Education for children with special needs

Special educational needs explained

Some children find learning more difficult than others. This is called Special Educational Needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision.

A learning difficulty is where a child or young person finds it much more difficult to learn than most students of the same age, or if they have a disability that makes it hard or impossible to use a school or college’s facilities.

Children who find learning difficult are offered extra help and support from their teachers and this encouragement can often be enough for them to make good progress. Students who still struggle may need more help or special equipment.

The school, college or other setting will work with parents and carers using a wide range of resources and support to work out what the child or young person needs and how they can help. This could be related to their health and care, as well as education. 

How we can help

You can find out about the different ways we can help Bristol students and their families in the Education Local Offer, which covers education, health and care plans, funding arrangements for education settings and travel arrangements.

Where Special Educational Needs mean that we will support the school or college, we may carry out an assessment to work out the best course of action.

The Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs was released by the Government in September 2014 and explains the help that is now on offer to children and young people up to the age of 25.

There’s no change for anyone who already has a statement of SEN (these documents are protected under the Education Act 1996 and the Code of Practice 2001) until they move onto an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) after which they are covered by the Code of Practice 2015 and the  Children and Families Act 2014. Find out more in our guide to the transition to an EHCP (pdf, 268k) (opens new window) .

Who to talk to

If you have any questions, contact us or speak directly to the class teacher or Special Needs Co-ordinator at your school. If you’re at college, ask your tutor or the Learning Support Co-ordinator.

School travel

Find out about school travel for children with special educational needs

Contact information

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team

PO Box 3176

Parkview Office Campus

Whitchurch Lane

Bristol, BS3 9FS

Opening Hours


Tel: 0117 922 3700