*           SEN Code of Practice 2001 - an overview        

Main changes from 1993 SEN CoP
Chapter headings in the Code of Practice
Definition of Special Educational Needs
The Duties of Governing Bodies
SEN CoP 2001 - key areas of SEN


Since September 1994, whenever schools and LEAs decide what they should do for children with special educational needs, and whenever health services and social services help schools and LEAs take action on behalf of such children, those bodies must consider what the Code says.
In November 2001 a revision of the Code of Practice was issued, replacing the code of 1994. This came into force on 1st January 2002. This revision includes new rights and duties introduced by the SEN and Disability Act 2001.



The purpose of the Code is to give practical advice to LEAs, Head Teachers and Governors of schools, early education practitioners on carrying out their statutory duties to identify, assess and make provision for children’s special educational needs. The advice is also aimed at other interested parties such as social services and health professionals. (See Foreword, SEN Code of Practice 2001.)


Main changes from 1993 CoP

SEN and Disability Act 2001 is taken into account:

         a stronger right for children with SEN to be educated at a mainstream school

         new duties on LEAs to arrange for parents of children with SEN to be provided with services offering advice and information and a means of resolving disputes

         a new duty on schools and relevant nursery education providers to tell parents when they are making special educational provision for their child

         a new right for schools and relevant nursery education providers to request a statutory assessment of a child



Separate chapters on provision in the early years, primary and secondary phases and new chapters on:

         working in partnership with parents

         pupil participation

         working in partnership with other agencies

The five stage approach to identification and assessment has been replaced by a graduated, three stage approach:
Early years/school action    
Early years/school action plus           
Statemented provision

The eight areas of SEN identified in the original code have been replaced by four key areas of SEN.

More detail is outlined on how to devise and implement Individual Education Plans (IEPs), including an emphasis that IEPs should focus on what is additional to and different from the rest of the curriculum.

There are no longer references to specific medical conditions.

Chapter headings in the Code of Practice

  1. Principles and Policies

  2. Working in Partnership with Parents

  3. Pupil Participation

  4. Identification, assessment and provision in EY

  5. Identification, assessment and provision in the primary phase

  6. Identification, assessment and provision in the secondary sector

  7. Statutory assessment of SEN

  8. Statements of special educational needs

  9. Annual Review

  10. Working in partnership with other agencies


Definition of Special Educational Needs

Children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.   Children have a learning difficulty if they:

a) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age; or

(b) have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority

(c) are under compulsory school age and fall within the definition at (a) or (b) above or would so do if special educational provision was not made for them.

Children must not be regarded as having a learning difficulty solely because the language or form of language of their home is different from the language in which they will be taught.

Special educational provision means:

(a) for children of two or over, educational provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children of their age in schools maintained by the LEA, other than special schools, in the area

(b) for children under two, educational provision of any kind.   

Source: SEN CoP 2001, EA 1996, S 312.

 A child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from a mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed.

Source: Children Act 1989, Section 17 (11).

 A person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to day activities.

Source: Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Section 1(1).


The Duties of Governing Bodies

  • do its best to ensure that the necessary provision is made for any pupil who has special educational needs
  • ensure that, where the ‘responsible person’ – the head teacher or the appropriate governor – has been informed by the LEA that a pupil has special educational needs, those needs are made known to all who are likely to teach them
  • ensure that teachers in the school are aware of the importance of identifying, and providing for, those pupils who have special educational needs
  • consult the LEA and the governing bodies of other schools, when it seems to be necessary or desirable in the interests of co-ordinated special educational provision in the area as a whole
  • ensure that a pupil with special educational needs joins in the activities of the school together with pupils who do not have special educational needs, so far as is reasonably practical and compatible with the child receiving the special educational provision their learning needs call for and the efficient education of the pupils with whom they are educated and the efficient use of resources
  • report to parents on the implementation of the school’s policy for pupils with special educational needs

Source: SEN Code of Practice 2001, 1:21.




SEN CoP 2001 - key areas of SEN

The latest documents and information on the Code of Practice can be downloaded from the DfES web site.

SEN Code of Practice 7:52 - This guidance does not assume that there are hard and fast categories of special educational need. It recognises ... that each child is unique and that the questions asked by LEAs should reflect the particular circumstances of that child. ... Children will have needs and requirements which may fall into at least one of four areas, many children will have inter-related needs.

Summaries of the four key areas of SEN identified in the Code of Practice with links to related articles.

1. Communication and interaction

CoP 7:55 - Most children with special educational needs have strengths and difficulties in one, some or all of the areas of speech, language and communication.

Their communication needs may be both diverse and complex. They will need to continue to develop their linguistic competence in order to support their thinking as well as their communication.

The range of difficulties will encompass children and young people with speech and language delay, impairments or disorders, specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia,
hearing impairment and
those who demonstrate features within the autistic spectrum;
they may also apply to some children and young people with moderate, severe or profound learning difficulties.
The range of need will include those for whom language and communication difficulties are the result of permanent sensory or physical impairment.

2. Cognition and learning

CoP 7:58 - Children who demonstrate features of

moderate, severe or profound learning difficulties or

specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, require specific programmes to aid progress in cognition and learning. Such requirements may also apply to some extent to children with physical and sensory impairments and those on the autistic spectrum. Some of these children may have associated sensory, physical and behavioural difficulties that compound their needs.


3. Behaviour, emotional and social development

CoP 7:60 - Children and young people who demonstrate features of emotional and behavioural difficulties, who are withdrawn or isolated, disruptive and disturbing, hyperactive and lack concentration; those with immature social skills; and those presenting challenging behaviours arising from other complex special needs, may require help or counselling for some, or all, of the following:


4. Sensory and/or physical needs

CoP 7:62 - There is a wide spectrum of sensory, multi-sensory and physical difficulties.

The sensory range extends from profound and permanent deafness or visual impairment through to lesser levels of loss, which may only be temporary. Physical impairments may arise from physical, neurological or metabolic causes that only require appropriate access to educational facilities and equipment; others may lead to more complex learning and social needs; a few children will have multi-sensory difficulties some with associated physical difficulties.