Skip to content
Start improving your work-life balance - try PlanBee for FREE for 7 days
Start improving your work-life balance - try PlanBee for FREE for 7 days


What does SEN stand for in education?

SEN is an acronym for Special Educational Needs.

What does SEN mean?

The term SEN covers a wide range of educational needs. There are four main categories of SEN.

What are the 4 types of SEN?

There are four broad areas of SEN. They are:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties
  • sensory and/or physical needs
A child with a visual impairment touching sensory objects. Providing a range of accessible activities is really important in a classroom.

What does SEND stand for?

The term SEND means Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. SEN and SEND are not the same thing and should not be used interchangeably.

SEND refers to children and adults who have specific disabilities, whether or not they have special educational needs. A child with a disability might also have special educational needs but it is important to remember that this isn’t true for all disabled children.

What is the SEND code of practice?

The SEND Code of Practice was issued in November 2001. It provides guidance and practical advice to LEAs, schools, early education settings and others on how to carry out their duties under the Education Act 1996.

This statutory code contains:

  • details of legal requirements that must be followed without exception
  • statutory guidance that must be followed by law unless there’s a good reason not to

Read the 2014 UK government SEND code of practice for 0 to 25 years publication here.

A child with a physical disability accessing work at home

What is the SEN register?

The SEN Register is an internal school record, that identifies students with Special Educational Needs. If a child is on the SEN register it means they have a special educational need as defined by the 2014 code of practice: 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.

What is a SEN school?

SEN schools are sometimes called special schools or specialist schools. They are schools that have been set up to support children with special needs who need specialist provision that cannot be provided in a mainstream school.

A child in a SEN or special school

What is a SEN provision map?

An SEN provision map is a way of showing the range of provision available to learners throughout the school. It allows schools to monitor, evaluate and plan the development of provision. This tool is designed to help schools to support all learners, increase access for disadvantaged groups, and raise achievement and standards.

What is an EHCP?

An EHCP is an Education Health Care Plan. EHCP identifies educational, health and social needs and sets out the additional support required to meet those needs. The creation of the plan should be made in partnership with the people involved in the child’s life. This includes the professionals working with the children, parents, carers and the child. The EHCP includes decisions about what support a child or young person needs, now and in the future.

What is the EHCP criteria?

There isn’t a simple tick box criteria to prove a child is eligible for an EHCP. For a child to get an EHCP, it needs to be proved that:

  • Their additional needs are holding them back in nursery, school or college, and  
  • The educational setting is unable to provide enough support to meet those needs.  

The local authority will assess whether an EHCP is the right solution.

It is important to support a range of needs within the classroom.

What does an EHCP entitle you to?

An EHCP entitles children to different things depending on their needs. A child with an EHCP might be entitled to:

  • Special education provision in their current school - this could include 1:1 support
  • Therapy such as Speech and Language, OT or physiotherapy
  • A placement in a mainstream school with a special unit or base (this is sometimes called an ARP alternative resource provision)
  • A placement at an SEN, special or specialist school
  • Anything else they need to get the most out of their education, such as home to school transport
  • Health and social workers to help them outside of their education

What is an SEN teacher?

An SEN teacher is a special educational needs teacher who works with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities. This is different to the role of SENDCO. The SENDCO is responsible for special educational needs within a school.  

What does SEN training for teachers entail?

If you're a qualified teacher, you can get extra training to teach students with special educational needs. You can find a course through your local education authority. More information can be found on the government careers website.

FREE 12 Inclusive Classroom Strategies

READ Inclusive Classroom Blog

FREE SEN provision map

FREE SEND Acronyms Glossary

FREE Behaviour Iceberg