Jargon Buster

There are a lot of confusing terms and abbreviations used by the various authorities and organisations. This page helps you understand what they all mean.



Someone who can help ensure that a person is listened to, and that their rights, concerns and needs are acted upon.

Academy mainstream school (primary and secondary)
Independently managed, all ability school set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education and the local authority. Admissions are co-ordinated by Hampshire County Council.

Academy special school
Independently managed special school set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education and the local authority. Admissions are co-ordinated by Hampshire County Council.

Annual review
The review of a statement of special educational needs or EHC plan which a local authority must make within 12 months of issuing the statement or EHC plan and within 12 months, and not less than 6 months, of the previous review.

Someone who acts on another person’s behalf in all social security (benefits) matters.

Area Inclusion Co-ordinator (INCo)
Early years and childcare settings receive support from an Area Inclusion Co-ordinator, whose role is to work with the settings to ensure all children, whatever their needs, can be included in a full range of activities and learning experiences.

This involves building a picture of your child’s abilities, difficulties, behaviour, his/her special educational needs and the support required to meet those needs. A statutory assessment is a formal procedure which involves the collection of information from as many people as possible who have detailed knowledge about your child. This may lead to the issue of an EHC plan.

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

Health professional who specialises in measuring hearing ability


Blue badge
The Blue Badge scheme helps you park closer to your destination if you’re disabled. Apply to your local Council.


Code of Practice (SEN)
A national guide from the Department for Education to schools and local authorities about the help they can give to children with special educational needs. Schools, local authorities and health services must have regard to the Code when they are involved with a child with special educational needs.

Community school
Maintained by Hampshire County Council as the local authority.

Community special school
A school for children with special educational needs, maintained by Hampshire County Council.

The curriculum is all of the learning opportunities that a school offers. The National Curriculum is described later in the glossary.


Disagreement arrangements
All local authorities must provide arrangements to help prevent or resolve disagreements between parents whose children have special educational needs and the local authority or a school. They must include an independent element. They are designed to bring together the different parties in an informal way to seek to resolve the disagreement through discussion. Using these arrangements is voluntary and does not in any way affect parental rights to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability).


Early years setting
Providers who receive government funding to deliver early education including maintained mainstream and special schools, maintained nursery schools, independent schools, non-maintained special schools, local authority daycare providers such as day nurseries and family centres, other registered daycare providers such as pre-schools, playgroups and private day nurseries, local authority Portage schemes and accredited childminders working as part of an approved National Childminding Association network.

Educational psychologist (EP)
A person, with a degree in psychology, training and experience in teaching and a further degree in educational psychology. An educational psychologist, employed by the local authority, will give advice and support to teachers and parents on how a child’s needs can be met.

Education welfare officer (EWO)
A local authority officer who helps parents and local authorities to meet their respective statutory obligations in relation to school attendance.

Education Health and Care (plan) – has replaced SEN Statements from September 2014


This term describes when two or more schools have a formal agreement to share governance arrangements and work together to raise standards.

First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability)
An independent body which hears appeals from parents against decisions made by local authorities.

Foundation school
A school maintained by the County Council but the governors are responsible for admissions. Trust schools are included in this category.

Free school
A type of all ability state funded independent school, free from local authority control.


An artificial opening in the stomach to aid feeding and nutritional support

Graduated approach
A model of action and intervention in schools and early education settings to help children who have special educational needs. The approach recognises that there is a continuum of special educational needs and that, where necessary, increasing specialist expertise should be brought to bear on the difficulties that a child may be experiencing.

Gross Motor Skills
Use of the large muscles in the body that aid sitting, standing, walking, etc.


A medical term to describe increased muscle tone.

Medical term to describe decreased muscle tone.


Educating children with special educational needs, together with children who do not have special educational needs, in mainstream schools, wherever possible. Ensuring that children with special educational needs engage in the activities of the school together with the other children.

Independent living
Support for adults to live in the community rather than in a residential home.

Independent parental supporter
Provides information and practical support to parents/carers of children with special educational needs.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)
Short term targets for achievements set, reviewed and evaluated by the school with parents/child with copies made available to parents.


Key Stages
The different stages of education that a child passes through:
Early Years Foundation Stage – age 0-5 (Early years setting, Nursery and Reception);
Key Stage one – age 5-7 (Years 1 and 2);
Key Stage two – age 7-11(Years 3, 4, 5 and 6);
Key Stage three – age 11-14 (Years 7, 8 and 9);
Key Stage four – age 14-16 (Years 10 and 11);
Key Stage five – age 16+ (Sixth form or college)


Learning Difficulties
A child has learning difficulties if he or she finds it much harder to learn than most children of the same age, or has a disability which prevents them from making use of educational facilities provided for children of the same age.

Learning support assistant (LSA)
A widely used job title for an assistant providing inschool support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. An LSA will normally work with a particular pupil or pupils providing close support to the individual pupil and assistance to those responsible for teaching him/her. Some assistants specialising in SEN may also be known by titles other than LSA as these matters are decided locally. LSAs are one of a group of assistants coming within the broader Department for Education classification of ‘teaching assistant’.

Local authority (LA)
Local government body responsible for providing education and for making statutory assessments and maintaining statements.


A system of communication that involves the combined use of manual signs and speech.

Scheme to rent a vehicle using DLA or PIP payments to cover the costs. You must be in receipt of Higher Rate mobility component of DLA or PIP.

Muscle Tone
Refers to the amount of tension or resistance in a muscle which enables movement.

Music therapy
Form of therapy often used to help communicate and build relationships with people who are non-verbal or have problems with verbal communication, through the use of playing, singing and listening to music.

Meeting of a group of professionals who assess, support and treat an individual


Named local authority officer
An officer of the Children’s Services Department who will deal with your child’s case. This is usually the Principal Special Needs Officer.

National curriculum
This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, setting out what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported. The national curriculum is taught in a way that meets the needs of individual pupils, eg setting goals that are achievable.

NG tube
Nasogastric tube inserted into the stomach via the nose to aid feeding.

Non-maintained special school
A non-profit-making special school which charges fees. Most non-maintained special schools are run by charities or charitable trusts.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Mental health condition characterised by obsessive thoughts that causes heightened anxiety and compulsive behaviour the person the person thinks is necessary to relieve their obsession.

Occupational therapist
A person who advises about aids and adaptations that may help your child.

Medically trained doctor with specialist skills in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of the eye.

Healthcare professional who assesses individuals for and designs specialist braces, splints and footwear.

Healthcare professional who investigates, diagnoses and treats sight related problems and abnormalities of eye movement and eye position.


Doctor specialising in the needs of babies and children.

Impairments in sensory or motor function of the lower half of the body.

Parent Partnership Service (now incorporated into SENDIAS service)
Provides impartial advice and information to parents whose children have special educational needs. The service offers neutral and factual support on all aspects of the SEN framework to help parents play an active and informed role in their child’s education.

Person Centred Approach
A way of working with a person to find out what is important and meaningful to them.

Personal budget
Your personal budget is the money you get from the County Council, to pay for the help you need.

The provision of tailored care and support to individuals based on their needs and choices they make about how they live their lives.

Employed by the local health service to help people who have physical disabilities. They can help your child with exercises and provide specialist equipment.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
Picture based communication system commonly used be pre-verbal or non-verbal children and young people.

This is a benefit replacing DLA for those over 16. Personal Independence Payment helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability. It is being phased in over the next few years.

Play therapy
The use of play to help children act out and understand difficult life experiences and anxiety in order to reduce anxiety, improve self esteem and better manage their emotions.

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 parents to help their child through learning activities within the home.

Preparing for Adulthood
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.

Profound and Multiple Learning Disability (PMLD)
Refers to people with more than one disability including severe learning disabilities.

Medically qualified doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.

Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)
A specialist school run by local authorities which provides education for children who cannot attend a conventional school. Includes children with behavioural or medical problems, mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, children who are school phobic or who are awaiting a school place.


School medical officer
A doctor who monitors your child’s health to ensure that it does not stop him or her from learning. The medical officer may do regular check-ups on your child if he or she has a physical, sensory or medical problem.

Speech and Language Therapy Assistant. Usually trained and experienced in working with children who have speech, language or communication needs (SLCN), but not professionally qualified and registered. For quality assurance, SLTAs must work under the guidance of a fully qualified and registered Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT).

Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

SMART targets
Targets which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed.

Short breaks
Short breaks can last from just a few hours to a few days – from daytime and evening activities to weekend and overnight or maybe longer. They can take place in a community setting, the child’s own home, the home of an approved carer or in a residential setting. They also provide parents and families with a necessary and valuable break from caring responsibilities.

Special educational needs (SEN)
Children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which requires special educational provision to be made for them.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
An independent body that hears appeals against decisions made by the local authority on EHC plans.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)
Member of staff of a early education setting or school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision within that early education setting or school. In a small school the headteacher or deputy may take on this role. In larger schools there may be a SEN co-ordinating team.

Special educational provision
The special help given to children with special educational needs which is additional to or different from the provision generally made for other children of the same age.

Specialist resourced provision
Additionally funded provision for particular types of special educational needs in mainstream schools, e.g for children with hearing impairment, physical disability, or visual impairment.

Specialist teacher adviser (STA)
Employed by the local authority to provide specialist advice to schools for children with physical disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment and specific learning difficulties.

Special school
A school which is specifically organised to give help to pupils with special educational needs.

Speech and language therapist (SaLT)
A person who helps children who have language difficulties or speech problems.

Statement of special educational needs
A legal document that sets out a child’s special educational needs and the additional help he or she should receive (now replaced by EHC plans).

Statutory assessment
A very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs which may lead to an EHC plan or a note in lieu.

A review of Disability Living Allowance where a person believes their circumstances have changed and that they may be entitled to more help.

Supported living
Supported living is a type of residential support that helps vulnerable adults, including people with learning disabilities, to live with support in the community.


Transition plan
A plan drawn up at the annual review of the statement held when a child reaches Year 9 (13 or 14 years old). It sets out the steps and support needed for him/her to move from school to adult life.


Universal Credit
Universal Credit is replacing certain benefits in parts of the UK.


Voluntary schools
Originally set up by voluntary bodies, such as the Church of England or Roman Catholic Church, but with most of their running costs now funded by the County Council. (Voluntary aided schools are responsible for their own admissions. Voluntary controlled schools follow the County Council’s admission policy.


Youth Support Services (YSS)
Youth Support Services provide information, advice, guidance and support to all young people aged 13-19. They work with young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, up to the age of 25, to help them make the best possible transition into Adult Services.

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