Special educational needs (known as SEN) are those needs or challenges that affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. There might be lots of ways those needs can affect learning.

SEN is a legally defined term. Meeting the definition of having SEN, or where there is evidence a child or young person may have SEN, opens up legal rights and protections under SEN law.

When looking at whether a child or young person has (or may have) SEN, we need to ask two questions. If both are answered “yes”, then the child or young person is defined in law as having SEN.

  1. Does the child or young person have at least one of the following: 
  • a learning difficulty, and/or
  • disability and:
    • this disability makes it difficult for them to use the facilities normally provided for others of the same age in mainstream school or college, or
    • for those under compulsory school age, such an effect is likely when they reach that age, or would be likely if no special educational provision is made for them? 

If no, they do not have SEN.

If yes, next we ask: 

  1. Does that learning difficulty or disability require special educational provision to be put in place? 

If no, they do not have SEN.

If yes, they do have SEN.

You can find out more about SEN on our website.