A guide for parents / carers
Children learn at different speeds and in a variety of ways. There is likely to be a wide range of ability within your child's early years setting or class year group at school. Children have special educational needs if they have learning difficulties which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.
This definition is only a part of the full legal description of special educational needs. If you would like to see a copy of the full legal definition it is in the SEN Code of Practice.
What is a learning difficulty?
Children who have a learning difficulty may find it harder to learn than the majority of children of the same age, or they may have a disability which prevents or hinders them from taking full advantage of the education provided for other children.
Children do not have learning difficulties simply because their first language is not English. However some of these children may also have learning difficulties.
What might my child’s learning difficulty cause problems with?
- reading, writing or number work
- expressing themselves or understanding information
- making friends or relating to adults
- personal organisation
- tasks or activities which depend on sensory or physical skills
The SEN Code of Practice is the guidance that early years settings, schools, local authorities (LAs) and others must follow. It suggests that there are four main areas of special need. These are:
- cognition and learning
- behaviour, emotional and social development
- communication and interaction
- sensory and/or physical needs
Some children have needs in more than one of these areas.
How many children have special educational needs?
About 1 in 5 children are likely to have special educational needs of some kind at some time during their school career. Some children may have special educational needs for a relatively short time; others will have special needs throughout their schooling. Some will have special needs in particular curriculum areas, but others may need help with all, or most aspects of their education.
A small minority of children who have complex needs may require a Statutory Assessment of their needs. For more information go to What is Statutory Assessment
What is special educational provision?
Special educational provision is help given to children with special educational needs, which is additional or different to general provision. Special educational provision takes many different forms. It could include group or individual work, or a personalised learning programme adapted to meet a child’s specific needs. To find our more about how these needs are assessed, and the provision available in Wiltshire, go to Assessment and Provision.
Where can I find out more?
- It is always a good idea to discuss your child’s needs with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or headteacher at your child’s Early Years setting or school
- In addition, the parent partnership service (at ask) provides information and advice about SEN to parents and carers – see contact details below
- Information about specific services provided in Wiltshire can be found in Support Services
- There are many national voluntary organisations in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Guide for Parents and Carers
- There are also many local voluntary organisations and groups listed in the SEN Findit! Directory.
I have further questions - who can I ask?
Email your question about SEN direct to the parent partnership service or see contact details below.
- Children & Young Peoples' Services Partnership
- Findit Directory
- Resolving Disagreement through Wessex Mediation
- Special Educational Needs Code of Practice
- Parent Partnership Service
- SEN Guide for Parents and Carers
These are external/partnership sites which you may find useful. Wiltshire Council is not responsible for their content.
Last updated: 2 October 2013