Resources‎ > ‎



Academies are all-ability, state-funded, schools or colleges established and managed by sponsors from a wide range of backgrounds, including high performing schools and colleges, universities, individual philanthropists, businesses, the voluntary sector, and the faith communities. Some are established educational providers, and all of them bring a record of success in other enterprises which they are able to apply to their Academies in partnership with experienced school managers.

Acquired difficulty

Difficulty that arises after birth as a results of an illness, accident or incident.


The production of sounds that make up speech


Collecting information to make informed decisions and can include formal assessment using standardised tests and informal assessment which uses knowledge of the child gained through observation, questionnaires and interviews. Diagnostic Assessment consists of collating information from a range of sources and making decisions as to why a child may be experiencing difficulties. Once the cause of the difficulties are diagnosed, adequate intervention can be applied.


Short term crisis phase of an illness

Augmentative and alternative communication

Methods of communication that supplement or replace speech and handwriting with signs, symbols and/or voice output communication aids.


Term used to describe the process of thought for processing information, applying knowledge and changing preferences.

Co-occurring Difficulties

More than one difficulty which occur together, which are not necessarily associated.


The ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from explicit instruction in this area.

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)

Also known as dyspraxia,  is a severe motor co-ordination disorder which affects fine control in the form of handwriting, self-help skills, manual dexterity, and gross motor development in the form of cycling, kicking a ball, skipping and so on. Individuals may also experience poor balance and poor self-perception.


The Equality Act (2010) defines a disability as someone who has an impairment, whether physical, medical or mental which is:

‘substantial’  - more than minor or trivial - eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed

‘long-term’ - 12 months or more - eg a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

Disability Living Allowance

This is a benefit paid by the government for people including children with disabilities or long-term conditions.

Disability Rights Commission

Independent body set up to advance civil rights for disabled people

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

A government funded benefit for higher education student (Post 18) who are experiencing substantial difficulties which would affect their ability to access higher level qualifications. Difficulties such as slow processing, reading or writing speeds, language comprehension difficulties and difficulties associated with dyslexia may all qualify for DSA.


This is a deviance or difference in development as opposed to developmental delay which is developing normally but a step behind the individual’s peer group.


This is a speech disorder where the muscles that affect speech and breath control are weak and slow. The condition is a direct result of neurological impairment which control the muscles of the speech organs. It affects speech production through articulation as the speech sounds slurred and indistinct.


Difficulty in acquiring mathematical skills and knowledge including  the development of basic number sense and concepts development. Individuals often lack an intuitive grasp of number and have problems learning number facts and procedures.


Usually applied to stammers or stutter. It is where speaking is impaired by involuntary repetitions or pauses.


A disturbance or failure in the functioning of a body part or organ.


A learning difficulty which primarily affects the skills involved in reading, writing and/or spelling due to neurological impairment. It is associated with auditory and phonological processing, phonological awareness and phonological memory. It occurs across all abilities.

Dysphasia (or aphasia)

This is a condition which results from impairment to the brain. It is an impaired ability to understand or use spoken word. It is a dysfunction of the link between thought and language and affects spoken, written and symbolic communication. It may also be referred to as acquired brain injury.


This is a voice characterised by either a high pitch, volume or resonance or a voice quality which is inappropriate for the age or gender of the speaker.


A developmental disorder which affects the movement and co-ordination of the individual. It can affect the development of daily living skills such as dressing, writing and can affect speech as the individual has impaired fine motor control of the speech organs. This is often termed verbal dyspraxia.

Education, Health Care Plan
Outlined in the SEN Code of Practice (2014), replace Statements of SEN for pupils with high level needs; provides a statutory obligation to provide the intervention outlined within the plan, and covers the individual's needs from birth (or when first identified) to 25 years.
Educational Psychologist

Professionals with specialist qualifications who advise schools and LAs on aspects relating to SEN and behavioural difficulties. They assess for statutory assessment for a statement of SEN.

Expressive difficulties

Difficulty conveying thoughts and messages through language.


Being able to deliver information quickly, efficiently and accurately.


The most common form of inheritable learning disability which is easily identifiable due to the chromosomal abnormality on the tip of chromosome X.

Global Developmental Delay

General developmental delay characterised by delayed milestones in many areas such as speech, movement and cognition.

Grammatical Structures

The system of rules governing a language.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An individual document which is tailored to the specific needs of a child and is reviewed regularly. It sets out targets for specific areas of development and suggested intervention techniques to enable the successful achievement of these targets.

Information Report

Legal requirement upon every setting to provide information relating to provision available for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. It is aimed at providing parents with essential information to make an informed decision regarding the suitability of the setting for their child. 


The changing pitch, pace and volume of sound to convey meaning in spoken language.

Language Delay

Usually used to describe a situation where the child has specific difficulties in the development of language where all other skills are developing at the normal developmental rate.

Learning Difficulty

A general term used to describe a wide range of problems experienced by children who find it significantly harder to learn than other children the same age. It can be used to describe difficulties in learning, memory, concentration, behaviour, reading, number work or speech and language.

Learning Disability

Is a lifelong condition and is the most common form of childhood impairment with 1 in 20 having a learning disability of some kind. It encompasses any development which is significantly behind the expected level for their age.  LD may occur on its own or may co-occur with other difficulties or medical conditions such as epilepsy. For some children there is a genetic basis for the LD e.g. Down’s Syndrome. However, for a significant number of children the causes are never known.

Local Authority (LA)

Local government use devolved national budgets to provide local services such as education and social care. They devolve most of the education budget to schools’ but hold back a proportion for maintaining support services and providing for children with more complex needs and full statements of SEN.

Local Offer
Every educational setting and Local Authority is required by law to provide an overview of their services, published on the providers website, enabling parents and carers to view the level of provision available within a given area.


This is the ability to evaluate and understand what the individual actually knows and understands. It is a knowledge of oneself, knowing what you know.

Moderate Learning Difficulties

General difficulties in learning demonstrated to be within the below average range (Below standard score 70, percentile ranking 2%)

Multi-disciplinary Assessment

This is the assessment carried out by a range of professionals of different disciplines to provide a holistic and complete overview of the individual’s areas of development, strengths and difficulties. It is an essential feature of the statutory assessment process.

Multi-sensory impairments

This is the term used to describe individuals with impairments in both hearing and vision. Other difficulties or impairments may also be experienced in certain rare medical or genetic conditions.

Non-Verbal Ability

This is the ability to interpret information which is presented in a non-verbal format such as through diagrams, patterns and so on. It is a useful measure for determining underlying ability in individuals with language and communication difficulties.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

A health professional specialising in difficulties which affect daily living skills. They help with therapy/intervention programmes, environmental adaptations and specialist equipment.

The regulatory government department for inspecting schools' performance nationally.
Oral Expression

Ability to express oneself through words.


Doctor specialising in working with children.


Speech sounds; systematic phonics is one approach to reading instruction that teaches students the principles of letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and provides exceptions to the principles.


The range of sounds that are used for speech.

Phonological Awareness/Difficulties

Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds in words. It is a foundation skill for reading and spelling development. Phonological Difficulty is a difficulty in selecting, creating, discriminating or using correct speech sounds when speaking. This may affect the development of Literacy skills such as reading and spelling.


A health professional who specialises in the physical and motor development of individuals.

Pragmatic Difficulties

Difficulty using language and in understanding meaning and context. An individual with a pragmatic difficulty may not understand other people’s language, may interpret it literally and may use inappropriate language within different situations, not understanding the contextualised nature of language.

Primary Difficulty

This is the most predominantly presenting feature or difficulty and may result in secondary difficulties or may be a result of a underlying or hidden difficulty.

Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

General learning Difficulties with a  substantial delay in ability resulting in the need for intensive specialist support and instruction. Indicated through assessment which results in a developmental age well within the lowest 1 percentile.

A prediction of what is likely to happen following an injury, disease or other diagnosed condition.

Provision Map

The SENCO within a setting is responsible for ensuring each child on the SEN register is adequately supported. In order to manage provision appropriately, many SENCOs make use of a Provision Map which lists the range of provision available and the children who are in receipt of it.

P Scales

Used to measure the attainment of school-aged students who are achieving at a level BELOW level 1 of the National Curriculum. They provide a measure of the early developmental stages of a child and enable tracking of progress to be made.

Psychometric assessment

A test which assesses hidden and behavioural traits such as knowledge, abilities, attitudes and personality, cognitive and emotional functioning.


A cognitive process which looks for reasons, deductions, beliefs, conclusions and feelings. For the purposes of assessment, how individuals reason and their ability to be able to reason is assessed.

Receptive Language Difficulty

This is a difficulty in understanding spoken language.


Tending to revert to an earlier stage of development.

Secondary Difficulty

This is where a Primary difficulty causes the effect of a consequential difficulty, particularly if unredressed. For instance, a student may experience Literacy difficulties (Primary difficulty) which causes them to become anxious (secondary difficulty). A secondary speech and language difficulty is associated with other conditions or learning difficulties that may be experienced.

Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder

A difficulty in understanding how new information fits in with what is already known, and in making sense of spoken language. Difficulty in understanding or using language makes it difficult to use previous experience to solve problems or to predict what might happen in different situations. Individuals may not understand non-verbal cue, innuendo and may take language very literally.

SEN Code of Practice 2014

Government guidance enshrined in law through the Children and Families Act 2014, for all maintained schools and colleges to adhere to it sets out the expected policies and procedures which are regulated through Ofsted.

Sensory Defensiveness

This is a is a condition defined as having "a tendency to react negatively or with alarm to sensory input which is generally considered harmless or non-irritating" to normally developing individual.

It is not uncommon for individuals to have a few mild sensory defensive traits. However, when multiple defensive traits impact the person's day-to-day life, that person is considered to be Sensory Defensive.

Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory integration is the ability to organise sensory information for use by the brain. An individual with Sensory Integration Dysfunction will have a difficulty in organising and interpreting information as it is received by the brain from the individual senses. Sensory Integration Therapy is used by Occupational Therapists to stimulate and integrate more than one of the senses through special intervention programmes. Interventions include activities such as spinning, sensory stimulation or applying firm or deep pressure.

Sensorimotor Development

This is the development of the brain which leads to the integration and co-ordination of sensory information leading to an appropriate motor response. Sensorimotor development theory was pioneered by Jean Piaget who determined that sensorimotor development played a key role in the development of cognition.

SEN Tribunal

The board which parents can refer to if they are dissatisfied with their child’s provision or the statement of SEN. They have a right to appeal at an independent tribunal if they disagree with the decision of the LA not to issue a Statement of SEN.

Short-term Memory

Capacity for holding a small amount of information in an active and readily available state for a short period of time. The capacity of the short-term memory is said to be 7 units of information +/- 2 units and can be held for just a few seconds, and it can be easily diverted by external factors.

Special Educational Needs

Term used to describe children and young people in need of additional or different support within an educational setting.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2002

Brought the DDA 1995 into education and linked it into the SEN Code of Practice (2001)

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

All schools and early years settings must employ a qualified teacher to work as the SENCO, co-ordinating the SEN provision within the setting. Since 2009, all new SENCOs within qualifying Schools and Colleges must either hold, or study towards a National SENCO Award - a post-graduate qualification which takes 12 months to complete.

Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

A term used to describe language difficulties with comprehension and/or expression. Usually used when a child’s language falls well behind children of the same age or when the language development is disordered or different.

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)

A specific difficulty in a specific area such as Literacy or Numeracy. Dyslexia is often used interchangeably with SpLD. The difficulty is life-long and persists despite appropriate teaching and support.

Speech and Language Delay

A child with a speech and language delay develops speech and language normally, but at a slower rate than normal development. They tend to use language in a way that a younger child would use it.

Speech and Language Therapist

A professional specialising in communication development and difficulty, also specialises in eating difficulties and swallowing.

Speech, Language and Communication Needs

A general term used to describe a range of specific problems some children and young people experience when acquiring language.

Speech and Language Disorder

A term used to describe the development of speech and/or language that is developing in a different way to the normally expected pattern of development.

Statutory Assessment

Detailed assessment required for a Statement of SEN/EHC Plan to be issued by the LA. This is a statutory requirement and involves a multidisciplinary approach to assessment and diagnosis. There is a right of appeal to any decision made by the Statutory Assessment. Parents can request a Statutory Assessment from the LA under 7.21 of the SEN Code of Practice. If the LA refuse, parents have a right of appeal to an independent Tribunal.

Statement of Special Educational Needs/Educational Health Care Plan

The highest level of support provided through the Local Authority. It is a legally binding document which is reviewed annually. It is based upon detailed analysis and diagnosis of need and often enables children to access specialist provision and special schools. It outlines the difficulties in learning and the specialist provision required and places a statutory duty upon Local Authorities to provide it. All Statements of SEN are in the process of being revised into Education Health and Care Plan.

Verbal Memory

This is the ability to retain an ordered sequence of verbal material for a short period of time.

Verbal Processing Speed

This is the time taken to process familiar verbal information such as letters and digits.

Visuospatial processing

Ability to understand visual representations and their spatial relationships. For instance, an individual may be able to match a 3D object with another 3D object, but may have difficulty in interpreting a 2D representation of a 3D object. They may also have difficulty in interpreting the 3D object from a different position or angle.

Visual Stress

This is a term used to describe the experience of eye strain, difficulty in focussing, headaches and illusions of colour or movement in written text.

Visually Impaired

Any disability associated with vision.

Visual-motor perceptual skills

Ability to process information visually and make an appropriate motor (movement) response.

Wave One Teaching

Often referred to as Quality First Teaching. This is the universal education, which is delivered through whole class with differentiation to allow for individual differences in ability and learning styles. It can also involve in-class support through the form of a Teaching Assistant.

Wave Two

Children who are identified as in need of additional support, may be offered small group work. They may have gaps in their knowledge or may have missed a number of lessons and need opportunities to catch up with their peers, or they may take longer to assimilate information. They may be included on the SEN register at School Action Plus and are generally speaking one-two years behind their normally developing peers.

Wave Three

Wave Three intervention approaches refers to a higher level of support when children are still struggling to maintain the level of their peer group. They may be two or more years behind. They are usually entered onto the SEN register and receive specialist additional support in the form of small group or one-to-one support. This may be through a Specialist Teacher or a TA.

Working Memory

This is the memory used to hold temporarily, process, manipulate and retrieve information. It is the executive and attentional aspect of short-term memory.


AAC                       Alternative and Augmentative Communication

ACPC                     Area Child protection Committee

ADD                       Attention deficit disorder

ADHD                    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

AfL                         Assessment for Learning

AEN                       Additional Educational needs

AMBDA                Associate Member of British Dyslexia Association

AQA                       Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (Exams Board)

ASD                        Autistic Spectrum Disorder

BESD                      Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties

BEST                      Behaviour and Education Support Team

BDA                       British Dyslexia Association

BIP                         Behaviour Improvement Programme

BSU                        Behaviour Support Unit

BSP                        Behaviour Support Plan

BSS                         Behaviour Support Service

BVPI                      Best Value Performance Indicator

CAF                        Common Assessment Framework

CAFTS                   Child and Family Therapy Service

CALDAT                Children and Adolescent Learning Disability Team

CAMHS                 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

CD                          Conduct Disorders

CDC                        Child Development Centre

Centre                  Setting authorised for delivering public exams

CF                           Cystic Fibrosis

CFS                         Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic                  Continuing for a long time

CFS                         Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Clinical                 Direct health care

CMHT                   Community Mental Health Team

CoP                        Code of Practice

CP                           Cerebral Palsy

CQC                        Care Quality Commission

DAMP                   Deficit in Attention, Motor Control and Perception

DCD                       Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

DDA                       Disability Discrimination Act

DED                        Disability Equality Duty

DLA                        Disability Living Allowance

DRC                        Disability Rights Commission

DS                           Downs Syndrome

EAL                         English as an Additional Language

EHCP                      Educational and Health Care Plan

EP                           Educational Psychologist

EWO                      Education Welfare Officer

EYDCP                   Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership

FSW                       Family Support Worker

GCSE                     General Certificate of Secondary Education

GMC                      General Medical Council

HI                           Hearing Impairment

HMI                       Her Majesty’s Inspectorate

IDP                         Inclusion Development Programme

IEP                          Individual Education Plan

ILP                          individual Learning Plan

INSET                    In-Service Training. Continuous Professional Development for Teacher (CPD)

JCQ                        Joint Council of Qualifications - regulatory body for external examinations

KS1                         Key Stage One  Years 1-2 (age 5-7)

KS2                         Key Stage 2         Years 3-6 (age 7-11)

KS3                         Key Stage 3         Years 7-9 (age 11-14)

KS4                         Key Stage 4 Years 10-11 (age 14-16) GCSE phase

LA                           Local Authority

LAC                        Looked After Children

LD                           Learning disability         

LSA                         Learning Support Assistant

LSC                         Learning and Skills Council

MDA                      Multi-disciplinary Assessment

ME                         Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

MLD                       Moderate Learning Difficulties

MND                     Motor  Neurone Disease

MSI                        Multi-Sensory Impairment

NEET                      Not in Education Employment or training

NQT                       Newly Qualified Teacher

NVQ                      National Vocational Qualification

OCD                       Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

ODD                       Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Ofsted                  Office for Standards in Education

OT                          Occupational Therapist

PCT                        Primary Care Trust

PD                          Physical Disabilities/Difficulties

PDA                        Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome

PMD                      Physical and Medical Disabilities

PMLD                    Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

PT                           Physiotherapist

QDCA                    Qualifications Development and Curriculum Authority

SALT                      Speech and Language Therapist

SEMH                      Social, Emotional and Mental Health

SEN                        Special Educational Needs

SENDA                  Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2002)

SENCO                  Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator

SLCN                      Speech, Language and Communication Needs

SLD                         Severe learning Difficulties

SLI                          specific Language Impairment

SPD                        Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

SpLD                      Specific Learning Difficulties

TA                           Teaching Assistant

TDA                        Teaching and Development Agency

VI                            Visually Impaired

Back to the top