Skip to content ↓

All things are possible for one who believes – Mark 9:23

What is meant by SENd?

What is meant by Special Educational Needs?

Children with SEN have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than others of the same age. These children may need additional to or different to what is ordinarily available to all children. By itself, having a diagnosis or assessment of a particular condition or learning disability would not automatically lead to a particular form or level of support provision. 

The SEND Code of Practice describes four areas of SEN. Some children may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.


Communication and interaction

Communication and Interaction can encompass a lot of needs and issues that a child may have, including:

  • Difficulties understanding and using verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Understanding social behaviours and expectations, which can impact on a child's ability to interact with other children and adults around them.
  • A reliance on structure and routine in their life.

Communication and Interaction can also include Speech, Language and Communication Needs. Children and young people can experience a range of difficulties that are linked with speech and language, these needs can present themselves in a variety of ways, including:

  • The production of speech.
  • Struggling with finding the right word, or not being able to join words together in a meaningful way.
  • Problems communicating through speech, for example difficulties finding the correct language to express thoughts and ideas that they are having.
  • Difficulties and delays in understanding or responding to verbal cues from others.
  • Understanding and using language in specific social situations.



Cognition and learning

Cognition and learning can cover a range of needs. Children are identified as having cognition and learning needs if they have difficulties with literacy and numeracy (which therefore impacts their ability to access learning across the curriculum), difficulties with organisation and memory skills or if their levels of attainment are significantly below age-related expectations and/or they learn at a slower pace than others their age.

Some children with cognition and learning may have specific learning difficulties such as:

  • dyslexia
  • dyscalculia
  • dyspraxia


Social, emotional and mental health

Children with Social, Emotional, and Mental Emotional Health can display signs of this in a variety of different ways, some may be withdrawn and prefer to be alone, some may have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, whilst others may be hyperactive and find it difficult to when concentrating on tasks.

For some children, they may behave in ways that may impact on their and other children’s learning or have an impact on their health and well-being. For example, they may not be able to follow requests such as to sit still with arms folded or stay quiet during lessons. It is important that children with SEMH needs are able to learn in an environment that suits them, for example, they may need to take regular movement breaks, use fidget items / concentrators, and be given opportunities to move around the classroom or school whilst learning

Children with SEMH needs may have anxiety. This may be reduced by providing clear routines and explanations of what to expect each day. Children with anxiety may also benefit from being provided with a calm space to go to whenever they need it.


Sensory and/or physical

For example, children with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.

Children with sensory processing difficulties may be sensory avoiders, or sensory seekers. This can result in them avoiding certain experiences or becoming anxious or overwhelmed by sensory input. It can also cause children to seek out sensory input.



Children 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, hearing and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy. The Equality Act requires that schools must not directly or indirectly discriminate against disabled children. Schools must also make reasonable adjustments so that disabled children are not disadvantaged compared with other children.