Support for children aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

SEND abbreviations and terms

Some of the terms and acronyms used when we talk about Special Educational Needs and DisabilitiesDisabilitiesA physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on an individual’s ability to do normal daily activities. and services for children and young people can be confusing. This list has been put together to explain their meanings.

The Council for Disabled Children also has useful jargon busters.

If you see something that you haven’t come across before and it’s not listed here, let us know by emailing and we’ll add it to this page.

The lists are in alphabetical order. We’ve also included terms that commonly get shortened to abbreviations.

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A to C

Access Arrangements - Access arrangements are special arrangements, or reasonable adjustments, which a small number of students are entitled to in their public exams. The intention is that students can demonstrate their ability in an area without their needs or disability being a barrier. Access arrangements are usually arranged by the school or college.

Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) - The AWPU is the amount of money that every maintained school receives for each pupil that is on the school roll, whether or not they have SEN. The value of the AWPU varies from one local authority to another and according to the age of the pupils.

Alternative Provision (AP) - An AP teaches children and young people who are not able to attend a mainstream school. This could be because they have behavioural difficulties, a short or long-term illness or have been excluded.

Annual Review (AR) - Under the Children and Families Act 2014 local authorities must carry out a review of every Education Health and Care plan at least once every 12 months. If there is a high level of concern this can be brought forward.

Area of Need - Area of Need is the name for the four broad categories used to describe a pupil’s SEND. They are:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical 

BESD – Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties

Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) - CAMHS assess and treats children and young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

Children and Families Act 2014 - The Children and Families Act 2014 became law on 1st September 2014. Part 3 of the Act sets out the new law on SEND. The Act is supported by the SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 Years. You can download a copy here 

Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - A CCG is a group of NHS professionals who are responsible for planning and arranging the delivery of the healthcare provision for people in its area

Code of Practice – guidelines set out by the government that explain the local authority's duties and those of schools, colleges, health services and anyone else who supports children and young people with SEND.

Compulsory school age - A child is of compulsory school age from the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday until the last Friday of June in the year in which they become 16, if their 16th birthday falls before the start of the next school year.

CO - Case Officer 

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D to F

DfE - Department for Education

Direct payment - A payment made directly to a parent or young person to purchase specific services. Under the Children and Families Act 2014 a Direct Payment may be made as part of a Personal Budget so that the parent or young person can buy certain services that are specified in their EHC plan.

Disagreement resolution - Local authorities must provide independent disagreement resolution to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities, schools and other settings about SEND duties and provision. 

Disability – a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Early Help - Early Help is the name of an assessment and offer of support of a family to help identify needs and offer intervention at an early stage.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) - The EYFS begins when children reach the age of three. Many children attend an early education setting soon after their third birthday. The foundation stage continues until the end of the reception year and is consistent with the National Curriculum. It prepares children for learning in Year 1 when programmes of study for Key Stage 1 are taught.

Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) - The initial assessment carried out by the Local Authority, for deciding whether a child or young person needs an Education, Health and Care plan.  Parents and carers, the young person or child and any professionals involved in supporting the child or young person will be asked to contribute.

Education Other Than at School (ETOAS) - ETOAS includes hospital school, online schooling or home tuition. Government guidance states that:  Where full-time education would not be in the best interests of a particular child because of reasons relating to their physical or mental health, Local Authorities should provide part-time education on a basis they consider to be in the child’s best interests.

Education, health and care plan – a legal document created by a local authority that describes a child or young persons (0 to 25 years) education, health and social care needs.

EP - Educational Psychologist

Elective Home Education (EHE) - Elective home education is a term used to describe a choice by parents to provide education for their children at home. A child who is EHE will not be on role at a school. It can be called Home Schooling.

Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) - An Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) is a trained, school-based learning support assistant. Their role is to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils.  They are trained by a team of Educational Psychologists (EPs) and receive ongoing group supervision from EPs. ELSAs work with children and young people either individually or in small groups and deliver bespoke interventions tailored to the presenting situation or need. 

ESW - Educational Social Worker

Family Information Directory (FID) - The BCP Council Family Information Directory has details of childcare, local activities and a range of services for families. BCP FID

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G to J

Graduated approach - The SEND Code of Practice states that schools should follow a graduated approach when providing SEN Support. This is based on a cycle of: Assess, Plan, Do, Review 

Graduated Response Toolkit - BCP Council has 3 Graduated Response Toolkits (Early Years, School Age and Post 16) that were developed with education, heath and care colleagues and parents and carers. They provide guidance regarding identification and support for, different types and levels of need, so that it is consistent across BCP and in line with national expectations. Graduated Response | BCP FID (

Health provision - the type of health care set out in an EHCP. For example: medicine, nursing care and special equipment.

High Needs Top-Up Funding - High needs top-up funding is additional funding paid directly by the local authority for pupils with education, health and care plans.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) - A document that schools can use to outline and monitor the support they provide to a child or young person. It is a non-statutory document meaning that schools can choose if and how they use it. They can also have different names such as; SEND Support Plans, Pupil Passports or One Page Profiles.

IS - Independent Support/Supporter

Independent School - A school that is not maintained by a local authority.  These schools can be mainstream (also called non-maintained, fee-paying or private schools) or specialist independent schools funded through an EHC plan (also called non-maintained specialist schools).

Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS or SENDIAS) - SENDIAS services provide information, advice and support to children and young people with SEN and their parents. They provide impartial advice to help the children, their parents and young people to play an active and informed role in their education and care. Although funded by local authorities, SENDIAS Services are run either at arm’s length from the local authority.

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K to N

Key Stage (KS) - A key stage is a stage of education. They are separated in age as follows:

  • Key Stage 1, 5-7 years old, school years 1 and 2
  • Key Stage 2, 7-11 years old, school years 3 – 6
  • Key Stage 3, 11 – 14 years old, school years 7 - 9
  • Key Stage 4, 14 – 16 years old, school years 10 - 11
  • Key Stage 5, 16 – 18 years old, school years 12 - 13

Looked After Children (LAC) - The term ‘looked after’ refers to children, under 18, who have been provided with care and accommodation by children’s services.

Local Authority/Authorities (LA) - Local authorities are administrative offices that provide services within their local areas. There are 152 across England which are education authorities. 

Local Offer (LO) - The Local Offer, tells you what support is available for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, and their families. It includes information about education, health and care provision. It also gives information about training, employment and independent living for young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole SEND Local Offer - BCP Council

Maintained School - Schools in England that are funded by a local authority including any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.

Mainstream school - This is a school that provides education for all children, whether or not they have special educational needs or disabilities.

Mediation - A form of disagreement resolution for parents and young people considering appealing decisions about EHC needs assessments and plans at the tribunal. It is independent mediation to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities about:

  • a decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • a decision not to draw up an EHC plan
  • the content of a final EHC plan or amended plan
  • a decision not to amend an EHC plan
  • a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan.

It is also provided on the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.

Mediation advice - The purpose of mediation advice is to give information about what mediation involves. Parents or young people who wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) must first seek mediation advice. The advice must be factual and unbiased. After mediation advice has been given the parent or young person can choose whether they wish to go to mediation.

However, it is not necessary to seek mediation advice if the appeal is only about the name of the school, or college named on the plan, the type of provision specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named.

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O to P

Ordinarily Available Provision - The term ‘ordinarily available provision’ comes from the SEND Code of Practice and refers to the support that mainstream schools or settings are expected to provide for a child or young person through their agreed funding and resource arrangements at Universal and SEND Support Levels of the Code of Practice (without the need for an Education, Health and Care Plan).

Outcome - Outcomes describe the difference that will be made to a child or young person as a result of special educational and other provision. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). 

Parent Carer Forum - A Parent Carer Forum is a representative local group of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities, education, health and other providers to make sure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children and families.  

Personal Budget - The SEN Personal Budget is a sum of money that can be used to personalise a child or young person’s learning support and will help meet the outcomes in the EHC plan. This allows young people or their parents and carers to create flexible or specialised learning support.

Performance Levels/Scales (P Levels/Scales) - P Scales or P Levels are sometimes used to assess the progress of children between the ages of 5-14 who have SEND and whose abilities do not yet reach Key Stage Level 1 of the National Curriculum. 

Phase transfer – when a child moves from one phase of their education to another. For example, if they go up a school year or move from an early years setting to school or from school to college.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) - The Picture Exchange Communication System®, or PECS®, allows people with little or no communication abilities to communicate using pictures. Children and young people using PECS are taught to approach another person and give them a picture of a desired item in exchange for that item. By doing so, the person is able to initiate communication, to communicate a request, a thought, or anything that can reasonably be displayed or symbolized on a picture card.

PEIC-D (Promoting Early Interactive Conversations- Dorset) - PEIC-D is a step by step programme that helps young children and children with communication difficulties:

  • Begin to accept the proximity of others in and around their space.
  • Begin to show communicative intent.
  • To naturally begin to take turns in play.
  • To develop understanding and expressive communication.

PMLD – Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

Portage - Portage is home-based educational support for pre-school children with special educational needs. Local authorities usually provide Portage services. Portage Home Visiting Service - BCP Council

Pupil Premium - Maintained schools in England get extra funding from the government to help improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. Schools get pupil premium funding based on the number of pupils they have in January each year who receive free school meals and/or are Looked After and previously Looked After or who have parents in the armed services.

Parental Responsibility (PR) - Parental responsibility is defined under Section 3 (1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children’s property.

Pupil referral unit (PRU) - A school which is specially organised to provide education for pupils who would otherwise not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason. Also called an alternative provision.

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Q to S

Reasonable adjustments - Reasonable adjustments are changes schools and other settings are required to make to enable access to learning for all pupils. This could include changes to physical features – for example, creating a ramp or providing extra resources or adapting a policy.

Resourced or Resource Provision - Resourced provision within mainstream schools are where pupils are either withdrawn to a resource base for specialist input, and / or teachers from the resource base deliver specialist help to the child within the classroom.

SALT - Speech and Language Therapy/Therapist

Section 41 Schools - Section 41 Schools are schools included on the Secretary of State’s Approved List of independent educational institutions, independent special schools and post-16 institutions.

SEMHD - Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) - Special educational needs ‘SEN’ or ‘SEND’ (Special educational needs and disabilities). A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made, namely provision different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age.

Special education provision – extra help related to a child or young person’s education.

SEND Code of Practice - This is the statutory guidance that supports Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

It states what should be done to identify, assess and provide for children and young people with SEN or disabilities.

You can download a full copy of the Code here

You can download a shorter version for parents here 

SEN support – a category of extra help available for children and young people with SEND in education settings (previously called School/early years action and action plus)

Setting – anywhere a child or young person receives education, for example a nursery, childminder or pre-school, school or college.

Social care provision – the help that people get to live at home, or to get about in the community.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENCo/SENDCo) - A SENCO / SENDCo is a qualified teacher in a school or maintained nursery school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEND provision.  

SEND Information Report - All schools must publish on their websites information about their policy and arrangements for supporting children with SEND. This must be kept up to date.

SEND Team - The BCP Statutory SEND Team, are the team responsible for the EHC assessments, plans, reviews and placements.  SEND Statutory Services Team - BCP Council

Signposting - Sometimes a service that provides information, advice and support may be asked for help that it is not able to give directly.

When this happens the person seeking information, advice or support may signposted to other service providers. This means that they will be given information, including contact details, about other sources of help.

SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Special Educational Provision - Special educational provision is any educational or training provision which is extra to or different from what is needed by other children or young people the same age. This covers many different things including communicating through sign language, having worksheets in a larger font, needing one-to-one or small group support.

Some children and young people may need extra help which is not special educational provision such as having medication at school. As this is not support with education or training it would not be classed as special educational provision.   

Special School or specialist setting - A school which is specifically set up to provide education for pupils with SEND.

SPLD - Specific Learning Difficulties

Statement of Special Educational Need - Under the Education Act 1996 local authorities issued Statements of Special Educational Need for children whose needs could not be met through the provision normally made by schools.

The Children and Families Act 2014 replaces Statements with EHC plans.

Statutory guidance - Statutory guidance is guidance that local authorities and other local bodies have a legal duty to follow.

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T to Z

TA – Teaching Assistant

Transition planning - Preparation for moves between schools/ settings, phases of education or for adult life.

Tribunal - The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) is a legal body. The Tribunal hears appeals from parents of children with SEN, and young people with SEN, about EHC needs assessments and EHC plans.

The Tribunal also hears claims of disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. 

Universal Provision - Universal Provision forms the basis for all provision and support in educational settings. It consists of high-quality teaching and making reasonable adjustments. It is based on inclusive approaches to teaching and learning and helps all pupils and especially those with SEND.

Virtual School - The Virtual School and College (VSC) provides a central point of contact for all matters relating to the education of Children in Care (CIC) and Care Experienced Young People (CEYP).

The Virtual School and College also provides advice and guidance to those who are previously looked after. It safeguards and promotes the educational best interests of all Children in Care (CIC) and Care Experienced Young People (CEYP) BCP Council Virtual School and College (VSC) ( 

Young person – for the purposes of SEN law, a young person is anyone over compulsory school age but under the age of 25.

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