What are Special Educational Needs?

  • Wales

    The following Law will still apply in Wales post September 2014.

    In England, the Children and Families Act 2014, introduces the Education, Health and social care plan EHCP. The following law however, shall still apply to England cases in which a child holds a statement until such time as the statement is converted into an EHCP.

    s.312 of the Education Act 1996 defines the circumstances arising when a child has learning difficulties, which require special educational provision to be made. Special Educational Needs arise if: (The definition is very similar under the Children and Families Act 2014) 

    • A child has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age.
    • A child has a disability, which affects that child from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the Local Education Authority.
    • The child is under the age of five years and is or would be if special educational support were not made, likely to fall within the above categories when over the age of five.

    The Education Act 1996 allows for more detailed Guidance to be produced and that guidance is contained in the Special Educational Needs Cope of Practice in England (issued in November 2001). In Wales the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales (issued in April 2002) is the relevant guidance. It must be stressed that the legislative procedure in regard to special Education needs is a complex and detailed process, which involves the LEA throughout and so we would strongly recommend seeking appropriate legal advice at an early stage. We are able to advise you on all aspects of special Education needs, your rights, and the best solution to meet your child’s needs.

    A new code of practice will apply to England cases. Remember that when producing an EHCP the local authority will have to take into account the assessments undertaken by both health and social services. A holistic view is necessary.

    Some conditions that may require SEN recognition and provision

    Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia, ASD (Autism), Language Difficulty, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Fragile X, CP , and many more. Remember, if your child is still struggling in school despite support being put in place, and you are worried that your child is still not making progress, you should speak to one of our SEN legal specialists.

  • England

    The definition of the phrase ‘special educational needs’ can be found in Sections 20 and 21 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (definition remains the same as previously set out in Section 312 Education Act 1996 ). The Law defines ‘special educational needs’ as:

    1. a learning difficulty
    2. Which requires special educational provision.

    Learning difficulty

    A child has a learning difficulty if they:

    1. Have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children in their age group; or
    2. Have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of a local authority; or
    3. Are under compulsory school age and fall within definitions (a) or (b), or would do if they were not receiving special educational provision.

    Special Educational Provision

    The phrase ‘special educational provision’ means:

    1. For a child aged two or over: educational provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children of the same age in schools maintained by the local authority – other than special schools – in the area.
    2. For children under two years old: educational provision of any kind.
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