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What do they mean? Jargon Buster

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It can be easy for professionals to rely on abbreviation of complicated or long words or phrases in meetings e.g. EHCP - Education Health and Care Plan. This can make following what is being said hard for parents or young people.

You may find you understand some of them and use some yourself but you can always ask for the person who said something you didn’t understand to explain and they won’t be at all upset.

Sometimes you get letters or reports that have abbreviations or phrases in that you might not understand. This is very common. You should always feel free to ask whoever sent or wrote you the letter or report to explain what it means for you if you or your child if you don't think it has been made clear. 

What is the social model of disability?

The social model of disability says that disability is caused by the way society is organised and not by a person’s impairment or difference.

It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.

Disabled people developed the social model of disability because the traditional medical model did not explain their personal experience of disability or help to develop more inclusive ways of living.

An impairment is defined as long-term limitation of a person’s physical, mental or sensory function.

Barriers are not just physical. Attitudes found in society based on prejudice or stereotype also disable people from having equal opportunities to be part of society. The social model of disability is about changing the attitudes of those in wider society towards disabled people.

Watch this video from Scope where disabled people themselves explain more about it. 

The language of Special Educational Needs can be difficult to understand. Below is a guide to some of the abbreviations and jargon commonly used by professionals and in schools.

Hackney's Local Offer / the local offer

The Local Offer is one of the changes brought in by the SEND reforms. Each borough is required to develop and set out information about services available for children and young people with SEN and disabilities, aged 0 to 25, including education, health, leisure and social care. It is developed and responsive to parents carers and young people's input. 

 See more here... What is the Local Offer?

Annual Review or sometimes AR

A meeting that takes place at least once a year to look at the details of a child's Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education, Health and Care Plan, to record the child's progress and plan for the year ahead.

ARPs - Additionally Resourced Provision

Some mainstream schools have additional resources to meet specific needs. Hackney has three ARPs for children with autism and two for children with speech and language difficulties in primary schools, and one ARP for children with autism in a secondary school.


Behaviour Emotional and Social Difficulties - where a child's emotions or behaviour are barriers to their learning.

Behaviour Support Teacher

A trained and experienced teacher who can advise on the needs of children with a range of emotional, behavioural and social needs.


Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service


Child Development Clinic - where medical assessments are made of children whose development is giving cause for concern.

May also mean The Council for Disabled Children.


Child and Family Consultation Service.

Connexions Personal Advisers

People who give help to young people before they leave school about further / higher education, training and employment.

Code of Practice (COP)

Also SEND Code of Practice. A guide for Local Education Authorities, parents and schools about how help should be given to children with Special Educational Needs/Disabilities. Local Authorities, schools and other settings must have regard to the code.

Dispute Resolution / Mediation

Hackney Learning Trust has a duty to make arrangements for when parents / carers disagree with the Trust or with their child's school about their child's Special Educational Needs. Mediation is a voluntary process where a trained mediator helps the parties who disagree to find a shared solution.

Educational Health and Care (EHC or EHCP) Plan

A document which records the outcome of a statutory assessment of a child/young person's needs and sets out longer term aspirational outcomes for a child or young person aged between 0 and 25, as well as any support required. Find out more about Educational Health and Care Plans.

EMA (Ethnic Minority Achievement) Teacher

Supports children from ethnic minorities with their language development.

EP (or Ed-Psych)

Educational Psychologist - a qualified teacher who has had training in psychology to understand more about the ways children learn, think and behave. Hackney EPs are employed by Hackney Learning Trust and represent the Trust at school meetings.

IEP/ Individual Education Plan

A detailed learning programme, with short-term targets, designed to help the child make progress at school.


Ensuring that all children (with or without disabilities or difficulties in learning) are, where possible, educated together at their local mainstream school.

ISST (Inclusion and Specialist Support Team)

Hackney Learning Trust's team of specialist teachers providing support for children with SEND in Hackney schools. The team also includes Early Support Officers/Area SENCOs providing support to children in early years settings.

Learning Mentor

A person working in school with groups and individual children to help them overcome barriers to learning. Mentors may also be trained volunteers working with individual children through an external organisation.

Learning Support Assistant (LSA)

A person employed by the school to provide support in the classroom or undertake specific work with a child or group of children who have learning difficulties. They work under the direction of the class teacher.

Low-incidence Statement

A low-incidence Statement is for a Special Educational Need that does not occur frequently in Hackney schools. These could include:


Some professionals may use the term severe when they talk about a child's needs.

  • severe learning difficulties
  • severe visual and hearing difficulties
  • severe physical difficulties
  • severe communication disorders including autistic spectrum disorder
  • serious medical conditions
  • severe behavioural difficulties

This is a term used to talk about children with complex needs who will require input from a range of professionals because of the impact of their difficulties are having on their learning or ability to do physical things others do easily.

Named Officer

A case officer working in the Assessment and Monitoring Team of Hackney Learning Trust who is the point of contact for parents. They give information and advice about statutory assessments Education health and Care Plans and Statements of SEND. 

May also be calleNotificationd a Plan Coordinator.

Note in Lieu (of a Statement)

This was issued to a child's parents and school when, following a statutory assessment, Hackney Learning Trust decided not to make a Statement. The note described the child's educational needs, explained why the trust would not make a Statement and made recommendations for appropriate provision for the child.


When a formal letter from the local NHS trust informs The Local Education Authority of a child under 5 who may need special educational provision on starting school.

OT / Occupational Therapist

A person trained to provide assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for children with physical difficulties. They are able to give schools advice on programmes of support, and to advise about suitable equipment and the provision of other facilities.

Personal Budget

A personal budget is an amount of money that you can request to arrange and pay for your support agreed in your Education, Health and Care Plan. Find out more about personal budgets.

Physiotherapist (or physio)

A person trained to provide assessment and treatment in movement and physical development such as balance, co-ordination, ability to sit, stand and walk. They are able to give advice to schools on programmes of support.

Portage Worker

A person who works in partnership with the parents of children under five with developmental delay to promote all aspects of their children's development through activities in the home.


The name of a service that provides information, advice and careers guidance.

Resource Base

A specialist base within a mainstream school to support children with Statements with specific needs. Hackney has three Resources bases for children with autism and three for children with speech and language difficulties. They are all in primary schools.


Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs. This term is used to talk about children or young people who may have brevioulsly be described as having BESD (behavioural, emotional or social difficulties).

SEN Support

Special Educational Needs Support for a child or young person who is having difficulties at school or in their early years (pre-school) setting. It involves giving them extra or different help. This was called School action or school action plus before the reforms.


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

SENCO / Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator

The teacher who has the responsibility for co-ordinating the special educational needs provision within a school or setting. Your child's school may also call the person who does this an Inclusion Manager


SEND Information Advice and Guidance Service. Hackney Parent Partnership Service is now known as Hackney SENDIAGS – Hackney SEND Information Advice and Guidance Service


Employed by Hackney Learning Trust to ensure that parents and carers of children with special educational needs can get the information they need to be active partners in their child's education.

Special Educational Needs

A child has special educational needs if he or she has learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for him or her to learn than most other children of about the same age. This could include:

  • learning difficulties – in acquiring basic skills in school
  • emotional and behavioural difficulties – making friends or relating to adults or behaving properly in school
  • specific learning difficulty – with reading, writing, number work or understanding information
  • sensory or physical needs - such as hearing or visual impairment, which might affect them in school
  • communication problems – in expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
  • medical or health conditions – which may slow down a child’s progress and/or involves treatment that affects his or her education.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)

An independent panel that hears appeals lodged by parents and carers against SEN decisions made by the LEA, and also claims of disability discrimination.

Special School

A school, which is resourced and organised to provide specifically for the education of pupils with particular special educational needs.

Speech and Language Therapy (SALT)

Speech and Language Therapists are trained to assess, diagnose, manage and treat speech, language, voice and fluency disorders.

Statement of Special Educational Needs (Statement)

A legal document drawn up by the Local Education Authority describing a child's special educational needs and the special help they should receive.

Transition Plan

This was drawn up with pupils with Statements of SEN or on School Action Plus in Year 9. They and their parents / carers attended a meeting held to begin to plan for when the young person would leave school.

To the right of this page, in the downloads section are other factsheets and documents that explain a variety of phrases you might come across.

C and F Act - Children and Families Act

Legal guidance that sets of the dutites for Local Authorities when providing services for children, young people and families.

Alternative Provision or AP

Alternative provision offers a different educational route for some young people allowing them to access a broad curriculum which meets a range of different needs and interests. This is offered to students as an option that allows them the best range of options for progressing on to their next phase of education, training or employment.

PRU or Pupil referral unit

A PRU or pupil referral unit is a local authority funded school set up specifically for pupils that otherwise would not receive a suitable education.

Reason for this could include illness or exclusion.

PRUs are sometimes referred to as ‘alternative provision’ or AP for short.

A special school cannot be a PRU because special schools are set up to specifically make special educational provision for children or young people with SEN.  

Person Centred Planning

Person centred planning, sometimes referred to as PCP, aims to…

  • Put the parent and child or young person is at the heart of the process
  • Highlight the child or young person’s strengths and interests
  • Take a ‘tell us once’ approach to families sharing information with control of what’s shared.
  • Listen and respond to the importance of their views, wishes and aspirations
  • Focus on what outcomes (goals) families and young people are seeking for their futures.
  • Collaboratively plans the support needed to achieve them.
  • Education, Health and Social Care, services and professionals work together to discuss and agree an overall approach
  • Give families, children and young people better choice and control over their futures.

All professionals and people working with them should ensure that parents, children and young people are genuinely involved in all aspects of planning and decision making.

This approach helps to develop better understanding, build positive relationships and increased levels of confidence, and will lead to better participation.

Independent Supporter or IS

Independent Supporters are trained by The Council for Disabled Children to help and support parents/carers, children and young people during an Education and Health Care (EHC) needs assessment and throughout the process of developing the plan.

They can also support during the transfer review process from statements or LDAs to an EHC plan (EHCP)

IAS - Information Advice and Support

An IAS service is a service that provides information advice and support. Each Local Authority must provide an impartial service that helps parents and young people with SEND. In Hackney our IAS service is SENDIAGS.

PCF - Parent Carer Forum

A parent carer forum is a group of parents and carers who have children with special educational needs. Contact a family provide training and support for all parent carer forums in England. The Department for Education provide a small amount of funding for parent carer forums to run information sessions and get guest speakers to come and talk to parents. In Hackney the parent carer forum in HiP - Hackney Independent Parent / Carer forum.

PfA or preparing for Adulthood

PfA or preparing for adulthood is a term used to describe the stages leading up to a young person with SEND:

  • living independently
  • being incuded in their community
  • being happy and healthy
  • having relationships
  • working or taking part in meaningful activities 

Working towards a young person being prepared for adulthood should be part of every annual review. Regrdless of their needs young people, with support where needed, can all make progress towards each of the above goals. 

Behaviour that challenges (previously challenging behaviour) 

Behaviour that challenges or challenging behaviour is defined as:

“Culturally abnormal behaviour(s) of such an intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is likely to be placed in serious jeopardy, or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit use of, or result in the person being denied access to, ordinary community facilities.”

Ref: Emerson, 1995, cited in Emerson, E (2001, 2nd edition): Challenging Behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with learning disabilities. Cambridge University Press

Last updated 10/03/17

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