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What are Special Educational Needs?

A child may have special educational needs (SEN) if he or she has a problem which makes it more difficult for them to learn than other children of the same age. This may result in additional support being provided in school over and above that usually provided from the schools resources for children of the same age.

The law says that a child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty and needs special help.

A child has learning difficulties if he or she finds it harder to learn than most children of the same age, or if he or she has a disability which could make it difficult to access education.

Some examples learning difficulties could be:

  • difficulties reading, writing, mathematics, speech
  • emotional or behavioural problems
  • a medical or health problem
  • physical disability
  • problems with sight or hearing

You may notice your child's problems yourself, or a doctor, health visitor or clinic may notice them before your child starts school. Alternatively your child's school may notice them.

If a child has a difficulty or disability which makes learning harder for them than for other children their age, then they are usually identified as having Special Educational Needs or SEN.

SEN covers a broad spectrum of difficulty or disability - children may have wide-ranging or specific problems.

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