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Sensory and/or physical needs

Within the code of practice, sensory and physical is defined as follows:

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‘Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties. Information on how to provide services for deafblind children and young people is available through the Social Care for Deafblind Children and Adults guidance published by the Department of Health.’

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‘Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.’

Image shows primary aged pupils walking around their classroom and laughing.

Physical and sensory needs cover a wide range of medical conditions in addition to those mentioned above. Some children with physical disabilities may be very cognitively able so the levels of support must be tailored to a person-centred needs analysis of each child’s needs and preferences, taking into account the views of children and their families.


‘Inclusive education and high-quality teaching for all children in the classroom’

Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have sections for parents, healthcare providers and young people as part of their Resource Hub.

Council for Disabled Children logo

Council for Disabled Children

NatSIP have a dedicated page for SENCOs and school practitioners with a range of links to organisations to support specific types of sensory impairment plus advise on strategies and support for children with sensory impairments.

The Mainstream Training Pack is aimed at teachers, SENCos and TAs in mainstream or special schools and settings who may be new to working with pupils with sensory impairment.

The purpose of the Mainstream Training Pack is to improve the confidence and basic skills of mainstream or special school staff who are working with children and young people with a sensory impairment. The pack provides a useful quick reference checklist and guide.

National Sensory Impairment Partnership

The National Association for Sensory Impairment (NatSIP)

This Department for Education document gives an overview of the legislative responsibilities towards pupils with medical conditions, plus practical guidelines on topics such as keeping and storing medications in school and organising out-of-school activities.

This DfE research report; Rapid Evidence Assessment was published in July 2017. The evidence was collected by means of a rapid evidence assessment, a search of the literature aimed at drawing out key findings in an area. The literature search focused on studies of approaches,  strategies or interventions supporting children and young people with SEND in mainstream schools and colleges. Over a thousand papers were reviewed, with over 500 meeting criteria for inclusion. 


Department of education building

Department for Education


‘Specific, extra, time-limited support in-school for children with additional needs’

Contact is a dedicated resource for families of disabled children.

Contact for families with disabled children logo [white background and black text that reads 'contact for families with disabled children']


PDnet (the Physical Disability Network) offers a range of evidence-based strategies to support pupils with physical disabilities:


PDnet logo [white background with purple, grey and blue text that reads 'pdnet' with the p and d interlinked]



‘Services offered by external professionals such as occupational therapists, speech and language therapists or health professionals on or off the school site.’

This guide from National Deaf Children's Society is aimed at directors of children’s services and other local decision-makers. It is designed to:

  • provide information and advice on specialist education services for deaf children and their importance in helping deaf children achieve their potential
  • remind local decision-makers of the issues and legal requirements that need to be taken into account when proposing any changes to these vital services
  • correct some common misunderstandings about deafness.

It might also be useful for parents who want to understand what local authorities need to do if they’re proposing to make any changes or cuts to education services for deaf children, so they can make sure the local authority is doing everything it should.

national deaf children's society logo [purple lettering that reads 'National Deaf Children's Society' alongside a purple circle with two white cartoon figures on top]

National Deaf Children's Society