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The Graduated Approach to SEND

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In Sandwell our schools and settings follow the graduated approach to the identification of special education needs.

The graduated approach is detailed within the SEND Code of Practice 2015. It forms a four-part cycle that allows settings to monitor progress and adjust provision regularly. This cycle is detailed below.

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Do
  • Review


Making clear and detailed assessments of the children and young people’s (CYP) needs is a prerequisite of planning effective teaching and developing what the CYP needs within the education setting.

This should draw on:

  • teacher’s assessment
  • national assessments
  • individual’s development in comparison to their peers
  • the views and experience of parents.  
  • the child’s own views
  • views of outside agencies if applicable

With all this completed there should be a clear understanding of the strengths, areas of difficulty and what will support the CYP.


In this phase the setting must plan appropriate provision for the CYP to ensure the needs identified are met in the most effective way.

Consideration should be given to high quality teaching and targeted intervention when planning the provision. This may take place in or out of class and should always focus on meeting the pupils needs. The CYP and parents should be consulted when planning provision. Pupils and parents should agree on the adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place, as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour.


In this phase the teachers and other school staff gain a growing understanding of the most effective ways to support the pupil. It is at this time that the CYP has the opportunity to take part in the planned interventions and provision. The CYP and parent/carer views remain paramount and school must work collaboratively to ensure that all feel the provision is working and appropriate.


Teachers and support staff will be continually reviewing all pupils’ progress in order to inform their teaching through assessment for learning, this includes pupils with SEND.

The effectiveness of the provision and the impact on the pupil’s progress should be reviewed with pupils and parents in line with the agreed date set during the planning phase and outcomes, provision and support should be amended depending on the progress made.

SEN Support and EHCP

Class teachers should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.

This graduated cycle allows time to assess the needs of the CYP and decide whether there are special educational needs. These needs will fit into the broad areas of need identified in the SEND Code of Practice. These are:

  • Cognition and Learning
  • Communication and Interaction
  • Physical and Sensory
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health

CYP will work through this cycle within the school and at times may be identified as SEN Support. This means that the identified needs require more specialised provision to be set out for the pupil to ensure that they make suitable progress. Parents should always be informed and agree with this as this means the CYP has been added to the SEN Register. 

Specialist Support

There may be a need to involve specialist services at any point during the graduated approach. This may be appropriate if the CYP is making less than expected progress despite targeted teaching and intervention.


Parents and carers must be informed and be part of the decision-making process when outside agencies are requested, and consent must be gained.


Sandwell have a range of specialist services available. These can be found here.

Request for Statutory Assessment

Overtime it may become increasingly clear that although the graduated approach has been followed rigorously, interventions, specialist advice and a personalised provision has been set out, there may be a need to apply for a statutory assessment of need. This is a process where the local authority formally assesses the needs of the CYP and gather evidence to decide whether an education, health and care plan would be appropriate for a CYP. Further details can be found here.