Special educational needs and disability

Young people with special educational needs or disability may need extra help to learn and train
Two young people playing together

Some young people find it harder to learn than other young people of the same age. About one in five young people have special educational needs or a disability and need some extra help to do their best at school or college.  

There are different kinds of special educational needs, including:

  • Communicating or mixing with others
  • Thinking and understanding
  • Mental health
  • Physical development

Whatever the need is there is support to help you. Find out about all of the learning, health and care services there are for young people up to the age of 25 with special educational needs locally on the SEND Local Offer webpages.

Take Action: Watch these videos on how young people with SEN and disabilities are supported at local colleges.

Getting the support you need at school or college

Young people sometimes feel that school is hard or that they are struggling to learn. If you feel like you have problems you should talk to someone like your parents, your tutor, or your doctor about it.  Remember:

  • Be clear – try and explain exactly what you are feeling and the difficulties you are having
  • Be practical – try and think about what would help you 
  • Stay involved – all the decisions should involve you

Each school has a teacher called the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo for short) who will help to make sure that you are listened to and get the right support. They can ask for advice from specialist services outside of school.

Crucial: The are different services that can provide support, like the SEN Support Services (SENSS), Oxfordshire’s School Inclusion Team (OXSIT) and The Early Years SEN Team.

There is a Code of Practice for SEN and Disability (2015) that sets out what schools and colleges should do for you:

  • Be ambitious for young people with SEN, whatever their needs and whatever their level of study.
  • Support young people to participate in discussions about their aspirations, their needs, and the support that they think will help them best.
  • Focus on supporting young people so they can make progress and have positive outcomes in adult life, such as going on into higher education or further training or employment, independent living (which means having choice and control over the support they receive), having good health and being part of the community where they live.
  • Secure access to independent careers guidance for all students up to and including age 18 and for 19 to 25 year olds with EHC plans.
  • Where a young person’s needs come to light after they have started FE college, teaching staff should work with specialist support to identify whether the difficulty may be because of SEN.

Instant Expert:  Read the full guide to SEN Support in Further Education Colleges

Independent Support

You can also ask for an Independent Supporter if you would like help to put your views across and be involved in taking decisions about the help you will receive.  Ask your school or college or contact SENDIASS (the Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service). 

Extra help

Sometimes young people with SEN or disability can get extra help with exams and assessments like extra time, rest breaks and special versions of tests.  You can find out more on the Access to Assessments webpage.

16-18 and don't have a place in learning?

If you are aged 16-18 and do not have a place in learning you should register with the EET support service.  They can help you think about your future and find an option which suits you – no matter what support you need. There is a place in learning for everyone, no matter what their needs are - guaranteed.

Crucial: All young people, including those additional needs, should be in education, learning or training until they are 18. This is to make sure that you get all the free education you are entitled to, and make sure you have the best skills for your adult life.  

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