Introduction to SEND and the Local Offer | Oxfordshire County Council

Introduction to SEND and the Local Offer

What special educational needs and disability means and how to get the help that you need.

Watch the Department of Education video about the Local Offer

What does 'special educational needs' mean?

You may have been told, or you may have concerns that your child has special educational needs (SEN) because they are finding it harder to learn than other children of the same age. This may be a need related to:

  • Communicating or mixing with others
  • Mental health
  • Thinking and understanding
  • Sight or hearing
  • Physical development
  • Social or emotional development

Staff at early years settings (like pre-schools and nurseries) and schools and academies will work with you to discuss any concerns and identify needs so that your child receives the right teaching as quickly as possible.

You may also wish to talk to your GP or health visitor if you are worried that your child has special educational needs.

Is SEN the same as disability?

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a long term and substantial negative impact on daily life. Not all children with special educational needs are considered to be disabled. At the same time, a child or young person may be disabled but will only have special educational needs if the disability impacts on his or her learning. Whether a child or young person has a disability or special educational needs or both there are laws and guidance to help ensure that their needs are recognised and supported.

The Local Offer and Code of Practice for SEN and Disability (2014)

The Code of Practice for SEN and Disability (2014) set out guidance on how the needs of children and young people with SEN or disability should be met. Our web pages tell you how this is done in Oxfordshire, gathering together in one place the information, advice and sources of support that parents, children and young people will find useful.

Oxfordshire's Local Offer has been developed with parents and young people. Details of the development and what we have done in response to suggestions for improving it are in our document Preparing and reviewing Oxfordshire’s Local Offer (pdf format, 233Kb).

Review and report

The local offer is reviewed every six months and the reports include page view statistics, feedback, you said/we did, and key developments. View our reports:

For older reports please contact us.

SEND local area plan

We have produced a SEND local area strategic overview plan (pdf format, 279Kb) to summarise what we think is good and what needs to improve.

Oxfordshire SEND Local Area Inspection 

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) 0-25 years inspection took place during the week commencing September 25. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected how the local areas has been fulfilling the new duties to identify children with SEND, meet their needs and improve their outcomes. The new duties came into force in September 2014 in accordance with the Children and Families Act.

Under the Department for Education’s Code of Practice the responsibility for identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people with SEND rests with the local area; the local authority, health authority, the area’s early years settings, schools and post 16 colleges.

During the week the inspectors visited 10 education providers (early years, primary, secondary, special schools and a college), held 26 meetings and selected 100 cases to review. Inspectors listened to parents views through a webinar and an open meeting and also spoke with children and young people.

Inspectors broadly agreed with the local area’s self-evaluation - SEND local area strategic overview plan (pdf format, 279Kb)

Since the inspection there has been an opportunity to reflect and begin to implement the learning arising from the experience. The spotlight on SEND has also raised the importance of the areas joint responsibilities and to consider how the austerity measures have been impacting on the areas ability to deliver the reforms. The final report is published here (pdf format). The Local Area is developing an action plan to address the issues identified.


If you are unable to find the information you need please use our contact page.

Last reviewed
04 December 2017
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