Special Educational Needs (SEN) is a legal term. It describes the needs of a child who has a difficulty or disability which makes learning harder for them than for other children their age.
SEN covers a broad spectrum of difficulty or disability. Children may have wide-ranging or specific problems. E.g. a child might have difficulty with one area of learning, such as letters or numbers. Or they might have problems relating to other children, or to adults.
Having English as a second language is not considered by law to be a SEN.
You know your child better than anyone else; if your child attends a pre-school speak to their teacher or key worker. If your child is already in school (including nursery or pre-school) talk to their teacher. Ask also to speak to the school’s Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), who organises extra help for children with SEN.
Schools are required by law to provide an education for all pupils, regardless of their ability or special needs. All schools should have a SEN/Inclusion policy. If the SENCO and your child’s teacher agree that your child has SEN, the school will probably take a ‘graduated approach’ – this means ‘step-by-step’, as set out in the Code of Practice for SEN. They will offer your child extra support, with the possibility of more support if needed. Whatever the school decides to do, you have the right to be informed and for your views, and your child’s views, to be taken into account.