The code of practice became effective from 1 January 2002. From then LEAs, schools, early education settings and those who help them – including health and social services – have been obliged to have regard to it.

The code is designed to help these bodies to make effective decisions regarding children with SEN. It does not (and could not) tell them what to do in each individual case.

This document should help schools and LEAs to obtain the best value from the considerable resources and expertise they invest in helping children with special educational needs.

The Code of Practice replaces the 1994 Code in England. It was formed following consultation with LEAs, schools, SEN voluntary bodies, the health and social services, and others. This took place between July and October 2000. The draft was then approved by Parliament.

Areas covered include definitions of special educational needs themselves, parental responsibility and working partnership with parents. The code also looks at involving pupils in assessment and decision-making, provision in the early years, statutory assessment of children under compulsory school age and the role of SENCO. Many other topics are also included.


  • Principles and Policies
  • Working in Partnership with Parents
  • Pupil Participation
  • Identification, assessment and provision in early education settings
  • Identification, assessment and provision in the primary phase.
  • Identification, assessment and provision in the secondary sector.
  • Statutory assessment of special educational needs.
  • Statements of special education needs
  • Annual Review
  • Working in partnership with other agencies.
  • The Education (Special Educational Needs) Regulations 2001
  • The Education (SEN) (Provision of Information by Local Education Authorities) Regulations 2001
  • The Education (SEN) Regulations 1999
  • Glossary