Education

Four broad categories of special educational needs and/or disability (SEND)

Children and young people with SEND may need extra help and support due to their special educational needs. The 0-25 SEND Code of Practice (link opens in new window) set out four broad areas of SEND classification, however some children/young people may have needs that span across one or more of these categories:

  • communicating and interacting – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others. Children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction
  • cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy. This can cover learning disabilities, which cover a wide range of needs including moderate learning disability, severe learning disability, specific learning disability and profound and/or multiple learning disability
  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH) – for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning, or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties. This can include young people who have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder
  • sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment. Many children and young people with visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment

These areas allow schools and education settings to gain an overview of their pupils’ range of needs. The 0-25 SEND Code (2015) emphasises: "The purpose of identification is to work out what action the school needs to take, not to fit a pupil into a category. In practice, individual children or young people often have needs that cut across all these areas and their needs may change over time... A detailed assessment of need should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need." (section 6.27).