What is SEND?

What is SEND? (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) 

Special educational needs (SEN) is a legal term. A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which means that they need special educational provision.

Special educational provision is different from what is normally available to pupils of the same age.

Having a learning difficulty or disability means that a pupil has greater difficulty in learning than most pupils of the same age, or a disability which makes it more difficult for them to use the school facilities. For example, they may have problems with:

  1. Specific areas of learning, like reading, writing or number work
  2. Expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
  3. Making friends or relating to adults
  4. Managing their emotions or behaviour
  5. Problems with seeing, hearing, or moving around
  6. Medical conditions that impact on learning
  7. Mental health difficulties, e.g. anxiety or depression

Having SEN is very common; in Sheffield, 16% of the school population (around 13,000 pupils) have SEN. Not all children with SEN have a formal diagnosis.

The Law

The Children and Families Act 2014 implemented a legal framework for SEN Law and reformed legislation relating to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Known as the SEND Code of Practice, it places duties on local authorities and partner organisations, including the NHS, to ensure that children and young people with SEND are supported to achieve the “best possible educational and other outcomes”.

SEND Code of Practice


BBC Bitesize has some helpful resources