Jargon Buster - Our Words explained!

Professionals can sometimes use words, phrases and/or abbreviations that are difficult for parents, carers and young people to understand. They can also mean different things to different organisations.

Click on the letters below to see some of the words and terminology you might come across. 



Publicly funded independent schools that are free from local authority control. Other freedoms include setting their own pay and conditions for staff, freedoms concerning the delivery of the curriculum, and the ability to change the length of their terms and school days.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Written reports from parents, teachers and other professionals on a pupil’s special educational needs.


someone who can speak on your behalf, express your views and wishes, and ensure that your rights, concerns and needs are acted upon.  Advocates act only according to the wishes of the person they are speaking for.  They do not take their own view of what is best, or try to influence the person to make a different choice.


Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

"AP" or "Alternative provision" 

Education arranged by a local authority or school for pupils of compulsory school age outside of mainstream or special schools, including pupils: with behaviour problems, health needs preventing school attendance or without a school place. It may include full or part time placements in pupil referral units, AP academies, AP free schools or FE colleges; provision in hospital schools and independent schools; and other provision such as home tuition services and voluntary or private sector providers.

“Annual Review” 

 The review of an Education Health and Care plan.


 A Health professional who specialises in identifying and treating hearing and balance disorders.



British Sign Language


Behaviour Support Plan

 "Base or core funding"

Level of funding that is allocated from the local authority or EFA to individual schools and other institutions, usually based on pupil or place numbers.



“C&YP” or “CYP”                   

Children and Young People


Common Assessment Framework. A method of assessment which can be used by social services, health or education. It is non statutory, i.e. it does not replace statutory assessment.


The Children and Families Act 2014.


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

"Capital funding"

Funding allocated to meet capital expenditure for creating new school or college places and to carry out significant maintenance and repair work to existing buildings.

“Care plan”

A record of the health and/or social care services being provided to a child or young person.


Clinical Commissioning Group. This is an NHS organisation which brings together local GPs and health professionals to take on commissioning responsibilities for local health services. A CCG plans and arranges the delivery of the health care provision for people in its area.

"Children and Families Act 2014"

Part III of the Act introduces significant changes to the SEN and disability system including new assessment arrangements, joint commissioning duties, a local offer, and increased engagement with children, young people and families.

“Code” or “CoP”

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015. This contains statutory guidance on the Children and Families Act 2014.



Department for Education. The government department that is responsible for education and children's services in England.

"Dedicated schools grant"

The ring-fenced specific grant paid by the department to local authorities from April 2006 in support of the schools budget. The money has either to be delegated to schools or used for centrally managed provision for pupils. It contains three funding blocks (schools, high needs and early years).

“Developmental delay”

A delay in reaching the normal stages of development.


“Direct Payments”

Payments made in lieu of services being provided. Direct Payments may be available for health care, social care and for the special educational provision in an EHC plan. 

“Disagreement Resolution”

Local authorities must provide access to independent disagreement resolution to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities, schools and other settings about Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) duties and provision.


 “Early Years Provider”

A provider of early education places for children under five. This can include state funded and private nurseries, registered childminders and pre school playgroups.

"Early years block"

The early years block funds provision for 2, 3 and 4 years olds in maintained nurseries; in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector, and in maintained schools and academies.


Education Funding Agency, an arm of the Department for Education. It allocates funding to local authorities for maintained schools and voluntary aided schools. It is also responsible for funding and monitoring academies.

“EHC needs assessment”

An assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of a child or young person conducted by a local authority under the Children and Families Act 2014.

“EHC plan”

An education, health and care plan as defined in section 37 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014.


Educational Psychologist. A professional employed to assess a child or young person's special educational needs and to give advice to schools and settings on how the child's needs can be met.  This role is sometimes referred to as an Ed Psych. 


The statutory framework that all schools and Ofsted registered early years providers must follow which sets the standards for learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years.



Further Education. The FE sector in England includes further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes. It does not include universities.

“Free school”

State-funded schools set up in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community. These new schools have the same legal requirements as academies and enjoy the same freedoms and flexibilities.


Free school meals


“Global delay”

A general delay in acquiring normal developmental milestones.



Hearing Impairment.

"High needs funding block" 

The high needs block is the funding for high needs within the DSG. 

“home authority”

This usually means the local authority in which a child or young person is ordinarily resident (and which therefore has the responsibility to the child or young person under the Children and Families Act 2014). 

"Hospital education" or “HT”

Education provided at a special school established in a hospital, or under any arrangements made by the local authority where the child is being provided with such education by reason of a decision made by a medical practitioner.


 “Independent school”

A school that is not maintained by a local authority. 

“Independent supporter”

A person recruited locally by a voluntary or community sector organisation to help families going through an EHC needs assessment and the process of developing an EHC plan.


"Key Stages"

The different stages of education that a child passes through

  • Early Years Foundation Stage - age 0-5 - Nursery and Reception
  • KS One - age 5-7 - Years 1 & 2
  • KS Two - age 7 - 11 - Years 3, 4, 5 and 6
  • KS Three - age 11 -14 - Years 7, 8 and 9
  • KS Four - age 14 - 16 - Years 10 and 11
  • KS Five - age 16+ - Sixth form or college


A local authority / ‘Council’ in England.


A ‘Looked After Child’, supported by social work team.


Learning Disability


Learning Support Assistant, also sometimes called Teaching Assistant (“TA”).


 “Mainstream School”

State school which can meet the needs of most children.

“Maintained school”

Schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.


A method of seeking to resolve disagreements by going to an independent mediator. Mediation must be offered to a parent or young person in relation to an EHC Plan. Mediation is not compulsory for the parent or young person but they will need to consider mediation before appealing the education parts of an EHC plan in most cases.


Moderate learning difficulties – not a legal term but often used in relation to the description of a school, i.e. an MLD school.

"Multi-academy trust"

A group of academies working together under a shared academy structure.


“National curriculum”

The programmes of study and attainment targets for children's education, for all subjects at all stages.

"Notional SEN budget"

In considering their funding formula for mainstream schools and academies, and the appropriate level of delegation of SEN funding, local authorities must make sure that the budget shares of schools and academies include an appropriate amount that enables them to contribute to the costs of the whole school’s additional SEN support arrangements, up to a mandatory cost threshold of £6,000 per pupil. 


“Occupational Therapist” or “OT”

Occupational Therapy, sometimes used to refer to the occupational therapist. A health professional trained to give advice on equipment, adaptations and activities to support the learning / social development of children, young people and adults with physical, emotional, sensory or behavioural difficulties.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


Oppositional Defiance Disorder.


Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This is the body which inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. 

Outcome: a description of the difference that will be made to an individual as a result of special educational or other provision.  It should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and within a set timescale.


 “Person Centred”

A way of working that makes sure a child or young person and their family are central to and involved in all aspects of planning and decision-making with the professionals and services working with them.


Also known as “Preparing for Adulthood” is a National programme providing knowledge and support to local authorities and their partners, including families and young people, so they can ensure disabled young people achieve paid work, independent living, good health and community inclusion as they move into adulthood.

“Personal Budget”

A Personal Budget is the notional amount of money which an LA has identified as necessary to secure the special educational provision in an EHC plan.


Profound and multiple learning difficulties. Refers to people with more than one disability including severe learning disabilities.


Home based pre-school education for children with developmental delay, disabilities or any other special educational needs.  Portage home visitors work in partnership with parents, helping parent to help their child through learning activities within the home.

“Pupil Referral Unit or PRU”

Pupil Referral Unit - for children who need to be educated out of school, often because they have been excluded. They have the same legal status as schools in some respects but do not have to teach the national curriculum.


“Reasonable adjustments”

Are changes schools and other settings are required to make to ensure children and young people with special educational needs and/or disability are not substantially disadvantaged.  This could include: changes to physical features, for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing extra support and aids such as specialist teachers or equipment.


"Schools block"

The schools block funds all pupils not funded through the high needs or early years blocks.

"School census" 

The school census is a statutory return which takes place during the autumn, spring, and summer terms. The census collects information about individual pupils and about the schools themselves.

"Section 41 list" 

Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 allows independent special schools and specialist post-16 institutions to be included on the Secretary of State approved list. Registration under Section 41 would give parents/young people a right to express a school or institution as a preference when their education, health and care plan is being prepared/agreed and a requirement for local authorities to include the school or institution in their local offer. The arrangements also enable independent special schools and special post-16 institutions on the approved list to be considered on the same basis as maintained schools, academies, non-maintained special schools and FE colleges when a child’s or young person’s education, health and care plan is developed. It also places an obligation on the school or institution to admit the pupil and meet his or her needs.


Social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

"SEN Information Report"

All schools must publish on their websites information about their policy and arrangements for supporting children and young people with SEN.  The schools are also required to keep this information up to date. 

"SEN Support"

Is any help for children and young people with special educational needs that is additional to or different from the support generally made for other children of the same age.  The purpose of SEN Support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them by the school.  Schools should involve parents in this process.  SEN Support replaces Early Years Action/Action Plus and School Action/Action Plus.


Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator – the teacher with responsibility for co-ordinating special help for children with SEN at their school.


Special educational needs and/or disabilities. 


Severe learning difficulties – not a legal term but often used in relation to the description of a school, i.e. an SLD school.

“SLT” or “SALT”

Speech and Language Therapy, sometimes used to refer to the Speech and Language Therapist.

"Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years" 

Statutory guidance on the SEN and disability system for children and young people aged 0 to 25, produced for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have SEN or disabilities.

“Special school”

A school which is specifically organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN.



Iis a time of change which could be at particular points during a child's education for example moving from primary to secondary school, or a move between services, for example moving from children's services to adult services.


An independent body that determines appeals by parents or young people against LA decisions on EHC needs assessment and EHC plans



Visual impairment.

Page last reviewed: 26/08/2020


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