SEN Jargon Buster

Definitions of terms relating to special educational needs

Annual Review:

the process of ensuring that a Statement of Special Educational Needs continues to describe the child’s needs and how they should be met through a meeting held once each year.


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.

Assistant Education Officer (AEO):

a local authority officer who, in addition to supporting the education officer has responsibility for SEN casework. What are they called in Berks


a person who is looking after a child but isn’t their birth parent.

Code of Practice:

a government document that schools, early years settings and local authorities follow when identifying children with SEN and meeting their needs.

Connexions Service:

a service providing a single point of contact for all 13-19 year olds to help them prepare for the transition to work and to adult life.

Connexions Personal Adviser (PA):

a person who works for Connexions and provides information, advice and guidance for 13-19 year olds when and where needed. If a young person has a Statement of Special

Educational Needs, a Connexions PA should attend their annual review when they are in year 9 to draw up their transition plan.

The Department for Education (DfE):

the government department with responsibility for infant, primary and secondary education


the way in which the early years setting/school’s curriculum and teaching methods are adapted to meet the needs of a child.

Disagreement resolution (mediation):

arrangements which all local authorities must provide to help prevent or resolve disagreements between parents/carers whose children have SEN and the local authority or school.

These must include an independent service with trained mediators, designed to bring the different parties together in an informal way to try to resolve the disagreement through discussion. In Portsmouth this service is called Global Mediation and you can contact them by telephoning 020 8441 1355

Early Years:

birth to five years.

Early Years Action:

collecting information about a child (0-5) who has special educational needs and requires help which is different from that provided as part of the usual curriculum, and designing a programme (often called an Individual Education Plan or IEP) for them. The programme will be drawn up by the early years practitioner/teacher who works with the child and the SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO)

Early Years Action Plus:

seeking advice or support from external specialist services for a child who cannot progress adequately on Early Years Action, and drawing up a new or revised programme to that provided at Early Years Action.

Early Years education settings:

all pre-school education provision, such as nursery classes and schools, day nurseries, playgroups, childminders and portage services.

Early Years Foundation Stage:

the framework which sets out standards and provides a flexible approach which supports learning and development until the end of year at school

Educational Psychologist (EP):

a professional employed by the local authority to assess a child’s Special Educational Needs and to give advice to schools and settings as to how the child’s needs can be met

Education Officer (EO):

an officer of the local authority dealing with provision and placement of children with special educational needs, particularly those with a Statement or undergoing Statutory Assessment. See also Named Local Authority Officer and Assistant Education Officer  - is this what they are called in Berks?

Educational Welfare Officer (EWO):

an officer of the local authority dealing with young people who have irregular attendance or frequent absence from school. EWOs look at reasons for attendance problems and work with teams from Social Care to identify and support children involved in child protection procedures do they still exist in Berks and what are they called

Further Education (FE):

full or part-time education for people over compulsory school age which does not take place in a school or university.

Graduated approach:

a model which recognises that children may need different levels of support at different stages in their early years or school lives 

Individual Education Plan:

a plan written by an early years practitioner/teacher/SENCO, outlining the way the child’s needs are being met, and setting SMART targets.

Independent Parental Supporter:

someone who can give support to parents/carers, for example, by going to meetings, encouraging parents to get involved and helping them to understand systems related to special educational needs. In Portsmouth IPSs are volunteers, trained by the ask Portsmouth Parent Partnership Service

Key Stages:

the different stages of education that a child passes through:

Early Years Foundation Stage – age 0-5 (Early years setting,

Nursery and Reception);

Key Stage one – age 5-7 (Years 1 and 2);

Key Stage two – age 7-11(Years 3,4, 5 and 6);

Key Stage three – age 11-14 (Years 7, 8 and 9);

Key Stage four – age 14-16 (Years 10 and 11);

Key Stage five – age 16-18 (Sixth form)

Learning difficulties:

problems or conditions which make learning harder for the individual than it is for most people

Local Inclusion Support Meeting (LISM)

an individual planning meeting to help identify appropriate networks and plan for a child’s present and future needs in the Early Years, involving professionals and parents working together at a local level.

Local authority (LA):

a local government body that is responsible for providing education. For children with special educational needs the LA is responsible for carrying out Statutory Assessments and maintaining Statements

Mainstream school:

an ordinary school which is for all children, not just those with special educational needs.

Maintained school:

a state school. This includes community, foundation and voluntary aided schools.

Named LA Officer:

the person from the local authority who will deal with a child’s case. This is the person that parents/carers and schools contact with specific queries about a child’s Statutory Assessment or

Statement of Special Educational Needs. See also Education Officer and Assistant Education Officer. 

National Curriculum:

the framework which sets out standards and appropriate levels of achievement for children’s education, as laid down by the DfE

Note in Lieu:

a document which the Local Authority may produce following Statutory Assessment. It describes a child’s special educational needs, explains why a Statement is not needed and sets out

what help should be provided to support the child. The local authority will ask for the parent/carer’s agreement before sending this document to professionals, including the child’s school.

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

Paediatrician (community):

a doctor who specialises in children’s diseases and may be responsible for the continuing care of children with special educational needs both before school entry and in special and mainstream schools.

Parent Partnership Service:

a statutory service which provides information and support to parents/carers whose children have special educational needs.

Pastoral Support Plan (PSP):

a plan drawn up by a school to support a child at serious risk of disaffection or exclusion. If a PSP is being written for a child who has special educational needs it should not replace their

Individual Education Plan.

‘P’ Levels:

performance levels used to assess a child who is not yet working within the National Curriculum levels of attainment.


the extra or different help given to children with special educational needs.

Provision mapping: 

a way of identifying the range of provision available to all pupils in a school, which is additional to and different from the school’s differentiated curriculum. It can be used as part of the planning

process for a child with additional needs.


home-based educational support for pre-school children with special educational needs.

School Action:

collecting information about a child who has special educational needs and requires help which is different from that provided as part of the usual curriculum, and designing a programme

(often called an Individual Education Plan or IEP) for them. The programme will be designed by teachers who work with the child and the SENCO.

School Action Plus:

seeking advice or support from external specialist services for a child who cannot progress adequately on School Action, and drawing up a new or revised programme to that provided at School Action

‘SMART’ targets:

targets which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed. This is what targets for individual children should be like. 

Special Educational Needs (SEN):

the needs of children who have a learning difficulty, which means that they require special educational provision to be made for them. Children who have a learning difficulty find it harder to learn than the majority of children of the same age, or they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from accessing the education provided for other children.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO):

the person responsible for the planning of special educational needs within school or early years settings Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

First Tier Tribunal: (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

an independent body that hears appeals against decisions made by the local authority on Statutory Assessments and Statements.

Special School:

a school which is specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with special educational needs.

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD):

learning difficulties in specific areas, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.

Speech & Language Therapist:

a professional trained to give specialist assessments, advice and treatment for children with communication difficulties.

Statement of Special Educational Needs:

a legal document that sets out a child’s needs and the extra help he/she should get.

Statutory Assessment:

a very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs. It includes parental, educational, psychological and medical advice and also the advice of any other professional

involved with the child. It may lead to a Statement of Educational Needs.

Transition plan:

a plan drawn up during the Year 9 Annual Review of a Statement. It should take account of the views of the young person, his/her parents and all the professionals involved with the young person. It must involve the Connexions Personal Adviser. The plan sets out the steps that need to be taken to move from school to adult life.

Abbreviation List

The following list contains abbreviations that you may see written in relation to a child’s Special Educational Needs. Those marked with a * have been explained earlier in this leaflet.

ADD Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

*AEO Assistant Education Officer is this what they are called in Berks?

aPPPS ask Portsmouth Parent Partnership Service

ASD Autistic Spectrum Disorder

ask Advice on Services for Kids

BESD Behavioural, Emotional and Social Development

BSL British Sign Language

*CoP Code of Practice

*DfE Department for Education (government)

DDA Disability Discrimination Act

ENT Ear, Nose and Throat

*EO Education Officer is this what they are called in Berks

EOTAS Education Other Than At School

*EP Educational Psychologist

*EWO Educational Welfare Officer is this what they are called in Berks

*EY Early Years

*FE Further Education

GP General Practitioner (your family doctor)

HI Hearing Impairment

IEP Individual Education Plan

*IPS Independent Parental Supporter

*LA Local Authority

MDSA Mid-Day Supervisory Assistant

MLD Moderate Learning Difficulties

NAS National Autistic Society

*NC National Curriculum

NHS National Health Service

*OT Occupational Therapist

PI Physical Impairment

PMLD Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

PSHE Personal Social and Health Education

*PSP Pastoral Support Plan

*SALT Speech and Language Therapist

SCD Social Communication Disorder

*SEN Special Educational Needs

*SENCO Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator

SLD Severe Learning Difficulties

*SpLD Specific Learning Difficulties

TA Teaching Assistant

TR Transition Review

VI Visual Impairment



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