Related to: Education Absence and Exclusion, Education Attainment, Ill Health and Disability


The Children and Families Act 20141provided for an overhaul of the system for identifying children and young people in England with Special Educational Needs (SEN), assessing their needs and making provision for them.

Under the new system:

  • SEN Support replaced School Action and School Action Plus in schools and Early Years Action and Early Years Action Plus in Early Years settings, such as nurseries and childminders; and
  • Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans replaced Statements of SEN and Learning Disability Assessments (LDAs).  An EHC plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through SEN Support.  These children and young people will be going through a process referred to as 'transition' which involves changing from their statements and LDAs to EHC plans within the new legal framework.  Completing the transition process is a duty on the Local Authority (“LA”) where the child or young person lives.  The LA must have completed this process for children with statements by 1st April 2018.

The revised new SEND Code of Practice came into force on 1st April 2015.2

This revised SEND Code of Practice set out four areas of Special Educational Need (SEN):

  1. Communicating and interacting – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.
  2. Cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy.
  3. Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing.
  4. Sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.

Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.

It is important to note that the definition of SEN has not changed under the new system.

Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability.  A disability is described in law (the Equality Act 20103) 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.

While some children who have SEN may also have a disability, not all children with SEN are defined as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.  Likewise, not all children who are defined as disabled will have SEN.  For example, pupils with severe asthma, arthritis or diabetes may not have special educational needs but will have rights under the Equality Act.

What does the data say?

Bath and North East Somerset's latest SEND Needs Assessment, Data and Performance Review report is available here.