What is special educational needs?

What is special educational needs? Find the UK definition here as well as information about what different kinds of special educational need there are plus what resources and support are out there to help you.

What is special educational needs?

What is special educational needs? Find out here.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is a legal term. It describes the needs of a child who has a difficulty or disability which makes learning harder for them than for other children their age. Sometimes schools in the UK will say SEN or Special Needs but they mean the same thing. Schools aim to provide students who have identified SEND with support, or special provisions to allow them to have the same education opportunities as others of the same age.

What kinds of SEND are there?

SEND usually fall into one or more of the following four areas:

1. Communication and interaction

  • Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  • Autism (ASC/ASD)

2. Cognition and learning

  • Specific learning difficulty (SpLD)
  • Moderate learning difficulty (MLD)
  • Severe learning difficulty (SLD)
  • Profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD)

3. Emotional, social and mental health

  • Attachment difficulties
  • Social and emotional difficulties
  • Mental health issues
  • Attention and hyperactivity difficulties

4. Physical and sensory

  • Visual impairment (VI)
  • Hearing impairment (HI)
  • Multi-sensory impairment (MSI/Deafblind)
  • Physical disability (PD)


Children who have needs that fall into a mixture of these four categories are considered to have ‘complex needs’. A child may also be described as having ‘mild’ or ‘severe’ learning difficulties depending on the degree of their needs and the impact these have on their lives.

Where can I find support materials?

The good news is that there is a wealth of information out there to support your individual needs. The advent of social media and the internet means that information is now easier to come by than ever before. We even have our very own SEND Resources section here on the Axcis blog! You’ll find worksheets and practical ideas as well as guest articles from professionals in the field and useful support sheets which give guidance on how to work with people who have particular SEND conditions. We are also affiliated with the National Autistic Society and nasen. Both of these organisations can provide a broad range of information, training and support, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for with Axcis, why not try them, too?

Did you find what you’re looking for?

If you are looking for information that you’ve simply been unable to find, why not let us know in the comments section below? We can then do some research and provide an answer in a future blog, or point you in the right direction for guidance. We’d love to help you in any way we can.

Are you seeking SEND work or staff?

Register with Axcis and become connected to a range of specialist and mainstream schools in your area for work.

If you’re not already registered with Axcis, but would like to seek a SEND teaching or support position, why not get in touch or register with us today and find out how we can assist you? We have offices nationwide and a team of expert consultants who have proven relationships with specialist and mainstream schools in your area, so if you need work (or indeed staff), why not give us a call today?


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