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What do I need to know as a teacher?

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 (SEN) or disabilities.

The basic principles

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's 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 the age of 16 they should be consulted directly.

Education, Health and Care Plans

SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) have been replaced with Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP). An EHCP will bring a child's education, health and social care needs into a single legal document. This will cover the young person up to the age of 25.

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 local people are likely to use.

SEN Support

Teachers are responsible for the progress and development of all pupils in their class, including those who need support from teaching assistants or specialists. School Action and School Action plus have been replaced with SEN Support where teachers identify a child's needs, decide expected outcomes, plan support and review progress regularly. Teachers must also inform parents when pupils without an EHCP receive additional support.

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.

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 school's policies for identifying pupils with SEN, the approach to teaching children and young people with SEN, and the arrangements for consulting young people directly and involving parents in their child's education.


Under the new system, 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, even those supported by specialist staff. As part of performance management, teachers should expect to be judged on how well they teach pupils with SEN. So it's really important that teachers know how to identify SEN and support pupils with different needs. This means that 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 covers England, below are the relevant documents for the rest of the UK

Wales: Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales

Scotland: Additional Support for Learning Act Code of Practice

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