learning Support Assistant (LSA)/Teaching Assistant (TA) works in a school supporting the class and/or teacher. Some LSA/TA’s are trained specifically to support children with special educational needs and some children may have their own LSA to help them access learning. This 1:1 support is possible to secure by way of an EHC Plan. .


    A multi-agency team comprises of professionals from different sectors to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities receive the correct support that they need. The multi-agency teams which can be found in social care and education ensure that all of the young person’s needs are fully investigated and the special educational provision is identified. Often an EHC needs assessment will involve a multi-agency team.


    The Office of the Independent Adjudicator is an independent organisation which looks into complaints from students against universities and other Higher Education organisations.

    An occupational therapist is a medical professional who assesses and supports those with physical and psychiatric conditions to limit the impact of disability and promote independence. OT’s can be important in assessing and supporting children/young person with special educational needs. If a child or young person requires occupational therapy, it may be useful to seek an EHC needs assessment in order to guarantee the OT via an EHCP.


    Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a method of communication using pictures. It is particularly useful for children and young people with Autism but is also very effective for learners with communication or language difficulties. The use of PECS is a special educational provision.

    This is used in schools to help a child/young person develop social, emotional and behavioural skills. It should identify goals to work towards and the child/young person and their parents should be involved in the preparation of the PSP.

    Physiotherapists are medical professionals who support people affected by injury, illness or disability with recovery through movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may need physiotherapy in order to access education.


    Speech and language therapists help with the assessment and development of speech, language and communication skills. They also work with people who have eating and swallowing problems. SALT can be important in assessing children and young people with special educational needs and providing them with support in the development of their language and communication skills.

    This refers to five broad areas: Self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. If a child/young person needs support in these aspects of learning, they may have special educational needs requiring special educational provision.

    Special educational needs refers to a child/young person who is struggling at school and requires provision which is additional or different to that which is typically made available to children of the same age.

    The SENCO is a member of staff in a school whose responsibilities include co-ordinating additional support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. The SENCO ensures that the school’s special educational needs budget is used appropriately and can request the involvement of Educational Psychologists and other external services. If parents have concerns that their child may have special educational needs or indeed, feel that their child is not receiving adequate support, the first point of contact would be the SENCO.

    The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal is a specialist Tribunal which deals with disagreements between parents, young people and their local authority about special educational needs and provision.

    The Secretary of State is a Member of Parliament who is in charge of a government department. The Secretary of State for Education is responsible for the work of the Department for Education.


    The Upper Tribunal is an appeals court. It deals with appeals against decisions made by the SENDIST or FTT. If parents or local authorities are unhappy with a decision of the SENDIST or FTT they can apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.