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Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Graduated Approach


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A clinical condition combining present at home and school and presenting as persistent difficulty with sustaining attention, impulsivity and restless behaviour.

Schools can refer to possible diagnosis having followed the graduated approach to rule out cases that can be addressed through reasonable adjustments at school.


 Art Therapy

 Art Therapy uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing.



A cycle involving a process of Assess, Plan, Do and Review.  It is the structure that underpins the graduated approach.


 Blob Tree / Blob People

A variety of simple cartoon images of non-specific characters in different situations which can be used to ask people to consider and explore which character they most identify with and why.

The Linking Network website.


 Buddy System

A child is paired with another child who is able to promote friendship, coursework, confidence and/or a greater sense of belonging in the setting.

PDF - Buddying System Tip Sheet from ECMHC website.


Calm (Diaphragmatic) Breathing

A technique to help slow down breathing when someone is feeling stressed or anxious.

It works on the basis that if heartrate is reduced, a person is likely to feel calmer and more able to cope in a situation.

PDF - Calm Breathing from Anxiety Canada

PDF - Creative Ways to Teach Deep Breathing to Kids - Liana Lowenstein

PDF - Calming Down Boy from Primary Resources website.



Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: A therapeutic approach using the links between thoughts, feelings, bodily responses and behaviour, to address debilitating feelings which have an impact on daily life.


Circle of Friends

An approach to engage peers in a supporting a young person to feel more included and more skilled in buildig relationships through positive behaviours.

It works on the basis that a young person cannot successfully change on their own, but need others to change in response to them.

It involves weekly meetings to provide support and collaboratively engage in problem solving and skills development.

It is based on the assumption that antisocial behaviour is often a product of social exclusion.

PDF - Circle of Friends by Trafford Educational Pyschology Service.


 Comic Strip Conversations

Simple visual representations (e.g. stick figures and symbols) which can be easily drawn or downloaded to make the more abstract aspects of conversations (e.g. people's feelings) easier to understand using thought and speech bubbles.

They typically illustrate things that are actually said in conversation, what people are thinking and/or how people might be feeling.


Eating Disorders

Not eating enough and/or bouts of extreme overeating, often associated with self-induced vomiting and/or excessive exercise with a desire to lose weight.

Example template - Eating Disorders Policy for Schools from Anorexia Family website.


Emotion Coaching

An approach to promote the development of emotional vocabulary and self-regulation in children.

It involves reflecting back the emotions that a person is expressing, validating these feelings and, only when they are less aroused, facilitating joint problem solving.

Emotion Coaching website


Forest Schools

A specialised learning apporach that aims to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in the outdoors.

Forest School Association website.


 Growth Mindset

Is an assumption that abilities and intelligence are not fixed, but developed through practice and treating mistakes as learning opportunities.

It is used to promote resilience and the importance of effort focusing on how children are approaching situations and what they have learnt rather than the outcome itself.

Mindset Works website


 Guided Visualisation / Imagery

A meditative process that uses visualisation and imagination to bring awareness to the mind-body connection and aid relaxation.

Guided Relaxation Scripts for Kids from Green Child Magazine website.

Guided Imagery Scripts for Children from The Mindful Word website.


Kids Skills

A solution focussed method for helping children to overcome problems by learning skills rather than focussing on the problems themselves.

For example, rather than focussing on negative behaviours, a child is supported to notice the feelings precipitating the behaviours and develop more appropriate responses, through activities and worksheets.

Kids Skills website.


Ideal-Self Exercise

 An activity designed to engage a young person in aspects of their life in which they feel satisfied, and areas to change, in order to help the person carrying out the exercise gain a better understanding of the way the person views things, i.e. their specific constructs.

Using specific illustrated questions, the person considers what a non-idea person might look like and what an ideal person might look like and how each image fits with their own life. This is then a focus for discussion about what they might target / do more of to move closer to their ideal self.

Drawing the Ideal Self website.



An approach that involves paying attention to the present moment with openess, curiosity and without judgement.

Activities can be one-to-one or whole class to promote relaxation and develop focus and attention.

Mindfulness in Schools from The School Run website.



A system - such as a parttern of letters, ideas or associations - which assists in remembering something.

E.g.: My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets.


Motivational Interviewing

 An approach which helps those working with young people to identify for themselves whether they are motivated to change, the barriers to change and what might help them to shift their motivation and ability to make change.

Principles and techniques from AIPC articles website.


Nuture Groups

In-school and teacher-led intervention for small groups of vulnerable children that aims to immerse children in an accepting and warm environment which helps to develop positive relationships with staff and peers.

Nurture groups usually include an 'emotional check-in', an opportunity to share food and adult directed tasks aimed at specific social and emotional targets.

Nurture UK website.

PDF - Nurture Groups Handbook for Schools from Gov.Wales website.


Pastoral Support Plan

A school based plan which identifies specific social and emotional targets for the person to work towards.

Ownership by the young person is key, which is why it needs to be used alongside other approaches and a person-centred ethos.


 Peer Mentoring

A one-to-one non-judgemental approach in which a peer mentor gives time and support to another peer.

Careful selection and/or training of peer mentors is generally required.

PDF - Peer Mentoring Toolkit from KELSI website.


Person Centred Approaches

Approaches to information gathering that ensure the person is at the centre of decisions which relate to their life, and that their views are considered.


Person Centred Counselling

Also known as Person Centred Pyschotherapy. This is led by cleints on the assumption that they will discover their own solutions.

The therapist encourages and supports rather than directing to promote self-discovery.


Pikas Method of Shared Concern

An approach to resolving bullying by harnessing bystander support.

It involves a series of very brief (3 minute) solution-focussed meetings, with all the people suspected of being involved in a bullying situation, securing their acceptance that there is a problem and thier commitment to doing something about it.

"What will you do to make things better for x?"

Shared Concern Method - Bullystoppers from Victoria, Australia Government website.


Play Therapy

This helps children to process difficult feelings and events related to trauma by communicating with the therapist through play at their own level and at their own pace


 Pupil Passport

These summarise the individual's needs and include strengths, difficulties and things that help, additional resources / interventions as well as a photo.

All the teaching staff who work with the child should have access to them.



 Restorative Practice

A facilitated approach to resolving conflict and righting harm.

It safely includes all those affected by an incident (e.g. bullying), develops understanding on both sides and works towards agreed solutations.

Guidance and scripts available for those facilitating the process from the Anti-Bullying Alliance website.


Response-Cost System

A reward system in which a child starts with the poetntial for a specific number of tokens but these are removed in response to a specifically identified behaviour to be discouraged.

There should always be sufficient tokens for the child to end the day with something. The tokens will represent a reward e.g. one token for one minute on the iPad at the end of the day.

Response Cost to Reduce Challenging Behaviour from Autism Classroom Resources.


Risk Assessment

An assessment of the likelihood and scale of the consequences of something going wrong in situations and identifying strategies to put in place to minimise risk and/or address it.

Specimen Risk Assessment Proforma from .Gov.UK website.


 Selective Mutism

This is an Anxiety disorder where a person is emotionally unable to speak in certain social situations. Often they can appear confident and talkative in other situations which can wrongly make the silence in other situations look like a concious choice. It is not a concious choice.

PDF - Selective Mutism from Trafford Council.


Self Harm

This is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body.

It is usually an unhelpful way for the young person to cope with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress and may temporarily allerviate it.

Young Minds website.


 Social Stories

Short desciptions of a particular situation, event or activity which includes reassurance to address anxiety and specific information to help a person understand the feelings of other and specifically how to behave.

Social Stories and Comic Strips on National Autistic Society website.


Solution Circles

A short step-by-step framework for group problem solving.

It harnesses the creative power of a group to generate ideas, whilst ensuring collaboration.

Inclusive Solutions website.


Solution Focussed Approach

A style of questioning and reflecting to help a person identify strengths and what is working well as a starting point for problem solving.

Focus is on past successes rather than problems.

PDF - Solution Focussed Approach from KELSI website.



 The Support Group Approach

 A way of harnessing bysteander support and responding when bullying may occurring.

It asks all children who are even loosely involved to engage in joint problem-solving as to how they can all help. Bystanders are considered key to changing bullying dynamics.

Support Group Method - Bullystoppers from Victoria, Australia Government website.


Transitional Object

Is an object bought in from home or sent home with the child that provides comfort and helps them make the transition between home and school by connecting the two.