Special educational needs

A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if he or she has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for him or her to learn than most other children and young people of about the same age

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. It can mean they have barriers to learning that other children of the same age do not have.

Education settings such as nurseries, schools and colleges can help most children overcome their barriers quickly and easily. A few children and young people will need extra help for some or all of their time in education.

Special educational needs could mean that a child or young person has:

  • learning difficulties in acquiring basic skills
  • social, emotional or mental health difficulties. This could mean they struggle with making friends, relating to adults or proper behaviour
  • specific learning difficulty, perhaps with reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • sensory or physical needs. This could be hearing impairment, visual impairment or physical difficulties communication problems.
  • difficulty expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
  • medical or health conditions. This could be things which slow down their progress or involve treatment that affects their education

Children and young people progress at different rates and have different ways that they learn best. Teachers consider this for all children in the way they organise their lessons and teach. Children making slower progress or having difficulties might get extra help or different lessons. This doesn't necessarily mean they have SEN.