Terminology

Unfamiliar terms and words often appear in reports on assessments and in conversations with professionals. Parents may be unsure of their meaning and the implications they have for their child – here are some of the words/phrases you may encounter.

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Age equivalent
This is the age that a test has assessed as a child’s current level of development in one area. This may be younger than the child’s actual age, so a child could be 3 years, 6 months but have an age equivalent of 2 years, 6 months. A child may have different age equivalents for different areas of development. The age equivalent for motor development (walking, etc.), for example, may be the same as the child’s chronological age, but communication development could be similar to that of a child who is a year younger, indicating a delay compared to the rest of the child’s skills.

Children & Families Act
The Children and Families Act is the law the government has introduced to take forward its plans for improving services for vulnerable children and children and young people, with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families in England.

Chronological age
This is a child’s age at the time of testing. This might be described, for example, as ‘2 years, 10 months’ or ‘2;10 years’.

Code of practice
The code of practice describes the standards of conduct and good practice which are recognised and approved by the government in the area of special educational needs and disability. Here is the link to the most current version of the code of practice, whilst it is long it does contain all the information you need to understand what your child/young person should be entitled to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25

Disabled Children and Young People
Many children and young people who have SEN may have a disability, 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’. ‘long-term’ is defined as ‘a year or more’ and ‘substantial’ means ‘more than minor or trivial’. This definition includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer. The Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal obligations that schools, early years providers, post-16 institutions, local authorities and others have towards disabled children and young people:
  • They must not directly or indirectly discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children and young people
  • They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services, to ensure that disabled children and young people are not at a substantial disadvantage compared with their peers.
SEN support will replace School Action and School Action Plus for children with SEN in mainstream schools. Schools will still be required to identify children who need additional support and involve parent carers and children and young people in planning how to meet these needs and call on specialists from outside the school when they need to. Schools must use their ‘best endeavours’ to identify and meet children’s special educational needs.

EHCP (Education Health Care Plan)
Education health care plans become legally enforceable from September 2014. Education health care plans will be the new version of what is currently known as a statement. From 1st September 2014 no further statements will be processed, instead they will be processed as education health care plans. Parents may request assessment for an education health care plan. Over three years (until September 2017) all statements will be transferred over to education health care plans. This will be a gradual process and statements will remain legal in the meantime. The criteria for education health care plans will be the same as those for statements – specifically this is where the special educational provision necessary to meet the child or young person’s needs cannot be reasonably provided within the resources normally avail-able to mainstream schools and early years settings. Education health care plans are developed to include more aspirations of the children/young people and focus on person centred planning. Any specified and quantified Special Educational Provision in the education health care plan will have to be delivered by the local authority and can continue up until the age of 25 if a young person stays in education or training. The period for pulling together all the evidence in the application for an education health care plan is twenty weeks, at which point a decision should be given.

Expressive language
This is a term used to describe the language a child uses to express herself and her wants and needs. This can encompass the spoken sounds or words she uses as well as the signs or gestures she may use to communicate with those around her. As the child becomes a more skilled communicator and her use of expressive language increases, more areas are discussed under this heading. It is broken down into the amount of information the child tells us with what she says, the vocabulary she includes, and the grammar she has learned to use. Breaking down a child’s communication into these groups can help the people working with her focus on areas that need improvement.

Hearing age
This is a term used to describe how long a child with a hearing loss has had hearing aids or a cochlear implant to aid hearing. If a child was given a cochlear implant at age one, when he is six years old he would be described as having a hearing age of five.

I.E.P (Individual Education Plan)
An I.E.P, or more formally known as an Individual Education Plan, is a written plan/program generally written and monitored by the school’s SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) with input from the parents and any professionals involved with the child. It specifies the child or young person’s educational/academic goals and the methods the team working with the child will use to obtain these goals. The I.E.P will focus on the areas that are affected by the difficulties/disability(ies) which the child or young person has. The I.E.P will provide a focus for the child’s learning and should reflect high expectations for the child. It should also specify a specific timeframe for how long the targets will be worked on before the outcomes will be reviewed, preferably termly at most. The parents should be informed of the outcome of the review of the targets, where the targets will either have been achieved or need to be focused on for a bit longer. The I.E.P will identify supports and services the child needs for success. Examples of I.E.P targets include ‘to understand and respond to subtle cues in a conversation with other children eg. facial expression, body language’, ‘to initiate a conversation with another child’, ‘to use the past tense –ed when talking about events that have already happened’, ‘to apply the correct amount of pressure when writing’ and ‘to start letters in the right place’. These are just a few examples of the variety of targets which can be included in an I.E.P.

Individual Health Care Plan
This is a document which is completed annually (or more frequently if necessary). It is generally put together and reviewed at a meeting in school which parents and any outside professionals attend if the child has medical conditions/equipment which has implications for how they are looked after within an educational setting. Children with epilepsy/diabetes/asthma/cochlear implants are examples of groups of children who may have Individual Health Care Plans. The health care plan details the condition, the educational implications, the care pathways which must be followed in event of an incidence and includes important contact numbers and procedures. It will also cover daily management issues and equipment use.

Information, Advice and Support
Local authorities already have to make impartial information and advice and support available to parent carers about SEND. From September, local authorities must make information and advice available that also covers disability, health and social care and is also available directly to young people as well as parent carers.

Local Offer
The “Local Offer” informs parent carers and young people with SEN or disabilities what is provided in their local area, including what to expect from local early years providers, schools, colleges, health and social care. In addition it will include information on how decisions are made about how services are allocated, how to request a personal budget, how to access more specialist support and how to complain or appeal. Local authorities must involve parent carers, children and young people in developing and reviewing their local offer.

Mediation
Mediation will be provided as part of the EHCP process as a formal way of resolving disagreements. Mediation should be facilitated by an independent group and will look to help all parties involved in the education health care plan application for an individual child to reach an agreement. Mediation is not a legal process and does not affect legal rights.

Receptive language
This is a term used to describe what spoken language a child can understand. It may, at times, also be assessed separately as the sign language a child can understand. This assessment tries to gauge how much a child can understand without the subtle clues of everyday life that provide ‘situation understanding’, such as when the speaker points with his eyes, moves his head towards the object asked for, or holds a bag and car keys whilst telling the child to get her shoes. These cues can hide some of the difficulties a child may be having in understanding language.

School Action and School Action Plus
These are now outdated terms with the new SEND reforms coming into place from September 2014. These were categories for support for children with SEND within schools at levels before a statement was issued. See School based support for new definitions.

School based support
School based SEN Support will replace the categories School Action and School Action Plus as the new school-based category for additional support for children with SEN. The new code of practice states that SEN provision goes beyond the differentiated approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high-quality personalised teaching and therefore expects the use of appropriate evidence-based interventions. SEN support in schools should now be based on four types of action: plan, assess, do and review. If there are concerns about a child’s progress, then information should be gathered by the teacher and SENCO. This information gathering should include high quality and accurate formative assessment and should also include an early discussion with the pupil and their parents. These discussions should provide a good understand-ing of the pupil’s areas of strengths and difficulties, the parents concerns, the agreed outcomes sought for the child and the next steps. This information should then be kept readily available to and able to be discussed with the pupil’s parents. Parents should be fully aware of the planned support and interventions. Parents are entitled to three meetings with staff per year regarding their child in addition to standard parent/teacher meetings available to all. There is however no specification around when these meetings should be. Should support from specialist services be required, it is important that children and young people receive it as quickly as possible and accessing this therefore should be the priority. The support which is available from different services, how it is delivered and how it may be accessed is available here on the Local Offer website.

SEN Support
SEN Support will replace School Action and School Action Plus for children with SEN in mainstream schools. Schools will still be required to identify children who need additional support and involve parent carers and children and young people in planning how to meet these needs and call on specialists from outside the school when they need to. Schools must use their ‘best endeavours’ to identify and meet children’s special educational needs.

SEND Code of Practice
A guide to tell everybody involved in supporting children and young people with SEND what the law says they have to do. This guide is called the SEND Code of Practice. It sets out clearly what local authorities and educational institutions should and must do. Should means they have to follow this guidance unless they have good reasons not to.

Sensory Plan
This is a document which is used in some areas by Sensory Service teachers/Teachers of the Deaf. It is created by them, in consultation with school teachers and parents. The document is then copied and distributed to school and parents for reference. It covers a brief relevant history, equipment/daily management issues, emergency situations and procedures, comments from all contributors (including the child if appropriate), and details any actions necessary eg the setting up of transition visits to other classes, when the next review will be etc. The sensory plan also outlines the commitments which everyone involved with the child agrees to do adhere to. Here it is detailed what the setting will provide, what the teacher of the deaf will provide in terms of direct teaching/assessments/pre and post tutoring/teaching tools or resources and what can be expected from the parents and child as part of the agreement.

Special Educational Needs
A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

Statement (Statement of Special Education Needs)
Statements of special educational needs say what your child’s needs are to access education in a manner appropriate to them as an individual and the legal obligation the local authority has in meeting them. Statements are reviewed every year at an ‘Annual review’ where parents are invited to attend a meeting with school staff and other professionals involved to discuss the child’s progress over the past year. At the Annual review it will be discussed whether the statement still meets the child’s needs – whether it should stay the same, be amended or removed. You must be consulted before a statement can be changed by the council. You can appeal to the special educational needs and disability tribunal if you disagree with a change. Statements cannot be applied for after the 31st August 2014 as they will be replaced by Education Health Care Plans (EHCP’s) however existing statements will remain legal and valid until they are formally switched over to EHCP’s. The transition/switch over will happen over three years so not all children/young people will automatically get one from September 2014, it will be a gradual process which will take place in reference with the Local Authority’s transitional policy.

Tribunal
The educational aspects of an Education Health Care Plan can be appealed to the SEND tribunal (from September 2014) in the same way as those of a statement. Arrangements for challenging Social Care and Health are still to be finalised, but should be in place by September 2014.


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