Definition of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Some children have Special Educational Needs. This means that he or she has greater difficulty in learning than most other children of about the same age.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) can arise for a number of reasons and may be due to a disability that makes it hard for a child to use the same kind of educational facilities provided for the majority of children. Up to 20% of all children will experience a special educational need of some kind at one time or another. Quite often these can be sorted out when the child is at school or by having some additional intervention before the child goes to school.

A number of children will have long-term and more severe educational needs for example:
  • Learning difficulties in acquiring basic skills.
  • Specific learning difficulties with reading, writing or maths which can mean the child needs a more structured approach to learning.
  • Emotional, behavioural or social difficulties where a child might have difficulty informing relationships and focusing on school work.
  • Speech and language difficulties (impairment) where children have a particular reason for not being able to speak, or a delay in the development of speech and language skills.
  • Visual impairment where children have been born partially sighted or blind or have become so through accidents, illness or a deteriorating condition.
  • Hearing impairment involving significant hearing loss or deafness that can seriously affect speech and the ability to benefit from teaching and communication with others.
  • Physical disability present from birth or arising from illness or injury.
  • Medical or health conditions which may slow down a child's progress.
  • Complex communication difficulties such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Aspergers Syndrome.


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