The Graduated Approach to SEND

Most children and young people with special educational needs have their needs met in a mainstream nursery, school or college.

All education providers/settings (including academies and free schools) must make every effort to meet the needs of children and young people with SEN.

Special educational provision is education or training that is additional to or different from the provision that is generally available for others of the same age. This means provision that goes beyond the different approaches and learning arrangements normally provided as part of high quality, personalised teaching.

All teachers are teachers of special educational needs but some children and young people need additional support from the nursery, school or college from specialist staff or support services.

All settings arranging SEN support should put the child or young person and their family at the heart of what they do. Settings need to ensure that 'the voice of the child' is heard and recorded.

When a child is identified as having SEN, settings should provide appropriate education based on their needs.  This should be provided as part of the graduated approach which includes regular review of progress made and appropriate changes to support provided as required.

The graduated approach means that nurseries, schools and colleges should:

  • assess a child or young person’s special educational needs
  • plan provision to meet the aspirations and agreed outcomes for the child or young person
  • do – put the provision in place
  • review the support and progress including more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match interventions to SEN of children and young people.

In County Durham, we recommend provision mapping as a good way for a school or setting to keep track of this.

Some children who need a lot of additional support, may need an SEN (Early Years/School/College based) support plan.  These will be produced with the child, young person and the parent or carer.

Support plans must work towards a clear set of expected outcomes or results which should include relevant academic and developmental targets. The targets will include preparing for adulthood, where appropriate; be planned and reviewed by the class or subject teacher together with the parents, SENCOs (SEN Coordinators), any professionals involved and, where appropriate, the pupil themselves; and give guaranteed levels of support

If, despite a good support plan, a child or young person is not making sufficient progress or needs more support than the setting can provide, an assessment of their education, health and care needs may be necessary.

This may lead to the formation of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Involving parents, carers and young people

When a maintained school, nursery school, academy or Pupil Referral Unit begins to make special educational provision for a child or young person without an EHC plan, they must tell the parent carers and/or the young person about what is happening. Involving parents and children or young people in the setting and review of outcomes from the beginning leads to better progress and improved results overall.

In colleges, planning and review of SEN support should closely involve the student, parents where appropriate, teaching and support staff and a member of staff who is aware of the additional SEN support along with any other relevant professionals.


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