What do these words mean?

A school that is directly funded by the Department for Education. Academies are self-governing and independent of local authority (LA) control.

Annual Review
The review of an education, health and care plan, which a LA must make within 12 months of making a plan, or of a previous review. For more information see Annual review of education, health and care plans.

See Education, Health and Care Plan assessment (below).

The advice or reports given to parents and the LA when a child is assessed. The LA should attach these to the final Education, Health and Care plan.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
These services assess and treat children and young people with emotional, behavioural and/or mental health difficulties.

Clinical psychologist
A professional who studies how people behave. They can make an assessment with regard to behavioural and emotional issues and may implement a behaviour management plan. Clinical psychologists are able to make the initial diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.

Code of Practice
Provides practical advice to LAs, schools and other services on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This must be regarded by LAs, schools and the First Tier Tribunal (SEND) and others such as health and social services.

Disagreement resolution
All LAs must provide a disagreement resolution service. The service is to help prevent disagreements between parents whose children have special educational needs and the LA or a school. They are designed to bring together the different views in an informal way with the aim of sorting out the disagreement through discussion. This service must be independent of the LA. Using these arrangements is voluntary for all parties.

An order by the president of the First Tier Tribunal (SEND) which parents or the LA must reply to.

Letters or reports, including an education, health and care plan.

Draft Education, Health and Care Plan
A plan is issued by the LA in draft form. This will happen after an education, health and care needs assessment, re-assessment or when an amendment has been made to the plan. Parents can negotiate with the LA with regards to what is written in the draft plan. A school will not be named in this document. A draft plan needs to be issued before you receive a final education, health and care plan. For more information see Education, Health and Care Plans.

Early education practitioners
People who work in early years settings, whatever their qualifications.

Early years provider
A provider of early education places for children under five years of age. This can include state-funded and private nurseries as well as childminders.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The statutory framework for children from birth to five years of age. All early years providers must follow both the safeguarding/welfare and learning/development requirements of the EYFS, unless an exemption from these has been granted.

Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
A formal procedure undertaken by the LA. It is a detailed investigation to find out what your child's special educational, health and care needs are and what provision is needed to meet them. A number of professionals such as an educational psychologist will be involved. It may lead to an Education, Health and Care Plan. For more information see Assessment of Education, Health and Care Needs (England)

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan)
A plan that details the education, health and social care support to be provided for a child or young person who has special educational needs. It is drawn up by the LA after an education, health and care needs assessment has determined that a plan is necessary.

Educational psychologist (EP)
Educational psychologists are involved in the assessment of educational needs and the education, health and care needs process. They are usually employed by the LA to advise and help staff in school and to make recommendations with regards to the needs of a child. Some EPs work on an independent basis and can be commissioned by parents to assess and report on their child. The NAS holds a directory which includes the details of independent educational psychologists with experience of autism spectrum disorders - please visit the Autism Services Directory.

Education welfare officer
Person employed by the LA to help parents and LA meet their respective statutory obligations in relation to school attendance.  In some areas education welfare officers are known as education social workers.

First tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs & Disability)
An independent tribunal, which hears parents' appeals against decisions of the LA about a child’s special educational needs. The tribunal is governed by the special educational needs and disability tribunal Regulations 2002 and they must have regard to the SEN Code of Practice.

Free school
A free school is a type of academy, which is free to attend, but not controlled by the LA. Free schools receive state funding via the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Graduated approach
A model of action and intervention in schools and early education settings to help children who have special educational needs. There are four stages of action in the graduated approach - Assess, Plan, Do and Review.

Independent school
A school that is not maintained by a LA.

Independent supporter
A person recruited locally by a voluntary or community organisation to help families going through an education, health and care needs assessment and the process of developing an education, health and care plan.

Information, Advice and Support Services
A service that provides advice and information to parents of children with special educational needs (formally known as parent partnership services). Even though this service is funded by the local authority, it is often run at a distance from them, or by a voluntary organisation.

Learning support assistant (LSA)
A widely used job title for an assistant providing in-school support for pupils with special educational needs. An LSA will normally work with a particular pupil or pupils providing close support to the individual pupil and assistance to those responsible for teaching them. This person can sometimes be known as a teaching assistant (TA).

Local authority (LA)
The part of the local council that is responsible for providing education. This includes making assessments and maintaining education, health and care plans.

Local Offer
Local authorities must publish a local offer that sets out in one place information about provision they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN in the area. Children and young people with SEN, parents/carers and service providers should be involved in its development.

Mainstream school
An ordinary school.

Maintained school
Schools maintained by a LEA - any community, foundation, voluntary schools, community special and foundation special schools.

A statutory service commissioned by LAs designed to help settle education, health and care needs assessment and plan disagreements between them and parents or young people. Parents and young people can use the service before deciding whether to appeal to the First tier Tribunal (SEND)

Named Local Authority Officer
The person from the local authority who liaises with parents over all the arrangements relating to education, health and care plan assessments and the making of an education, health and care plan.

National Curriculum
This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, determining what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

Non-maintained special school
Schools which are not maintained by the state but charge fees on a non profit making basis. Most non-maintained special schools are run by major charities or charitable trusts.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
Motor, sensory, perceptual, social and emotional self care skills are assessed by an occupational therapist. Working with the child, parents and teachers - occupational therapists use therapeutic techniques to improve a child's ability to access the physical and learning curriculum and can advise on equipment and environment adaptations that may help. Purposeful activities and play are used to help a child attain maximum levels of functional performance, this can improve self-esteem and independence.

Office for Standards in Education, a non-ministerial government department established under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the inspection of all schools in England.

The decision of an appeal given by the First tier Tribunal (SEND) after the hearing.

Under section 576 of the Education Act 1996 a parent includes any person who has parental responsibility or who cares for a child.

Personal Budget
An amount of money identified by the LA to deliver provision set out in an Education, Health and Care plan. The parent or young person is then involved in securing that provision.

Therapy designed for problems with movement, posture and balance. A physiotherapist’s main aim is to help a child function and move normally. An assessment will be made to find out what stage of development the child is at in comparison to a neuro-typical child. The physiotherapist will then decide treatment. They will recommend the frequency of therapy that is needed and whether any special equipment is required. 

Planned, home based educational support for pre-school children with special educational needs. This is usually provided by the LA.

Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)
Any school established and maintained by a LA under section 19 (2) of the Education Act 1996 which is specially organised to provide education for pupils who would not otherwise receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason.

SEN Support
Extra support provided by early education settings, schools and colleges for pupils and students with special educational needs. Specialist professionals from outside of the school may be involved in the process of providing this support.

Special Educational Needs
A child has special needs if they have learning or developmental difficulties that mean they need special educational provision to be made for them.

Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
Member of school or early education setting staff who is responsible for coordinating special educational needs (SEN) provision. 

Special school
A school which is organised to make special educational provision for pupils with those needs.

Speech and language therapy
The role and aim of which is to enable adults and children with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to reach their maximum communication potential and achieve independence in all aspects of life. The NAS holds a directory which includes the details of Independent Speech and Language Therapists with experience of autism spectrum disorders. Please visit  the Autism Services Directory

Strike out

A tribunal may strike out an appeal (bring it to an end) if the LA authority has applied for the appeal to be brought to an end, (or the president has directed that the appeal should be brought to an end) because it is not valid. In either case, you can write to the First tier Tribunal (SEND) with comments or ask for the strike out to be considered at a tribunal hearing. 

Studio School
A studio school is directly funded by the Department for Education and independent of LA control. They are often small schools that offer mainstream education to young people and adults aged 14 - 19 years through project based learning.

Transition describes a period of change that a child or young person experiences in education, such as starting nursery, primary or secondary education and changing or leaving school. 

Tribunal hearing

The meeting at which an appeal is considered.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs)
UTCs are academies for young people and adults aged 14 -19 years. They focus on providing technical education and offer technical courses and work-related learning, combined with academic studies.

Witness summons

A document that orders a witness to go to a tribunal hearing.

Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service.

Last reviewed: 30 March 2016.