How to use manual

This policies website is split into 7 main areas:

  • Home
  • Contents
  • How to use
  • Safeguarding
  • Fostering Service
  • Fostering Role
  • Caring

All policies are listed in the ‘Contents’ area of the site, if you know what you are looking for you can go straight to this area to locate the relevant policy.

If you are not sure what policy you are looking for or only have an idea what you need guidance on then you may find it easier to search under the relevant area:

  • Safeguarding: policies in this area of the website all relate to safeguarding.
  • Fostering Service: In this area you will find policies related to the agency and the fostering service.
  • Fostering Role: In this area you will find policies more relevant to the role of a foster parent.
  • Caring: Policies in this area relate to day to day caring, but if you can’t find what you need in this area also look in Fostering Role.

Further down on this page you will see there is a glossary of terms you may come across in your role as a foster parent and within the policies on this site, this is to help you understand what these terms mean.

If you need further help/guidance around using this site please speak to your placement manager who will be happy to assist you in using it or locating what you need.

AFA Glossary of Terms



Absence Seizure

Absence seizures are lapses of awareness, which can be accompanied by staring. They are more common in children and can last only a few seconds. They are often of such short duration that they are not detected for months.


A Department for Education funded school in England that is self-governing and independent of local authority control.

Academy Special School

Independently managed special schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education and the local authority.


See Attention Deficit Disorder.

Addison’s Disease

A disease characterised by progressive anaemia, low blood pressure, weakness, and discoloration of the skin. It is caused by inadequate secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands.


 See Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Somebody who acts or intervenes on behalf of another. Someone who can help ensure that a person is listened to, and that their rights, concerns and needs are acted upon. E.g. Independent visitor.

Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU)

The sum of money allocated to a school for each pupil according to age.


See Human Immunodeficiency Virus & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


See Anaphylaxis

Adverse reaction to a normally harmless substance which can be severe.


The vision in one eye does not develop fully (used to be described as a ‘lazy eye’).


A qualified medical professional who ensures the patient is anaesthetised (asleep) and pain free during surgery or invasive procedures.


Very severe allergic reaction causing breathing difficulties. Immediate treatment is required and the patient may already carry an “Epipen”. Foster Parents will require training if the sue of an Epipen is required.

Annual Review (AR)

The review of an Education Health Care plan which a local authority must carry out at least once every twelve months.

Anorexia Nervosa

A serious mental illness where someone tries to keep body weight low by dieting, vomiting, using laxatives or excessive exercise. There is often a distorted image of the body.

Anxiety Disorders

A category of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. These may cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and feeling shaky. Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).


Aphasia is the inability to express thoughts in words, or the inability to understand thoughts expressed in the spoken or written words of others.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

The process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviours. Also known as Behaviour Modification.


An appointee is someone who if officially recognised as able to act on another person’s behalf.


A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to use their muscles voluntarily.

Area Inclusion Co-ordinator (InCo / Area SENCo)

Early years and childcare settings receive support from an Area Inclusion Co-ordinator. Their role is to ensure all children, whatever their needs, can be involved in a full range of activities and learning experiences.

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism.  People with the condition often have difficulties with social communication, interaction, and imagination. Medical professionals now use the term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to describe autism in all its forms. However, the term “Asperger syndrome” is still widely used by non-professionals.

Assessment Coordination Meeting (ACM)

A multi-agency meeting held by the Education and Health Care Caseworker with parents and professionals involved in the Education and Health Care assessment. This addresses the information in the draft Education Health Care plan and confirms how support will be provided to an assessed child.


Asthma is a long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. Children may have to take daily and emergency medication and they will require emergency treatment if they experience a severe asthma attack.


A common (and usually minor) eye condition that causes blurred or distorted vision. It occurs when the cornea or lens isn’t a perfectly curved shape.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Now referred to as “ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a condition characterised by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It can lead to major social and educational exclusion. ADHD has three subtypes: Predominantly Inattentive Type (formerly ADD), Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type and Combined Inattention and Hyperactive-Impulsive.

Auditory Brainstem Implants (ABI)

An ABI is an electrical device made up of electrodes (implanted into the brain), a receiver (placed under the skin behind the ear), and a small sound processor (outside the ear).

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

An umbrella term that covers autism, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorders. The core symptoms are:  a difficulty in understanding communication and language, a difficulty in understanding social behaviour, and a difficulty in using imaginative play.


Behaviour Support Assistant (BSA)

A teaching assistant who specialises in the management of challenging behaviour in young people who have difficulty engaging in learning.

Behaviour Support Plan (BSP)

A school based document designed to assist individual students who have experienced harm, are at risk of harm, or have caused harm to others.

Behavioural Difficulties

Pattern of behaviour which consistently interferes with the child or young person’s social, psychological or physical functioning.

Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties

An umbrella term used to describe a range of complex and chronic difficulties experienced by many children and young people. It covers special educational needs, including emotional disorders (such as GAD) and conduct disorders / hyperkinetic disorders (such as ADHD). The term is also used to describe children and young people whose behavioural difficulties may be less obvious.  For example, those with anxiety, who self-harm or have school phobia or depression.

Bilateral Congenital Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Hearing loss caused by problems in the inner ear (cochlea or hearing nerve), which affects both ears, and has been present since birth.

Binge Eating

A serious mental illness where people experience a loss of control and overeat on a regular basis. People who binge eat consume very large quantities of food over a short period including eating when not hungry.

Bipolar Disorder

A serious mental illness characterized by periods of depression and periods of elevated mood.


Block is a manual form of communication where words are spelled out onto the palm of the hand.

Blue Badge

A disabled parking permit that can be displayed when carrying a person whose mobility would be otherwise significantly impaired by age, illness, disability, or infirmity.

Bowel Incontinence

A lack of control over defecation, leading to involuntary loss of bowel contents. It is a symptom, not a diagnosis. The term encopresis is used in relation to the soiling of clothes or bedding.


Braille is a system of writing and printing for visually impaired people, in which arrangements of raised dots representing letters and numbers are identified by touch.

British Sign Language (BSL)

A language used by many deaf people in the UK. The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, body, face and head.

Bulimia Nervosa

A serious mental illness where people feel that they have lost control over their eating. People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food and then vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics (called purging), to prevent them gaining weight.



For the SEND Code of Practice (2014), a carer is a person named by a local authority to care for a child for whom the social services department has parental responsibility, i.e. a child who is the subject of a care order and who has been placed in a foster placement. The carer may qualify as a parent for the purposes of the Education Acts because he or she has care of the child.

Carer’s Allowance (CA)

Payment for Foster Parents who are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

An emergency procedure performed to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures can be taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest.

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

A permanent condition that affects muscle control and movement. It’s usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or after birth.  There are three main types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy (SpCP) causes tight muscles. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (DyskCP) causes involuntary movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy (Ataxic CP) causes poor coordination.

Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI)

A temporary or permanent visual impairment varying in degrees of severity.

Challenging Behaviour

Behaviour of such intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is placed in serious jeopardy.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Services which assess and treat children and young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

Child Development Centre (CDC)

An assessment and treatment centre where specialist help is available for children of all ages and families. Children are referred when parents or professionals have concerns about their development.

Child Development Team (CDT)

A team of professionals working at a Child Development Centre.

Child Looked After (CLA)

Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she is under 18 years old and has either been provided with accommodation (for a continuous period of more than 24 hours), is subject to a care order, or is subject to a placement order. See also Looked After Child (LOC).

Child Protection Register

Child Protection issues are now dealt with by the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder

A persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social ‘shyness’ is perfectly normal for some children and teenagers, but it becomes a ‘social anxiety disorder’ if everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone causes overwhelming fear.

Children in Need (CIN)

All children and young people have different needs. Similarly, a family’s ability to meet those needs may differ. A CIN Assessment will identify those needs and ensure the family receives the right help. Under the Children Act 1989, an under-18 will be deemed a Child in Need (CIN) if they need extra help from the Local Authority (to be safe and healthy), or if they are disabled. If a child is deemed a CIN, a social worker will normally draw up a Child in Need Plan, which will set out what extra help the local authority (and other agencies) will provide to the child and their family. The plan should say what outcomes are expected for the child, what is expected of the parent/s, and when (and how) the plan will be reviewed.

Chromosomal Disorder

A disorder caused by a change in the number or structure of chromosomes. For example, Down syndrome.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Causes persistent fatigue (exhaustion) that affects everyday life. CFS is a serious condition that can cause long-term illness and disability, but many people (particularly children and young people) will improve over time. It’s not known exactly what causes CFS.  Also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis

An autoinflammatory disorder that mostly affects children. It comprises periodic bone pain, fever, and the appearance of multiple bone lesions that can occur in any skeletal site.


See Child Looked After.

Cleft Lip and Palate

A cleft is a gap in the upper lip, the roof of the mouth (palate), or sometimes both. It occurs when separate areas of the face do not form properly when a baby is developing during pregnancy.

Clinical Physiologists

Health professionals who investigate the function of the nervous system to diagnose and monitor neurological disorders.

Code of Practice

A national guide from the Department for Education to schools and local authorities about the help they can give to children with special educational needs. Schools, local authorities and health services must have regard to the Code when they are involved with a child with special educational needs.

Coeliac Disease

This disease affects the small intestine, due to a sensitivity to gluten which is found in wheat and some other cereals.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

A ‘talking therapy,’ where a therapist helps identify problem behaviours (and ways of thinking), and then helps the person develop more positive ways of dealing with difficult issues, thoughts, feelings or situations.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive deficit or cognitive impairment is an inclusive term to describe any characteristic that acts as a barrier to the cognition process

Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

Replaced by the Early Help Assessment (EHA) in 2015).

Communication Difficulties

Can be caused by a physical condition (such as hearing difficulties or visual impairment), or by a neurological condition (such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke). Those with learning disabilities can often experience communication difficulties.

Community Nurse for Children with Disabilities

Offers advice and implement programmes of care and support to families of children with special needs.

Compulsory School Age

A child is of “compulsory school age” on the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday. Children who are 5 years old between 1st January and 31st March are of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term after 1st April Young people can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays. Young people must then do one of the following until they are 18: stay in full-time education, for example at a college, start an apprenticeship or traineeship

Computerised Axial Tomography Scan

CT scans produce detailed images of structures inside the body, including the internal organs, blood vessels and bones.

Conduct Disorder (CD)

A Disruptive Behaviour Disorder in children, which can include aggressive behaviour towards people or animals, vandalism, lying, stealing, and truancy. In young people, it can also lead to smoking, drinking and substance abuse.

Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that pregnant women can pass to their unborn babies. It can result in developmental disabilities, hearing and vision loss, problems with the liver, spleen or lungs and seizures.

Congenital Heart Disease

A general term to describe problems in the structure of the heart that are present from birth.

Congenital Hip Dislocation

Occurs when a child is born with an unstable hip due to abnormal formation of the hip joint during their early stages of foetal development.

Congenital Hypotonia

A term used to describe a state of low muscle tone (involving reduced muscle strength) in new-born babies. Sometimes called ‘Floppy Baby Syndrome.’

Congenital Infection

Infections that affect an unborn foetus or new-born infant. Generally caused by viruses that may be picked up by the baby at any time during the pregnancy, right up to the time of delivery.

Congenital Malformation of Brain

A general term to describe brain deformities that are present from birth.

Congenital Nystagmus

Rhythmic involuntary eye movements, present from birth.


A delay or difficulty in passing stools.

Contact Allergy

Allergy caused by physical contact.

Continence Advisor

Provides advice and help if a child is incontinent.

Corporate Parenting Board (CPB)

A body of elected members (who work across various organisations) dedicated to improving services and promoting better outcomes for looked after children, young people and care leavers.

Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI)

This is where the immune system reacts to the protein found in cow’s milk. The reaction can cause injury in the stomach and intestines.


Skull shape abnormalities.

Crohn’s Disease

A long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. Symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and unintended weight-loss. There is currently no cure for Crohn’s disease and the aim of treatment is to stop the inflammatory process and relieve symptoms.


The curriculum outlines all the learning opportunities that a school offers.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

A life-limiting inherited condition caused by a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. It causes mucus to gather in the lungs and digestive system.



Used to describe people who have some hearing and vision, as well people who are totally deaf and totally blind.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

A surgical procedure used to treat neurological symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems (most commonly caused by Parkinson’s disease).

Delayed Puberty

Delayed puberty can run in families and usually doesn’t require any treatment. However, delayed puberty is sometimes associated with medical problems such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease, asthma, and malnutrition

Department for Education (DfE)

The Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on issues affecting people in England who are under the age of 19 (including child protection and education). The department is led by the Secretary of State for Education. Previously known as the Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF) in 2007–2010, and the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) in 2001–2007.

Department of Health (DH)

The Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on health and adult social care issues in England. It oversees the English National Health Service (NHS). The Department is led by the Secretary of State for Health.

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

The Department of the UK Government responsible for government policy on welfare and pensions. The Department has four operational organisations – Jobcentre Plus, the Pension Service, the Disability & Carers Service, and the Child Maintenance Group. The Department is led by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.


A serious mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Depression is a disabling condition that can affect a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits and general health.


A doctor who specializes in treating the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.

Developmental Academic Disorder

A general ‘umbrella’ term used by professionals, which covers all childhood learning disabilities (and specific learning disabilities).

Developmental Coordination Disorder

Developmental coordination disorder also known as developmental dyspraxia or is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination because of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.

Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD)

A motor disorder that affects a child’s ability to verbalise sounds, syllables, and words (where there is no muscle weakness or paralysis). The brain has problems moving the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what they want to say, but their brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Diabetes Mellitus 

Usually referred to as “diabetes,” this is lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. The amount of sugar in a person’s bloodstream is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. In diabetic people, there’s either not enough insulin, or the insulin produced doesn’t work properly.  Symptoms include feeling very thirsty, feeling very tired, urinating more frequently, weight loss, slow-healing wounds, and blurred vision.  There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1) and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM2).


Frequent, lose or liquid stools.

Direct Payments (DP)

Direct payments from social services are payments made to you or the person you’re looking after so that you can buy care services for yourself.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

A tax-free welfare payment for disabled people who need help with mobility or care costs. The DLA is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Disabled Children’s Team

Social care teams who specialise in working with children with disabilities and their families.

Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

An allowance for undergraduate or post-graduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things such as special equipment, a note-taker or transport costs.

Disagreement Resolution

This is a statutory service commissioned by local authorities to provide a quick and non-adversarial way of resolving disagreements between parents or young people and bodies responsible for providing education, whether the child or young person has an Education Health and Care plan or not, or health and social care in relation to Education Health and Care assessments and plans.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

It replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). Used to inform safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

Disruptive Behaviour Disorders

When a child is uncooperative at school, preventing themselves (and other children in class) from working.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)

One of the more common, severe muscle-wasting conditions. Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasing disability. It is caused by genetic mutations on the ‘X’ chromosome. Most people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are male, will be diagnosed by the age of five, and will use a wheelchair by the time they are 12. Many face severe health problems by their late teens as the muscles of their heart and lungs weaken.

Down’s Syndrome

A genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features. It is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby’s cells. Babies born with Down’s syndrome are likely to have reduced muscle tone (hypotonia) and a below-average weight and length.  Complications of Down’s syndrome include heart problems, bowel problems, difficulties with hearing and/or vision, and an increased risk of infections.


A difficulty speaking, caused by problems controlling the muscles used in speech.


A specific learning disability that affects written expression. Dysgraphia can appear as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper.


A specific learning difficulty that affects word reading and spelling. Includes difficulties with phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dysmorphic Feature

A difference of body structure. It can be an isolated finding in an otherwise normal individual, or it can be related to a congenital disorder, genetic syndrome, or birth defect.


A difficulty in swallowing.


A syndrome where muscle spasms lead to abnormal postures, affecting neck, trunk and limbs.


The degeneration of tissue, due to disease, malnutrition, or heredity.


Early Developmental Impairment (EDI)

A term used to describe persistent and significant limitations in two or more developmental domains (motor, communication, cognitive skills, social skills, emotional regulation/behavioural skills or self-care skills) with onset before the age of five.

Eating Disorders

Mental disorders defined by abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health. They include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse are common among people with eating disorders.


Electrocardiogram (Electrical Heart trace)


Repeating what has been said

Ectodermal Dysplasia

Abnormalities of two more parts of the body i.e. teeth, sweat glands, facial structure, hair, digits, nails


Skin inflammation can be caused by stress, allergens, irritants, etc.

Education, Health and Care plan (EHCp)

An Education Health and Care plan details the education, health and social care support that is to be provided to a child or young person who has SEN or a disability. It is drawn up by a local authority after an Education Health and Care needs assessment of the child or young person has determined that an Education Health and Care plan is necessary, and after consultation with relevant partner agencies.


Early Learning Goal/s. The education levels children are normally expected to achieve by the age of 5 (or by the end of their Reception year).  The main areas are: Communication & Language Development, Physical Development, and Personal, Social & Emotional Development.


Electromyography (assesses function of nerves & muscles)

Emotional and Social Difficulties

Whether a child or young person is considered to have Behaviour Emotional or Social Difficulties depends on a range of factors, including the nature, frequency, persistence, severity and abnormality of the difficulties and their cumulative effect on the child or young person’s behaviour and/or emotional wellbeing compared with what might generally be expected for a particular age.’


Inflammation of the brain, caused by viral or bacterial infection.


Passing urine whilst asleep (bedwetting)


A neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy Nurse

Provides support, advice, training to families of children with epilepsy


Early Pregnancy Unit

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection against discrimination, and promotes equality of opportunity for all people regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage / civil partnership (or lack thereof), race, religion / belief (or lack thereof), sex, and sexual orientation. In the case of disability, employers and service providers must make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces to overcome potential barriers experienced by disabled people.


The concept of exclusion is closely linked to inequality, and can mean different things in different contexts. In education, an exclusion means that a specific pupil will not be allowed to attend school (or go on to school premises) for a specified period or permanently.

Set up by LEAs to bring together all the parties (including schools and other providers, parents, employers and colleges) to develop early education and childcare services in their areas and to draw up, implement and monitor their annual plans.


Early Years Foundation Stage. How the Government and early years’ professionals describe a child’s life between birth and age 5.


Faltering Growth 

A term usually used in paediatric medicine to indicate a low weight (for the child’s age), or a low rate of weight increase. It covers poor physical growth of any cause, and does not imply abnormal intellectual, social, or emotional development.

Febrile Convulsions

A seizure (fits or convulsions) that occurs in a child aged between 6 months and 5 years. Febrile convulsions are associated with a high temperature, and the majority have a non-serious cause (such as a cold or an ear infection). Full recovery is usual with no after-effects.


A long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Other symptoms might include fatigue, muscle stiffness, insomnia, problems with mental processes, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, and there is currently no cure.

Fine Motor Skills

The ability to use small muscle groups that coordinate precise hand movements involved in activities such as writing, buttoning, cutting, or tracing.

First-Tier Tribunal – Special Educational Needs and Disability

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal considers appeals against the decisions of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) about a child’s special educational needs, where there is disagreement with the LEA.


The skill of understanding and using a language without undue repetitions or pauses (especially in speech or writing).

Food Allergy

An abnormal immune response to certain foods. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, diarrhoea, hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. When the symptoms are severe it is known as anaphylaxis. Common food allergens include cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, and wheat.

Fragile X Syndrome

A genetic condition, which is the most common known cause of inherited learning disabilities. Fragile X syndrome is also associated with delayed speech and language, a short attention span, impulsiveness, restlessness, and sensory problems.

Free School

A free school is a type of academy, which is free to attend, but not controlled by the local authority. Free schools receive state funding via the Education Funding Agency. Parents, teachers, businesses or charities can apply to the Department for Education to set up a free school.

Further Education College (FE College)

A college offering continuing education to young people over the age of 16. The FE sector in England includes general further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes.


Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) 

A common condition, whereby acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus (gullet). GORD can often be controlled with medication.


A gastrostomy is a hole (stoma), from the skin into the stomach. A feeding device is put in the stoma so a person can ingest liquid food, water, or medication straight into their stomach. There are two types of feeding device. One is a gastrostomy button (which fits into the stoma and is held in the stomach by a balloon filled with water). The other is a gastrostomy tube (g-tube), which is a long tube that fits in the stoma and is held in place by a soft plastic disc. G-tubes are sometimes referred to as a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

A long-term condition that causes people to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

Genetic Syndrome

A disease or disorder that has more than one identifying feature or symptom, and has been caused by an abnormality in the genes or chromosomes.


Glue Ear    

A common childhood condition where the middle ear becomes filled with fluid. Exactly what causes the build-up of fluid is unclear (it isn’t caused by ear wax, or by getting water in the ears). However, most cases of glue ear don’t require treatment, and the condition usually improves by itself within three months.

Gross Motor Skills

The ability to use large muscle groups that coordinate body movements involved in activities such as walking, running, jumping, throwing, and maintaining balance.

Growth Hormone Deficiency

Occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough growth hormone. It more commonly affects children than adults, and it occurs in roughly 1 in 7,000 births. The condition is also a symptom of several genetic diseases, including Turner syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.



The most common type of birthmark. Sometimes called ‘strawberry marks’ because of their appearance, haemangiomas are benign (non-cancerous) and rarely cause problems.


The medical name for blood in the urine. If blood in the urine is obvious with the naked eye, it is called “macroscopic,” or “visible haematuria.” If the blood can only be detected with laboratory testing, it is called “microscopic,” or “non-visible.”

Health Visitor (HV)

A trained nurse who visits people in their homes to assist or advise chronically ill people, or parents with very young children.

Healthy Child Programme

The Healthy Child Programme covers pregnancy and the first five years of a child’s life, focusing on a universal preventative service that provides families with a programme of screening, immunisation, health and development reviews, supplemented by advice around health, wellbeing and parenting.

Heart Murmurs

An extra or unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. Murmurs range from very faint to very loud. A heart murmur isn’t a disease, and most murmurs are harmless.

Hepatitis A Virus (HepA / HAV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. It’s not usually serious, and most people make a full recovery within a couple of months. However, in rare cases, it might cause liver failure. Hepatitis A is uncommon in the UK, but a vaccine is available for people who might be at risk. Hepatitis A, B, and C are each caused by different, unrelated viruses.

Hepatitis B Virus (HepB / HBV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis B is usually transmitted either through blood, semen, and other body fluids, or from mother to baby. It’s not usually serious (in adults), and there are treatments available. However, in rare, long-term cases, it might cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure. Hepatitis B is less common in the UK than other parts of the world, but a vaccine is available for people who might be at risk.

Hepatitis C Virus (HepC / HCV)

A contagious virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through blood and (very rarely) through sexual contact. If left untreated, it can cause life-threatening damage to the liver, such as liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but with early diagnosis and modern treatments, most infected people will have a normal life expectancy.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus & Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV & AIDS)

The ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ (HIV) is a contagious virus that attacks a person’s immune system. It is transmitted by people sharing injecting equipment, people having unprotected sex, and from mothers to babies. HIV can lead to ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’ (AIDS), which is an incurable disease that occurs when an immune system becomes too weak to fight off infections (including potentially fatal illnesses like pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis, septicaemia, and cancer). However, HIV is easily preventable, and with early diagnosis and effective treatment, most people with HIV will not go on to develop AIDS.


A condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage.


An intolerance to everyday sounds that causes significant distress and affects a person’s day-to-day activities.

Hypersensitive / Hypersensitivity

When emotional responses that are poorly modulated, and do not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive responses. It is often associated with trauma (or PTSD), brain injury, chronic maltreatment, reactive attachment disorder, ADHD, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger syndrome).

Hypersensitive / Hypersensitivity (Intolerance)

A set of undesirable physical reactions produced by a normal immune system. They might be allergies (such as hay fever) or autoimmunity (such as lupus).


A condition in which a person suddenly starts to breathe very quickly. It can lead to symptoms like light-headedness, tingling in the fingers, and loss of consciousness.


When a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) drops below normal levels.

Hypopituitarism (Hypopit)

The medical term for an underactive pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located in the brain and normally produces eight essential hormones. Hypopituitarism is when the gland does not release enough of one (or more) of those hormones.


A condition where the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone. The main symptom is a slowing down of mental and physical processes (such as sensitivity to the cold and a low mood). It is also known as an underactive thyroid.


The medical term for decreased muscle tone. It is a symptom of something else, rather than a condition in its own right. It is commonly detected in babies soon after birth, and is sometimes referred to as ‘floppy baby syndrome.’ Treatment may involve physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.


Inborn Error of Metabolism

An umbrella term for a group of rare genetic disorders that affect the body’s ability to turn food into energy. The disorders are usually caused by defects in specific proteins (enzymes) that help break down (metabolize) parts of food. Also known as congenital metabolic diseases or inherited metabolic diseases.


The concept of inclusion is closely linked to equality and diversity, and can mean different things in different contexts. In education, inclusion is the promotion of equal opportunities for all pupils, whatever their circumstances.  It pays attention to the provision made for different groups of pupils within a school.

Independent Living

Support for adults to live in the community rather than in a residential home.

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

IROs make an important contribution to the goal of significantly improving outcomes for looked after children. Their primary focus is to quality assure the care planning process for each child, and to ensure that his or her current wishes and feelings are given full consideration.

Independent School

This is a school that is neither maintained by an LA nor grants and which is registered under section 70 of the Education Act 1944.

Independent Supporter

A person recruited locally by a voluntary or community sector organisation to help families going through an EHC needs assessment and the process of developing an EHC plan. This person is independent of the local authority and will receive training, including legal training, to enable him or her to provide this support.

Individual Education Plan IEP

A programme designed for children with SEN to help them to get the most out of their education. An IEP builds on the curriculum that a child with learning difficulties or disabilities is following, and sets out the strategies being used to meet that child’s specific needs.

Infantile Spasms

A specific type of seizure seen in children with West Syndrome. West Syndrome is a form of childhood epilepsy characterized by infantile spasms, developmental regression, and a specific pattern of brain waves.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A term mainly used to describe two conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both involve inflammation of the gut (gastrointestinal tract).

Insecure Attachment

A term from attachment theory, which is a psychological model dedicated to the dynamics interpersonal relationships. Insecure attachment is when a bond (between an infant and an adult) lacks consistency, responsiveness and a full sense of trust. It may cause the infant to feel angry, anxious, distressed, or conflicted.

Intellectual Developmental Disability

An umbrella term that describes disorders (usually present at birth) that negatively affect the trajectory of an individual’s physical, intellectual, and/or emotional development.

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

A condition where a lack of iron in the body leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

A common, long-term condition of the digestive system that causes stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, and/or constipation. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, and there is no cure. However, the symptoms can often be managed by making diet and lifestyle changes. Medication is sometimes prescribed to control symptoms.


Jejmy or Jejunostomy

The surgical creation of an opening (fistula) through the skin at the front of the abdomen and the wall of the jejunum (part of the small intestine)

Joint Hypermobility

A general term for when a person’s joints have an unusually large range of movement. Many people with hypermobile joints might be said to have ‘loose joints’ or be ‘double-jointed,’ and don’t have any problems. However, some people with joint hypermobility might experience symptoms such as pain and stiffness, clicking joints, joints that dislocate easily, fatigue, digestive problems, dizziness, and stretchy skin. In these cases, it’s known as joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS). Hypermobility can lead to chronic pain or even disability in severe cases. It has also been associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.


Key Stages

The different stages of education that a child passes through also known as KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4 and KS5

Key Stage five

age 16+ (Sixth form or college)

Key Stage four

age 14-16 (Years 10 and 11)

Key Stage three

age 11-14 (Years 7, 8 and 9)

Key Stage two

age 7-11 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6)

Key Stage one

age 5-7 (Years 1 and 2)


Someone who provides children, young people and parents with a single point of contact to help make sure the support they receive is co-ordinated. A keyworker could be provided directly by a local authority or local health organisation, a school or college, or from a voluntary or private sector body.


Excessive curvature of the spine



Local Authority


See Looked After Child.

Lactose Intolerant

Unable to break down/digest the sugar (lactose) found in milk

LI or Language Impairment

Language Impaired includes students who have difficulty with the sound systems of language, the structure of words, the meaning of words, the relationship of words in sentences, or the functional use of language.

Learning Difficulties

Difficulties in acquiring knowledge and skills to the normal level expected of those of the same age, especially because of mental disability or cognitive disorder.

Learning Difficulty Assessment

No longer used, as an EHC Plan covers from 0 – 25 years old. The Learning Difficulty Assessment was similar to a statement of SEN in that it set out what additional learning support a young person would need when continuing their education. It was specifically for young people moving into some form of Post-16 education or training.

Learning Support Assistant (LSA)

A widely used job title for an assistant providing in-school support for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. An LSA will normally work with a pupil or pupils providing close support to the individual pupil and assistance to those responsible for teaching him/her.

Life Limiting Illness

A life-limiting illness is a chronic disease or condition that doesn’t respond to curative treatments, leading to a terminal diagnosis

Local Authority

Local authorities are administrative offices which provide services within their local areas.

Looked After Child (LAC)

Under the Children Act 1989, a child is legally defined as ‘looked after’ by a local authority if he or she is under 18 years old and has either been provided with accommodation (for a continuous period of more than 24 hours), is subject to a care order, or is subject to a placement order.

Local Safeguarding Children’s Board

The Local Safeguarding Children Board is the successor to the Area Child Protection Committee. The Board is made up of representatives from a range of public agencies with a common interest and with duties and responsibilities to children in their area. It has responsibility for ensuring effective inter-agency working together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the area.



Large head

Mainstream School

This is a school, primary or secondary, that provides education for all children, whether they have special educational needs or disabilities.

Maintained school

Schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.


A system of communication that involves the combined use of manual signs and speech.

MASH or Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub

MASH is made up of police, other emergency services, probation, social services and the NHS working in the same office and sharing information, thereby allowing cases to be dealt with much more quickly. MASH is a central communications section to tackle the issue of child protection.


This is a statutory service commissioned by local authorities which is designed to help settle disagreements between parents or young people and local authorities over EHC needs assessments and plans and which parents and young people can use before deciding whether to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal about decisions on assessment or the special educational element of a plan. Mediation can cover any one or all three elements of an EHC plan and must be offered to the parent or young person when the final plan is issued, but they are not able to appeal to the Tribunal about the health and social care aspects of the plan.


Brain lining inflamed, caused by bacterial or viral infection.


Small head


A recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision.


Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine

Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD)

Pupils with MLDs will have attainments significantly below expected levels in most areas of the curriculum despite appropriate interventions. Their needs will not be able to be met by normal differentiation and the flexibilities of the National Curriculum. They should only be recorded as MLD if additional educational provision is being made to help them to access the curriculum. Pupils with MLDs have much greater difficulty than their peers in acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills and in understanding concepts. They may also have an associated speech and language delay, low self-esteem, low levels of concentration and under-developed social skills.


Scheme to rent a vehicle using DLA or PIP payments to cover the costs.

MRI (scan)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging.


A team consisting of more than one professional involved in the care and education of your child. For example, a teacher, a physiotherapist and a doctor

Multiple Sclerosis

A chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.

Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI)

Multi-Sensory Impairment. Pupils with MSI have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties. They are sometimes referred to as deafblind but may have some residual sight and/or hearing. Many also have additional disabilities but their complex needs mean it may be difficult to ascertain their intellectual abilities. Pupils with MSI have much greater difficulty accessing the curriculum and the environment than those with a single sensory impairment. They have difficulties in perception, communication and in the acquisition of information. Incidental learning is limited. The combination can result in high anxiety and multi-sensory deprivation.

Muscle Tone

Refers to the amount of tension or resistance in a muscle which enables movement

Music therapy

Form of therapy often used to help communicate and build relationships with people who are non-verbal or have problems with verbal communication, using play, singing and listening to music.


Irregular jerking movements/spasms of limbs and trunk


Muscle weakness



No abnormality detected


Non-accidental injury to child. Safeguarding/Child Protection.

National Curriculum

This sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, setting out what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported. The national curriculum is taught in a way that meets the needs of individual pupils, e.g. setting goals that are achievable.

NG tube

Nasogastric tube inserted into the stomach via the nose to aid feeding.


National Institute for Clinical Excellence


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Non-Maintained Special School

Schools in England approved by the Secretary of State under section 342 of the Education Act 1996 as special schools which are not maintained by the state but charge fees on a non-profit-making basis. Most non-maintained special schools are run by major charities or charitable trusts.



A term used when describing a person who is deemed very overweight. It might cause extra difficulties if it coexists with certain disabilities.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A serious anxiety disorder with two main elements. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, or urges that repeatedly appear in a person’s mind (for example, being contaminated by germs, or feeling a sudden urge to hurt someone). Compulsions are repetitive activities that a person feels driven to perform (for example, hand-washing to prevent germs, or repeating a specific phrase to prevent harm coming to a loved one). The aim of the compulsion is to relieve any anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Occupational Therapists (OT) help children with difficulties with activities in daily life. For example, this may include seating, drinking, school equipment and aids.

Oculomotor Apraxia

A motor disorder that affects a person’s ability to move their eyes.


Abnormal accumulation of fluid in body

Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education)

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They report directly to Parliament and are independent and impartial. They inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

A Disruptive Behaviour Disorder in children, characterised by rebellious and argumentative behaviour that is particularly directed towards authority figures, such as parents or teachers. The main form of treatment is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Opsoclonus myoclonus

Characterised by unsteady gait, brief spasms, irregular eye movements and speech difficulties


An Optometrist is usually based at a hospital or opticians and specialise in measuring eye sight and prescribing glasses


Branch of dentistry specialised with the growth and development of the face

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Specialising in assessing and correction of bones and joints


A specialist in correcting visual problems through non surgical means such as exercises


Provides range of specialized footwear, splints and braces to aid movement, help correct deformities and relieve pain and discomfort


Obstructive sleep apnoea.



Doctor specialising in the needs of babies and children.

Palliative Medicine Consultant

Pain control management for advanced, progressive and life threatening illnesses.

Panic Disorder

An anxiety disorder that causes a person recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no apparent reason.


Under section 576 of the Education Act 1996, the term ‘parent’ includes any person who is not a parent of the child, but has parental responsibility or who cares for him or her.

Parental Responsibility (PR)

Parental responsibility is defined under Section 3 (1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children’s property. Under Section 2 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility falls upon:

  • all mothers and fathers who were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth (including those who have since separated or divorced)
  • mothers who were not married to the father at the time of the child’s birth, and
  • fathers who were not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, but who have obtained parental responsibility either by agreement with the child’s mother or through a court order Under Section 12 of the Children Act 1989, where a court makes a residence order in favour of any person who is not the parent or guardian of the child, that person has parental responsibility for the child while the residence order remains in force. Under section 33 (3) of the Children Act 1989, while a care order is in force with respect to a child, the social services department designated by the order will have parental responsibility for that child, and will have the power (subject to certain provisions) to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian of the child may meet his or her parental responsibility for the child. The social services department cannot have parental responsibility for a child unless that child is the subject of a care order, except for very limited purposes where an emergency protection order is in force under Section 44 of the Children Act 1989.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

The central difficulty for people with PDA is their avoidance of the everyday demands made by other people, due to their high anxiety levels when they feel that they are not in control.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage to nervous system, which transports information from brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)

Lack of oxygen or blood flow to periventricular area of brain, resulting in the loss of brain tissue, affects foetuses and new-borns.

Person Centred Approach

A way of working with a person to find out what is important and meaningful to them.

Personal Budget

A Personal Budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision. The funds can be held directly by the parent or young person, or may be held and managed on their behalf by the local authority, school, college or other organisation or individual and used to commission the support specified in the EHC plan.

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

An element of a Care Plan maintained by a local authority in respect of a looked after child, which sets out the education needs of the child. If a looked after child has an EHC plan, the regular reviews of the EHC plan should, where possible, coincide with reviews of the Personal Education Plan.

Personal Independence Payment

This is a new benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance for those over 16. Personal Independence Payment helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability.

Personality Disorder

A deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behaviour of a specified kind, typically apparent by the time of adolescence, causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.

Pervasive development disorder

Group of disorders characterised by delays in development, socialization and communication skills


An anxiety disorder that causes a person overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling, or animal. They develop when a person has an unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

Physical Impairment

A condition that substantially limits one or more basic physical activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting, or carrying.


Pica involves a person eating any objects that are not suitable for consumption (and have no nutritional value). Those objects could be any number of things, for example, chalk, plaster, paint, fabric, paper, clay, metal, soil, glass, or sand. Whilst some objects pass through the body without harm, pica can be very dangerous. It has been linked to mental and emotional disorders, but if often seen in pregnant women, small children, and those with developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorder).

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Picture based communication system commonly used by pre-verbal or non-verbal children and young people.


Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

Play Therapy

The use of play to help children act out and understand difficult life experiences and anxiety to reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem and better manage their emotions.


Home based pre-school education for children with developmental delay, disabilities or any other special educational needs. Portage home visitors work in partnership with parents, helping parents to help their child through learning activities within the home.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

A complex genetic disorder that causes people an insatiable appetite. It’s caused by a defect in the hypothalamus that results in them never feeling full. People with Prader-Willi syndrome are often overweight and may steal food, eat pet food, and eat spoiled food, all in a bid to satisfy their appetite. Children born with Prader-Willi Syndrome may have early feeding problems that lead to tube feeding, and they often also have a degree of behavioural or mental health problems and/or learning disabilities.

Profound and Multiple Learning Disability

A term used to describe a person with more than one disability, with the most significant being a learning disability. Many children diagnosed with PMLD will also have a sensory or physical disability, complex health needs, or mental health difficulties.


Medically qualified doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions.


A severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.


Advice/help to overcome stress, anxieties, emotional and behavioural problems

Pupil Referral Unit

A specialist school run by local authorities which provides education for children who cannot attend a conventional school. Includes children with behavioural or medical problems, children who are school phobic or who are waiting for a school place.


Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes schools and other settings are required to make which could include: changes to physical features – for example, creating a ramp so that students can enter a classroom or providing support and aids (such as specialist teachers or equipment)


Stomach acid contents flow back up into gullet/oesophagus

Resourced Provision

A special needs resource within a mainstream school. The school will have separate places that are reserved for pupils with a specific type of SEN (to treat as their base). The child will be mainly taught within mainstream classes, but might have some extra specialist facilities around the school.

Restricted Growth Condition

Restricted growth (dwarfism) is a condition characterised by short stature. It can be caused by several different medical conditions.

Risk of nutritional problem

Any difficulty with eating, drinking, chewing or swallowing that presents a risk to nutritional sufficiency. These children and young people require expert multi-disciplinary assessment including with a specialist speech and language therapist with competence in dysphagia in children and young people.



A serious mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behaviour and a failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and a lack of motivation.


Scoliosis deformity of spine or curvature of the spine.

Serious Case Review

The purpose of a serious case review is to: Establish what lessons are to be learned from the case about the way in which local professionals and organisations work individually and together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children; Identify clearly what those lessons are both within and between agencies, how and within what timescales they will be acted on, and what is expected to change as a result; Improve intra and inter-agency working; Better safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Selective Mutism                                                        

Children with selective mutism are physically capable of normal speech and comprehension but choose not to speak in certain situations.

Self Harm

Self Harm. Intentional, direct injuring of body tissue.

Self-injurious Behaviour/s

Pattern of behaviour harmful to the self, experienced in the context of a developmental disorder.


Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

SEN Support

A single category for 0-25s who need extra specialist support (but not an EHC Plan. It places young people at the centre of planning and makes education-providers more accountable for their progress. It replaced SA (School Action), SAP (School Action Plus), EYA (Early Years Action), and EYAP (Early Years Action Plus) in 2014.

SEN Support Plan

A plan that either early years setting, a school, or a local college will use to ensure a child or young person’s needs are successfully met (where an EHC Plan is not required).

SEN Unit

A special needs resource within a mainstream school. An SEN unit is a special provision where children are mainly taught within separate classes. Each child will have an EHC plan.

Sensory sensitivities

Often seen in children and young people with autism spectrum disorders and severe intellectual impairments. These may include aversive sensory sensitivities e.g. to sounds, textures, foods etc. or craving for sensory experiences such as chewing, sniffing, licking or posting objects into orifices.

Serious allergy

A damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially a particular food, pollen, fur, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive.

Severe and Profound Learning Disability (SLD)

Pupils with SLDs have significant intellectual or cognitive impairments. This has a major effect on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. They may also have difficulties in mobility and coordination, communication and perception and the acquisition of self-help skills. Pupils with SLDs will need support in all areas of the curriculum. They may also require teaching of self-help, independence and social skills. Some pupils may use sign and symbols but most will be able to hold simple conversations. Their attainments may be within the upper P scale range (P4-P8) for much of their school careers (that is below level 1 of the National Curriculum).

Short breaks

Short breaks can last from just a few hours to a few days – from daytime and evening activities to weekend and overnight or maybe longer. They can take place in a community setting, the child’s own home, the home of an approved carer or in a residential setting. They also provide parents and families with a necessary and valuable break from caring responsibilities.

Short stature

Short stature is defined as height that is two standard deviations below the mean height for age and sex (less than the 3rd percentile) or more than two standard deviations below the mid-parental height.

Sickle Cell Disease

A severe hereditary form of anaemia in which a mutated form of haemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a crescent shape at low oxygen levels.

Sleep Apnoea

Airway narrowing or blocking during sleep

Sleep Melatonin

Disordered sleep pattern on treatment with melatonin

SMART targets

Targets which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

A persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. It’s one of the most common anxiety disorders. It can be intense fear and anxiety over simple everyday activities, such as shopping or speaking on the phone.

Social Worker (SW)

Assigned to family by social services to assess needs, advice and plan package of care and support to help if required

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND, SEN)

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than most others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo)

A Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) is a qualified teacher in a school or maintained nursery school who has responsibility for co-ordinating SEN provision. In a small school, the head teacher or deputy may take on this role. In larger schools, there may be a team of SENCOs. Other early years settings in group provision arrangements are expected to identify an individual to perform the role of SENCO.

Special Educational Provision

Special educational provision is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils or students of the same age, which is designed to help children and young people with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school or to study at college.

Special School

A school which is specifically organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN. Special schools maintained by the local authority comprise community special schools and foundation special schools, and non-maintained (independent) special schools that are approved by the Secretary of State under Section 342 of the Education Act 1996.

Specialist Teacher Adviser

Employed by the local authority to provide specialist advice to schools for children with physical disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment and specific learning difficulties.

Speech and Language Therapist

Speech and language therapy is a health care profession, the role and aim of which is to enable children, young people and adults with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to reach their maximum communication potential and achieve independence in all aspects of life.

Spina Bifida

A congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs, and sometimes learning difficulties.

Spinal Injuries

A spinal cord injury refers to any injury to the spinal cord that is caused by trauma instead of disease. Depending on where the spinal cord and nerve roots are damaged, the symptoms can vary widely, from pain to paralysis to incontinence.


Stammering, also known as stuttering, is a condition in which the sufferer speaks hesitantly or in a stumbling and jerky way. Stammering varies, both in the way it affects different people and in its severity.

A very detailed assessment of a child’s special educational needs which may lead to an Education Health or Care Plan or a note in lieu.

Statutory Guidance

Statutory guidance is guidance which local authorities and other local bodies have a legal duty to follow.


A sudden disabling attack or loss of consciousness caused by an interruption in the flow of blood to the brain, especially through thrombosis.

Sturge-Weber Syndrome

Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurological disorder indicated at birth by a port-wine stain birthmark on the forehead and upper eyelid of one side of the face.

Substance Misuse

Substance misuse. Intoxication by, or regular excessive consumption of and/or dependence on psychoactive substances, leading to social, psychological, physical or legal problems.

Supported Living

Supported living is a type of residential support that helps vulnerable adults, including people with learning disabilities, to live with support in the community.


Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants (TAs) usually work with a teacher in their classroom, making sure pupils get the most out of lessons (e.g., by helping them find their way around a computer). The teaching assistant takes on tasks that allow the teacher to concentrate on teaching (e.g., by preparing the classroom for lessons and clearing up afterwards). To support pupils with individual needs, some teaching assistants work one-to-one, while others work in small groups.


Team Around the Child

Tic disorder

All tic disorders including Tourette’s Syndrome. From ICD:

  • Motor or vocal tics, but not both, that occur many times per day, most days over a period of at least twelve months.
  • No period of remission during that year lasting longer than two months.
  • No history of Tourette syndrome, and not due to physical conditions or side effect of medication.
  • Onset before age 18 year.


Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical tics and at least one vocal tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge.


An incision in the windpipe made to relieve an obstruction to breathing.

Transition Plan

A plan drawn up at the annual review of the statement held when a child reaches Year 9 (13 or 14 years old). It sets out the steps and support needed for him or her to move from school to adult life.


Refers to either a powerful shock with potentially long-term effects (psychological), or any bodily injury (pathological).


Ulcerative Colitis

A long-term autoimmune condition that causes the colon and rectum to become inflamed. Symptoms include recurring diarrhoea (which may contain blood) and abdominal pain. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms during a flare-up and prevent symptoms from returning.


Children, young people and their families core needs are being met effectively by universal services without any additional support: These are services such as Libraries, GP’s, schools and health visitors.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing certain benefits in parts of the UK.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence day and night. This may occur because the child or young person has not reached the developmental level where bladder control can be acquired. It is always worth a concerted effort to support the family to achieve continence as even those with significant intellectual and other disabilities can be ‘trained’. Those with neuropathic bladders need specialist support including from paediatric urology and specialist continence nurses.


Virtual School Head

The Virtual School Head (VSH) is an officer of a local authority who leads a virtual school team that tracks the progress of children looked after by the authority as if they attended a single school. The Children and Families Act 2014 requires every local authority to appoint an officer who is an employee of that or another authority to discharge this duty.

Voluntary schools

Originally set up by voluntary bodies, such as the Church of England or Roman Catholic Church, but with most of their running costs now funded by Hampshire County Council. Voluntary aided schools are responsible for their own admissions. Voluntary controlled schools follow Hampshire County Council’s admission policy.


W-D Syndrome

This is cerebral palsy that affects the nerves and muscles needed for speaking, eating, drinking and swallowing. It is a very important and sentinel condition for services for disabled children and young people because it can be tricky to diagnose and requires careful multi-disciplinary care planning.

Williams Syndrome

Williams syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a distinctive, “elfin” facial appearance, along with a low nasal bridge, an unusually cheerful demeanour and ease with strangers; developmental delay coupled with strong language skills; and cardiovascular problems.

Worster-Drought Syndrome

This is cerebral palsy that affects the nerves and muscles needed for speaking, eating, drinking and swallowing. It is a very important and sentinel condition for services for disabled CYP because it can be tricky to diagnose and requires careful multi-disciplinary care planning.


Young Person (YP)

A person over compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16). From this point the right to make decisions about matters covered by the Children and Families Act 2014 applies to the young person directly, rather than to their parents.

Youth Justice Board

The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales is an executive non-departmental public body. Its board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Justice. The YJB oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales, works to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18 and ensures that custody for them is safe, secure and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.

Youth Offending Team (YOT, YOS)

Youth offending teams are part of local authorities and are separate from the police and the justice system. They work with local agencies including the police, probation officers, health, children’s services, schools and the local community, to run local crime prevention programmes, help young people at the police station if they’re arrested, help young people and their families at court, supervise young people serving a community sentence and stay in touch with a young person if they’re sentenced to custody.

Youth Support Services

Youth Support Services provide information, advice, guidance and support to all young people aged 13-19. They work with young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, up to the age of 25, to help them make the best possible transition into Adult Services.




  • Adoption by Foster Parents 

Kids books

  • Nutmeg Gets Adopted
  • The Golden Egg – A Story About Adoption
  • Murphy’s Three Homes
  • All About Mummies & Daddies



Adoption –



  • Attachment for Foster Care and Adoption – A Training DVD
  • A Child’s Journey Through Placement
  • Attachment, Trauma and Resilience – Therapeutic Caring for Children
  • The Secure Base Model – Promoting attachment and resilience in foster care and adoption
  • Childcare and the Growth of Love


Videos and Podcasts

Child’s Behaviour


  • The Child in Placement – Common Behavioural Problems
  • Solution Focused Therapy
  • A Problem Shared – A Practical Approach to Difficult Foster Placements
  • Parenting a Child with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
  • Parenting a Child who has been Sexually Abused

Kids’ Books

  • A Kids Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control
  • Give that Back Jack!
  • Dr Judy Moody
  • Judy Moody Predicts the Future
  • Judy Moody Was In A Mood. Not A Good Mood 



The Truth about children who lie

Child’s Development


  • Child Care and Development
  • The Developing World of the Child
  • The School Years 
  • Developmental Delay
  • Added to Adolescence – Foster Parenting an Adolescent



Hand model of the brain


Dan Hughes “How early years trauma affects the brain: The child who mistrusts good care”

Child Criminal and Sexual Exploitation


  • Young People & Gangs
  • Young People & Radicalisation
  • Child Sexual Exploitation (leaflets)


Podcasts and Videos

Season 3, Episode 4: County lines | Catch22 (

Season 3, Episode 1: Missing children and child exploitation | Catch22 (

Coming into Foster Care


Kids’ Books

  • Dennis and the Big Decisions
  • Finding a Family for Tommy
  • Maybe Days
  • Pilchards New Family 
  • Kids need to be safe



  • How to talk so Teens will Listen
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen
  • There’s Something I Have To Tell You
  • Words That Work Communicating with Your Teenager for Parents





  • All Dogs have ADHD
  • Blue Folder – Feeling Poorly
  • Developmental Delay
  • Makaton (Core Vocabulary) Signs
  • Makaton (Core Vocabulary) Signs DVD
  • People with Autism Behaving Badly Helping People with ASD Move On From Behavioural and Emotional Challenges
  • Sexuality and Young People with Learning Difficulties 
  • Placing Disabled children
  • Dealing with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder


Supporting people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders | Research in Practice



Dr Gabor Mate “FASD, ADHD or Both?”


Diversity and Inclusion


  • Social work with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children
  • Life isn’t always Black & White
  • For Foster carers preparing a child to live with lesbian or gay adopters or foster carers
  • Gender Diversity
  • Caring for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children & Young People (various regions)
  • Multi-culturalism, identity and family placement



Gender Identity

Witnessing Black History



  • Pathways through Education for Young People in Care
  • Supporting Children’s Learning – A training programme for Foster Carers
  • Supporting Education
  • Welcome to the Carer’s Toolkit 

Kids’ Books

  • Baby Bug
  • Counting
  • Dog in the Fog
  • Early Words
  • Fat the Cat
  • Jen the Hen
  • Opposites
  • Posy the Pig
  • Shapes and Colours
  • The Surprise
  • Time 



Educational Resources

Family Time


  • Contact: If you are fostering a child
  • The Heart of the Matter – A handbook on Contact 



Health (Physical and Mental)


  • Carbs Count – Diabetes
  • Your Child and Diabetes 
  • Undertaking Health Assessment
  • Emotional Health and Wellbeing
  • Freud for beginners
  • Statutory Guide on Promoting the Health and Well-being of Looked after children
  • Supporting the Mental Health of Looked After and Adopted Children
  • Young people and Self-Harm
  • The Emotional well-being of young people seeking asylum in the UK

Children’s Books

  • What’s happening to me? (boy)
  • What’s happening to me? (girl)
  • Mad isn’t Bad
  • Feelings In A Jar
  • The Great Big book of Feelings
  • The Growing Pains Treasury
  • The Huge Bag of Worries
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears

Websites (information on menstrual periods) (information on sexual health & contraception) (sexual health information for Norfolk – including C-cards) (healthy vs abusive relationships) (asexual network) (How young people are learning about relationships, sex and sexuality) (Boiling point: Talking to children about stress)


Unhappy Child, Unhealth Adult –

Season 3, Episode 6: Rethinking the approach to young people’s mental health | Catch22 (

Internet Safety


  • Digiducks Big Decision
  • Foster Care and Social Networking 
  • Young People and Internet Safety


Podcasts and Videos

Pornography and Young people – Prof Andy Phippen

A positive approach to video and computer games

Young people, online wellbeing, and developing healthier habits

Teachers and Safety with TikTok’s Alexandra Evans

Season 3, Episode 3: Online harms and online helps | Catch22 (

Life Story Work


  • Digital Life Story Work
  • Life Story Work
  • Life Story Work – Why, what, how, when
  • Life Story Work a practical guide to helping children to understand their past



Promoting Independence


  • Into Independence, not out of care: 16 plus care options
  • Companion to Leaving Care
  • Getting Ready for Adult Life
  • On my Own 
  • Mind the Gap – transitional safeguarding – adolescence to adulthood


Safer Caring


  • Safer Caring
  • Training that promotes safer practice
  • Statutory guidance on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children

Kid’s Books

  • Katie’s Yuckey Problem
  • My Book My Body
  • It’s Okay To Say No Colouring Book


  • Placing Siblings
  • Siblings without Rivalry
  • Rosie’s babies (childrens book)


Substance Misuse


  • Parental Substance Misuse and Child Welfare 



Under The Skin with Russell Brand: Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Power on Apple Podcasts

Season 3, Episode 7: Youth substance misuse | Catch22 (

Therapeutic Parenting and Stability


  • Solution Focused Therapy
  • Healing Parents Helping Wounded Children to Trust and Love
  • Parenting a Child who has been Sexually Abused
  • Parenting the Hurt Child
  • Shattered Lives – Children Who Live With Courage and Dignity
  • The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting – Strategies & Solutions
  • Trauma Informed Approaches with young people
  • The Child Placement Handbook – Research, policy & practices
  • Self-Regulation in Young Children – Activities & Strategies for Practitioners & Parents


Podcasts and Videos

Reaching into the Hurt Child’s Mind and Heart with PACE

Connecting to Calm – Dr Dan Siegel



  • Once upon a time
  • Play Therapy with abused Children 




  • Healing Parents Helping Wounded Children to Trust and Love
  • Parenting the Hurt Child
  • Ghosts From the Nursery
  • Shattered Lives – Children Who Live With Courage and Dignity
  • The Child Placement Handbook – Research, policy & practices

Kids’ Books

  • Mad isn’t Bad
  • The Great Big book of Feelings
  • The Growing Pains Treasury
  • The Huge Bag of Worries
  • Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears

Websites Why Domestic Abuse Is A Child Protection Issue Impact of Domestic abuse On Children And Young People

Podcasts and Videos

Video by Dr Gabor Mate “Childhood Trauma, The Real Cause of Anxiety”

Dan Hughes “How early years trauma affects the brain: The child who mistrusts good care”

Adult Books – General

Children’s Books – General

  • 1001 Wizard Things to Spot
  • A Crocodile for Billy
  • After the Storm
  • All Pigs are Beautiful
  • Big Blue Whale
  • Burglar Bill
  • Diggers
  • DVD Fisher Price Little People – in Portuguese
  • Gorilla
  • Growing Frogs
  • Hello Kitty DVD – in Portuguese
  • Ice Bear
  • Mission:Camping
  • Mission: Explore On The Road
  • Mixed CD & DVD pack of songs for infants – in Portuguese
  • Mr Bill and the Runaway Sausages
  • My Dad
  • One Snowy Night
  • Postman Pat DVD – in Portuguese
  • Spot at the Fair
  • The Great Cat Conspiracy
  • The Great Hamster Massacre
  • The Great Rabbit Rescue
  • The Jungle Book
  • The Obvious Elephant
  • The Pig in the Pond
  • The Xmas Book
  • Think of an Eel
  • Tigress
  • Truckers
  • Walk with a Wolf
  • Wanted – The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog
  • What if?
  • Where are you Little Penguin
  • White Owl, Barn Owl