SEND Local Offer

Definition of special educational needs and disability

The SEND code of practice outlines the definitions of special educational needs and disabilities.

Special educational needs (SEN)

Children and young people with SEN have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children and young people of the same age. These children and young people may need extra or different help from that given to others.

The law says that children and young people do not have learning difficulties just because their first language is not English, although, of course, some of these children and young people may have learning difficulties as well.

Disability

Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability. 

A disability is described in law (the Equality Act 2010) as ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term (ie, a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.