Legal requirements – The Education Act (1996)

SEN is a term used to mean Special Educational Needs.

A child is considered as having special educational needs if he/she has a learning difficulty which requires special educational provision (that is provision more than the average child) to be made for him/her.

Many children have learning difficulties, but the important thing is that

  • the learning difficulty must be significantly greater than the majority of others of the same age.
  • the disability prevents or hinders him/her from making use of the facilities provided for other children

SEN children should be educated in a mainstream school provided

  • he/she is being provided with the educational provision he/she needs
  • it will not interfere with the education of others
  • there is efficient use of resources

The Board of Governors should

  • make sure that all SEN pupils receive the education they need
  • make sure all those who are likely to teach him/her should be aware of his/her needs
  • ensure that teachers are aware of the importance of identifying and providing for SEN pupils.

A child in a mainstream school should be taking part in the activities of the school (i.e. The National Curriculum) alongside those who don’t have special needs. This is provided it is consistent with his learning needs, the efficient use of resources and that it doesn’t interfere with the education of others)

In the annual report each school should include information about the arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils, the steps taken to prevent them being treated less favourably than others, and any access facilities provided.

Local authorities have the right to assess a child if they feel there may be a need for a statement in order to provide the appropriate educational provision.

If a statement is made it will give details of the assessment and specify how the needs are to be met. It will also specify the type of school which would be appropriate for the child and unless the parents do so themselves, will make arrangements to place the child. Statements must be reviewed by the local education authority annually.