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Glossary of terms


A state-funded school in England that is directly funded by the Department for Education, through the Education Funding Agency. Academies are self-governing and independent of local authority control.

Access Arrangements

Access Arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working.  Access Arrangements allow learners with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment.

ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder)

A group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Additional problems include sleep and anxiety disorders.

Annual Review

The review of an Education, Health and Care plan which the local authority must make as a minimum every 12 months.

APD (Auditory Processing Difficulties)

A hearing or listening problem caused by the brain not processing sounds in the normal way.
Learners may also have difficulty responding to sounds, understanding things they’re told, concentrating, and expressing themselves with speech. Their reading and spelling may also be affected.

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)

Asperger Syndrome ‘Aspergers’ is a form of Autism, also known as ‘high functioning Autism.’  Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties.


Autism is a developmental disorder which affects social and communication skills often characterised by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services)

Specialist NHS services. They offer assessment and treatment when children and young people have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

Care Plan

A record of the health and/or social care services that are being provided to a learner to help them manage a disability or health condition.

CP (Cerebral Palsy)

A severe neurological disorder that affects the basic movements of the body and muscles. The condition can occur if the brain develops abnormally or is damaged before, during or shortly after birth. Specifically, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. The main symptoms are muscle weakness, uncontrolled body movements and balance and co-ordination problems.

CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group)

Clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area.

Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)

An assessment tool for young people in the youth justice system. It ensures that young people in the secure estate and in the community receive a comprehensive assessment of their 279 physical and mental health, substance misuse and neuro-disability needs on entry to the system.

Compulsory school age

A child is of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday until the last Friday of June in the year in which they become 16, provided that their 16th birthday falls before the start of the next school year.

COP (SEND Code of Practice): for 0 to 25 years

Guidance on the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system for children and young people aged 0 to 25, from 1 September 2014. All schools must have regard to what the code of practice says whenever decisions are taken relating to children with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf).


Where children, young people and their parents/carers work together as equal partners with professionals from local authority, health and social care to decide the outcomes they want and agree how these can best be achieved, e.g. the EHCP.

CF (Cystic Fibrosis)

A hereditary disorder which causes a range of problems from a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells in the body. The lungs and digestive system are the main areas that are affected. It causes the production of abnormally thick mucus, leading to the blockage of the pancreatic ducts, intestines, and bronchi and often resulting in respiratory infection.

DfE (Department for Education)

The Department for Education is responsible for education, children’s services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England, and equalities.

DOH (Department of Health)

Exists to improve the health and wellbeing of people in England. The Department provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England.

Differentiated Curriculum

The structuring of lesson plans, etc for specific students based on their individual aptitude.

DP (Direct Payments)

Direct payments are payments from the local council for people who have been assessed as needing help, and who would like to arrange and pay for their own care and support services. These payments are made directly to the disabled person (or to someone acting on their behalf), to arrange their own care package.


A child or young person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

DSA (Disabled Students Allowance)

An allowance for undergraduate or postgraduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things to help meet individual learning needs.

DS (Down’s Syndrome)

A genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features. Children with Down’s syndrome share some common physical characteristics. Everyone born with Down’s syndrome will have a degree of learning disability, but the level of disability will be different for each individual.


A specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing accurate and fluent calculations. These difficulties must be quantifiably below what is expected for an individual’s chronological age.


A specific learning disability that affects written expression. Dysgraphia can appear as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Dysgraphia can be a language based, and/or non-language based disorder.


A developmental disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement.

Education Funding Agency (EFA)

An arm of the Department for Education that manages the funding for learners between the ages of 3 and 19 years and for those with SEN or disabilities between the ages of 3 and 25.

Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan)

An EHC plan (replaces the previous SEN Statement) details the education, health and social care support that is to be provided to a child or young person who has SEN or a disability. It is drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment of the young person has determined that an EHC plan is necessary, and after consultation with relevant partner agencies.

EHC Needs Assessment

Local authorities carry out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment if a young person is thought to need an EHC plan
The assessment is a detailed look at the special educational needs that the child or young person has and what help he or she may need in order to learn. Parents / carers, children and young people will be asked for their views and the help they need.
The assessment process should not take longer than 20 weeks to issue an EHC Plan.

EP (Educational Psychologist)

Educational psychologists assess how children develop and learn.
The service supports schools, parents and the LA in meeting the learning needs of all pupils, but particularly those who have special educational needs.
EPs can be commissioned of independent diagnostic reports for the purposes of accessing support at Higher Education.


Epilepsy is a common serious neurological condition where there is a tendency to have seizures that start in the brain.

Fine Motor Skills

Small movements of the body for example, using fingers to pick up small items, holding a pencil or doing up zips and buttons.

First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

A body independent of Government and Local Authorities with responsibility for handling appeals against local authority decisions regarding special educational needs. The First Tier tribunal listens to both sides of the argument before making a decision.

They handle appeals against discrimination by schools or local authorities due to a child’s disability, as well as for example refusal to:

• assess your child’s educational, health and care (EHC) needs
• reassess their special educational needs
• create an EHC plan
• change what’s in your child’s special educational needs statement or EHC plan

Free school

A free school is a type of academy, which is free to attend, but is not controlled by the local authority. Free schools receive state funding via the Education Funding Agency. Parents, teachers, businesses or charities can submit an application to the Department for Education to set up a free school.

Further Education (FE) college

A college offering continuing education to young people over the compulsory school age of 16. The FE sector in England includes general further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes.

Graduated approach

A model of action and intervention in schools and colleges (that replaces support at School Action and School Action Plus) to help learners who have special educational needs.
The approach (a four stage cycle; assess, plan, do and review) enables learners to participate, learn and make progress schools.

HE (Higher Education)

Education at universities or similar educational establishments, especially to degree level. UK higher education (HE) offers a diverse range of courses and qualifications, such as first degrees, Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), and foundation degrees. It includes any qualification at Level 4 and above. A BA or BSc (Hons) degree is a Level 6 qualification.

HI (Hearing Impairment)

A degree of hearing loss.

IASS (Information, Advice and Support Services)

A statutory services (there is one in every local authority).

Provides advice and information to children with SEN or disabilities, their parents, and young people with SEN or disabilities: neutral and factual support on the special educational needs system to help learners, their parents and young people to play an active and informed role in their education and care.

Although funded by local authorities, Information, Advice and Support Services are run either at arm’s length from the local authority or by a voluntary organisation to ensure children, their parents and young people have confidence in them.

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

A term mainly used to describe two conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are long-term (chronic) conditions that involve inflammation of the gut (gastrointestinal tract).

The symptoms of IBD can come and go. People may experience periods of severe symptoms (flare-ups), and go through long periods when they have few or no symptoms at all (remission).

IS (Independent supporter)

A person recruited locally by a voluntary or community sector organisation to help families going through an Education, Health and Care EHCP) needs assessment and the process of developing an EHC plan. This person is independent of the local authority and will receive training, including legal training, to enable him or her to provide this support.

JSNAs (Joint Strategic Needs Assessments)

Joint strategic needs assessments (JSNAs) analyse the health needs of populations to inform and guide commissioning of health, wellbeing and social care services within local authority areas.

The JSNA’s central role is to act as the overarching primary evidence base for health and wellbeing boards to decide on key local health priorities.

Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA/‘Moving On’ plan)

From September 1st 2014, Education, Health and Care Plans (EHC plans) will replace Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) for all new college applicants.

Local Offer

Local authorities in England are required to set out in their Local Offer information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. Local authorities must consult locally on what provision the Local Offer should contain.

LSA, TA, HLTA (Learning Support Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Higher Level Teaching Assistant)

Non-teaching support staff who work with children with special educational needs in the classroom. All work under the direction of a class teacher as considered appropriate.

MLD (Moderate/Mild learning difficulty)

Learners will have attainments well below expected levels in all or most areas of the curriculum, despite appropriate interventions. They will have much greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may also have associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and underdeveloped social skills.

Modified Curriculum

Changing the curriculum in some way to meet a child or young person’s individual needs. Examples include increasing/decreasing the difficulty level, length, or pace, alternating easy and difficult tasks, alternating preferred and less preferred tasks, teaching the skill within daily routines, using materials that are interesting to the child or young person, etc.

MDT (Multi Disciplinary Team)

A group of health care workers who are members of different disciplines (professions e.g. Psychiatrists, Social Workers, etc.), each providing specific services to the learner.

MD (Muscular Dystrophy)

A group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.

MSI (Multiple Sensory Impairment)

Pupils with a MSI have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties. They are sometimes referred to as deaf-blind but may have some residual sight and/or hearing. Many also have additional disabilities but their complex needs mean that it may be difficult to ascertain their intellectual abilities.

National curriculum (NC)

This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, determining what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

A health professional trained to give advice on equipment, adaptations and activities to support the learning / social development of children, young people and adults with physical, emotional, sensory or behavioural difficulties.


Office for Standards in Education, a non-Ministerial government department established under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the inspection of all schools in England. Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) form its professional arm.

Personal Budget

There is a duty upon councils to produce a care and support plan and offer a personal budget following an assessment to ensure that disabled people and carers’ needs are adequately met. Local authorities have a legal obligation to offer personal budgets and conduct a care and support plan.

A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision. The funds can be held directly by the parent or young person, or may be held and managed on their behalf by the local authority, school, college or other organisation or individual and used to commission the support specified in the EHC plan.

PPS (Parent Partnership Service)

Provide advice and information to parents whose children have special educational needs. It provides impartial and factual support on all aspects of the SEN provision to help parents play an active and informed role in their child’s education. There is one based within each Local Authority.

PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties)

Commonly associated with pronounced Developmental Delay with significant physical and sensory impairments and Epilepsy.

Provision mapping

A way of identifying the range of provision available to all pupils in a school, which is additional to and different from the school’s differentiated curriculum. It can be used as part of the planning process for children with special educational needs.

PRU (Pupil Referral Unit)

Pupil Referral Unit – provides education for children unable to attend a mainstream school due to illness, exclusion or other reason.

Reasonable adjustment

Reasonable adjustments are changes that schools, colleges and Universities and other settings are required to make in order for a child with special educational needs or disabilities to access learning.

Adjustments could include: changes to physical features – for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing extra support and aids (such as specialist teachers or equipment).

RPA (Raised Participation Age)

It is a duty placed on all young people to participate in education or training until their 18th birthday. This duty is in the Education and Skills Act (2008).

It has been introduced to increase the opportunity for every student to improve their life prospects and become economically active individuals.

From Summer 2013 (28th June), young people will be required to continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. From 2015 (26th June), they will be required to continue until their 18th birthday.

SEMH (Social Emotional Mental Health)

SEMH difficulties is an overarching term for children who demonstrate difficulties with emotional regulation and/or social interaction and/or are experiencing mental health problems.


Special Educational Needs and Disability.


Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service – independent information and advice service for families with a child with SEND aged 0 – 25 and for young people up to age 25. Previously known as the Parent Partnership Service (PPS).

SEN Information Report

All schools must publish on their websites information about their policy and arrangements for supporting children with Special Educational Needs. This is called the SEN Information Report and it must be kept up to date.

SEN Information Report SEN Support

When a child or young person has been identified as having special educational needs, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place called SEN Support.

SID (Sensory Integration Disorder)

Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) is also sometimes called Sensory Integration Dysfunction or Sensory Processing Disorder. SID is a neurological disorder which occurs where the brain is unable to receive, organise and interpret sensory information it receives. Sensory integration theory was first developed by Dr Jean Ayres in the 1960s, to try to explain the relationship between a person’s behaviour and their brain functioning.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty if he or she has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

A qualified teacher in a school with responsibility for the planning and monitoring of the special educational provision within a school.

Special educational provision

Special educational provision is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils or students of the same age, which is designed to help children and young people with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school or to study at college.

Special school

A school which is specifically organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN. Special schools maintained by the local authority comprise community special schools and foundation special schools, and non-maintained (independent) special schools that are approved by the Secretary of State under Section 342 of the Education Act 1996.

SALT (Speech and language therapy)

Speech and language therapy is a health care profession, the role and aim of which is to enable children, young people and adults with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to reach their maximum communication potential and achieve independence in all aspects of life.

SpLD (Specific Learning Difference)

General learning abilities in the average range but difficulties in one or more particular areas of learning such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia (can include dyspraxia, dysphasia, ADHD).

SSEN (Statement of Special Educational Needs)

A statement of special needs is a formal document describing a child’s learning needs and how they should be met, including what school they should go to.
From September 2014, Statements were replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans.

TS (Tourette’s Syndrome)

Characterised by multiple involuntary tics which are brief, repetitive movements, which are either motor such as blinking or head jerking, or vocal such as throat clearing, grunting, snarling or similar outbursts.
Often associated with overactivity, learning difficulties, emotional disturbance and social problems.

TR (Transfer Review)

A Transfer Review replaces the Annual Review in the academic year that the child or young person with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Learning Disability Assessment (LDA) transfers to the new special educational needs and disability system.

It involves involves an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment to decide what outcomes and provision need to be included in the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. The learner is invited to a meeting A transfer review ends when the local authority sends the parent (or learmer) a copy of the EHC plan, or when they inform you (or the young person) that an EHC plan will not be issued.

Transition Plan (TP)

A plan drawn up after the Year 9 Annual Review to draw together information from a range of individuals within and beyond the school to plan for the young person’s transition to adult life.

Every local authority must publish a plan that explains when and how Statements of Special Educational Need will be transferred to the new system of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans, as well as information for young people in further education and training who receive support as a result of a Learning Difficulties Assessment.

VI (VIsual Impairment)

Partial or complete loss of sight.

Access agreements

Publicly funded universities and colleges have to put in place measures to recruit learners who are under-represented in HE and support them when they are studying.

These measures have been agreed with an independent body called the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). Each university offers its own scheme, but they generally include means-tested bursaries and scholarships as well as spending money on increasing access and outreach work.

ALS/ELS (Additional/Extended Learning Support)

The extra support you can get at college with any disability-related needs. Colleges receive money to help pay for this.

Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of disabled learners.

Disability Adviser

Work with disabled learners to agree and arrange any disability-related support and adjustments needed for studying.

Disability Discrimination

Being treated in a different way because you are disabled.

DSA (Disabled Students Allowance)

An allowance for undergraduate or postgraduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things to help meet individual learning needs.

Equality Act

A law that started in 2010 to make things fair for everyone. It took over from the Disability Discrimination Act.

Foundation Learning

A personalised education programme that incorporates three key components, functional skills, vocational/subject learning and personal and social development delivered at entry level and level 1 (below GCSE).

Long standing health condition

Physical or mental health condition or illnesses long-lasting in nature (lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more). The focus is on a long-lasting conditions which a person is likely to have for the remainder of their lives, and is likely to require some level of supervision and treatment over a long period of time such as diabetes, cancel IV, diabetes, chronic heart disease, epilepsy.

Mental health condition

A wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior, such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Reasonable Adjustments

Changes for disabled people to make it easier for them to access education and work. The Equality Act requires an Awarding Body to make reasonable adjustments where a disabled person would be at a substantial disadvantage in undertaking an assessment.

A reasonable adjustment for a particular person may be unique to that individual and may not be included in the list of available Access Arrangements.

SENPA (Special Educational Needs Personal Advisors)

Support for young people transferring between school and college/post 16 provision. IAS (Information, advice and support) services have a duty to provide information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SEN, and their parents. They are statutory services which means there has to be one in every local authority.

Student Finance

Provides financial support and advice on behalf of the UK Government to students from England entering higher education in the UK.  Applications for Disabled Students’ Allowance are made through Student Finance.

Study programme

A flexible college programme that is responsive to the aspirations of a young person, aged 16 – 19, and up to 25 years for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. Includes Maths, English and work experience unless assessed as not appropriate for a young person.

Supported Internship

A supported internship is one type of study programme specifically aimed at young people aged 16 to 24 who have a statement of special educational needs or an EHC plan who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so.

Supported internships are based primarily at an employer and are intended to help young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to achieve sustainable, paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace. Internships normally last for a year and include unpaid work placements of at least six months.

UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service)

A UK-based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at British universities. It also provides information, advice, and admissions services to facilitate educational progression.