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Identification of SEN

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

Slow progress and low attainment do not necessarily mean that a child has SEN and should not automatically lead to a pupil being recorded as having SEN.

Class and subject teachers, supported by the senior leadership team, should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances.

This can be characterised by progress which:

  • is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
  • fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
  • fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
  • widens the attainment gap

The first response to such progress should be high quality teaching targeted at their areas of weakness. Evidence based interventions should be tried within the classroom or in small group withdrawal but delivered by well-trained staff and monitored closely by the class teacher.

Where progress continues to be less than expected the class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should assess whether the child has SEN. The identification of SEN should be built into the overall approach to monitoring the progress and development of all pupils.

Some SEN can be identified early and others become evident as children develop. Settings should listen to the concerns of parents/families who know their children best and use this information to add to the picture of the child or young person in that setting. Listening to children and young people can also be an important part of identifying need and is vital in providing the right provision to improve learning.

Persistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviours do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has SEN. Where there are concerns, there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any causal factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or mental health issues.

Bullying or bereavement will not always lead to children having SEN but can have an impact on well-being and sometimes this can be severe.

A detailed assessment of need should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need.

The support provided to an individual should  always be based on a full understanding of their particular strengths and needs and seek to address them all using well-evidenced interventions targeted at their areas of difficulty and where necessary specialist equipment or software.


Early Help with other areas of need

Schools should ensure they make appropriate provision for a child’s short-term needs in order to prevent problems escalating. A child’s/young person’s needs arise as a result of their interaction with their learning environment; it is not appropriate to regard all needs as being problems generated from within individuals.

If housing, family or other domestic circumstances may be contributing to the presenting behaviour a multi-agency Early Help approach should be followed by completing an Early Help Assessment.

More about the Graduated Approach:

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

Inclusive Quality First Teaching

Using the Graduated Approach Guidance

- Cognition and Learning

- Communication and Interaction

- Social, Emotional and Mental Health

- Sensory and/or Physical needs

SEND Guidance for education providers: Funding