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Special Educational Needs and Learning

What is Special Educational Needs?

Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) have learning difficulties that make it harder for them to learn than other children their age.

It is not unusual for children to have SEN of some kind during their school lives. But schools and other organisations can help most children overcome the barriers if their difficulties are discovered early. 

However, a few children will need extra help for some or all of their time in school. It is very important for parents and carers to work closely with staff in schools and the local authority to get the best for children with SEN.

Because you know your child well, you should talk to their teacher about what you think your child's strengths and difficulties are and ways they might find it easier to learn.

You may find the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (190KB) helpful to read before talking to your child's teacher.

How is disability different from Special Educational Needs?

Some children who have SEN may also be defined as being disabled under the Equality Act. Not all children who are defined as disabled under the Equality Act will have SEN though. For example, pupils with severe asthma, arthritis or diabetes may not have special educational needs but will have rights under the Equality Act.  Similarly not all children with SEN will be defined as having a disability under the Equality Act.

The SEN diagram  (77KB) helps to explain the difference between SEN and disability and where they overlap.


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