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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.


  • AACAugmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication. The term AACAugmentative and Alternative Communication covers a huge range of techniques which support or replace spoken communication. These include gesture, signing, symbols, word boards, communication boards and books, as well as Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs).

  • Advocate

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.

  • Appendix

A report completed by a professional for example, school, educational psychologist, therapist, during an education, health & care needs assessment. The information contained in the appendix is used to complete an Education, Health & Care Plan if one is issued.

  • Appointee

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.

  • AS, ASC or ASD

Autistic Spectrum, Autistic Spectrum Condition or Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  • Assessment

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.

  • Audiologist

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

  • Audiometrician

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.



Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

  • CCGClinical Commissioning Group

Clinical Commissioning Group(s)

  • CDC

Council for Disabled Children

  • CIC

Children in Care

  • CLA

Children Looked After. A child is 'looked after' if they are in the care of the local authority for more than 24 hours. Legally, this could be when they are living in accommodation provided by the local authority with the parents' agreement or the subject of an interim or full care order. This is sometimes also referred to as LAC

  • Code of Practice (SENSpecial Educational Needs) CoPCode of Practice

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.

  • Cognitive ability

Thinking and reasoning abilities. A term often used by psychologists instead of intelligence.

  • 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.

  • Comprehension

Understanding of spoken or written material or practical situations.

  • Curriculum

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

  • CYP

Children and young people


  • DCT

Disabled children’s team. Local authority teams who specialise in working with children who are disabled who have met eligibility criteria for DCT. There are 4 teams across HCCHampshire County Council.

  • Developmental delay

A delay in reaching the normal stages of development, for example sitting or talking.

  • DfEDepartment for Education (government)

Department for Education. Central government department responsible for education.

  • Differentiated Curriculum

Children make progress at different rates and have different ways in which they learn best. Teachers take account of this when planning their lessons, organising the classroom and choosing books and materials. They are then able to choose from the range of available approaches and resources to make a selection which best fits the learning styles of a particular child or group of children. This is what is meant by a differentiated curriculum.

  • 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 (SENSpecial Educational Needs and Disability).

  • DMO

Designated Medical Officer

  • DP

Direct Payments


  • 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 (EPEducational Psychologist)

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 (EWOEducational Welfare OfficerEducation welfare officer)

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

  • EHC

Education Health and Care (plan) - has replaced SENSpecial Educational Needs Statements from September 2014

  • Expressive language

How a child or young person expresses ideas, thoughts and feelings through speech

  • EYEarly Years

Early years


  • Federation

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

  • Fine motor skills

Small movements of the body for example, using fingers to pick up small items, holding a pencil or doing up zips and buttons.

  • First-tier Tribunal (SENSpecial Educational Needs and Disability)

An independent body which hears appeals from parents against decisions made by local authorities.

  • Foundation school

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

  • Free school

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


  • Gait

The way in which a child walks.

  • Gastrostomy

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

  • Global delay

A general delay in acquiring normal developmental milestones.

  • Governors

A school’s governing body that oversees the workings of the school. It includes an SENSpecial Educational Needs Governor and a Parent Governor.

  • GPGeneral Practitioner (your family doctor)

General Practitioners

  • 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.


  • Hearing impairment

A degree of hearing loss.

  • Hyperactivity

Difficulty in concentrating or sitting still for any length of time. Restless, fidgety behaviour, also a child may have sleeping difficulties.

  • Hypertonia

A medical term to describe increased muscle tone.

  • Hypotonia

Medical term to describe decreased muscle tone.


  • IHA

Initial Health Assessment which is carried out for children and young people in care (looked after children)

  • IASS

Information Advice and Support Service. Have a duty to provide information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SENSpecial Educational Needs, and their parents. They are statutory services which means there has to be one in every local authority.


Independent and Parental Special Education Advice service

  • Inclusion

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 (IEPIndividual Education Plan)

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)


  • LAC

Looked after children. A child is 'looked after' if they are in the care of the local authority for more than 24 hours. Legally, this could be when they are living in accommodation provided by the local authority with the parents' agreement or the subject of an interim or full care order.

  • LDA

Learning Difficulty Assessment

  • Learning difficulties (LD)

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 (LSALearning support assistant)

A widely used job title for an assistant providing in school support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. An LSALearning support assistant 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 SENSpecial Educational Needs may also be known by titles other than LSALearning support assistant 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’ (TATeaching Assistant).

  • Literacy skills

Reading, writing and spelling ability.

  • Local authority (LALocal Authority)

Local government body responsible for providing education and for making statutory assessments and maintaining statements.

  • Local offer

Local authorities will be required to publish a ‘local offer’. A local offer is intended to provide information about provision it expects to be available to children with SENSpecial Educational Needs and disabilities in their area both in and outside of a school.


  • Mainstream school

A primary or secondary school which is in direct control of a Local Authority.

  • MakatonMakaton uses signs and symbols to help people communicate.

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

  • Mediation

Mediation is a way of sorting out a disagreement in a safe and friendly environment. It can help you rebuild trust and working relationships, and can deal with problems you were not aware of. Mediation uses a neutral person (the mediator) who is experienced at helping people who disagree to come to an agreement. The mediation service is completely neutral and independent of schools and the local authority.

  • Modified curriculum

Changing the curriculum in some way to meet a child or young person’s individual needs. Examples include increasing/decreasing the difficulty level, length, or pace, alternating easy and difficult tasks, alternating preferred and less preferred tasks, teaching the skill within daily routines, using materials that are interesting to the child or young person, etc.

  • Motability

Scheme to rent a vehicle using DLADisability Living Allowance or PIPPersonal Independence Payment payments to cover the costs. You must be in receipt of Higher Rate mobility component of DLADisability Living Allowance or PIPPersonal Independence Payment.

  • 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.

  • Multi-disciplinary (team) (MDT)

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

  • My views

A child or young person’s report to an Education, Health & Care Needs assessment. This report can be completed by the child or young person independently or with support from an adult.


  • 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.

  • NHSNational Health Service

National Health Service

  • 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.

  • Non-verbal skills

Skills which do not require spoken or written language, but use other ways to communicate, e.g. gesture, facial expression.


  • 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 (OTOccupational Therapist)

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


Office for Standards in Education. Inspection team that visit and inspects schools and local authorities.

  • Ophthalmologist

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

  • Orthotist

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

  • Orthoptist

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

  • Our story

The family report or story for an Education, Health & Care Needs assessment. This report can be completed by the family independently or with support.


  • Paediatrician

Doctor specialising in the needs of babies and children.

  • Paraplegia

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

  • Parent Partnership Service (PPS)

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 SENSpecial Educational Needs framework to help parents play an active and informed role in their child’s education. In Hampshire, this service has been renamed Support4SEND

  • 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 Hampshire County Council, to pay for the help you need.

  • Personalisation

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

  • PHB

Personal Health Budget

  • Physiotherapist

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 (PECSPicture Exchange Communication System)

Picture based communication system commonly used be pre-verbal or non-verbal children and young people.

  • PIPPersonal Independence Payment

This is a new benefit replacing DLADisability Living Allowance 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.

  • Portage

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 (PMLDProfound and Multiple Learning Difficulties)

Refers to people with more than one disability including severe learning disabilities.

  • Psychiatrist

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

  • Pupil Referral Unit

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.

  • PV




  • RHA

Review Health Assessment for children and young people in care (looked after children). Should be carried out six monthly for under 5s and annually for over 5s


  • S139a

Learning Difficulty Assessments conducted under section 139A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000

  • 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.

  • SE7

South East 7 – partnership of seven councils in the South East of England

  • SENSpecial Educational Needs support

When a child or young person has been identified as having special educational needs, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place called SENSpecial Educational Needs Support. This SENSpecial Educational Needs Support should take the form of a four part cycle (assess/plan/do/review) through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the child’s needs and what support the child in making good progress and securing good outcomes. This is known as the graduated approach.

  • SLTA

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 SLT.

  • SLCN

Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

  • SMARTTargets which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed 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.

  • Social worker (SW)

A person who will support a family with practical issues such as benefit applications, respite care, household adaptations etc.

  • Special educational needs (SENSpecial Educational Needs)

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 (SENDISTSpecial Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal) An independent body that hears appeals against decisions made by the local authority on EHC plans.
  • Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCoSpecial Educational Needs Co-ordinator)

Member of staff of a early education setting or school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SENSpecial Educational Needs 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 SENSpecial Educational Needs 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 (STASpecialist teacher adviser)

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 (SaLTSpeech and language therapist or SALTSpeech and Language Therapist)

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.

  • Statutory assessment

A very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs which may lead to a statement or a note in lieu. These are gradually being phased out and replaced with EHC plans.

  • Supersession

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 or her to move from school to adult life.

  • Transition review (TR)

A reassessment of need to consider the transfer of a statement to an EHCP.

  • Transition Worker

A worker works in Adult social care but works closely with school and Childrens services to assess young people to see if they meet criteria for Adult social care.


  • Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing certain benefits in parts of the UK, but currently not within Hampshire.


  • VCS

Voluntary and Community Sector

  • Visual impairment

Partial or complete loss of sight.

  • 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 Hampshire County Council. (Voluntary aided schools are responsible for their own admissions. Voluntary controlled schools follow Hampshire County Council’s admission policy.



  • Youth Support Services (YSSYouth Support Services)

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.