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Special Educational Needs Abbreviations
Local authority policies, school records, meetings with teachers and education magazines are full of abbreviations. What do they all mean?
Our education law solicitors have put together a list of the most common abbreviations you will find in education, and explain what they mean. This is not a complete list of all abbreviations used, and many abbreviations are used for different meanings. The below represent the most commonly used, and their most common meaning.
Please note that special educational needs are not listed here. We have compiled a separate list of the types of special educational needs, and the impact of those needs.
Please be aware that this information is provided as reference and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have a particular education law question, our specialist education solicitors are happy to help.
- ALN – Additional Learning Needs
- ALNCO - Additional Learning Needs Coordinator
- AAP – Average Attaining Pupil
- ABA - Applied behavioural analysis
- ADOS - Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
- AR - Annual Review
- ARP - Additional Resource(d) Provision
- ASDAN - Award Scheme Development Accreditation Network
- AWPU - Age-Weighted Pupil Unit
- BAS - British Ability Scales
- BEST – Behaviour and Education Support Team
- BSP - Behaviour Support Plan
- CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
- CAF – Common Assessment Framework
- CARS - Childhood Autism Rating Scale
- CBRS - Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales
- CCG - Clinical Commissioning Groups
- CELF - Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals
- CIN – Child in Need
- CFA - Children and Families Act 2014
- CSSIW - Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
- DD - Disability discrimination
- DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB)
- DDA - Disability Discrimination Act
- DfE - Department for Education
- DSA - Disabled Student’s Allowance
- EAL - English as an Additional Language
- EFA - Education Funding Agency
- EHCP - Education, Health and Care Plan
- EP - Educational psychologist
- EWO - Education Welfare Officer
- EYFS - Early years foundation stage
- EYSP - The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile
- FE - Further education
- FTT - First Tier Tribunal
- GCSE – General Certificate of Secondary Education
- GTP - Graduate Training Programme.
- HE - Higher education
- HEADLAMP - Head Teachers Leadership and Management Programme.
- IASS – Information, Advice and Support Service
- IBP - Individual Behaviour Plan
- IEP - Individual Education Plan
- IELTS - International English Language Testing System
- IPP - Individual Pupil Profile
- IQ - Intelligence Quotient
- JR - Judicial review
- LA - Local authority
- LAC – Looked After Child (Children)
- LEA - Local educational authority
- LGO - Local Government Ombudsman
- LO - Local Offer
- LSA / TA - Learning support assistant / teaching assistant
- MAT – Multi-agency team
- OIA - Office of the Independent Adjudicator
- OT - Occupational Therapist
- PAN – Published Admissions Number
- PECS - Picture Exchange Communication System
- PEP - Personal Education Plan
- PRU - Pupil Referral Units
- PSP - Pastoral Support Plan
- PT - Physiotherapists
- SALT / SLT - Speech and Language Therapists
- SEAL Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning
- SEN - Special educational needs
- SEND – Special Educational Needs and Disability
- SENCO - Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator
- SENDIST - Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
- SENTW - Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales
- SIP - School Improvement Plan
- TAF – Team Around the Family
- TEACCH - Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children
- UCAS - Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
- UT - Upper Tribunal
- WIATT - Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
- WPPSI - Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
- WISC - Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
- YOT - Youth Offending Team
Support for special educational needs in Wales comes from the Education Act 1996. The reforms from the Children and Families Act 2014 did not take effect in Wales.
At the moment, Wales still uses the term special educational needs (SEN). The Welsh Assembly is looking to change how support for special educational needs is delivered. We have written about this in our blog.
Part of the planned reforms include changing the term ‘special educational needs’ to ‘additional learning needs’ (ALN). Whilst the wording is different, additional learning needs are basically the same as special educational needs. If a child or young person has difficulties accessing learning, and they re quire additional support beyond that typically made available in a mainstream school, they are likely to have additional learning needs.
An Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo) or is a member of staff in school who is responsible for co-ordinating additional support for pupils with special educational needs. This is an abbreviation used only in Wales. The English equivalent is a SENCO. The ALNCO will liaise with parents, teachers and other professionals and be responsible for a learners Individual Development Plan.
This is a term commonly used in Ofsted reports when referring to a pupil or learner without special educational needs or disabilities.
Applied behavioural analysis is a form of special educational provision. It is a form of desensitising techniques used for children and young people with Autism. ABA is not recognised by all agencies as an effective tool for teaching or treatment.
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule is a tool used to assess for Autism. It focuses on the key areas affected by Autism, which are; communication, social interaction, and play
An Annual Review is a meeting to consider the content of a learner’s Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan. During the review, there should be a discussion of whether the learner’s needs are properly recognised and whether there is adequate special educational provision made.
Following the meeting, the school will send a report to the local authority setting out any changes that are sought. The local authority will then decide whether or not to make those changes.
A right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal arises once a local authority takes a decision following the Annual Review. This can be about the description of the young person’s special educational needs, their special educational provision and/or the school named.
An Additional Resource provides additional funding and/or specialist support for mainstream schools. Typically, ARPs can only be accessed by children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan but this is usually down to local authority policy.
ASDAN is an alternative qualification which is often used for children and young people with special educational needs or additional learning needs. It focuses on the acquisition and development of learning skills, employability skills and independent living skills.
This is funding provided to schools specifically for special educational provision. The additional support funding is paid by local authorities to maintained schools, or by the education funding agency for academies and free schools.
Often, parents are told that there is a budget of £6,000 which has to be exhausted before an Education, Health and Care Plan, or Statement of Special Educational Needs can be applied for. This is not correct, but the figure £6,000 comes from the ASF as, typically, the ASF per pupil can be up to £6,000.
APWU is an element of funding in the English education system. Each school receives delegated funding. The AWPU is funding which is made available for every pupil. The number of pupils increases the amount that the school receives via the AWPU. This form of funding is not connected with special educational needs.
British Ability Scales are tests used by educational psychologists to measure learning ability and educational ability. The tests are useful to establish the extent of a child or young person’s special educational needs and gauge the level of special educational provision they are likely to need.
Behaviour and Education Support Teams are multi-agency teams, that support young people, up to the age of 18, who or are at risk of developing emotional, behavioural and/or attendance problems.
BEST focus on identification, prevention and early intervention, to promote emotional well-being, positive behaviour and school attendance.
If a child or young person requires the additional support of BEST, it may be that their special educational needs require substantive assessment. This can be through a statutory assessment, or EHC needs assessment.
Behaviour Support Plans are used in schools for learners with behavioural difficulties.
The BSP usually sets out what expectations the school has of a child or young person, and what support will be put into place to help them achieve them. If a child or young person has a BSP, but is still struggling to engage with education, it may be appropriate to seek a formal assessment of their special educational needs. This can be through a statutory assessment or an EHC needs assessment.
The Common Assessment Framework is used by social workers to gather information about a child or young person. The CAF is used when local authority social care teams have concerns that the needs of a child or young person are not being met.
The CAF provides a set format and structure for assessing a child’s need throughout England and Wales. The purpose of it is to try to deliver consistency in assessment and decision-making.
The CAF is for children who have additional needs in one or more of three areas:
- Growth and development
- Family and environmental issues
All children and young people identified as having special educational needs, or additional learning needs, is likely to require an assessment through the Common Assessment Framework. That is to establish whether there are any services, or support, that social care can provide. In England, this assessment can be part of the EHC needs assessment and the resulting support contained within the ‘Care’ sections of an Education, Health and Care Plan.
CAMHS is a service that works with children and young people who have emotional and/or behavioural difficulties. Each CAMHS centre is a multi-disciplinary team, normally consisting of:
- Psychiatrists and psychologists
- social workers
- support workers
- occupational therapists
- specialist substance misuse workers
Childhood Autism Rating Scale is used to assess for autistic traits. It is typically used when a child or young person is being considered for a diagnosis of autism.
Conners Comprehensive Behaviour Rating Scales is used to assess for special educational needs that affect behaviour.
Clinical Commissioning Groups are responsible for local delivery of NHS services in England and monitoring the use of funding. Each Group covers a geographical region.
Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals is a test of a child or young person’s ability to understand language. If there are concerns that a child or young person has speech and language difficulties, often this will be used by a speech and language therapist to establish their abilities. This test will reveal if a child or young person has speech and language related special educational needs.
Child In Need is a phrase introduced by the Children Act 1989. A child in need is any child who is unlikely to achieve a reasonable standard of living without support and/or services. This can include children and young people with special educational needs and additional learning needs.
Any child or young person identified with special educational needs or additional learning needs must be considered as a Child in Need. There is a statutory requirement to consider what support they might require in school. If social care identifies a child as being in need, the team responsible must also consider a referral for a statutory assessment or EHC needs assessment.
The Children and Families Act 2014 changed how children and young people in England receive support for their special educational needs and disabilities. Among other significant changes, the CFA introduced Education Health and Care Plans which have replaced Statement of Special Educational Needs.
Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales is responsible for regulating and inspecting social care for adults and children in Wales.
The Disclosure and Barring Service is responsible for tracking criminal records. Potential employers, or contractors, may seek information from the DBS before securing the services of an individual. This is particularly common when the potential employee or contractor is going to have direct contact with vulnerable people, such as children, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities.
Disability discrimination can come in many forms. The Equality Act sets out that if a person is treated less favourably, or misses out on any opportunity, as a result of their disability, they are likely to have been unlawfully discriminated against.
The statutory material, and case law, surrounding disability discrimination can be very complex, particularly concerning duties of schools to disabled pupils.
The Disability Discrimination Act made it unlawful to act, or fail to act, in a way which had the effect of causing disadvantage to a disabled person, as compared to a person without a disability. The DDA was replaced by the Equality Act which unified all statute concerning discrimination.
The Department for Education is the office of the secretary of state for education. It is part of the UK government responsible for education in England. It is responsible for implementing all new law issued relating to education and is also responsible for monitoring the quality of education being made available in England.
Disabled Student’s Allowance is funding available for Higher Education learners with special educational needs and disabilities or additional learning needs. The Allowance can be used by the learner to purchase any equipment support of learning assistance that they require.
This term is used to refer to pupils whose first language is not English. It is important to note EAL is not, on its own considered to be a special educational need, or additional learning need.
The Education Funding Agency is part of the DfE responsible for funding education. The EFA is responsible for the allocation of funding to all local authorities, maintained schools and voluntary aided schools. The EFA is responsible for managing direct funding to Academies and Free Schools.
The Education, Health and Care Plan is a document which sets out the education, health and social care needs that your child or young person has and the support that they need.
The EHCP contains special educational provision as well as health and social care provision. Whilst the EHCP deals with more than just special educational needs and provision, a child or young person only qualifies for an EHCP if they have special educational needs.
The EHCP is a legally binding document. It is binding on the local authority and local health authority.
An educational psychologist is a medically qualified professional who has specialised to identify a child or young person’s special educational needs and plan what special educational provision they require.
An Education Welfare Officer is an officer for the local authority. EWOs typically become involved with a child or young person if they are struggling to attend school full-time.
The role of the EWO is to work with the learner, and their family, to establish what support may be required. This can include seeking special educational provision, potentially through a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan. It can also involve securing additional support from the local authority social care team through a Common Assessment Framework.
Early Years Foundation Stage is pre-school education. EYFS is a curriculum designed to prepare children for joining school and moving into Level 1 of the National Curriculum. If a child is struggling to engage with EYFS, it can be a good indication that they have special educational needs, or additional learning needs, and require special educational provision.
A statutory assessment for children at the end of the Foundation Stage and is a way of summing up each child's development and learning at the end of the Reception year.
Further education is any education after compulsory education, ending at 16. Further Education does not include qualifications at, and beyond, degree level which is Higher Education.
First Tier Tribunal is another name for SENDIST. It is a specialist tribunal set up to hear disputes between parents, young people and their local authorities about special educational needs and provision.
O levels and CSEs were replaced in1988 with GCSEs. O-level (Ordinary level) qualifications were designed for “more able” secondary school pupils and were seen as being necessary for progression into A-level and beyond. The Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) qualification was intended for pupils of all abilities in mainstream secondary education, though pupils taking O levels did not tend to take CSEs
The GCSE examination was designed for pupils of all abilities; GCSE grades A-C are seen by most schools and employers as O level (or CSE grade 1) equivalents and GCSE grades D and below represent what would have previously been CSE grade 2 and below
A scheme launched in 1998 to attract more entrants to the teaching profession by providing a route into teaching while working within a designated school.
Higher education is the period of education after Further Education. Typically, Higher Education is delivered at university, but is the form of education which results in a qualification of degree-level, or above.
A training course to support the training and development of teachers to headteacher or management roles.
IASS provides advice to parents about special educational needs. These groups are funded by their local authorities, but are impartial of the local authority. At time of writing, each local authority is required to maintain an IASS service, although that requirement is constantly subject to review.
An Individual Behaviour Plan is a school based support plan used for children and young people whose behaviour is causing them difficulties in accessing education. The use of an Individual Behaviour Plan is a special educational provision. If the Plan is not adequately supporting the young person’s needs, it may be appropriate to seek a statutory assessment, or an EHC needs assessment, of the learner’s special educational needs.
An Individual Education Plan is a document used in schools to plan the special educational provision that is to be made for a child or young person with special educational needs. The IEP should be prepared so that it sets out the young person’s special educational needs, explains the targets for support and the provision that will be made available.
The IEP should be reviewed once a term to record any progress and to make changes to the special educational provision.
The IEP can often be used to track the model of Assess, Plan, Do, Review in England, or School Action / School Action Plus in Wales. Often, if parents are considering making an application for a statutory assessment, or an EHC needs assessment, the IEPs can be very important.
IELTS is a test designed to measure a person’s ability to communicate in English across four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
An Individual Pupil Profile which is used as a framework to help record a child or young person’s strengths, weaknesses and any special educational needs they may have.
Numeric score that attempts to quantify a person's ability to complete cognitive tasks. The average score is thought to be 100.
Judicial Review is a court process which involves reviewing a decision made by a public body. Either the High Court in London, the district registries of the High Court or, in some circumstances, the Upper Tribunal, is able to consider an application for Judicial Review.
There are several grounds on which a Judicial Review can be brought. The most common grounds for Judicial Review tend to be that a public body has acted unlawfully, irrationally or has failed to follow due process.
For parents, Judicial Review may be available if an Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs is not being followed.
The local authority is the regional governance for an area. It is responsible for all public services within its area and funded from central government and other council specific taxes.
Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that children and young people in their area are able to access suitable education. This includes the identification of children and young people with special educational needs and establishing what special educational provision they require.
A child or young person who is provided with accommodation by their local authority is a Looked After Child. There are different forms of accommodation that can be provided. The accommodation may be with the voluntary agreement of parents, or may be required by Court Order.
A child or young person with special educational needs requiring a residential school setting may also be accommodated by their local authority. Being a Looked After Child entitles the young person to additional support from their social care team.
Local education authority is now an outdated phrase. It referred to the aspect of the local authority responsible specifically for the delivery of education.
The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent organisation, set up by Government, to consider complaints about local authorities. The LGO does not have the same powers as the Court does in an application for Judicial Review.
If parents have a concern about how their local authority has behaved, delays, poor communication or conduct of individual officers, a complaint to the LGO would be appropriate. If parents are seeking for the local authority to take a particular action, comply with deadlines, or comply with legal duties, an application for Judicial Review tends to be the appropriate action.
The Local Offer was introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. Every local authority must prepare a Local Offer and it should detail all of the provision that is available in the local area, and neighbouring areas. The Local Offer should be particularly targeted at services that can be accessible to children and young people with special educational needs, but should also contain useful information for all families. Guidance requires that the Local Offer is more than simply a directory of services, and should contain information such as eligibility requirements, waiting lists and availability.
A learning support assistant or teaching assistant works in a classroom to support the class teacher. Some LSAs or TAs are specially trained to that they are able to provide for specific special educational needs. LSAs or TAs can be used to support small groups, or individual children. If a child or young person needs 1:1 support during teaching sessions, it is possible to secure this level of support via a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan.
A Multi-agency team brings together professionals from different sectors to provide integrated support to children, young people and their families. Multi-agency teams are found in social care and education to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities receive the support that they need. Typically, an EHC needs assessment, or statutory assessment, involves a multi-agency team to ensure that the young person’s needs are fully explored and the correct special educational provision identified.
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator is a body that looks into complaints against universities and other Higher Education organisations. If you have a complaint against a university, or Higher Education provider, you normally need to exhaust its internal complaints procedure before raising the matter with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
An occupational therapist provides support for physical and psychiatric conditions that limit a person’s independence daily living skills. OTs can be important in assessing and supporting children and young people with special educational needs. Typically, if a child or young person requires occupational therapy, it can be useful to seek a statutory assessment, or EHC needs assessment, in order to guarantee OT via either a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan.
A Published Admission Number must be prepared for every year group into which pupils can be admitted, including Year 12 where the school has a sixth form. The admission number is the maximum number of pupils that the admission authority will admit to each year group
Picture Exchange Communication System is a communication system which uses picture tiles. PECs is primarily used for children and young people with Autism, but it is a very effective tool for learners with communication or language difficulties. The use of PECs is a special educational provision.
A Personal Education Plan is used for Looked After Children. It is prepared by the local authority and it tracks the educational support provided for the young person and what progress they are making. The PEP is used for all Looked After Children, not just those with special educational needs. If the Looked After Child has special educational needs, the PEP should state this, set out what those needs are and what special educational provision is needed.
If a child or young person has a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health and Care Plan, their PEP can be included within it.
Pupil Referral Units are mainstream schools which offer short-term places for children and young people who are either out of school, or are facing exclusion. A placement at a PRU should never be a long-term solution. Often children and young people with behaviour-related special educational needs attend at PRUs for short periods of time.
If a child or young person is routinely attending a PRU, it may be appropriate to seek an assessment of their special educational needs. This can be via a statutory assessment or an EHC needs assessment.
The Pastoral Support Plan is used in schools to help develop social, emotional and behavioural skills. The PSP should identify targets for the child or young person to work towards. The child or young person, and their parents, should be involved with the preparation of the PSP.
Physiotherapists are medical professional that assist with the recovery from injury, or management of a disability, through movement, exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Children and young people with disabilities affecting their ability to access education often require physiotherapy. If a child or young person requires direct intervention from a physiotherapist, this could amount to special educational provision.
Speech and Language Therapists help with the development of speech, language and communication skills. A speech and language therapist can be important in the development of the physical processes of speaking, or swallowing, as well as the acquisition and development of language and communication skills.
The term social and emotional aspects of learning refers to five broad areas. This includes self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. If a child or young person requires support with their social and emotional aspects of learning, they may have special educational needs requiring special educational provision.
Special educational needs refers to a child or young person who has difficulties accessing education. If a child or young person requires provision which is additional, or different, to that typically made available to children of the same age, they may well have special educational needs.
The term Special Educational Needs and Disabilities was introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014. It means that children and young people who are disabled, within the meaning of the Equality Act, that require special educational provision may access additional support via an Education Health and Care Plan.
A Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator is a member of staff in a school responsible the special educational provision. The SENCO ensures that the school’s delegated special educational needs budget is used appropriately. If you have concerns that your child or young person has special educational needs, or that they hare not receiving adequate support, your first point of contact would be the SENCO.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal is a specialist tribunal set up to hear disputes between parents, young people and their local authorities about special educational needs and provision.
The Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales is the specialist tribunal for Wales which deals with disputes regarding the support made available for a child or young person with special educational needs.
The School Improvement Plan is implemented to improve a school's effectiveness, usually drawn up in the light of an OFSTED inspection
This is a term that is used in many areas of education, social care and health. It is a way of preparing targets to ensure that there is a clear way of establishing whether it has been achieved. The term SMART is used in the context of special educational needs when preparing the Outcome within an Education Health and Care Plan. When preparing each Outcome, it should be prepared in a way that it is SMART.
Team Around the Family is a multi-agency team (MAT) that is used to help a family identify difficulties that it is facing, and plan how to resolve those difficulties. The Team Around the Family should help the family establish what additional support is needed and help with securing that support. If a child or young person has special educational need, the TAF can be important to help the family support the young person.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children is a method for educating children and young people with Autism. TEACCH is a differentiated curriculum and should be treated as a special educational provision.
UCAS is the central agency for processing applications for undergraduate courses.
The Upper Tribunal deals with appeals against decisions made by the SENDSIT or FTT. Before a parent can appeal to the Upper Tribunal, permission must first be secured from SENDIST, or from the Upper Tribunal itself. There are normally very restricted grounds on which permission to appeal can be secured.
The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test is used to assess a chid or young person’s academic strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a learning profile. It can be used to plan the special educational provision that a child or young person may require.
The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence is a test used on pre-school children. It is specifically focussed at establishing the cognitive ability of a child before they start school. This can be helpful in identifying a child with special educational needs as soon as possible.
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is similar to the WPPSI, but is used for children and young people between the ages of 7 and 16. It is another useful tool to establish the nature and extent of a child or young person’s special educational needs.
There is a Youth Offending Team linked with every local police service. The Youth Offending Team becomes involved with a young person when they:
- are in trouble with the police
- are arrested
- are charged with a crime and has to go to court
- are convicted of a crime
There is a very strong connection between special educational needs and coming into conflict with the police. The prison population has a much higher incidence rate of special educational needs than the national population. As such, if the YOT is involved with a child or young person, there should be careful consideration of whether they have special educational needs. If they do, they should receive special educational provision to support them.