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Littlebourne Church of England Primary School

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How are Special Educational Needs and Disability defined?

Definition of SEN


A child or young person has Special Educational Needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.  


A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty if they:

  1. “Have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age”; or
  2. “Has a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions”.

SEN/D Code of Practice (DfE, 2015: 16)


Definition of disability


Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 – that is’…a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.  This definition provides a relatively low threshold and includes more children than many realise: ‘long-term’ is defined as ‘a year or more’ and ‘substantial’ is defined as ‘more than minor or trivial’”.

SEN/D Code of Practice (DfE, 2015: 16)


Definition of Special Educational Provision


For children aged 2 or over, Special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools”.

SEN/D Code of Practice (DfE, 2015: 16) v