Local Offer - The Graduated Approach

All children should be supported to enable them to make progress and achieve the best possible outcomes in their learning journey. The pages below describe support available in education settings to children and young people with SEND. This applies to all educational settings such as pre-schools, schools and colleges.

Planning and Assessment

To ensure all children are receiving a high-quality level of education that can meet their strengths, interests and needs, teaching staff should undertake regular assessments to enable them to plan lessons and learning objectives in accordance with children’s individual abilities.

In Doncaster, settings use a structured four-stage planning and assessment process. This is usually referred to as the cycle of assess, plan, do, review (APDR). Settings should continuously use APDR to monitor the progress of all children, including those with SEND. Following the APDR cycle allows settings to monitor a learner's progress and make adjustments to the support they receive when necessary. 


Your child or young person's difficulties must be assessed so that the right support can be provided. This should include, for example, asking you what you think, talking to professionals who work with your child (such as their teacher), and looking at records and other information. This needs to be reviewed regularly so that the support provided continues to meet your child’s needs. That might mean getting advice and further assessment from someone like an educational psychologist, a specialist teacher or a health professional.


Your school or other setting needs to agree, with your involvement, the outcomes that the SEN support is intended to achieve and record this in a formal SEND Support Plan – in other words, how your child will benefit from any support they get – and you need to be involved with that. All those involved will need to have a say in deciding what kind of support will be provided, and decide a date by which they will review this so that they can check to see how well the support is working and whether the outcomes have been or are being achieved.


The setting will put the planned support into place. The teacher remains responsible for working with your child on a daily basis, but the SENDCO and any support staff or specialist teaching staff involved in providing support should work closely to track your child’s progress and check that the support is being effective.


The support your child receives should be reviewed every term with your involvement. You can then decide together if the support is having a positive impact, whether the outcomes have been, or are being, achieved and if or how any changes should be made.

What is the Graduated Approach?

The Graduated Approach is the system of SEND support within mainstream settings in Doncaster. It refers to the different levels of help that are available to meet the needs of children and young people. 

Step 1: Support for All Learners

Known as Universal and Universal + Level

The process starts with ‘High-Quality Teaching’, or this may be called ‘Quality First Teaching’.

This involves adults delivering inclusive teaching to all learners it reflects that pupils learn at different rates and in different ways. It takes into account that children are unique and sometimes other services, such as school nurse or health visitors, maybe involved.

At this stage most children and young people do not have a SEND support plan but they are being monitored.

This means:

  • Teachers should offer support for all children in their class.
  • Children’s needs should be met by making reasonable adjustments to either the classroom environment or the way they access their learning.
  • Teachers should use test results and other data to help them support children in their class.
  • Teachers should listen to yours and your child’s voice when planning any support for your child.

Find out more about Support for all Learners

Step 2: More or Different Support (SEND Support)

Known as Targeted and Targeted + Level

In addition to inclusive High-Quality Teaching and provision at Universal and Universal + Level, some children and young people may require support that is ‘additional and different’ to that offered to most other children. This includes targeted support services, for example, the Educational Psychology Service or Speech and Language Therapy. 

If your child is identified as needing support at Targeted Level they will have a SEND support plan. Occasionally, some extra funding is needed to support learners at this level. This funding is usually only required for a limited period of time and is known as having Targeted + Level support.

This means:

  • Children should have a SEND support plan
  • Children should be known to other services
  • Children should be on the school SEN Register
  • There should be frequent meeting with parents
  • Children’s progress should be monitored and reviewed

The Graduated Approach expects that settings make full use of all their resources and expertise before children are referred to other local specialist services.

Find out more about SEND Support

Step 3: Significant Support

Known as Specialist Level

In addition to High-Quality Teaching and Targeted support, a very small number of learners may require lots of 'additional and different provision' because they are not making progress and the gap between them and their peers is significant or their needs that are complex and long-term.

At this stage, the SENDCO may discuss with you if an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment may be supportive. Where agreed, this assessment may lead to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

If a child or young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan it is because their needs are complex and long-term, therefore, requiring more intensive individualised support. Very few learners need a EHCP to meet their needs.

Find out more about Education, Health and Care Plans

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that can be made by a person, school or organisation to support someone’s physical or mental disability so that they are not disadvantaged compared with others who are not disabled. Under the Equality Act 2010 schools and settings are required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that all learners can access the full school offer in the same way as a learner who is not disabled. Reasonable means fair, sensible and also considers the costs involved in the changes.

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • A child wearing a different piece of uniform to accommodate their sensory needs
  • Starting and finishing lessons at slightly different times to avoid crowded and noisy corridors
  • Making alternative arrangements for accessing school activities which include large groups, such as assemblies and sports days
  • Having access to a calm area 
  • Providing movement breaks or sensory circuits
  • Carefully planning school trips to ensure that all children can take part

Reasonable adjustments should be discussed with your child’s school or setting.

Specialist Education Support Services

In Doncaster, we have range of specialist service's who can help you and/or you child. 

Find out more about Specialist Education Support Services


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Last updated: 25 July 2024 13:17:26


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City of Doncaster Council’s Families Information Service is responsible for co-ordinating and publishing the Local Offer – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

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