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The law

Understanding the law will help you in your journey through special educational needs and disabilities system. 

This page brings together the key elements of the law and Government guidance:


This is primary law that has received Royal Assent.


These enforce and support the requirements of the legislation.

Statutory guidance

These set out what organisations must do to comply with the law.


Children and Families Act 2014

The Act gives children, young people, and their parents and carers, greater control and choice from birth up to the age of 25.

Equality Act 2010

The Act legally protects people from discrimination. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act.

Care Act 2010

The Act sets out in one place, local authorities’ duties in relation to assessing the needs of adults and their eligibility for publicly funded care and support.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Act protects and empowers adults over 16 who may lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.


The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014

These Regulations are the main set of Regulations underpinning the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014

This is a special set of Regulations dealing with personal budgets and direct payments.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (First-tier Tribunal Recommendations Power) Regulations 2017

The Regulations provide the SEND Tribunal with the power to handle appeals against local authority decisions regarding special educational needs.

Statutory guidance

Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice

The law is set out and expanded upon in the Code of Practice (the “Code”). It provides much more detail on the legal framework relating to SEND.

Wherever in the Code it says a local authority, school or college:

  • must do something – then it is referring to compulsory obligations which are set out in the Act or the Regulations
  • should do something – this is statutory guidance

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