Information about levels of support, person centred planning, and the Graduated Approach.

All children and young people have a right to receive an education where they are included and make progress. This includes those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). There are 3 different levels of support in education:  

Universal support 

All children and young people should receive high quality teaching through ordinarily available provision. We call this universal support. 

SEN support 

Some children and young people need additional and different targeted or specialist support. We call this SEN support. 


A few children and young people have higher support needs. They will need personalised support and may need an EHCP. 

An EHCP is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s: 

  • SEN
  • outcomes they would like to achieve 
  • support they need to meet those outcomes 

Most children and young people’s needs can be met without an EHCP and very few children and young people will require one. An EHCP can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. 

Educational settings should use a person-centred approach to make sure support is suited to each child or young person. 

Person-centred approach

A person-centred approach means preparing, supporting and encouraging children or young people to have as much choice and control over their own life as possible. We focus on the child or young person and think about their gifts and skills, as well as their needs.

We plan based on what is important to them and what will benefit them and their family. Educational settings must make sure that planning and actions are done in partnership with the child or young person and their family.

Person-centred approaches should be used when identifying and assessing SEN. Where a child or young person needs more help to achieve their potential, educational settings will use the graduated approach to plan their support. 

The Graduated Approach

The graduated approach is a 4 stage cycle where educational settings will: 

  • assess 
  • plan 
  • do 
  • review

The graduated approach is used at the universal, SEN support and EHCP stages. The SEND Code of Practice puts an emphasis on the contribution of parents and carers, and children and young people to the graduated approach.


The education setting assesses the child's needs. They listen to the views of the child and their parents or carers. They also ask for advice from other specialist support services if needed. 


The teacher and special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) plan how to support the child. They consider what outcomes they want to achieve. They involve the child and their parents or carers and agree a review date. 


The SENCO helps the class teacher support the child. They think about the child's strengths and weaknesses and how best to help them. The teacher also works with the teaching assistants and specialist staff involved. They assess how helpful the support is. 


Everyone discusses how effective the support has been. The school adapts the support depending on the child's progress. The child's views and those of their parents or carers are an important part of the review process.