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SEND Glossary

Is there a term, word or Acronym.  that you need clarification on please use the SEND glossary below.  If you we missed a term, word or Acronym please let us know by emailing 


Academy – a publicly funded school which operates outside of local authority control. The government describes them as independent state-funded schools. Academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers' pay and conditions.

Advice - written reports from parents, teachers and other professionals on a pupil’s special educational needs.

Advocate - an advocate can help you to think about choices and options, to find out information and to make your views known. Advocates are independent and impartial, they will not give you opinions or make judgments. 

Alternative learning provision (ALPS) - Education arranged by the local authority for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education

Annual Review – a meeting that takes place at least once a year to look at the details of a child's Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and to record the child's progress and plan for the year ahead.

Assessment – finding out what a child can and cannot do by observing them at school and sometimes at home and by talking with people who know the child well.

ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder. See Autism

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Read more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on the NHS website

Autism - is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate and interact with others. Read more about Autism on the NHS website

Audiologist - a health professional who specialises in identifying and treating hearing and balance disorders.


Behaviour Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD) - where a child's emotions or behavior are barriers to their learning. See Social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH)

Blue badge – helps you park closer to your destination if you or your passenger are disabled.

British Sign Language (BSL) - a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language. Sign Language is used mainly by people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments.


CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. These services assess and treat children and young people up to the age of 17 with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

Care plan - A record of the health and/or social care services being provided to a child or young person.

Child Development Clinic - where medical assessments are made of children whose development is giving cause for concern.

Children and Families Act 2014 - an Act which changes legislation to ensure children and young people with special education needs get the services and support they need.

Children’s Disability Register – a register of children with disabilities, special or additional needs in a local authority. Used to help plan services to meet the needs of children with disabilities and their families.

Code of Practice (CoP) - the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015. A document designed to help families, schools, local authorities and other organisations make effective decisions regarding children with special educational needs (SEN).

Common Assessment Framework (CAF) – a way of co-ordinating all the teams working for children and families. It includes the parent(s), school and any other professionals involved.

 Conduct disorders - the most common type of mental and behavioural problem in children and young people. They are characterised by repeated and persistent patterns of antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviour, much worse than would normally be expected in a child of that age.

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

CYP - Children and Young People


Day Nursery - childcare and early year’s education for children from birth to pre-school 5 year olds. They are regularly inspected by Ofsted and offer a wide range of activities and combine both care and early year’s education.

Developmental delay - A delay in reaching normal development milestones, for example talking and walking.

Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia) - is a condition affecting physical co-ordination that causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for his or her age, and appear to move clumsily.  Read more about Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia) on the NHS website.

DfE - Department for Education. The government department that is responsible for education and children's services in England.

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) - an allowance for undergraduate or post-graduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things such as special equipment, a note taker or transport costs.

Direct Payments - payments that allow you to choose and buy the services you need yourself, instead of getting them from the council.

Disagreement Resolution - Local authorities must provide access to independent disagreement resolution to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities, schools and other settings about Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) duties and provision.

Disability Access Funding (DAF) - Three and four-year-old children who are in receipt of child Disability Living Allowance and are receiving the free entitlement are eligible for the Disability Access Fund (DAF). The funding is available to help childcare providers make reasonable adjustments at their setting to improve children's access to free early education.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who is under 16 and has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.

Dysarthria (difficulty speaking) - is difficulty speaking caused by brain damage or brain changes later in life. Read more about Dysarthria (difficulty speaking) on the NHS website.

Dyscalculia - a difficulty understanding maths concepts and symbols.

Dyslexia - common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Read more about Dyslexia on the NHS website.

Dysphagia (swallowing problems) - the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Read more about Dysphagia (swallowing problems) on the NHS website. 

Dyspraxia – see Developmental co-ordination disorder

Dystonia - uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle movements (spasms). Read more about Dystonia on the NHS website.


Early Years Provider - a provider of early education places for children under five. This can include state funded and private nurseries, registered childminders and preschool playgroups.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) – a set of standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years’ providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan)   - defined in section 37 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014, it is a plan for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. It identifies the educational, health and social needs of the child or young person and sets out the additional support to meet those needs.

EHC needs assessment - an assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of a child or young person.

Educational Psychologist (EP) - a professional employed to assess a child or young person's special educational needs and to give advice to schools and settings on how the child's needs can be met.


Family Information Service (FIS) - the FIS provides a free and impartial information and signposting service supporting parents and carers of children from birth to 20 (25 with additional needs)

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.

Further Education (FE) - includes further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes. It does not include universities.


Gait - the way in which a child walks.

Gastrostomy - an artificial opening in the stomach to aid feeding and nutritional support

Global development delay (GDD) - when a child takes longer to reach certain development milestones than other children their age. This might include learning to walk or talk, movement skills, learning new things and interacting with others socially and emotionally.

Gross Motor Skills - whole body actions for example, playing games, swimming or riding a bicycle.


Higher education (HE) – university level education.

HI - hearing impairment.


Home authority - this usually means the local authority in which a child or young person is ordinarily resident (and which therefore has the responsibility to the child or young person under the Children and Families Act 2014). 

Hyperactivity - difficulty in concentrating or sitting still for any length of time. Restless, fidgety behaviour, also a child may have sleeping difficulties.

Hypertonia - increased muscle tone.

Hypotonia - decreased muscle tone.


Inclusion - ensuring that all children (with or without disabilities or difficulties in learning) are, where possible, educated together at their local mainstream school.

Independent school - a school that is not maintained by a local authority. 

Independent supporter - provides information and practical support to parents/carers of children with special educational needs.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) - short term targets for achievements set, reviewed and evaluated by the school with parents/child with copies made available to parents.



Key Stages - the different stages of education that a child passes through

  • Early Years Foundation Stage - age 0-5 - Nursery and Reception
  • KS One - age 5-7 - Years 1 & 2
  • KS Two - age 7 - 11 - Years 3, 4, 5 and 6
  • KS Three - age 11 -14 - Years 7, 8 and 9
  • KS Four - age 14 - 16 - Years 10 and 11
  • KS Five - age 16+ - Sixth form or college


Learning Difficulties – when a child has educational abilities which are significantly lower than children of a similar age. Basic reading and number skills are well below average.

Learning Support Assistant (LSA) - non-teaching support staff who work with and support children with special educational needs in the classroom, also sometimes called Teaching Assistant (TA).

Local Authority (LA) – the local government responsible for managing services in your area – Luton Council.

Local Offer - all local authorities are required to publish a 'local offer'. A local offer is intended to provide a central point of information about the provisions available to children with SEN and disabilities in their area.

Looked After Child (LAC) - A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is known as a looked after child. Looked after children are also often referred to as children in care, a term which many children and young people prefer.


Makaton – a system of communication that involves the combined use of manual signs and speech.

Mainstream school - a state school which can meet the needs of most children.

Maintained school - schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.

Mediation - a method of seeking to resolve disagreements by going to an independent mediator. Mediation must be offered to a parent or young person in relation to an EHC Plan. Mediation is not compulsory for the parent or young person but they will need to consider mediation before appealing the education parts of an EHC plan in most cases.


Named local authority officer - an officer of the Children’s Services Department who will deal with your child’s case.

National curriculum - the programmes of study and attainment targets for children's education, for all subjects at all stages.

Nasogastric tube (NG tube) - tube inserted into the stomach via the nose to aid feeding.

Non-maintained special school - a non-profit-making special school which charges fees. Most non-maintained special schools are run by charities or charitable trusts.

Non-verbal skills - skills which do not require spoken or written language but use other ways to communicate, e.g. gesture, facial expression.

Note in lieu of a statement - a document in which the local authority will set out the reasons for its decision not to make a statement after a statutory assessment.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

Occupational Therapist (OT) - a professional trained to give advice on equipment, adaptations and activities to support the learning/social development of people with physical, emotional or behavioural difficulties 

Ofsted - Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This is the body which inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. 

Ophthalmologist - trained doctor with specialist skills in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of the eye.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder  (ODD) – a conduct disorder in younger children which involves arguing (“opposing”) and disobeying (“defying”) the adults who look after them.

Orthotist – a healthcare professional who assesses individuals for and designs specialist braces, splints and footwear.

Orthoptist – a healthcare professional who investigates, diagnoses and treats sight related problems and abnormalities of eye movement and eye position.


PECS -  Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) The Picture Exchange Communication System, also known as PECS, is a form of alternative and augmentative communication in which a child is taught to communicate with an adult by giving them a card with a picture on it. PECS is based on the idea that children who can’t talk or write can be taught to communicate using pictures.

Personal Budget -  All families whose child has an EHC plan will have a right to request a personal budget. The personal budget will allow young people or parents to buy support identified in the plan directly, rather than relying on the local authority. Parents or young people will be given a choice of whether they want to take control of the personal budget by an agency managing the funds on their behalf or by receiving direct payments, where they can purchase and manage the provision themselves Under current proposals, only where an Education, Health and Care Plan is in place will a parent or young people be able to have a personal budget. A personal budget can be requested by a parent or a young person over 16 once the local authority has agreed it will issue an Education, Health and Care Plan or during the annual review process.

PHB - Personal Health Budgets

PCF – Parent Carer Forum



RAG - Red, Amber, Green – colour codes for status of project workstreams/strands of activity. Red usually refers to action needs to be taken due to serious issue/service gap; Amber significant issue/problem present but under control/plan in place to address; Green minor/no issues.

Receptive Language - The ability to understand what is being said.

Resources - The type of facilities and support available in schools.


S139a - If a young person (16-25) has a statement of need and leaves school at 16 and moves into a Further Education establishment a “moving on plan” is created by the LA this can also be called an S139A Learning and Difficulty Assessment

SaLT - Speech and Language Therapy/ist; Assesses children’s speech, language and communication needs.

SEN - Special Educational Needs. Children have special educational needs if they have learning difficulties that requires extra or different help.

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. This SEN Support should take the form of a four part cycle (assess/plan/do/review) through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the child’s needs and what support the child in making good progress and securing good outcomes. This is known as the graduated approach.

SENCO- Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. The teacher responsible for Special Educational Needs within a school.

Sensory Impairment - Partial or complete hearing loss.

SW- Social Worker. A person who will support a family with practical issues such as benefit applications, respite care, household adaptations etc.

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) - General learning abilities in the average range but difficulties in one or more particular areas of learning. Also known as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia.

Special School - A school which is resourced and organised to provide for the education of pupils with an Education, Health & Care Plan who need a high degree of support in the learning situation and in some cases specialist facilities, equipment and teaching.


TBC - To Be Confirmed

ToR- Terms of Reference

Transition-  Movement between different environments, rooms or settings. All transition involves change and it is vital to prepare children, no matter how young they are, for this. When children are prepared for transition they adapt more easily to changes.



VCS- Voluntary and Community Sector

Visual Impairment (VI) - Partial or complete loss of sight.





Orthoptist – a healthcare professional who investigates, diagnoses and treats sight related problems and abnormalities of eye movement and eye position.