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What is SEND?

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) 

What are Special Educational Needs (SEN)? Special Educational Needs are referred to as SEN. Special Education Needs and/or disabilities are abbreviated to SEND.

‘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 or disability if he or she:

(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or

(b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.’

SEND Code of Practice 0 to 25 years 2015


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

  • Communication and interaction needs - difficulty in expressing themselves, understanding what others are saying or difficulties socially interacting with others

  • Cognition and learning needs – difficulties in learning or retaining basic skills or a specific difficulty with reading, writing, mathematics or understanding information

  • Social, emotional and mental health needs – difficulties making friends or relating to adults. May be withdrawn, isolated or find regulating their behaviours challenging

  • Sensory and/or physical needs –sensory impairments or difficulties such as those affecting sight or hearing, or physical difficulties which impact on their learning Individual children or young people may have needs that cut across some or all these areas and their needs may change over time.

  • A child or young person may have needs in more than one area of need


What is a disability?

The Equality Act 2010 says that a person has a disability when they have a physical or mental impairment:


Which is substantial and long-term (for over a year), which has an adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.


This definition includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer.


Children and young people with a disability do not necessarily have special educational needs, but there is a significant overlap between disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs.


What should I do if I think my child has Special Educational Needs?

If you are concerned about your child’s progress and think that your child may have special educational needs you should first talk to your child’s class teacher, tutor and/or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

Five Islands Academy has a SENCO, who is the person responsible for coordinating help for children with special educational needs. Colleges also have a named person responsible for the coordination of SEN support and provision, similar to the role of a SENCO.

If you child is under 5 years of age, speak to your Health Visitor or Early Years practitioner for advice and information.

If you still have concerns and want to discuss this with an independent body you can contact Special Educational Needs Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) the service is confidential, independent, impartial and free. 

SENDIASS Cornwall website:  Tel:  01326 331633

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