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Using the Graduated Approach Guidance

Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND)

This Guidance is designed to support education settings to gauge the levels of support they need to arrange for children and young people before considering a referral for an EHC Needs Assessment and accessing the High Needs Top-up funding.

As part of a referral they will need to provide robust evidence of how they have used this guidance to inform their Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycles and have evaluated the provision involving other agencies as appropriate. A costed provision map is built into Trafford’s EHC Needs Assessment referral form


Graduated Approach


The Guidance is set out in sections for individual areas of need. The tables indicate provision that the LA expect settings/schools to make for children and young people with regard to: 

For each area of need children and young people may experience detailed information is given about the LA’s expectations, in terms of: ?

  • Universal provision/Quality First Teaching (provision within the classroom without additional cost including the use of catch-up programmes used prior to identifying SEN)
  • SEN Support (support within the first £6,000 of additional school funded support) ?
  • High level of SEN Support (support using all the £6,000 or more) Each of these three levels of support build on each other, QFT continues to be relevant alongside any SEN Support.

Within each area of SEN the three levels are then split into the following sections. 

  • Description of need /level of difficulty 
  • Assess and Plan-Assessments that should be carried out 
  • Do (Support and intervention) 
  • Review (involving specialists, parents, children and young people) 
  • The Review section also incorporates some suggestions of expected outcomes of this provision

The Guidance is indicative, not an exhaustive list. Some of the needs described might not, individually, warrant intervention, but they may be significant in conjunction with other needs.

A setting may find a child or young person has needs across a number of the headings, or a cluster of needs under one heading. Those with the most complex difficulties are likely to fit more than one category of need and require strategies from each area.

Each section of the Graduated Approach guidance has suggestions of strategies and evidence-based interventions.

It is the combination of these chosen to suit the individual child and reviewed with the relevant professionals through cycles of Assess, Plan,Do Review (APDR) that will provide the evidence a setting requires to refer for an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, if they feel they can no longer meet needs within their own resources. 

More about the Graduated Approach:

High expectations for all - an introduction to the Graduated Approach guidance

Inclusive Quality First Teaching

Identification of SEN

SEND Guidance for education providers: Funding