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Support for special educational needs

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is the term used in many schools when a child needs extra support with their learning, behaviour or healthcare needs. If your child has epilepsy and SEND, they may get all the support they need from their school. But if your child needs more support than the school can offer, they may be entitled to extra help from their local authority.

On this page we explain some of the key terms to know about in each part of the UK. The process of applying for extra support can be complex, so we’ve given some links for further advice and support in each country.

You can find out more about this subject in our online course Your child and epilepsy. See Part 6 – Learning and behaviour.

England

Education, health and care plan (EHC plan or EHCP): A legal document written by the local authority if your child needs more help than a school would normally offer them. The EHC plan sets out your child’s needs, and what support the local authority will put in place for them.

EHC plans replaced statements of special educational needs in England in 2014, so sometimes you might hear them referred to as a statement.

Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment: An assessment carried out by the local authority to decide if your child needs an EHC plan. A request for an assessment can be made by you, your child’s school or your child themselves if they are over 16.

Advice and support

Contact: a charity for families of disabled children, with lots of information about the EHC assessment process.

Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (ISPEA): offers free and independent advice and support in England.  

Information, Advice and Support (IAS) services: Local advice and support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and their parents.

Northern Ireland

Statement of special educational needs: A document written by the Education Authority setting out your child’s special educational needs and the support they will give.

Statutory assessment:  An assessment of your child’s needs carried out by the Education Authority. The local authority uses the assessment to decide if your child needs a statement of special educational needs. You or your child’s school can ask for a statutory assessment.

Advice and support

nidirect: government website with information about special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC): offers advice, information and advocacy for parents of children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland.

Scotland

Additional support needs/Additional support for learning (ASL): In Scotland, special educational needs are called additional support needs. The laws and guidance in this country use the term: additional support for learning (ASL).

Learning support plans: These are formal documents used by schools for children who have significant support needs. They have different names in different local authorities, for example additional support plans (ASPs), individual support plans (ISPs) and individualised education programmes (IEPs).

Co-ordinated support plan: This is a plan for children with complex support needs involving 2 or more agencies. A CSP is a legal document, meaning if your child has one, the local authority must provide the support set out in the CSP.

Advice and support

Enquire: the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning.

The Scottish Government website has information on additional support for learning, including contact details of advice organisation.

Wales

Statement of special educational needs: A legal document written by the local authority if your child needs more help than their school can offer them. It sets out what your child’s special educational needs are, and the extra help the local authority will give to meet them.

Statutory assessment: A full assessment of your child’s educational needs carried out by the local authority. The local authority uses the assessment to decide if your child needs a statement of special educational needs. You or your child’s school can ask for a statutory assessment.

Changes to the process in Wales: The process of getting support for special educational needs in Wales is due to change in 2021. Some of the terms will also change, for example, special educational needs (SEN) will be called additional learning needs (ALN) instead. We will update this page when the changes come into effect.

Advice and support

SNAP Cymru: advice and support to families of children with special educational needs and disabilities in Wales. Their website includes information on the statementing process.

The Welsh Government: has a guide for parents and carers of children who may have special educational needs.

Code: 
F143.03

Epilepsy Action would like to thank June Massey, Specific Learning Difficulties Consultant, for checking this information.

June Massey has no conflict of interest to declare.

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated September 2020
    To be reviewed September 2023

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