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My child's education

SEND Code of Practice

The Department for Education (DfE) published a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice: 0-25 years in July 2014, which was then updated in January 2015. The Code reflects the changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014.

All schools must refer to the Code of Practice whenever decisions are taken relating to children with Special Educational Needs or disabilities (SEND).

The definition of SEN

A child or young person has SEN if they have:

  • A significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.
  • A disability which prevents them from making use of facilities generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools.

The basic principles of the Code of Practice

All children have a right to an education that enables them to make progress so that they:

  • achieve their best
  • become confident individuals and live fulfilling lives
  • make a successful transition into becoming an adult – whether that is into further and/or higher education, training or work

All children with SEN or disabilities should have their needs met, whether they are in early years settings, in school, or in college.

Child-centred approach

The Code aims to put the young person and their family at the heart of discussions around support and care. Parents should have a real say in decisions that affect their child. Once a young person reaches 16 they should be consulted directly.

The Local Offer

Every local authority must identify education, health and social care services in their local area provided for children, young people and families who have SEN or disabilities and include them in an information directory called the Local Offer. This must also include information about specialist services outside the local area that people are likely to use.

SEN Support

SEN Support is the help schools should put in place to support learners with additional needs. It is part of the ‘graduated approach’ where a child’s needs are identified and assessed, appropriate support put in place and its success reviewed.

Where a child makes less than expected progress despite being given support, specialists such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists may become involved.

Those with more complex and severe needs may need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Schools must have a designated teacher responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision (a SENCo) (This does not apply to 16 - 19 academies). Schools should also have a member of the governing body or sub-committee whose role is to oversee the school's SEN and disability provision.

Children and young people with SEN should engage in school activities alongside children who do not have SEN.

Education Health and Care Plans

EHCPs have replaced Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs). An EHCP brings a child's educational, health and social care needs into a single, legal document which covers the young person until the age of 25.

SEN Information Report

Every school must publish a SEN Information Report on their website and keep the report up to date. The report should include:

  • the kinds of SEN that are provided for
  • how the school identifies young people with SEN and assesses their needs
  • how the school consults with parents and involves them in their child’s education
  • how the curriculum is adapted and the school’s approach to teaching children and young people with SEN


Under the Code, young people and parents of pupils with an EHCP can choose to hold a Personal Budget to buy in the support that has been identified. This should not affect the school's SEN budget.


The Code of Practice makes teachers more accountable for the progress of all pupils, including those supported by specialist staff. As part of performance management, teachers should expect to be judged on how well they teach pupils with SEN. It is very important that teachers know how to identify SEN and support pupils with different needs. Training for teachers on how to recognise and support students with SEN is invaluable.

More information

Read the full report
Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice: 0-25 years

The SEND Code of Practice only applies in England, below are the relevant documents for other areas:

Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales

Additional Support for Learning Act Code of Practice

Northern Ireland
Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs

Support for parents

SEND: Guide for parents and carers (

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

Tel: 0300 0115142

IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice)



National Helpline: 0300 302 3731

SEN Tribunal Service

The Tribunal Service can give advice on tribunal system, appeals and discrimination.

Tel: 01325 289350