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What are Special Educational Needs?

From the moment they are born children are developing and learning new skills. They do so at different speeds, and learn in different ways. Some may be slow starters but will usually catch up with other children.

Children have ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN) if they have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age.

Some children may have special educational needs for only a short time, for others it may be for the whole of their education.

Nearly all children with SEN go to an ordinary early years setting or school. The school or setting will organise any extra help they need, including the support of outside specialists if necessary.

Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability. A disability is described in law (the Equality Act 2010) as ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term (a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’ This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.