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Quality first teaching - a graduated approach

All schools must follow a broad and balanced curriculum. Children make progress at different rates and have different ways they learn best. Teachers are expected to use different materials and activities to suit the children they teach. This is called ‘differentiation’. 

A child may experience difficulties at some point during their education. Often, this is temporary and can be overcome with help and encouragement from home and school. This does not necessarily mean that your child has special educational needs (SEN). 

If you think your child may need extra help with their learning, the first thing to do is speak to someone in their educational setting. This may be their class teacher or the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). It is best to arrange a meeting to allow time to discuss your concerns and a way forward.


Every education setting will have key staff trained to support their students. Schools and colleges will have a designated Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).  They oversee the provision for students with special educational needs. They make sure students get access to the help they need. 

Children who continue to face challenges in their learning despite receiving high quality teaching and differentiation, may require different strategies or provision. This is called SEN Support. The SENCO can help you understand what your child may need and arrange planned SEN support to be put in place. They will be the person who liaises with you, the teachers and teaching assistants about your child’s needs. 

If your child or young person has a medical condition, ask to see your setting’s policy on this. Ask how this can be used to support your child if needed.

More information about supporting medical needs

SEN support

SEN support follows a four part cycle, called ‘Assess, plan, do, review’.

Assess, plan, do, review cycle

This forms part of the graduated response.


Teachers use their day-to-day knowledge and records to help them assess progress. This helps them consider any barriers that are getting in the way of a child’s progress. The SENCO may request advice from other professionals to support a child’s needs. They will seek permission from you before any professional assessments take place. All information resulting from assessments will be shared with you.


Discussing, planning and agreeing what will be put in place. This should involve the child, their parents/carers, and staff from the educational setting who know the child well. Other specialists or professionals working with the child should also be involved.


Class/subject teachers will implement the plan daily.


A set period is agreed to allow time to embed the plan of support within the child’s day-to-day learning. This is usually a term. Everyone involved will then meet again to consider how well the plan is meeting the child’s needs. This will be adjusted where necessary.

This ‘assess, plan, do, review’ is a continual cycle to ensure that SEN support meets the needs of the child and enables them to make progress. If your child responds well to the support provided, they may not need continued SEN support. It may mean they need to continue this level of support to maintain their progress. Or they may need a different level of support going forwards. 

Support may include:

  • A special programme of work
  • Particular equipment or assistive technology
  • Time with a teacher or teaching assistant (TA) individually or in a group
  • Time with a ‘significant adult’ where a child may have had fixed term exclusions or be at risk of permanent exclusion. Significant adult (PDF, 466KB)

This type of help may be called ‘reasonable adjustments’ that the education setting is expected to provide.

SEN support plan

A SEN support plan is written to describe the support being put in place that is ‘additional to’ or ‘different from’ what other children receive. The plan will also show targets that the child will be working towards. This plan is sometimes called an individual learning plan (IEP). It should be discussed and reviewed with you and your child at review meetings. These are usually held once a term. You should receive a copy of your child’s SEN support plan or IEP, with an update after each review meeting.

Your child does not require a diagnosis to receive SEN support. It is about meeting their learning needs when they arise.

If more help is needed to support your child, settings can request support from specialist education and health services.

Sometimes, a child or young person may need more support than that which can be provided at SEN Support level. If this is the case, then the school, the parent or carer, or the young person can request an education, health and care needs assessment (EHC needs assessment).

Find out more about EHC needs assessments


All mainstream schools and colleges are expected to provide SEN support for their students from the resources within their education budget. For children and young people whose needs exceed that level the setting can apply to the local authority for additional funding. If this is to fund specific short-term support, it is known as ‘top up’ funding. If the support is likely to be an ongoing requirement, it will usually involve the setting and/or the parent/carer (or young person if they are aged 16 or over) applying for an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment.

More about EHC needs assessments

Warwickshire SENDIAS

Warwickshire SEND Information Advice and Support (SENDIAS) service offers confidential, independent, impartial advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). This service is also offered directly to young people who are aged 16 or over. Resources are available free to use from their website and there is an email and call-back service to speak with a trained independent adviser. 

More information on SEND inclusion guidance for education settings

Warwickshire parent/carer webinar and Q&A’s: the graduated approach

SEND information report and policy

All educational settings are expected to have a SEND or Inclusion Policy. Schools are also required to publish a SEND Information Report on their website. Early Years settings are not required to have a SEND Information Report. 

The SEND Information Report should outline what provision the setting makes for their students with SEN or SEND and how they will implement their SEND policy. This should be reviewed and updated once a year.

The report should be clear and available for parents and carers to access. It is a useful document to read if you have a child with additional needs. It will help you understand what support is available for your child should they need it.

Feedback on SEND Local Offer

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