Skip to content

You can use the tabs, search function or sitemap at the top of each page to navigate this website. All text on this site has a speaker symbol next to it. This symbol will allow the text to be read aloud.

The Graduated Approach (Assess, Plan, Do, Review)

Four children and an adult in art class.


The Graduated Approach is part of the Universally Available Provision. This is a way of describing all the support provided to all children and young people in educational settings in East Sussex when they have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND).

When a pupil is identified as having SEND, educational settings such as preschools, schools and colleges should take action to put effective special educational provision in place.

All SEND support should follow the Graduated Approach. The Graduated Approach involves educational settings making assessments of individual needs, planning and trialling different types of support, and learning from what has worked and what needs revising. It includes detailed assessments, frequent reviews and specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match interventions to the SEND of children and young people.

The Graduated Approach is an ongoing form of assessment and support rather than a single one-time process, this is because:

The cycle of the Graduated Approach includes the processes of:

The Graduated Approach is sometimes just called 'Assess, Plan, Do, Review'.

Below, is an outline of best practice in each of these stages. This outline is intended for schools but is useful reading for parents and carers who may wish to see a more detailed understanding of the process.

For a more simplified understanding of what these stages include, please see our page:

For information on types of support offered to the broad areas of need, please see our page:

School Guidance: Assess

School Guidance: Plan

  1. The child, young person and their parents/carers should be supported to be part of the decision making around the intervention, support and expected outcomes, with transparency on school funded support.
  2. Where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN support, the parents must be formally notified, although parents should have already been involved in forming the assessment of needs as outlined above.
  3. Schools should consider the implementation strategies outlined in the SEND Matrix of Need and Provision.
  4. Curriculum planning should take account of specialist advice.
  5. Targeted provision must be recorded on the settings, school’s or providers information system. These recording systems must be able to evidence base planning, target setting, monitoring, as well as the support that has been delivered for the child/ young person at SEN Support as part of the process of raising achievement. It is vital for the school to be clear about the outcomes required. For those pupils with targeted support, a provision map or school based plan should be completed detailing expected impact on progress, development or behaviour, and a clear date for review.
  6. All teachers and support staff who work with the pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required. This is especially critical in larger settings such as secondary schools where the young person may encounter a range of teaching staff across the school day.
  7. Open conversations must be held with child/young person and their parents/carers about what the support is intended to achieve and how parents/carers can reinforce the provision or contribute to progress at home.
  8. Plans should take into account the views of the child.
  9. Older students should be fully involved in development of plans, which should reference their aspirations and ambitions for the future. Special educational support for post 16 students might include, for example:

The setting, school or provider may need to incorporate external expertise in to into targeted provision (e.g. specialist teacher/ adviser, educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist or physio therapist).

Any related staff development needs should be identified and addressed.

School Guidance: Do

  1. Targets may require individual and/or small group sessions by setting staff, class teacher or tutor, as well as implementation across the curriculum. The setting, school or provider’s SENCo will oversee the child/young person’s targeted support, including how this is being delivered. This is especially critical in larger settings such as secondary schools where the young person may encounter a range of teaching staff across the school day.
  2. The setting, school or provider will have sought and be implementing advice from appropriate specialist services.
  3. Quick and concise communication tools are in place to convey outcomes of targeted provision.
  4. Additional differentiation and scaffolding of tasks will be necessary in order to deliver appropriate outcomes.
  5. The child or young person should be effectively supported in the classroom alongside peers for the vast majority of their time in the setting, school or post 16 provision.
  6. Delivery of the targeted support may be required as part of a small group or on  an individual basis.
  7. Schools should consider the implementation strategies outlined in the SEND Matrix of Need and Provision.

School Guidance: Review

  1. Targeted provision and progress is monitored and reviewed by setting staff, class teachers/ tutors, SENCo, and any relevant professional termly and impact of the plan analysed.
  2. Evidence of progress and attainment is made from observations and assessed work against outcomes. This should be reviewed on an agreed date.
  3. The school should meet with the child/young person and their parents/carers at least three times each year.
  4. Children and young people and their parents/carers, must be involved in planning for targeted support and any changes. The schools should talk to the child/young person and their parents/carers regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss the activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the child/young person, their parents/carers and the school.
  5. Assessment of progress will inform all parties about the next steps, and whether sufficient progress has been made to enable the plan to be amended or ceased.
  6. The school must provide an annual report for parents/carers on the child/young person’s progress
  7. The setting, school or provider will need to liaise closely with other professionals involved, and the child/young person and their parents/carers.
  8. The setting or provider will need to liaise closely with other professionals involved, including where an ANP is no longer required because progress has been made.
  9. SEN support should be adapted or replaced depending on how effective it has been in achieving the agreed outcomes. Where, despite the setting, school or provider having taken relevant and purposeful action over a sustained period of time (usually three cycles of Assess, Plan, Do, Review over a six month period) to identify, assess and meet the child/young persons’ special educational needs, he/she has not made expected progress, the school or the child/young person’s parents or young person may consider requesting an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. To inform its decision the authority will expect to see evidence of the action taken as part of SEN support.
A person with a walking stick and guide dog, two people stood together in the middle of the picture and another person sat in a wheelchair on the right, using a laptop.

Different Levels of Support

Using the Graduated Approach, the school, parents and carers, specialists and the child or young person with SEND, can work together to determine what is the right level of support to provide.

This support will always be tailored to the levels of need of a child or young person, but a good way to describe these different needs are:

The Local Authority follows national legislation and guidance when determining how to discharge its duties. You can find out more by reading the East Sussex County Council Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 (as amended) policy:

Additional Help and Support


Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS:

East Sussex Local Offer directory of services

You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space, that lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services include advice, guidance and support groups, activities and events and mental health and wellbeing support among many other topics:

NHS - Health A to Z

While the East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible, there may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions, with information and advice on how to get extra support:

Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms

Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.

Get in touch