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Definitions and legislation

This Graduated Response Toolkit has been produced in line with the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and is guidance and support for post 16 providers in explaining the action they should take in identifying and meeting the needs of all young people with SEND in their setting.   

The SEND Code of Practice (2015) provides statutory guidance on duties, policies and procedures relating to Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and associated regulations and applies to England. The regulations associated with the Children and Families Act 2014 are:  The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014;  The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014 and The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Detained Persons) Regulations 2015.


Special Educational Needs (SEN) is defined as a learning difficulty or disability that calls for special educational provision, namely provision different from or additional to that normally available to pupils of the same age (SEND Code of Practice 2015).

Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities (The Equality Act 2014).

Mental Health is defined as "The emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness.  It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief in our own, and others, dignity and worth." (Health Education Authority, 1997).

Statutory duties on post-16 institutions

The Code of Practice (2015) states:

 Further education colleges, sixth form colleges, 16-19 academies and independent specialist colleges approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 have specific statutory duties which are set out in the SEND Code of Practice:

 These duties are:

  • The duty to have regard to the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice

  • The duty to co-operate with the local authority on arrangements for children and young people with SEN (as described earlier under ‘Working together across education, health and care for joint outcomes’ and ‘The Local Offer’)

  • The duty to admit a young person if the institution is named in an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan (see later section on ‘Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans’)

  • The duty to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs. Colleges must fulfil this duty for students with SEN whether or not the students have EHC plans. It applies in respect of students with SEN up to age 25 in further education, including those aged 14-16 recruited directly by colleges.

  •  Duties under the Equality Act 2010. Colleges must not discriminate against, harass or victimise disabled children or young people and must make reasonable adjustments to prevent them being placed at a substantial disadvantage. This duty is anticipatory – it requires thought to be given in advance to what disabled young people might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent that disadvantage. 

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