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Under section 576 of the Education Act 1996 a parent includes any person who is not a parent of the child but has parental responsibility (see also Parental Responsibility), or who cares for him/her.


Parental Responsibility

Under section 2 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility falls upon:

  • all mothers and fathers who were married to each other at the time of the child's birth (including those who have since separated or divorced);
  • mothers who were not married to the father at the time of the child's birth; and fathers who were not married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, but who have obtained parental responsibility either by agreement with the child's mother through a court order. Under section 12 of the Children Act 1989 where a court makes a residence order in favour of any person who is not the parent or guardian of the child that person has parental responsibility for the child while the residence order remains in force.

Under section 33 (3) of the Children Act 1989, while a care order is in force with respect to a child, the social services department (SSD) designated by the order will have parental responsibility for that child, and will have the power (subject to certain provisions) to determine the extent to which a parent or guardian of the child may meet his or her parental responsibility for the child. The SSD cannot have parental responsibility for a child unless that child is the subject of a care order, except for very limited purposes where an emergency protection Order is in force under Section 44 of the Children Act 1989.

Parental responsibility is defined under section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 as meaning all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which parents have with respect to their children and their children's property.



Parent Partnership Services - they provide advice and information to parents whose children have special educational needs. They provide neutral and factual support on all aspects of the SEN framework to help parents play an active and informed role in their child's education. Although funded by the local education authority they provide a service to parents and are often either run at arms length from the authority or by a voluntary organisation to ensure parents have confidence in them.



Public Autism Resource & Information Service - this is a NAS completely searchable database of thousands of autism services. From schools, day services, outreach programmes and diagnostic services, to play schemes, support groups and training courses, the database can list them all.


PD / Physical Disability

There is a wide range of physical disabilities and pupils cover the whole ability range. Some pupils are able to access the curriculum and learn effectively without additional educational provision. They have a disability but do not have a special educational need. For others, the impact on their education may be severe.
In the same way, a medical diagnosis does not necessarily mean that a pupil has SEN. It depends on the impact the condition has on their educational needs.
There are a number of medical conditions associated with physical disability which can impact on mobility. These include cerebral palsy, heart disease, spina bifida and hydrocephalus, muscular dystrophy. Pupils with physical disabilities may also have sensory impairments, neurological problems or learning difficulties.
Some pupils are mobile but have significant fine motor difficulties which require support. Others may need augmentative or alternative communication aids.



Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome - Individuals with PDA are typically socially manipulative with people, and are thus superficially socially skilled, which sets them apart from autism and Asperger syndrome. http://www.pdacontact.org.uk/noframes/whatispda.shtml



Picture Exchange Communication System. http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=297&a=3642


Play Therapy

Play therapy helps children understand confused feelings and traumatic events that they found hard to deal with. Children can use 'play' to explain at their own level, at their own speed, with familiar looking toys in a safe environment.

In play therapy children may re-enact traumatic experiences, something they don't understand from school, how they feel about their new baby or the death of a grandparent. Play therapy may help to reduce anxiety and raise self-esteem, help to change certain behaviours or just help a child to feel in control of some part of his life.


Portage - planned, home-based educational support for pre-school children with special educational needs. Local Authorities usually provide Portage services. The Portage service is named after the town of Portage, Wisconsin, USA. There is an active and extensive network of Portage services in the UK developed by the National Portage Association, which provides a Code of Practice and accredited training.



Physiotherapy - a health care profession that emphasises the use of physical approaches in the promotion, maintenance and restoration of an individual's physical, psychological and social well-being. Following assessment, a treatment plan is developed in partnership with the client/carers; this plan is constantly evaluated to ensure that it is effective and relevant to the individual's changing circumstances and health status.


PRU / Pupil Referral Unit /  Short Stay School

Pupil Referral Unit / Short Stay School - a school established and maintained by a local education authority under section 19 (2) of the Education Act 1996 which is specially organised to provide education for pupils who would not otherwise receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or any other reason.