Special educational needs

What ‘special educational needs’ means

The term ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age.

Many children will have SEN of some kind at some time during their education. Help will usually be provided in their ordinary, mainstream early education setting or school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists.

If you have special educational needs, you may need extra help in a range of areas, for example:

  • schoolwork
  • reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • expressing yourself or understanding what others are saying
  • making friends or relating to adults
  • behaving properly in school
  • organising yourself
  • some kind of sensory or physical needs which may affect them in school

Your progress at school

Children and Young People make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. When planning lessons based around the National Curriculum, your  teacher will take account of this by looking carefully at how they organise their lessons, classroom, books and materials.

The teacher will then choose suitable ways to help you learn from a range of activities.

If you are making slower progress or having particular difficulties in one area, you may be given extra help or different lessons to help you succeed.

Just because you are making slower progress than you expected or the teachers are providing different support, help or activities in class, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have SEN.

Getting help

If you have any worries of your own, you should ask for help and advice straightaway.

You parent ot guardian should first go to your class teacher, the SENCO (the person in the school who is responsible for coordinating help for children with special educational needs) or the headteacher.

Your parent or guardian could ask them if:

  • the school thinks you are having difficulties and/or has SEN
  • you are able to work at the same level as young people of the same age
  • you are already getting extra help
  • if they can help you at home

If your school agrees that you have SEN in some areas, they will adopt a step-by-step approach to meeting these needs.

Special educational needs: basic principles

There are a number of basic principles that all those involved in your  education will consider. When talking to your  teachers, there are some basic points to bear in mind:

  • if you have SEN your needs should be met and you should receive a broad, well-balanced and relevant education
  • your parents views should always be taken into account and your wishes should be listened to
  • your needs will usually be met in a mainstream school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists
  • your parents should be consulted on all the decisions that affect you
  • your parents have a vital role to play in your education
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