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Special educational needs and disability (SEND)

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

  • have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age
  • have a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions


Special educational provision

For children aged 2 or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by:

  • mainstream schools
  • maintained nursery schools
  • mainstream post-16 institutions
  • relevant early years providers

For a child under 2 years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind.

A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if they are likely to fall within this definition when they reach compulsory school age or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them (Section 20 Children and Families Act 2014).

Post-16 institutions often use the term learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD). The term SEN is used on this website across the 0 to 25 age range but includes LDD.

Autism (autistic spectrum disorders/conditions – ASD/ASC)

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. There is no medical cure but developing and consistently implementing strategies improves educational and life outcomes.

It is a spectrum condition. This means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over – or under sensitivity to sound, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

ASC is a neurological rather than psychological condition. People with ASC have a different brain structure from neuro-typical people. Their behaviours are the result of their neurological condition.

Other names you may hear to describe or are related to autism include:

  • pervasive development disorder (PDD): the term widely used to describe autism in the USA, not widely used in Europe
  • pervasive development disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD NOS): the term widely used to describe autism in the USA, not widely used in Europe
  • Asperger syndrome: term previously used to describe people with autism who were fully verbal and of at least average intelligence
  • childhood autism: a child with autism, a misleading term because there is no cure for autism although if the right strategies are used, educational and life chances are improved
  • high-functioning autism: term given to a child who has autism and is of average intelligence but who developed speech late in comparison to their peers
  • semantic pragmatic disorder: a term given to someone who has a good grammatical language but lack of ability to use language in a socially appropriate manner
  • atypical autism: a person with autism but who has an uncommon mix of behaviours

The new diagnostic label is autistic spectrum disorder. This is usually referred to in this council as autistic spectrum condition.

People with ASC sometimes have other difficulties such as:

  • oppositional defiance disorder (ODD): this is far more than just the “terrible twos” or teenage rebellion; symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder include negative and disruptive behaviour, often to people in authority, including parents and teachers
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour
  • dyslexia: a learning difficulty that mainly affects the way people read and spell words
  • dyscalculia: a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetic skills, like dyslexia with numbers
  • dyspraxia: is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults; It may also affect speech
  • attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): severe behavioural problems of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness
  • Tourettes syndrome: is when someone has physical, verbal or both sorts of tics (involuntary movements of verbalisations; these have to persist for over a year for a diagnosis to be made

People with ASC have difficulties in two areas:

  • difficulties with social interaction and social communication
  • difficulties with imagination and flexibility of though

Difficulties with social interaction and social communication can display itself as a person who presents as:

  • indifferent and aloof from others
  • approaches others for physical needs only
  • passively accepts approaches from others
  • makes unusual approaches such as sniffing others
  • have a stilted manner of interaction
  • have difficulties interpreting and expressing emotions, body language and voice tone
  • may develop speech late or not at all
  • may have limited language or use inappropriate language
  • lack of appreciation of the pleasure of socialising
  • language is understood literally
  • has difficulties making and maintaining appropriate eye-contact
  • have difficulties making and maintaining friendships.

Difficulties with imagination and flexibility of thought can display itself as a person who presents as:

  • likes to always do things the same way
  • needs strict routines
  • finds change difficult
  • is self-centred and lacks empathy
  • has intense interests, often referred to as obsessions
  • talks at you rather than to you
  • difficulties predicting what people will do and what will happen next

People with ASC also may be over- or under sensitive when processing sight, auditory, touch, taste, smell, balance and knowing where their body is in space information. This can result in them displaying challenging behaviours.

Local support

  • you or your child’s educational setting’s SENCO or inclusion manager; the setting may seek advice from the education inclusion team or the educational psychology service
  • there is a range of training available for school staff and parents covering autism awareness, structured teaching, picture exchange communication, social understanding and sensory needs; parents could inquire at their nursery or school setting

Priory Lodge School local offer (PDF, 1.41 MB)

The Sycamore Trust

National support

National Autistic Society


Autism Education Trust

Ambitious about Autism

The Autism Project

Children's autism strategy

Children's autism strategy (PDF, 109 KB)

The council and  the autism steering group commissioned the Sycamore Trust to consult with parents following the launch of this children’s autism strategy. The questions asked of parents came directly from the strategy. The autism steering group is developing an action plan to address parental concerns.

Results of the consultation (PDF, 564 KB)


Deafness (also known as hearing impairment caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerves that transmit sound to the brain (known as sensorineural hearing loss) is always permanent. The most significant effect of permanent deafness in young children is the delayed development of language skills. This may have an effect on literacy and other school areas.

All children are screened for deafness at birth through the newborn hearing screening programme; if an unclear response is recorded they are then referred to the hearing clinic for further investigation.

Hearing aids

Most deaf children will be able to wear a hearing aid. A hearing aid is an electronic device that consists of a microphone, an amplifier, a loudspeaker and a battery. It increases the volume of sound entering your ear so that you can hear things more clearly. Hearing aids are fitted with programmes that can distinguish between background noise, such as traffic, and foreground noise, such as conversation.

Your GP or audiologist (hearing specialist) will be able to advise you about whether a hearing aid is suitable for your child. If a hearing aid is recommended for your child, an audiologist will take an impression of your child’s ears to make an ‘ear mould’, so that the hearing aid will fit them perfectly. The hearing aid will be adjusted to suit your child’s level of hearing impairment. After the hearing aid has been fitted, there will be a follow-up appointment.

Education service for deaf children

All deaf children on diagnosis are referred by the audiology services to the teacher of the deaf, in either the Early Years team or the Outreach Service for deaf children. The teachers will support you and your deaf child from diagnosis into and through school. The local hearing clinic is in Barking Child and family Centre. The telephone number for the hearing clinic is 0300 300 1753.

Cochlear implants

If your child is profoundly deaf, they may be referred for a cochlear implant at one of the specialist centres (in London, Cambridge or Nottingham). This will require an operation during which the implant is placed in the cochlea. The child then wears an external speech processing device.

Lip reading and sign language

Children who are born deaf and their families, are given the opportunity to develop sign language skills on courses offered by the education inclusion team.

Local support

The audiology Service (NHS) and the local education service for deaf children liaise closely together and will work with you and your child if they are permanently deaf.

Additionally resourced provisions (ARPs)

There are ARPs in 3 schools in Barking and Dagenham at Five Elms, Eastbury Primary and Eastbury Comprehensive secondary schools. Entry is through the statutory assessment process of an EHC plan.

The Early Years Teacher of the Deaf and Outreach Service Teacher of the Deaf has a lead professional role working with pre-school settings and schools to ensure the best possible inclusive school experience for your child. The teachers of the deaf have forged close links with the local community and also work with other boroughs and voluntary agencies to bring together deaf children from across the region to meet up socially.

Multi-agency links

Parents and professionals from the NHS and education, as well as voluntary agencies, are brought together in the children’s hearing services working groups (CHSWG). Parents are always welcome to attend these meetings. For details of meetings, contact the Early Years Teacher of the Deaf or Outreach Service Teacher of the Deaf.

More information

Early Years Teacher of the Deaf (0-5 years), Mrs Janice Barnett, Portage & Inclusion, Alibon Children’s Centre, 175 Sterry Road, Dagenham, RM10 8PT, 020 8724 3851, Janice.barnett@lbbd.gov.uk

Outreach Service Teacher of the Deaf (5 to 25 years) , Miss Lynn Wager, Five Elms Primary School, Wood Lane, RM9 5TB, 020 8724 8014, lwager@five-elms.bardaglea.org.uk

Sign language courses

Havering Adult College

Early Start signalong 

Support organisations

National Deaf Society Advisory Service

Empowering Deaf Society

Panathlon deaf sporting programme


Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which affects children’s ability to read and spell. A dyslexia diagnosis can only be made by a qualified specialist, who will say a child is dyslexia if they are still struggling with their reading and spelling in spite of receiving good teaching.

Many children struggle to read but this does not necessarily mean they are dyslexic. However, whether they are dyslexic or not, if they are having difficulty they need extra help.

How to help dyslexic children and young people

  • allow plenty of time for homework in a stress free environment
  • use pictures, listening books, audio tapes and visual aids
  • local libraries often lend audio books to dyslexic children for free
  • use a dyslexic friendly dictionary in which the words are listed as they sound with the correct version next to them
  • try dyslexic friendly software for computers.

What to do if a child is having problems at school due to a speech and language difficulty

  1. Speak to the class teacher.

The class teacher will:

  • be aware of the child’s level of reading and know which sounds and reading skills they still need to learn
  • give extra help if it is required
  • work on phonological awareness skills
  • give parents work for the child/young person to do at home
  1. Ask the school which members of staff have additional training and expertise
    in reading and dyslexia.

They will be able to

  • assess the child’s skills in reading, phonological awareness and spelling
  • assess the child’s working memory
  • pinpoint the child’s exact difficulties
  • find out the child’s strengths in order to use these to learn
  • devise a programme to help the child progress
  • work with the parents to ensure maximum progress

Local support

Schools should already:

  • provide quality teaching of literacy in the classroom
  • carry out, monitor and evaluate catch-up small group interventions

Where schools have children who, in spite of this support are still struggling with reading, the following training and consultancy services are available from the inclusion team:

  • support for identifying children with dyslexia
  • training to carry out assessments in order to ascertain the children’s strengths and difficulties
  • assistance with producing individual programmes for children with dyslexia
  • expert advice on individual pupils

National support

Dyslexia Action

British Dyslexia Association

Learning needs

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty if he or she:

  1. Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age and which calls for special educational provision, which is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age. or
  2. Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

A delay in learning and development in the early years may or may not indicate that a child has SEN, that is, that they have a learning difficulty that calls for special educational provision. However, where there are concerns, there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any underlying factors such as an underlying learning or communication difficulty.

Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has SEN and should not automatically lead to a pupil being recorded as having SEN. However, they may be an indicator of a range of learning difficulties. Equally, it should not be assumed that attainment in line with chronological age means that there is no learning difficulty or disability.

The range of needs within cognition and learning difficulty is very broad and needs to be well-understood so that the appropriate provision can be made for each child with in this area of SEN.

Moderate learning difficulty (MLD)

This where children are working well below age expected norms whilst making at least age-expected rates of progress. Learning needs to be presented in manageable chunks, with additional time for processing new information and opportunity for over-learning. This will enable them to establish the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary for accessing the entire curriculum. The vast majority of children with MLD will be in mainstream schools with appropriate interventions and support in place.

Severe learning difficulty (SLD)

Typically, these children are working significantly below age-expected norms, in most instances working within the P levels for all of their school years. Children with SLD may have access to specialised provision: which may be a learning ARP (additionally resourced provision) in a mainstream school or a special school. Often a multi-sensory curriculum is required with a very high ratio of additional adult support.

Children with learning needs might benefit from

  • universal high quality teaching
  • targeted intervention support
  • specialist support, eg reading recovery

What to do if a child is having problems at school due to a learning difficulty

  1. School support
  • speak with the class teacher
  • speak with the SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator)

The above staff will be able to

  • carry out further assessments
  • put in place, if needed, an appropriate intervention programme
  • see advice from external agencies
  1. Local support

The school is able to ask for support from the education inclusion team, who:

  • help schools improve their skills and knowledge when working with children with learning difficulties
  • train school staff to use of effective intervention and screening tools


Social, emotional and mental health needs

Social, emotional and mental health needs is a term used to apply to a wide range of children and young people's needs which can present in a number of ways. This term replaces ‘behaviour’ needs in the new SEN code. Children and young people can:

  • seem challenging and disruptive
  • be withdrawn or isolated
  • lack concentration
  • have immature social skills
  • be hyperactive
  • be anxious and depressed

“Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include 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, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.” (from the special educational needs and disability code of practice 0 to 25 years)

You can find out more at NHS Children and Mental Health Services 

Whether a child or young person is considered to have social emotional and mental health difficulties depends on the nature, frequency, persistence, severity and the abnormality of the difficulties and their cumulative affect on their behaviour and/or their emotional wellbeing compared with what might be expected of children or young people of the same age.

What to do if a child is having problems at school due to social, emotional and mental health needs

  1. Speak to the class teacher.

The class teacher will use Barking and Dagenham's behaviour handbook to:

  • identify the child‟s behaviour needs
  • work effectively with children with social emotional and mental health needs at lower level of needs
  1. Ask the school to set up a plan to meet their child‟s needs.

This plan will:

  • target priority areas
  • suggest strategies to meet the child/young person's needs
  • review how well the plan is working to move the child forward
  • both you and your child would be at the centre of this planning.
  1. Speak to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).

The SENCO will:

  • carry out further assessment to find out the child‟s difficulties
  • provide strategies for teachers to use in the classroom
  • offer the option of a group to help the child/young person to develop skills according to needs

Local support

The school can ask for support from the education inclusion team. This team:

  • helps schools with their pastoral support arrangements for all pupils
  • helps schools ensure effective behaviour for learning
  • helps schools with their skills and knowledge when working with children with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties
  • trains all staff in all schools to use the behaviour handbook
  • trains school staff to develop specific interventions
  • arrange meetings for trained staff to keep them up to date with best practice

Speech, language and communication needs

Speech is:

  • saying sounds accurately and in the right place in words
  • the sounds people use to communicate words
  • speaking fluently, without hesitating, or prolonging or repeating words or sounds
  • speaking with expression with a clear voice, using pitch, volume and intonation to support meaning

Language is:

  • using words to build up sentences, sentences to build up conversations and longer stretches of spoken language
  • understanding and making sense of what people say

Communication is:

  • how we interact with each other
  • using language to represent concepts and thoughts
  • using language in different ways to question, clarify, describe etc
  • non-verbal rules of communication , good listening and looking at people when in conversation, taking turns and changing language to suit the situation
  • taking into account other people’s views

Children with a speech, language and communication needs might:

  • have immature social skills
  • behaviour or sound like a younger child
  • struggle to listen well
  • miss what’s being said to them
  • do the wrong thing
  • know and use fewer words than their friends
  • talk in shorter sentences
  • be difficult to understand

For most children this is described as a delay and it is the only difficulty they have. This type of need can be quite common. For some children it is described as a disorder or part of another condition and can be severe and complex. This is less common

What to do if a child is having problems at school due to a speech and language difficulty

  1. Speak to the class teacher.

The class teacher will use Barking and Dagenham's speech and language handbook to:

  • know how to make communication a priority in the classroom
  • be able to identify children’s speech, language and communication needs
  • be able to work effectively with children with speech, language and communication needs
  1. Ask the school which members of staff have additional training and expertise in speech, language and communication.

They will:

  • use the Language Link screening tool (or equivalent) to get more information and plan some group work
  • run groups to allow the children to catch up with their friends such The 100 words programme (nursery), Talk Boost (infants), Language Link (primary), enhancing language and communication in secondary schools (secondary) (or equivalent)
  • talk to the SENCO or the speech and language link (trained by Barking and Dagenham)

These people will:

  • be able to carry our further assessment to find out the child’s difficulties
  • be able to devise an individual programme and work with and support the class teacher
  • be able to decide if a referral to a speech and language therapist is necessary

Local support

The school can ask for support from the inclusion team. This team:

  • helps schools to their skills and knowledge when working with children with speech, language and communication needs
  • trains all staff in all schools to use the Barking and Dagenham handbook
  • trains specific staff in schools to give them a qualification in speech, language and communication
  • trains school staff to use specific interventions and screening tools
  • arrange meetings for trained staff to keep them up to date with best practice

National support

Afasic, voice for life

Talking Point

The Communication Trust


Speak With A Picture

Visual impairment

Visual impairment is the functional limitation of the eye or eyes or the vision system.

To register a child’s Certificate of Visual Impairment:

For more information, please contact:

Children’s Disabilities Care and Support 
Telephone: 0208 227 5500
Email: TheHeathwayCentre@lbbd.gov.uk
Becontree Children's Centre, Stevens Road, Dagenham RM8 2QR.

Joseph Clarke Educational Service (0-19 years) 
Telephone: 020 8531 8361
Email: jcservice@josephclarke.waltham.sch.uk
Joseph Clarke Educational Service for the Vision Impaired, Macdonald Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4AZ.

Portage and Inclusion (0-5 years) 
Telephone: 020 8724 8550
Email: PortageOffice@lbbd.gov.uk.
Portage and Inclusion, Alibon Children's Centre, 175 Sterry Road, Dagenham RM10 8PT.

Adult Sensory Service

Telephone: 0208 227 2915 (Adult Triage)
Email: intaketeam@lbbd.gov.uk or sensory@lbbd.gov.uk
Disability Service Sensory Team, Roycraft House, 5th Floor, Roycraft House, 15 Linton Road, Barking IG11 8HE

Essex Sight

National services for children with vision loss

Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) 
Telephone: 020 3198 0225
Email: connections@rsbc.org.uk
RSBC Orpington Campus, The Walnuts, Orpington, Kent BR6 0TE.

LOOK UK 11- 29
Telephone: 07464 351958
Email: info@look-uk.org
LOOK National Federation of Families with Children with a Visual Impairment, Fred Bulmer Centre, Wall Street, Hereford, HR4 9HP.

Telephone: 0300 330 9256
Email: info@sense.org.uk
Sense information and advice, 101 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LG.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Retina UK


Guide dogs

Information about guide dogs for children - Guide Dogs website. For more information please call the Guide Dogs helpline on 0800 781 1444 or email children@guidedogs.org.uk

Certificate of Visual Impairment registration Children and Young People information - Guide Dogs website.