Special educational needs (SEN) guide

A guide for parents and carers outlining the SEN code of practice, explaining procedures and informing of them of their rights.

This publication was withdrawn on

This document has been replaced by the ‘SEND: guide for parents and carers’, which we produced to explain the support system outlined in the ‘SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years’ that came into force on 1 September 2014.

Applies to England



This guide aims to help parent and carers understand what special educational needs are and what they can do if they are worried that the child they are caring for may be having difficulties at, or before, they go to school.

If parents or carers have concerns or worries at any time, they should share them with the child’s teacher or headteacher or any other professional working with the child.

This document refers to the ‘Special educational needs: code of practice’ 2001.

It may be used by educational settings as departmental advice for:

  • maintained schools
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units

A new version of the ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years’ has been published and came into effect on 1 September 2014.

A related guide ‘Special educational needs and disability: a guide for parents and carers’ that explains the changes to the SEND support system is also available.

Published 1 September 2009