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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs

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The SEN Code of Practice (2014) gives a clear description of children and young people who have special educational needs. On pages 16 and 17 it states :

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 the majority of others of the same age, or

  • has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

For children aged two or more, special educational provision is educational or training provision that is additional to or different from that made generally for other children or young people of the same age by mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, mainstream post-16 institutions or by relevant early years providers. For a child under two years of age, special educational provision means educational provision of any kind.

A child under compulsory school age has special educational needs if he or she is likely to fall within the definition in paragraph above when they reach compulsory school age or would do so if special educational provision was not made for them (Section 20 Children and Families Act 2014).

Post-16 institutions often use the term learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD). The term SEN is used in this Code across the 0-25 age range but includes LDD.

A person has a disability for the purposes of this Act if he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to day activities.

Section 1(1), Disability Discrimination Act 1995

A child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from a mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed.

Section 17 (11), Children Act 1989

The revised SEN Code of Practice was published in July 2014 and has been based on the Children and Families Act (2014). Statements of special education need are being replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), which are designed to achieve the best possible outcomes for the child/young person(from age 0 to 25) across education, health and social care. 

Section 19 of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes clear that local authorities, in carrying out their functions under the Act in relation to disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs (SEN), must have regard to:

  • the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person, and the child’s parents

  • the importance of the child or young person, and the child’s parents, participating as fully as possible in decisions; and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions

  • the need to support the child or young person, and the child’s parents, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help them achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes, preparing them effectively for adulthood

These principles are designed to support:

  • the participation of children, their parents and young people in decision making

  • the early identification of children and young people’s needs and early intervention to support them

  • greater choice and control for young people and parents over support

  • collaboration between education, health and social care services to provide support

  • high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN)

  • a focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning

  • successful preparation for adulthood, including independent living and employment