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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Special educational needs and inclusion learning pack


Statutory and regulatory frameworks


The UK perspective

There are differences between statutory and regulatory frameworks between countries in the United Kingdom, following devolution.

This relevant journal article looks at the impact of devolution on additional learning needs policy in compulsory education: Chaney, P. (2012).

Below is a summary of the approaches used in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. Consider these approaches in the light of what you have learned about the current proposals in Wales.


The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (external link) introduces the new term 'additional support needs' (ASN) as a description of those who, for whatever reason, require additional support in the long- or short-term to help them make the most of their school education.

ASN criteria

The criteria have been broadened to a much wider group which includes children:

  • with a learning disability
  • who are being bullied
  • who have English as a second language are young carers or are in care
  • have emotional or social difficulties
  • living with parents/carers who are abusing substances or who have mental health problems etc.


The proposals in England (external link) include the following:

  • Introduce a single assessment process for education, health and care and include parents of children and young people with SEN in the assessment process.
  • Replace SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments with an education, health and care plan for children and young people with SEN aged 0 to 25 years.
  • Introduce the option of personal budgets for young people and parents of children and with SEN so they can choose which services are best for their family.
  • Make sure local commissioners work together in the interest of children and young people with SEN and improve communication between institutions and services.

DfE (2013) 

Northern Ireland

The proposals in Northern Ireland (external link) include the following:

  • The proposal is that the existing policy base would remain, where the definitions of SEN and disability have been clearly established in legislation. The original proposal of an overarching ‘additional educational needs’ framework will not be separately defined in legislation.
  • Ongoing work to build the capacity of schools in relation to SEN has already demonstrated the importance of training and continuing professional development for teachers.
  • Early identification and intervention programmes for children with SEN are of vital importance, in order to promptly address difficulties, and to reduce the need for long term and extensive interventions at a later stage in a child’s education.
  • The proposal is that statutory Coordinated Support Plans (CSPs) would be introduced for SEN children with the most significant educational needs and that these would have a new emphasis on outcomes and targets for SEN children and on input by parents.
  • Pilots are to be established in early years’ settings that will inform how multi-disciplinary working might be best achieved in future.
  • Having the necessary training and information in place will ensure that all schools can successfully meet the needs of SEN children and can also be prepared in advance of any legislative changes to their duties or responsibilities.

DENI (2012)

Activity 3.3.1

This activity encourages reflection. How do the proposals in Wales compare with the proposals in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland? What are the similarities? What are the differences?

Current practice

Your school has an SEN policy which has drawn on relevant statutory and regulatory frameworks. Have a look at your school SEN policy and undertake the following activity.

Activity 3.3.2

This activity encourages critical reflection. Critically consider the impact of statutory and regulatory frameworks for school policy and classroom practice.

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