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How Schools Use SEND

In the new code of practice, SEND which takes effect from 1st September 2014 all educational facilities including early years providers will adopt the ‘Graduated Approach’ defined by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Health (DfH) as:

A model of action and intervention in early education settings, schools and colleges to help children and young people who have special educational needs. The approach recognises that there is a continuum of special educational needs and that, where necessary, increasing specialist expertise should be brought to bear on the difficulties that a child or young person may be experiencing.” (SEND, 2014)

The ‘school action’ and ‘school action plus’ levels of support criteria have been replaced by one level, ‘Additional SEN Support’ (ASS) and the current ‘statement’ level of provision is being replaced by the Educational Health Care Plan (EHC plan).

The graduated approach takes the form of a four part cycle:


The child’s teacher working with the SENCO assess the child’s needs taking into account assessments, experience of the pupil, their previous progress and attainments and their development in relation to their peers and national data, as well as the views and experiences of the parents, the child and any other external support service.


At this stage parents MUST be formally informed, if they have not already been involved in the assessment process, that it has been decided that their child needs SEN support. The plan of interventions and support to be provided, or adjustments to an existing plan, are agreed with the parents and child along with an expected outcome from the plan (expected impact on progress, development or behaviour), along with a clear review date.


The class teacher remains responsible for working with and implementing the plan.They work closely with the teaching assistant and specialist staff who may also be involved in supporting the child and intervention schemes. The SENCO supports the teacher in future assessments and advising on the effective implementation of the plan.


The review should be on the agreed date and the impact of the plan should be evaluated along with the views of the child and parents. The support and type of intervention should be adjusted in light of the child’s progress and development. Parents should be informed of the impact of the intervention and support so they can be involved in the next planning steps.

School should meet with parents at least 3 times each year and provide an annual report on the child’s progress. A child with an EHC plan must be reviewed by the local authority every 12 months, as a minimum.