SEND glossary

Get a handle on the key terms relating to special educational needs and disability (SEND), with a downloadable version to share with new governors.

Last reviewed on 26 October 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 34906
  1. Types of SEND
  2. Assessments, plans and provision
  3. Other key terms
  4. Downloadable version
  5. Training for SEND link governors

Types of SEND


Special educational needs. A pupil has SEN if they need special educational provision due to a learning difficulty or disability.

SEND Special educational needs and disability. Both terms are used, often interchangeably. 
Areas of need

4 broad categories are used to describe a pupil’s SEN. They are:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Sensory and/or physical needs
ASD Autistic spectrum disorder. 
MLD Moderate learning difficulties.
PMLD Profound and multiple learning difficulties.
SEMH Social, emotional and mental health.
SLCN Speech, language and communication needs.
SLD Severe learning difficulties. Can also refer to speech and language difficulties.
SpLD Specific learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

Accessibility plan A document that sets out how the school plans to improve accessibility for pupils with disabilities at school. Annual review A review of a pupil's EHC plan carried out by the local authority at least every 12 months.  Assessment Or 'EHC needs assessment'. An initial assessment, carried out by the local authority, which decides whether a child or young person needs an EHC plan. Can