The Graduated Approach for parents and carers

What is the Graduated Approach?

The Graduated Approach is the way early years settings, schools and post-16 providers support children and young people who have Special Educational Needs.

The Graduated Approach begins with the expectation that all children receive high quality teaching. This is called Universal Support.

Some children will need support which is additional and different. It will be targeted to meet more specific needs and is called SEN Support.

A small number of children may continue to need additional and different support which is specialist and may require an assessment of their Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs. This may result in them having an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC plan).

Universal, Targeted, Specialist

Actions taken within the Graduated Approach- SEN Support

When a pupil is identified as having special educational needs the school must take immediate action. Staff must put effective special educational needs provision in place and ensure that all barriers to learning are removed.

As soon as a pupil is identified as having special educational needs their family must be informed. The school must then work in partnership with parents/carers, listening to their views and proactively involving them in decision making and planning.

What help is available at SEN support?

SEN support can be provided in many different ways and should be individual to each child or young person.

SEN support could include:

  • individually designed interventions or programmes
  • focused support with the class teacher, member of the Support Staff, specialist teacher or the SENCO
  • small group intervention work
  • helping the child or young person to actively participate in class activities
  • helping the child or young person to play or socially interact with other children or young people
  • additional materials and equipment
  • supporting a child or young person’s personal or physical care
  • advice and support from external professionals such as educational psychologists, therapists and specialist teachers/advisors

Special educational needs provision should be reviewed at least termly and all reviews must involve the pupil and their family.

It may be decided that advice from a specialist professional is required in order to meet the needs of a pupil. Information regarding the external support available is published on the SEND Local Offer site.

SEN support and provision should be informed a four part cycle known as the ‘assess, plan, do, review’ cycle

The Graduated Approach Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle

Staff in early years’ settings, schools and colleges must use a graduated approach based on a four step process. These steps are:

  • Assess – analyse the child or young person’s special educational needs
  • Plan – identify the additional and different support needed
  • Do – put the support in place
  • Review – regularly check how well it is working so that they can change the amount or kind of support if needed.

If the child or young person continues to have special educational needs, the cycle starts again at assess with the updated needs of the child or young person being considered.

What if my child does not make progress at SEN Support?

A very small number of children and young people may not make progress despite the interventions and strategies put in place at SEN support. If your child does not make progress at SEN Support, an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment might be appropriate. This is a detailed assessment of a child or young person’s special educational needs and the support they may need in order to learn.

Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments

What is an EHC needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment, sometimes called a statutory assessment, is a detailed assessment to find out exactly what a child or young person’s special educational needs are and the support they may need in order to learn, progress and achieve. At every stage, the child and their parents and or the young person in involved fully and their views and wishes taken into account.

The purpose of an EHC needs assessment is to see whether an Education Health and Care Plan is necessary to make the special educational provision that a child or young person needs. Local authorities are responsible for carrying out EHC needs assessments.

The education setting must always consider their Graduated Approach and show evidence of interventions over time, before they consider that it may be necessary for an EHC assessment to take place. For further information please see the Ordinarily Available Education Provision guidance [PDF, 2Mb].

Last modified: March 12, 2024