Key words and abbreviations

Academies were introduced in 2000 as publicly funded independent schools with private or voluntary sector sponsors.  As a result of the Children and Families Act (2014) parents who have a child with an EHC plan are able to express a preference for an academy on the same legal basis as if they were expressing a preference for a maintained mainstream school.  Where a parent has, in the course of expressing their preference at the time a draft EHC plan is issued for their child, named an Academy the Local Authority should name it unless (a) your child's attendance would be incompatible with the efficient education of others and (b) nothing can be done to remove this incompatibility.  However, the LA can name another school on the grounds that it is cheaper.  Often this type of appeal becomes about the cost of transport.


Amending Changing.


Annual Review The review of an EHC plan which the Local Authority is responsible for completing on an annual basis. 


Appeal When you argue against something, often the decision made by the Local Authority about your child's special educational needs.


Criteria (or local policy) The basis for deciding something.  Many Local Authorities have their own local Criteria for decisions who may need a formal EHC (statutory) assessment. These Criteria should be found on the Local Authority's 'Local Offer' website.  However, be aware that 'Criteria' or 'local policies' are a general guide and don't have the force of law.  Your child may have needs that do not appear to match the local Criteria but may still require an EHC assessment.


Decision letter.  The letter sent by the Local Authority to inform parents of the decision the Local Authority has made about their child's special educational needs.  For example, the Local Authority may have made a decision to refuse the parents (or school's) request for their child to have an EHC assessment.  The Decision letter should contain the right of appeal to SENDIST (First-tier Tribunal).


Diffferentiation (or Modification) Differentiation should be made by teachers to enable a child with special educational needs to understand the subject being taught.  


Disapplication Children are normally required to study the subjects in the National Curriculum.  Some children with special educational needs may be 'disapplied' from studying certain subjects.  For example, they may be disapplied from studying a foreign language.


Free schools Free schools are set up by an organisation or a group of individuals.  They are funded by the government but are not controlled by the Local Authority.  Requesting a Free School is the same as requesting a maintained school or Academy.


Educational Psychologist (EP) An Educational Psychologist works with schools to assess children who are experiencing difficulties in pre-school or in school.  They play an important role in the EHC plan process as an EHC assessment requires the Local Authority to obtain a report by an Educational Psychologist.  In some cases, this will be by direct assessment but more recently, the assessment is often an 'observational' assessment whereby the Educational Psychologist will visit the pre-school or school to observe the child and talk to the staff and the parents.   The problem with observational assessments is their limited usefulness in, for example, establishing a child's level of functioning if no standardised assessments are carried out.  Parents are strongly advised, when notified that an Educational Psychology assessment is taking place as part of the EHC assessment process, to make contact  (preferably in writing) with the Educational Psychologist and request a cognitive or diagnostic assessment is undertaken as part of the EHC needs assessment.    Educational Psychologists must be registered with the Health Professionals Council (HPC).  In many Local Authorities, the Educational Psychologists are no longer directly employed by the Local Authority instead being independent practitioners who are then commissioned by a school or a Local Authority.


Local Offer All Local Authorities must produce and publish a Local Offer on their website.  This website must include information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.  For more information about the Local Offer see here.


Occupational therapy is the use of purposeful activity and play to help a child attain maximum levels of functional performance, thus gaining self-esteem and independence.  Motor, sensory, perceptual, social, emotional and self-care skills are assessed.  Working with the child, parents and teachers, occupational therapists use therapeutic techniques (advising on equipment and environment adaptations where appropriate) to improve a child's ability to access the physical and learning curriculum.  Despite being an NHS service, it is often possible to prove, depending on the evidence, that Occupational therapy is required to meet a special educational need. In this type of case, the Occupational therapy input should be specified in Section F of the child's EHC plan.


OFSTED The government department responsible for inspecting schools and other places where children are educational.  The inspectors are called HIMIs (Her Majesty's Inspectors)


Parent The person (not necessarily the biological parent) who has the responsibility of being the parent of a child.


Physiotherapy is a health care profession that emphasises the use of physical approaches in the promotion, maintenance and restoration of an individual's physical, psychological and social well-being.  Following assessment, a treatment plan is developed in partnership with the client/cares:  this plan is constantly evaluated to ensure that it is effective and relevant to the individual's changing circumstances and health status.


Provision The things that are provided - it could be people, time equipment, or anything that is provided to support your child. 


Sen Support is where a child has been identified as requiring additional support for their SEN.  The nursery, school or college must record what SEN has been identified, what outcomes are expected to be achieved and what provision is being in place to enable the child to reach those outcomes in an SEN Support record.  If this does not meet the child or young person's needs, the nursery, school or college should trigger a statutory assessment (for an EHC plan).  For more information about SEN Support see here.


Speech and Language therapy is a health care profession, the role and aim of which is to enable adults and children with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to reach their maximum communication potential and achieve independence in all aspects of life.  In relation to a child who either has, or may require, an EHC plan, because communication is vital to learning.  In the vast majority of cases, the provision of Speech and Language therapy should be specified as a special educational provision in Section F of a child's EHC plan.  Whether the therapy is to be provided in the form of direct therapy or through a programme to be delivered by support staff will depend on the evidence (mainly from the Speech and Language report which should be sought by the Local Authority as part of the EHC assessment in all cases where communication is likely to be an issue).


Special school A school which is specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with special educational needs.  Special schools maintained by the Local Authority comprise of community special schools and foundation special schools.  Section 41 school:  a school that is not maintained by the Local Authority but is registered with the Department for Education as being specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with special educational needs. As a result of the Child and Family Act (2014) a Section 41 school can be named by a parent expressing their parental preference (when a draft EHC plan is issued for their child when Section I must be left blank to enable parents to express their preference for a school) on the same legal basis as a maintained school (mainstream or special).  A child can be placed for no more than two terms in a special school without an EHC plan, if it is for assessment purposes.  After than, an EHC plan must be written if the child is to remain there.


SENCo or SENDCo is a member of staff of a school or early education setting who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision within that school.  In a small school the head teacher or deputy may take on this role.  In larger schools there may be an SEN co-ordinating team.  SENCos or SENDCos are expected to have a SENCo qualification and it is recommended that they should be part of a school's leadership team.  A SENCo must also be working as a teacher at that school.


Statutory means by law.


Statutory assessment An EHC assessment is a statutory assessment which means the Local Authority must follow the law, consult various professionals (and the parents) and complete the process within a certain time scale.


Young person A person over compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn  16).  From this point the right to make decisions about matters covered by the Children and Families Act 2014, including the right of appeal, belongs to the young person directly, rather than to their parents.