Special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion

What is the British Council’s approach to

special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion?


What do we mean by special

educational needs and inclusion?

The British Council positively promotes a social model

of disability, assuming differences are a normal part

of diversity, and that teaching must be adapted to the

needs of the learner. The social model emphasises

that society needs to adapt to the individual and it

begins from the needs of the learner in overcoming

barriers to learning. This is different to a medical

model of disability where the impairment or disability

is defined as the problem.

Inclusion means ensuring access to learning and

school curricula is available for all learners whatever

their learning challenges. Successful teaching and

learning celebrates all learners and promotes the

contribution that all learners bring to learning. In this

sense, inclusion is in the interest of everyone and

everyone’s unique contribution is equally valued.


What do we mean by special

educational needs and inclusion?

The term special educational needs (SEN) covers a

wide range of learners who have a learning difficulty

which calls for special educational provision.

These include:

• learners who have a much greater difficulty

in learning than the majority of learners of the

same age

• learners with a disability which hinders them from

making use of the general educational facilities

provided for learners of the same age

• learners who need extra provision because they

have abilities significantly ahead of their peers.

While inclusion often means learning will be

most effective in the same class or group, we

need to consider what specific learning support

and interventions are most appropriate in

individual contexts.

What does the wide range of special

educational needs (SEN) include?

Special educational needs is usually understood

to include:

a. cognition and learning: dyslexia, dyspraxia,


b. behavioural, emotional and social development

needs: learners with challenging behaviour

c. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

d. communication and interaction needs: speech,

language, intellectual and communication needs

e. autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – Asperger


f. sensory and/or physical needs: visual, hearing

and physical impairment

g. gifted and talented learners, and learners affected

by global cultural movement and displacement.


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