Graduated response in schools | Oldham Council

SEND Graduated Response Toolkit

Graduated response in schools

Definition of SEND

A child or young person (0-25) has a learning difficulty or disability if they have either:

  • a significant greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age
  • a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post 16 institutions.

Educational and learning settings should know precisely where children and young people who have SEN are in their learning and development and the identification of SEN should be built into the overall approach to monitoring the progress of all pupils.

Setting high expectations for all Children and Young People

The Graduated Response starts at the whole setting level and starts from the position of all children and young people entitled to an appropriate education.

High quality teaching for pupils with SEN, and the progress made by CYP, should be a core part of the education and learning settings performance management and its approach to professional development for all teaching and learning staff.

This progress 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.

It should also include progress in areas other than attainment, for example a child or young person may need to make additional progress with wider developmental social needs in order for them to make a successful transition into adult life.

The first response to a child or young person not making expected progress should be high quality teaching targeted at their area of weakness. Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good quality teaching. This high-quality teaching should include appropriate differentiation and should cover four areas of provision:

  • Curriculum and teaching methods
  • Behaviour policies and practices
  • Interval and lunchtime practices
  • Managing all key transition points

Where progress continues to be less than expected, the adults responsible for teaching the child or young person working with the SENCO should assess whether the child or young person has SEN.

Individual areas of need

Individual areas of need (SEND)

Children and young people who have speech, language and communication needs may have difficulties understanding what is said to them or have difficulties saying what they want to. They may find it difficult to understand and use social rules. Children and young people with autism are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction as well as language communication and imagination which may impact on how they relate to others. Individual children may have difficulties with some or all aspects of language and it is therefore important to understand each child’s individual profile of language difficulties.

Where children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers even with appropriate differentiation they may require additional support. The term learning difficulties covers a wide range of need including moderate learning difficulties, severe learning difficulties through to profound and multiple learning difficulties. Specific learning difficulties are where one or more specific area of learning is affected for example dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia

Children and young people with social emotional and mental health difficulties can present with a wide range of behaviours. For example they may become withdrawn or isolated or display challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. Whilst these behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have neuro diverse conditions such as ADHD or may have attachment difficulties. When looking at this area it is also important to ensure that an assessment to determine causal factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties or difficulties with communication as well as mental health are thoroughly explored. This area has clear links to the Whole School and College Approach to Emotional Health and Mental Wellbeing

Where children or young people have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided they may require special educational provision. Children and young people with hearing impairment of vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment may require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning or habilitation support.


Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of neurological differences, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and specific language impairment.

Whilst it can be useful to think of these four broad areas of need they are not necessarily discrete. Rather than trying to fit a child or young person into a category, it is more helpful to try to understand their strengths and needs holistically as well as considering environmental factors that may impact on these.


Oldham’s Person Centred  toolkit

One Page Profiles - YouTube video


Guidance is set out below to help you identify and meet the needs of children and young people.