Education and Training Jargon Buster

There is a lot of jargon related to disability and health conditions. Here is a list with some of the common terminologies and their definitions.

Access Arrangements: Special arrangements which can be made before an exam so a disabled student can demonstrate their knowledge and skills without their disability being a barrier. For example, extra time, a reader, a scribe and supervised rest breaks.

Access to Work (AtW): A government programme aimed at supporting disabled people to take up and/or remain in work. An Access to Work grant can pay for personalised and practical support if you are in employment, doing an apprenticeship, traineeship or supported internship. This could be help towards the additional costs of taxi fares if you cannot use public transport to get to work, a support worker or specialist equipment (or alterations to existing equipment).

Active Listening/ empathic listening / reflective listening: A way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust. It includes giving your full attention that enables that person to be fully heard.

Additional needs: Someone who requires additional support to help them improve progress or catch up.

Advocacy: Taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need. Advocates and advocacy providers work in partnership with the people they support.

Apprenticeship: A real job where you receive practical training and get paid at the same time as studying for a particular qualification. Part-time apprenticeships should be available for all apprenticeships.

Assistive Technology: Any system, device, software or equipment that individuals use to perform tasks that might otherwise be difficult or impossible.

Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) / Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC): Autism is a lifelong complex condition that typically appears during early childhood and affects people differently and to varying degrees. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviours that can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. Autistic people can find it hard to communicate and interact with other people, find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable, find it hard to understand how other people think or feel, get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations, changes in routine and may take longer to process information.

Best Practice: The most effective method of a particular practice, identified through research trials and other methods of validation.

Children and Families Act 2014: Came into force on 1st September 2014. Part 3 of the Act sets out the law relating to special educational needs and disabilities. Read the Children and Families Act 2014.

Department for Education (DfE): The Department for Education is the government department responsible for children’s services and education, include early years schools, further and higher education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.

Disabled: The Equality Act 2010 defines a person as disabled if they have: “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to do normal daily activities.”

Disability Adviser/Disability Officer/Disability Coordinator: Works in Disability Services or Student Support Services. Responsibilities include advice on what support is available, recommend reasonable adjustments, arrange the support needed and provide help with applications for additional funding such as DSA.

Disability Support Services/Student Support and Wellbeing Service: Name given to a service or team that supports disabled students. Name varies between education providers, but most include the word ‘disability’ or ‘support’ in their title.

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA):  You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances to cover any extra study-related costs you incur due to an impairment, long-term health condition or mental health condition. The allowance covers 4 different areas of need: Specialist equipment; non-medical helper’s support; general and other expenditure and additional disability-related travel costs.

Discrimination: Treating a person, or group of people differently or not offering them the same opportunities as other people because they possess certain characteristics.

Diversity: Recognising that each individual is unique, and respecting and valuing people’s differences including race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, beliefs and other ideologies.

DPULO / DPO/ ULO: Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations that are run and controlled by people who use support services.

Dyscalculia: A specific condition related to understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics. 

Dyslexia: A learning difference that affects the skills involved in reading, spelling, writing and information processing.

Dyspraxia: A condition affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination. 

Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment: An assessment to find out what a child or young person’s education, health and care needs are, whether they need a EHC Plan and what provision should be put in place to meet their needs. First step to getting a EHC plan.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan: For young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA): Funds schools and academies with sixth forms, further education colleges, independent learning providers and special post-16 institutions. Funding provided for the education and training of learners aged between 16 and 19 years and up to the age of 25 for young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.  

First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability): The Tribunal hears appeals from parents of children with SEND, and young people with SEND, about EHC needs assessments and plans. 

Further education: Any study after secondary education that is not an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. This can include academic qualifications like GCSEs and A levels, study programmes such as supported internships and traineeships, technical (job-related) qualifications level 2 technical certificates which help you get a job, T Levels which prepare you for a specific technical job and Apprenticeships below degree level.

Higher Education: Results in a level 4+ qualification and includes HND, HNC, diploma of higher education, foundation degree, undergraduate degrees, higher apprenticeship and postgraduate degrees such as Master’s. 

Impairment: An injury, illness, or congenital condition that causes or is likely to cause a loss or difference of physiological or psychological function. A disabled person is a person with an impairment who experiences disability. Disability is the result of negative interactions that take place between a person with an impairment and her or his social environment.

Inclusion: Treating people as equals and meeting the needs of everyone in society by removing barriers that that stop equal access and participation in activities and events.

Independent living: Support for adults living in the community rather than in a residential home.

Information, Advice and Support Service (also known as SENDIAS): Service that provides information, impartial advice and support for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs, and their parents. Each local authority area should have one.

Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ): A membership organisation representing the eight largest national awarding bodies offering qualifications in the UK.

Learning Difference: Some people prefer this term instead of ‘learning difficulty’ which focuses on an individual's cognitive weaknesses and isolates them from other learners, whereas ‘difference’ highlights the fact that they simply learn differently than others do.

Learning Difficulty: Is a term used for different types of specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  A person can have one, or a combination of learning difficulties which can include difficulties with reading, spelling, maths or planning.

Learning Disability: Is an ‘umbrella’ term for different conditions that describe a brain impairment. Most people are born with a learning disability. People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn life skills and process information and may need support to understand complex or new information, develop new skills and interact with other people. Some people use learning difficulty and learning disability interchangeably.

Learning Support: Students aged 19 or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship could get Learner Support to help pay for accommodation, travel, course materials, equipment or other support.

Local Offer: Published by the local authority, it details information about what support is available in that area for children and young people aged 0-25 who have special educational needs. Includes information about education, health and care provision. Available on the local authority website.

Mediation: Where a trained person helps to resolve disputes between a parent or young person and the local authority without the need to appeal to a Tribunal. It must be offered to a parent of young person in relation to a EHC Plan. 

Medical Model of Disability: Defines and categorises disabled people by their impairment and casts the individual as the problem, rather than looking more widely at society. 

Neurodiversity/ neurodiverse condition/neurodivergent: Many people now choose the term ‘Neurodiverse condition’ instead of 'learning difficulty’ when referring to learning differences such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and Autism.

Personal Budget: Agreed amount of money allocated to pay for social care by the local authority following an assessment of care and support needs.

Person-centred: seeing the person as an individual and working together to develop appropriate solutions.

Reasonable Adjustments: Under the Equality Act 2010 employers and organisations have a responsibility to make sure that disabled people can access jobs, education and services as easily as non-disabled people. This is known as the ‘duty to make reasonable adjustments.’ This could be a change in policy, practice or procedure. For example, flexible work arrangements, providing information in accessible formats, providing a quiet space to work, assistive technology or having a mentor at work.

SEN: special educational needs – is the legal term used to refer to your child’s requirements in education. According to Section 20 of the Children and Families Act 2014, a child has special educational needs (SEN), “if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.”

SEND: special educational needs and disabilities. This is the term now used by professionals.

SEND Code of Practice: This is statutory guidance which supports Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014. It covers what local authorities, schools, colleges, health, and social care providers must do to identify, assess and provide for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Social Model of Disability: Considers disability as the social and physical restrictions formed by society and not the individual. It distinguishes between impairment and disability whereby the loss or limitation of opportunities for a person with an impairment to take part in society on an equal level with others is due to social and environmental barriers. It requires a change in society’s values and practices in order to remove the barriers to participation that discriminate against disabled people.

Supported Internship (SI): A work-based study programme to help young people aged between 16 and 24 who have statement of SEN or EHC plan to get a job.

T-Level: The T stands for technical. A 2-year programme which provides the skills and knowledge to get into a technical career. Combines classroom study with an extended unpaid industry placement.

Traineeship: A work-based study programme to help young people aged 16 to 24, or up to the age of 25 with an Education, Health and Care plan prepare for paid employment if they don’t have the skills and experience that employers are looking for. Helps to become ‘work ready’ and includes work preparation training, Maths and English and work experience. Last six weeks to one year.

Training provider: an organisation that delivers apprenticeship training, such as a college, a university or a private training organisation.

Unconscious Bias: The way we are affected by assumptions about someone. It operates at a very subtle level, below our awareness, and results in almost unnoticeable behaviours (‘micro-behaviours’), such as paying a little less attention, talking less or less warmly, making eye contact less often.

Universal Design: Any product, service or environment that is accessible to everyone and that meet all peoples' needs. Universal design that can be used for the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability benefits everyone.

2 May 2023