What We Mean When We Say...

A lot of the terms that we use aren’t used in everyday English and can be confusing so we're hoping this list helps explain their meanings

If you spot something that you haven’t come across before and we haven’t given an explanation let us know. We’ll add it to this page.

This list is in alphabetical order. We’ve also included terms that commonly get shortened to abbreviations.


ASIO     – Assistant special educational needs inclusion officer

DfE        – Department for Education

BESD     – Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties

EHCP     – Education, health and care plan

EP          – Educational psychologist

ESW       – Educational social worker

IS          – Independent support/supporter

LA          – Local authority (your council)

SALT      – Speech and language therapy/therapist

SEN        – Special educational needs

SEND      – Special educational needs and/or disabilities

SENDCO  – Special educational needs and disability coordinator

SENCO     –Special educational needs coordinator

SIO         – Special educational needs inclusion officer

TA           – Teaching assistant

PMLD      – Profound and multiple learning difficulties

SEMHD    – Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

SLCN       – Speech, language and communication

SPLD       – Specific learning difficulties

Words and phrases

Code of Practice – These are guidelines set out by the government that explain our duties. Also those of schools, colleges, health services and anyone else who supports children and young people with SEND.

Disability – This can be a mental or physical condition that strongly effects how someone carries out normal activities.

Education, health and care needs assessment – This is when we (or any local authority) look at information and evidence about your child to find out how much extra support they need.

Education, health and care plan – This is a legal document that we (or any local authority) create that describes the education (nursery, school or college), health and social care needs. Also support that is needed by anyone aged between 0-25. It replaces the Statement of Special Educational Needs.

Health provision -This is the type of health care that is set out in someone’s EHCP. For example: medicine, nursing care and special equipment.

Outcomes – The difference that a certain bit of help has made to someone’s life. For example, the result of using a new transport service has the outcome of making travel easier.

Local Offer – Information that we make available about education, health and social care support available for anyone ages 0-25 with special educational needs and or disabilities.

Phase transfer – When a child moves from one phase of their education to another. For example, if they go up a school year or move from nursery to school or from school to college.

Portage – This is extra help for young children, given to them in their own home.

SEN support – This is the first level of extra help that’s available in schools for children with special educational needs. (previously called School/early years action and action plus)

Setting – This means anywhere a child or young person gets their education, for example nursery, school or college.

Social care provision – This is the help that people get to live at home, or to get about in the community.

Special educational needs – When someone has a learning difficulty or a disability that makes it harder for them to learn than for people the same age.

Special education provision – This is any extra help that’s related to your child’s education. It’s usually provided by the school.

Young person – When we say young person we mean anyone who has reached the end of their school age. Usually this is when a child turns 16 and up to the age of 25. After this they are considered an adult.