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MEP learning pack

Special educational needs and inclusion


This pack is designed to support your practice and enhance your knowledge and understanding of special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion.  Your role is central to the inclusion of all learners and the good practice discussed in this pack will contribute to whole school initiatives.  Please engage with the interactive activities which build a tool kit for practice and apply the skills and understanding gained in the previous module that explored reflective practice.  Reflecting on the context of your own practice and the experiences of learning and teaching is actively encouraged. References are made throughout to the Practicing Teacher Standards (PTS) to signpost the applicable values, attitudes, skills and knowledge required to support learning and improve outcomes for children and young people. Topics include the early identification of special educational needs, perceptions of diversity and difference, early intervention.

The aim is that this pack will support initial and continuing professional development by critically engaging with the principles of inclusive practice.

Learning outcomes

  • to critically engage with the principles of inclusive practice
  • to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge and understanding of the  practitioner’s values, attitudes, skills and knowledge required in supporting children and young people in an inclusive environment
  • to make links between theory, relevant research evidence and practice, applying principles of inclusion to learning activities and interactions in school.
    Ethical considerations.

When engaging with the activities such as child-friendly target setting, have due regard to the policies of your setting and guidance documents. The BERA (2011) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research (external link) overview the key principles to safeguard learners, their families, practitioners and settings.

Principles of inclusive education

The Welsh Government acknowledges inclusion as an ongoing process to enable and ensure access to equality of opportunity within educational experiences. Guidance in the Inclusion and Pupil Support document notes that the ‘inclusion of pupils involves much more than the placement of a child or young person in a mainstream or a special school’ (NAfW, 2006: 2).  

Key definitions

The statutory and regulatory frameworks that guide practice are changing and the shift in terminology adopted reflects these developments. The term special educational needs (SEN) continues to be used for learners with severe, complex and/or specific learning difficulties and is comprehensively defined in the 1996 Education Act and underpins the guidance provided in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales (NAfW, 2002). Further key definitions and details are outlined in Topic 5 – Multi-agency working. The term additional learning needs (ALN) recognises ‘the diverse and complex needs of learners’ with a full definition of the groups outlined in the guidance document ‘Inclusion and Pupil Support‘( NAfW, 2006: 2: section 2 page 1). The scope of ALN captures those learners who require additional support over a short- or longer-term period, including groups such as young carers and looked after children. The term SEN is a sub-category of this broader concept of ALN.  

Current policy consultation is addressing the proposed reform of the legislative framework that guides practice in the field of SEN. The term ‘additional need’ is suggested to reflect the multi-disciplinary approach to supporting children and young people. In the continuing move towards collaborative practice and integrated planning and provision, practitioners from across the education, health and social care sectors may lead where appropriate (Welsh Government, 2012: 5).


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