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Education Terminology

Definition or explanation

Adapted resources

These are general modifications or additional resources to accommodate all pupils in learning.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

AAD: is a term used for people who have excessive difficulties with concentration without the presence of other ADHD symptoms such as excessive impulsiveness or hyperactivity.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects how someone sees the world, processes information and relates to others. 

Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASD or ASC)

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties but being autistic will affect them in different ways. 

Barriers to learning

Are anything that stands in the way of a child or young person being able to learn effectively.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

CAMHS is used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their emotional or behavioural wellbeing, 

Communication and interaction (SEND Area of Need)

The children or young people have difficulty in communicating with others due to a speech, language and communication need (SLCN), developmental language disorder (DLD) or ASD. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to do, understanding what is being said to them, or they do not understand or use social rules of communication and cannot always interact as needed.

Cognition and learning
(SEND Area of Need)

When children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), specific learning difficulties (SpLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).

Distraction techniques

Any activity to re-direct attention, energy, and emotions – used well can defuse or deflect issues.

Delegated funding

Funding that comes into the school from the local authority (based on a formula).


Tailoring instruction, content, processes, resources or the environment to suit the learners.

Education health and care plan (EHC Plan)

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs. It explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.

Emotional literacy support assistant (ELSA)

ELSAs have been trained by educational psychologists to plan and deliver programmes of support to pupils who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs.

Educational psychologists (EPs)

Educational psychologists work within local authorities in partnership with families and other professionals. To help children and young people achieve their potential. They use their training in psychology and knowledge of child development to assess difficulties pupils may be having with their learning. They provide advice and training on how schools might help pupils to learn and develop. 

Equality Act 2010

The act provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals, including those with SEND, and advance equality of opportunity for all. 

Equality scheme and accessibility plan

Sets out the proposals to increase access for disabled learners (or other SEN) as required by the DDA.

Exam concessions

Some learners with SEND are entitled to special arrangements to support them during their exams. This may include extra time, having a reader, scribe or being able to have extra rest breaks. 

First attempt in learning (FAIL)


Graduated approach

The four stages of support for learners with SEND: Assess Plan Do and Review.

Hearing impairment (HI)

A partial or total loss of hearing.

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

An HLTA is a teaching assistant with additional responsibilities to support children and young people with SEND. They have additional training and qualifications. 

Holistic progress

The development of every learner’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potential through a collective responsibility.

Information Advice and Support Service (IAS)

Provides free, confidential and impartial support for children and young people with SEND and their parents or carers. Advice, information and guidance in relation to education, health and social care where there is, or may be, a special educational need.


The model where learners with SEN spend most time with their class teacher and peers, not withdrawn. Any withdrawal will be short-term and targeted.

Individual education plan (IEP)

This is used to help plan, teach, monitor and evaluate a learner’s progress who has a SEND.


An approach, programme or set of steps to help a learner improve in skills and/or knowledge.

Local Offer

The SEND Local Offer was introduced in 2014 and gives children, young people and their families information about what support services are available in their local area. This is a statutory requirement for a local authority.

Multi-sensory impairment (MSI)

Impairment with both sight and hearing. 

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

A disorder that is defined by a pattern of defiant behaviours directed at adults or other authoritative figures. 

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Provides practical support to children and young people 

Pathological defiance avoidance (PDA)

A profile that describes those whose main characteristic is to avoid every day demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This is a diagnostic term and fits within the autism spectrum. 

Profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD)

When someone has multiple disabilities, which may be physical and sensory impairments and may require high levels of support both for learning and personal care. 

Quality first teaching (QFT)

A style of teaching that emphasises high quality, inclusive teaching for all learners in a class – it includes differentiated learning, strategies or resources.

Reasonable adjustments

The reasonable adjustments duty under the Equality Act refers to the positive steps that need to be taken to ensure that any learners with SEND can fully participate in learning or any activity taking place in school. 

Regulating (self-regulating)

The ability to adapt your responses and emotions according to different situations. To be able to calm or resettle themselves with minimal intervention.


The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties eg, our toughness.

Restorative approaches and restorative justice

How to improve and repair relationships – working with students to fix problems, impose fair punishments, foster understanding and adjust learners behaviour. It is a process based on a belief that the path to justice lies in problem solving and healing rather than punishment. 

Speech and language therapy (SALT)

Supporting children and young people with communication difficulties or difficulties with eating and drinking. 


Special needs coordinator (SENCo)

A teacher who has day-to-day responsibility for operation of SEND provision within a school. Every school in the UK is required to employ a SENCo as they ensure that learners with SEND are well equipped to obtain the right support they need in school. 

Sensory and/or physical needs (SEN Area of Need)

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. For example, people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or facilitation support. Some learners require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)

Difficulties with listening, understanding and communication with others.

SMART targets

SMART is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) 

(SEN Area of Need)

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways, becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, ADD, ODD or PDA, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.

Sufficiency of provision

The duty to provide suitable and sufficient education for all children and young people.

Teaching assistant (TA)

Supports children and young people with their learning under the direction of a teacher. 

Visual impairment (VI)

A partial or total loss of vision.