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Special Educational Needs - What does it Mean?

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Children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to the made for them. This comes from the 1987 Amendment to The Education (Guernsey) Law 1970.

This short definition emphasises the two key phrases that are part of the full legal description of special educational needs. You can find a copy of the legal definition on Page 5 of the SEN Code of Practice (Guernsey) 2004 available to download from this page.

  • What is a learning difficulty?

    • Children who have a learning difficulty find it harder to learn than the majority of children of the same age, or they may have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities provided for other children.
    • Children do not have a learning difficulty solely because their first language is not English. However, some of these children may also have learning difficulties.
    • Some learning difficulties are clear from an early age, but in some cases the difficulties may not be noticed until the child is at school.
    • A learning difficulty might cause the child to have difficulties with:
      • Expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
      • Reading, writing or number work, or understanding information
      • Making friends or relating to adults
      • Organising themselves
      • Behaving properly in school
  • What is special educational provision?

    • Special educational provision is the extra or different help given in school to children with special educational needs.
    • For a young child under two years old, any educational provision is special educational provision.
    • Special educational provision takes many forms. For most children with learning difficulties and special educational needs this will be in their mainstream class or group. It can include group work or individual support that takes place inside or outside the mainstream classroom. It could also be attendance in a specialist class or base or in a special school.
  • How many children have special educational needs?

    • About 1 in 5 children may have special educational needs at some time. Schools and other Education Services can help most children overcome the difficulties quickly and easily. Other children will have special educational needs throughout their schooling. Some will have special educational needs in particular areas of the school curriculum and others may need help with all or most aspects of their education.
  • SEN Code of Practice

    • The SEN Code of Practice (Guernsey) 2004 is the guidance that schools and Education Services must follow to identify, assess and make provision for children who have any of these learning difficulties and therefore special educational needs. The Code (pages 5 & 6) suggests that there are 4 main areas of special need. These are:
    • Cognition and Learning Needs

    • This includes children who have difficulty with learning, thinking and understanding or who have developmental delay. They may have features of moderate, severe or profound learning difficulties or specific learning difficulties (dyslexia and dyspraxia).
    • Social, Emotional and Behavioural Needs

    • Pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs cover the full range of ability and severity. Their behaviours present a barrier to learning and persist despite the implementation of an effective school behaviour policy and personal/social curriculum.
    • They may be withdrawn or isolated, disruptive and disturbing, have immature social skills or present challenging behaviours.
    • Communication and Interaction Needs

    • This includes children with speech and language difficulties and disorders and autistic spectrum disorders including Asperger's Syndrome.
    • Sensory and/or Physical Needs

    • This includes children with a range of significant visual or hearing difficulties and children with physical disabilities which impede their learning in school and their ability to take part in the curriculum.
    • Children do not fall into neat categories and some have needs in more than one area. When a child has very significant difficulties falling into a number of these areas, then this child may be described as having complex needs.
  • Where can I find out more?

    • You can ask the following people for more information about special educational needs:
      • Your child's class teacher
      • The Special Educational Needs
        Co-ordinator (SENCO) or Headteacher at your child's school
      • The Standards and Learning Effectiveness team
      • The Educational Psychology Service


SEN Code of Practice

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Write to us:
Standards & Learning Effectiveness

Sir Charles Frossard House,  La Charroterie,  St Peter Port,  Channel Islands,  GY1 1FH

Call us:
01481 224000

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