Special educational needs acronyms

Our special educational needs (SEN) team have years of experience in providing SEN legal advice at every stage of the SEN process. 

The SEN process can be full of acronyms. This can make understanding it even more difficult. We have compiled here a set of the most common acronyms, with an explanation, to help. Just click on one of the definitions below for more information: 

Applied behavioural analysis (ABA)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Auditory processing disorder (APD)

Annual Review (AR)

Additional Resource(d) Provision (ARP)

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

British Ability Scales (BAS)

Behaviour Support Plan (BSP)

Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG)

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)

Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)

Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA)

Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales (Conners CBRS)

Cerebral palsy (CP)

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

Cystic fibrosis (CF)

Disability discrimination (DD)

Department for Education (DfE)

Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA)

Education Act 1996 (EA)

Education Funding Agency (EFA)

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Educational psychologist (EP)

Educational Psychology Service (EPS)

Education Welfare Officer (EWO)

Early years foundation stage (EYFS)

Further education (FE)

First Tier Tribunal (FTT)

Global developmental delay (GDD)

Higher education (HE)

Hearing impairment (HI)

Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS)

Individual Behaviour Plan (IBP)

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Individual Pupil Profile (IPP)

Judicial review (JR)

Local authority (LA)

Local educational authority (LEA)

Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)

Local Offer (LO)

Learning support assistant  (LSA), teaching assistant (TA) or learning assistant (LA)

Moderate learning difficulties (MLD)

Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)

Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting (PIVATS/P scales)

Profound and multiple learning disability (PMLD)

Parent Partnership (PP)

Pupil Referral Units (PRU)

Physiotherapists (PT)

Speech and Language Therapists (SALT or SLT)

Special educational needs (SEN)

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND or SENDIST)

Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW)

Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)

Upper Tribunal (UT or UTT)

Visual impairment (VI)

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIATT)

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) 

A

Applied behavioural analysis (ABA)

Applied behavioural analysis is a form of teaching for children with autism. The phrase ABA is occasionally used to refer to a technique of designing desensitisation techniques which are focused on particular triggers for behaviour. ABA is not recognised by all agencies as an effective tool for teaching or treatment.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a special educational need, affecting concentration and ability to focus.

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule  or ADOS is a form of assessment which looks at communication, social interaction, and play (or imaginative use of materials) to consider whether a child or young person has autism or an autistic spectrum disorder.

Auditory processing disorder (APD)

Auditory processing disorder is a disability which affects how the brain interprets sounds. It can often result in a child or young person having special educational needs.

Annual Review (AR)

An Annual Review or AR is a meeting to consider the support a child or young person receives through their Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan. The review should take place once a year, although reviews can be called early if significant changes occur. The review should consider whether the provision, placement and objectives (or outcomes) are still appropriate. A refusal to amend a Statement following an AR can give a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Additional Resource(d) Provision (ARP)

Additional Resource(d) Provision or ARP provide some schools with additional funding and resources to cater for a specific special educational need or disability. Typically, ARPs can only be accessed by children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan but this is usually down to local authority policy.

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autistic spectrum disorder or ASD is increasingly also referred to as Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). It is a special educational need which impacts on social communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought.

B

British Ability Scales (BAS)

British Ability Scales or BAS are tests of cognitive ability and educational achievement. These tests are used by clinical or educational psychologists to assess the impact of special educational needs on a child’s ability to learn. They help to assess and diagnose learning difficulties and/or behavioural difficulties.

Behaviour Support Plan (BSP)

A Behaviour Support Plan or BSP is a school-based document which is prepared to help support a pupil with behavioural difficulties. Often children with behavioural difficulties will have special educational needs and the BSP is the starting point for intervention and support. If the BSP is inadequate and external help is needed, it may be necessary to seek an EHC needs assessment of the pupil’s special educational needs.  

C

Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS)

The Childhood Autism Rating Scale or CARS is an assessment tool used to assess autistic traits and diagnose autism. The tool rates children on a scale from one to four in 15 different skills, ranging from body language to social communication and interaction.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG)

Clinical Commissioning Groups or CCG are NHS organisations set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. They are responsible for the delivery of NHS services in England and monitoring the use of funding. Each CCG has a geographical area for which it is responsible. These are not necessarily the same as areas covered by local authorities. CCGs have involvement in preparing and delivering support in an Education, Health and Care Plans.

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)

Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals or CELF is a test that is used by speech and language therapists to assess a child’s language ability and diagnose language disorders. It is used to work out the level of difficulty and indicate the support a child or young person needs for their special educational needs.

Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)

The Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool or CHAT is an assessment used for young people coming into the youth justice system. The assessment looks at physical and mental health and learning difficulties.

Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA)

Children and Families Act 2014 or CFA is a law which introduced a new system of supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales (Conners CBRS)

Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales or Conners CBRS is an assessment tool used to assess and diagnose behaviour related special educational needs, particularly ADHD.

Cerebral palsy (CP)

Cerebral palsy or CP is a disability which commonly results in special educational needs. There are several forms of cerebral palsy which can have a variety of effects on mobility, cognitive ability, communication and self-care.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service or CAMHS is a specialist part of the NHS which provides assessment and treatment when children and young people have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. GPs often refer children to CAMHS for assessment of special educational needs and disabilities. CAMHS can often be important in securing support for special educational needs and disabilities.

Cystic fibrosis (CF)

Cystic fibrosis or CF is a disability which primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. It can result in special educational needs and call for additional support to access education.

D

Disability discrimination (DD)

Disability discrimination or DD is an act, failure to act or mistreatment of a person with a disability which causes them a detriment or loss of opportunity. This is covered by the Equality Act 2010.

Department for Education (DfE)

The Department for Education or DfE is a department of the UK government responsible for issues affecting children and young people in England. The DfE makes policy and issues consultations about changes to the way education is provided in England. The DfE publishes the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice.

Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA)

Disabled Student’s Allowance or DSA is an allowance for students in Higher Education with long-term health difficulties, disabilities, learning difficulties and / or special educational needs. It can be used to pay for special equipment, aids and support workers.

E

Education Act 1996 (EA)

The Education Act 1996 or EA is a major part of education law. Key elements of this Act have been replaced by the Children and Families Act 2014, but elements of it will still be relevant in special educational needs and disability cases.

Education Funding Agency (EFA)

The Education Funding Agency or EFA is part of the Department for Education and is responsible for the funding of education for students aged 3 to 25. The EFA is responsible for the allocation of funding to all local authorities, maintained schools and voluntary aided schools. It also oversees academies and free schools.

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

An Education, Health and Care Plan or EHCP is a legally binding document which sets out a child or young person’s special educational needs and disabilities and the support they require. Only those children with the most complex special educational needs will qualify for an EHCP. It is estimated that around 20% of children with special educational needs will qualify for an EHCP. EHCPs will slowly replace the Statement of Special Educational Needs.

Educational psychologist (EP)

An educational psychologist or EP is a medical professional trained to assess and diagnose learning difficulties, social and emotional problems and developmental disorders. They are typically central to assessing special educational needs, recommending support and differentiation of the curriculum.

Educational Psychology Service (EPS)

An Educational Psychology Service or EPS is a team of educational psychologists within a local authority. It is responsible for conducting assessments of special educational needs for children within the local authority area.

Education Welfare Officer (EWO)

An Education Welfare Officer or EWO is an employee of the local authority concerned with ensuring school attendance. EWOs try to work out why a pupil is not attending school and encourage them to return to school or college. Non-attendance is often linked with special educational needs and additional support may be needed.

Early years foundation stage (EYFS)

The early years foundation stage or EYFS is a pre-school stage of learning. It starts at the age of three and runs until the end of reception. EYFS is designed to prepare pupils to enter the National Curriculum at Level 1 in Year 1. EYFS is for all children, not just those with special educational needs. It can be helpful to identify early-on children with special educational needs.

F

Further education (FE)

Further education or FE is the period of education above school age, but below degree level. Commonly this is referred to as school years 11 and 12. Young people with special educational needs in FE can be supported by an Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs.

First Tier Tribunal (FTT)

The First Tier Tribunal or FTT is part of the Court and Tribunal Service. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) is part of the FTT. It deals with disagreements between parents and local authorities about how children with special educational needs should be supported and what school they should go to.

G

Global developmental delay (GDD)

Global developmental delay or GDD is a disability which commonly results in special educational needs.

H

Higher education (HE)

Higher education or HE is the period of education at university or education which results in a degree-equivalent qualification. It is not possible to be supported with an Education, Health and Care Plan if taking part in HE.

Hearing impairment (HI)

Hearing impairment or HI is a disability which affects how sound travels through the ear to the brain. Hearing impairments commonly results in special educational needs.

I

Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS)

The Information, Advice and Support Service or IASS is a replacement for the Parent Partnership. IASS provides independent and impartial advice to parents. There is a separate IASS for each local authority area. These organisations normally focus on supporting parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Individual Behaviour Plan (IBP)

An Individual Behaviour Plan or IBP is a school-based document which is prepared to help support a pupil with behaviour difficulties. Behaviour difficulties can be a sign of special educational needs. If the IBP is inadequate and external help is needed, it may be necessary to seek an EHC needs assessment.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

An Individual Education Plan or IEP is a school-based document which records, tracks and reviews the support a child with special educational needs receives in school. An IEP is normally reviewed at the end of each school term. All children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs must have an IEP. Following the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, children without a Statement are not required to have an IEP, but schools do still use them.

Individual Pupil Profile (IPP)

An Individual Pupil Profile or IPP is a detailed document which guides professionals through a series of observations and assessments. It provides a picture of a pupil’s strengths, weaknesses and any special educational needs they may have.

J

Judicial review (JR)

Judicial review or JR is an application to the High Court, or UT. It involves the Court looking at a decision, or action, taken by a public body and deciding whether to overturn it. Judicial review is available if an Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs is not being complied with of if parents want to challenge Health, Outcomes, Personal Budget and / or Care aspects of the Education, Health and Care Plan.

L

Local authority (LA)

The local authority or LA is the body responsible for public services such as libraries, schools, parks and child protection. Local authorities are required to ensure that all children receive a suitable education. This means that all children with special educational needs must be identified and supported properly.

Local educational authority (LEA)

Local educational authority or LEA is old terminology as local education authorities no longer exist. The correct term is local authority (LA).

Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)

The Local Government Ombudsman or LGO is a free and independent complaints body that can look into complaints about local authorities, adult social care and education admission appeal panels. The LGO can look into complaints concerning special educational needs when it is something that the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) cannot deal with.

Local Offer (LO)

Local Offer or LO is a publication prepared, updated and reviewed by the local authority. The LO must detail the support it expects to be available for children with special educational needs and disabilities in its area.

Learning support assistant  (LSA), teaching assistant (TA) or learning assistant (LA)

A learning support assistant (LSA), teaching assistant (TA) or learning assistant (LA) is a member of staff in a school that supports the class and/or teacher. Different local authorities use different phrases and abbreviations for them. Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities may have their own LSA to help them access learning.

M

Moderate learning difficulties (MLD)

Moderate learning difficulties or MLD are difficulties accessing education learning and are a form of special educational needs.

O

Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator or OIA is a free and independent organisation which investigates complaints from students about Higher Education institutions.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is a disorder which can cause obsessive thoughts with associated behaviour difficulties. OCD can result in special educational needs requiring additional support.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)

Oppositional defiant disorder or ODD is a disorder which causes a person to respond in a negative and uncooperative way, particularly to figures of authority. ODD often results in special educational needs.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

An occupational therapist or OT is a medical professional who practices occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is the assessment and treatment of physical and psychiatric conditions using activities to limit the impact of the disability and promote independence. OTs can be important in assessing and supporting children and young people with special educational needs.

P

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS is a method of communication using pictures. It is helpful for children with communication-based special educational needs and commonly used to support children with autism.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

A Personal Education Plan or PEP is an element of a Care Plan for children looked after by their local authority. The PEP tracks educational progress and achievement. If a child or young person has special educational needs and / or disabilities, their PEP should detail this and the support that they receive. If they have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan, the review of the PEP should be at the same time as the review of their Statement or EHCP.

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)

Pathological demand avoidance or PDA is a disability, using linked with autism, which causes a person to have anxiety when presented with a demand. PDA is a special educational need which requires additional support.

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)

Pervasive developmental disorder or PDD is a difficulty which impacts on social skills, language and development. This often is a special educational need. 

Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting (PIVATS/P scales)

Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting, PIVATS or P scales are achievement levels used to monitor the ability and progress of children who are not yet performing at National Curriculum level. The longer a child or young person is at this level, the more likely it is they have special educational needs.

Profound and multiple learning disability (PMLD)

Profound and multiple learning disability or PMLD are a collection of disabilities resulting in complex special educational needs. Typically children and young people with PMLD will require the additional support of a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan.

Parent Partnership (PP)

The Parent Partnership or PP is an organisation that provides independent and impartial advice to parents. Typically Parent Partnership is funded by local authorities and can also be known as the Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS). These organisations normally focus on supporting parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Pupil Referral Units (PRU)

Pupil Referral Units or PRU are defined as being mainstream schools. Children who attend PRUs typically do so because they are ‘hard to place’, usually because of exclusion but it can be through illness. Pupils attending PRUs tend to have special educational needs.

Physiotherapists (PT)

Physiotherapists support people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Children and young people who have special educational needs relating to motor skills may well need physiotherapy in order to access education.

S

Speech and Language Therapists (SALT or SLT)

Speech and Language Therapists, SALT or SLT assess and treat speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages to help them better communicate. They also work with people who have eating and swallowing problems. SLTs can be important in assessing children and young people with special educational needs and providing them with additional support.

Special educational needs (SEN)

Special educational needs is a legal term with a specific definition. If a child or young person is struggling in school or college and requires additional support, they are likely to have special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO)

A Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator or SENCO is a member of staff in school who is responsible for co-ordinating additional support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. The SENCO will liaise with parents, teachers and other professionals. The SENCO has responsibility for requesting the involvement of an Educational Psychologist and other external services. SENCOs can assist parents in deciding when to request as EHC needs assessment.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND or SENDIST)

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND or SENDIST) is part of the FTT. It deals with disagreements between parents and local authorities about the nature of children’s special educational needs, the support they need and/or school or college they should go to.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW)

The Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales or SENTW is the Tribunal which deals with disagreements about special educational needs support in Wales. It operates in a similar way to the FTT/SEND/SENDIST but has a different set of rules and applies different law in some cases.

T

Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)

Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children or TEACCH is a specific method of teaching children with autism.

U

Upper Tribunal (UT or UTT)

The Upper Tribunal, UT or UTT – sometimes referred to as the Upper Tier Tribunal - is an appeal Court. If parents or local authorities are unhappy with the decision of the FTT/SEND/SENDIST/SENTW they can apply for permission to appeal to the UT. Normally appeals are on the basis that the first Tribunal made an error in special educational needs law. The UT can also hear applications for judicial review in specific cases.

V

Visual impairment (VI)

Visual impairment or VI is a disability relating to the way that visual signals are carried from the eye to the brain. It can result in special educational needs.

W

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIATT)

The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test or WIATT is a test which helps assess academic strengths and weaknesses in eight areas. It can be used for children over the age of four and is useful in identifying particular areas of weakness and potential underlying specific learning difficulties and/or special educational needs.

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI)

The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence or WPPSI is a test used to determine cognitive ability in pre-school children. It is a helpful tool for screen for special educational needs and learning difficulties.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children or WISC is a test used to determine cognitive ability in children between 7 and 16 years. It is a helpful tool for screen for special educational needs and learning difficulties.

 

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