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Special educational needs support and the graduated approach

In County Durham we expect every child who requires SEN support to have an individual SEN Support plan which gives a clear set of expected outcomes and detail the 'additional to' or 'different from' provision they are receiving. This is known as the graduated approach.

From year 9 onwards, there should be a greater focus on 'preparing for adulthood' within the plan. At this stage - with your agreement - a pupil would normally be recorded on the SEN register.

There is a County Durham template of the SEN support plan available to all schools, but they can use their own, as long as it outlines:

  • your child's strengths
  • your child's needs/difficulties
  • the desired outcomes (matched to the needs)
  • the provision that is being made
  • the views of you and your child

Assess, Plan, Do and Review

All professionals, along with yourself, should be in agreement about the level of SEN support required to meet the needs of your child and a robust 'Assess, Plan, Do and Review' cycle should be put in place. This is also known as the graduated approach.

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

  • Assess your child's special educational needs
  • Plan provision to meet the aspirations and agreed outcomes for your child
  • Do - put the provision in place
  • Review the support and progress, including more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match support to the needs of your child

Your child's SEN support should be reviewed at least three times a year with you and your child (where possible), with input from the specialists who are actively supporting your child at that time. Where possible, these reviews should be a face to face meeting but this is not always appropriate, so sometimes this could be completed through telephone calls/emails. You should always sign the new SEN support plan to show your agreement.

If you disagree with the support your child is receiving, the first people to talk to are your child's teacher or the SENCO at the school or setting. If you are still not satisfied, you can request a meeting with your setting's manager, head teacher or principal. All schools also have a SEN Governor who can look into your concerns. If you would like further impartial advice and support, then contact the Durham Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Information Advice and Support Service.

In the process of reviewing SEN support, it may become apparent that your child needs additional support/provision. In exceptional cases, the school and you may decide to request:

See our  Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) in schools - A guide for parents and carers (PDF) [1MB]  for more information.

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