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Glossary: S

School Action

This level of support is provided by a School, in the same way as Early Years Action at a Nursery.

the terms used in the 2001 SEN Code of Practice for the stages of support for SEN provided from within a school’s own resources. These stages have been replaced in the new legislation with one term: SEN support.

School Action Plus

This level of support is provided by a School, if School Action is not meeting your child's needs.  In the same way as Early Years Action Plus, outside expertise and advice may be necessary.

School Governors

School governors work with the headteacher and senior management team of a school to make sure pupils get a good education. The governing body is made up of school governors elected by parents, staff at the school, local authority representatives and members of the local community.  The governing body itself also "sponsors" governors, and if appropriate, governors can be appointed by the relevant religious body or foundation.

Sensorineural deafness

This is a permanent hearing loss.  The inner ear isn’t working properly, so the cochlea or hearing nerve do not work as they should.

Sensory support service

Also known as hearing impaired service or specialist education service for deaf children. The hearing impaired service is part of the education service and employs Teachers of the Deaf among other specialist staff. It provides services to deaf children and their parents. The support can be in the child's home, at nurseries and playgroups or in school. It may also offer advice and support to nurseries, playgroups, schools and colleges that teach deaf children.

Severe deafness

A level of deafness.  It can be described using the decibel (dB) measurement.  This shows how loud a sound has to be for your child to hear it.  Severe deafness means the sound has to be at between 71 and 95 db.


The casing of an in-the-ear or in-the-canal hearing aid. 


Also called a direct audio input shoe/audio plug/interface shoe. A device to allow a lead to be plugged directly into a hearing aid. 

Sign Language Interpreter

A professional who uses sign language to interpret spoken language to a deaf person who uses sign.   British Sign Language (BSL) or Irish Sign Language might be used.  It may be necessary for a deaf child who uses British Sign Language  to use an interpreter at school or college in order to access their education fully. 

Sign Language on TV

Some TV channels have chosen to produce dedicated programmes for deaf people with deaf presenters, although most are showing repeat programmes with British Sign Language interpreters on screen.

Sign Supported English (SSE)

Sign Supported English uses signs taken from BSL. It is used in English word order, but does not attempt to sign every word that is spoken.

Social worker for deaf people

A social worker who specialises in working with deaf people. They support families with claiming welfare benefits or with obtaining equipment. They may also help families to access other services, such as family sign language classes. 

Soundfield system

Loudspeakers are fitted around a classroom, and are linked to a microphone worn by the teacher. This allows the teachers voice to be heard over the general noise of a classroom by all the pupils. 

Sound processor

The externally worn part of a bone anchored hearing aid that clips onto the implanted screw, where sound is converted into vibrations.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

A child or young person has SEN if their learning difficulty or disability calls for special educational provision, that is provision which is different from or additional to the provision normally made for other pupils of the same age. You may also see the acronym SEND used – this is intended to include children who have special educational needs and/or a disability.

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (First Tier)

This was set up to consider appeals from parents' who disagree with decisions made by Local Authorities about a child's special educational needs.   A case may go to Tribunal if an agreement cannot be reached between parent and Local Authority.  The Tribunal is independent and there is one Tribunal Judge who is legally qualified, and two specialist members who have knowledge and experience ofspecial educational needs but not necessarily deafness.  A Tribunal is a legal process and decision will be based on the facts of the case.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (Upper Tribunal)

If you think the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (First Tier) has made a legal mistake in coming to their decision, you may be able to take things further with legal help from a barrister or solicitor who specialises in the law relating to special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice

Guidance on how children with special educational needs and disabilities should be supported. By law, it must be followed by local authorities, schools and a wide range of other bodies unless there are good reasons why not. The guidance has legal effect through the Children and Families Act 2014 (part three).

This document has different titles in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England: Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice. It can be downloaded from

Video still improving outcomes - SEN Code of Practice

Wales: Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales. It can be downloaded from the Welsh Assembly Government website.

Scotland: Additional Support for Learning Act Code of Practice. It can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website.

Northern Ireland: Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs.  It can be downloaded from the Department for Education Northern Ireland website. 

Special educational needs co-ordinator (‘adviser’ in Scotland)

A teacher who has been designated by the school to identify children with special educational needs within the school, and to make sure they receive appropriate support. This may involve working directly with the child; supporting mainstream staff in assessing a child’s needs, or a combination of both of these. 

Special educational needs (SEN) support

Where deaf children in England need extra support in a nursery, school, college or another education setting because of their deafness, they may be described as needing  ‘Special educational needs (SEN) support’. If this applies to your child, the education setting must take a number of steps to make sure the needs of your child are being met.

The term ‘SEN support’ replaces what used to be known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’ in schools in England.

SEN support under the new legislation all support provided from within the resources of the school/ nursery/college (i.e. without an EHC plan) is called SEN support. Examples of this could be inclusion in a language group, advice from a speech and language therapist or Teacher of the Deaf, a buddying scheme or a home/school diary. This term replaces School Action and School Action Plus which were used in the 2001 legislation. If a child or young person doesn’t make adequate progress over time in spite of SEN support, the next stage is to request an EHC needs assessment.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal Northern Ireland

The tribunal considers parents' appeals against the decisions of Education and Library Boards about children's special educational needs, where the parents cannot reach agreement with the Board.  It also looks at claims of disability discrimination in schools.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal Wales

Parents whose children have special educational needs may have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal Wales (SENTW) against decisions made by Welsh Local Authorities

Specialist notetaker

Someone who is trained to take notes during lectures or classes specifically for deaf students. They need to have the ability to provide a full account of the session and change language to meet the student’s needs.

Specialist schools for deaf children

These schools exist to meet the needs of deaf children with special educational needs or disabilities.  The schools will have specialist equipment, staff and teaching strategies to help meet the needs of the children who go there. 

Speech and language therapist

A person who offers assessment, treatment and advice to people of all ages, who have communication difficulties.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy helps children to develop communication skills. These skills may include receptive language (what your child understands); expressive language (what your child says or signs); speech skills (how your child pronounces words); and interaction skills (how your child uses language in conversation). 

Speech processor

The external part of a cochlear implant worn like a hearing aid on the ear, where sound is converted into electric signals.

Speech-to-text reporter

A highly trained operator who provides a live, verbatim (every word) account of a meeting or class which is viewed by a deaf student via a screen. They will be able to type at 200­–300 words per minute. This service can be provided remotely through the internet.

Statement of special educational needs

A statement or record of needs is a document written by the local education service. It states the needs your child has in order to learn, and the support that the education service will give to your child to help meet their needs

a legal document which sets out a child or young person’s special educational needs and the provision required to meet those needs. Statements are being phased out and replaced by EHC plans.

Statutory Assessment

A detailed assessment to find out what a child's educational needs are.  Usually only needed if a child's school, playgroup or nursery cannot provide all of the support the child needs.  After the assessment, a Local Authority will decide whether or not to write a Statement of Special Educational Needs for a child.

Stetoclip (or listening stick)

A device that enables a hearing person to listen to a hearing aid to make sure that it is working. Also see attenuator.


Words that appear on the TV screen and show as closely as possible what the programme's characters or presenters are saying. Films are often subtitled at the cinema and on DVDs.

Super Seals

Help to prevent dust and moisture from entering the hearing aid and causing damage. They are available in different sizes and colours and fit over the hearing aid using a special tool. The Super Seal covers the whole hearing aid, leaving the elbow and microphone exposed. Super Seals are useful when the hearing aid user is engaged in sweaty or dusty activities. They can prevent small children gaining access to the battery compartment, but also block off the direct audio input facility. They are available from your child's audiologist or hearing aid clinic.


A medical term meaning a collection of signs or symptoms that doctors recognise as being related and/or having a common cause.