This is a transition time for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – new legislation in the form of a green paper - “Support and Aspiration” is advancing through the necessary stages and considerable changes are promised to be implemented by 2014. An understanding of the historical perspective and the future proposals contained in “Support and Aspiration” will therefore be helpful.
Definitions: (From the current SEN Code of practice 2001)
The Educational Act 1981 laid down a legal definition of Special Educational Needs in schools. That definition was repeated in the Educational Act 1993 and in the consolidation Education Act 1996.
According to law:
1. A child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.
2. A child has a learning difficulty if he or she:
a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age
b) has a disability which either prevents or hinders the child from making use of educational facilities of a kind provided for children of the same age in schools within the area of the local education authority
c) is under five and falls within the definition at (a) or (b) above.
The following children fall outside the legal definition of Special Educational Needs
a) Those whose language at home is different from the language in which they are taught at school
b) 'gifted' children...