Toggle menu

Graduated approach to inclusion - SENCO Guide


What is a graduated approach?

The Plymouth Graduated Approach to Inclusion Framework is an electronic tool to support teachers and school leaders in identifying, assessing, and recording the needs of children and young people requiring additional or special educational provision.

This framework is designed to support the identification, planning, and recording of appropriate support and provides guidance to help review progress.

The framework provides a structure to enable the effective use of Plymouth's Local Offer. The Local Offer provides children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, families, and professionals with information in one place, helping them to understand what services they can expect from a range of local agencies (including their entitlements).

The Local Offer covers provision for children and young people from birth to 25 and includes information about education, health, and social care services.

The graduated approach framework

This framework is split into two parts:

  • Part 1 supports schools and settings with the identification of vulnerable pupils and those with special educational needs.
  • Part 2 supports schools in planning to meet the needs identified in part one, signposts to appropriate resources and websites.

What is the framework designed to do?

The framework is designed to help educational settings understand and meet their duties across a range of legislation and guidance. It also helps to support families and young people to understand how educational settings offer support.

The framework helps school staff, particularly SENCOs, leadership teams, and class teachers, understand the common approach to meeting needs across the city. It also helps to support professionals in health, care, and the voluntary sector to signpost families and young people to the support they need.

How the framework works

In Plymouth, we have built on the SEND Pathway of Support and the wider early help continuum to develop one integrated, holistic graduated approach, which is captured in the Early Help Assessment Tool (EHAT). This pathway will enable practitioners to work with children, young people, and their families, ensuring they receive the right support when they need it most.

For children with SEND, the assess, plan, do, and review process to meet their needs may be used to inform the EHAT process.

Plymouth's multi-agency approach

Many learners have needs spanning more than one category, and certain conditions may not fall neatly into one area of need. Guidance to help with assessing special educational needs and managing provision is divided into three levels:

  • Universal
  • Targeted
  • Specialist

Some learners will need assessment and advice from a range of professionals.

Schools should consider involving specialists, including those secured by the school itself or from outside agencies (Code of Practice 6.58).

A school should always consider involving professionals where a learner continues to make little or no progress or where they continue to work at levels substantially below those expected, despite evidence-based SEN support delivered by appropriately trained staff.

This way of working is referred to as a multi-agency approach and is usually coordinated by the SENCO.

Who is considered a professional?

Professionals may include, but are not limited to:

  • specialist teachers or support workers, for example, teachers with a mandatory qualification for children with hearing and/or visual impairment
  • educational psychologists
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) professionals
  • therapists, including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists
  • a range of medical professionals, for example, paediatricians
  • social workers in appropriate cases

Local support services

In Plymouth, advice and consultation as part of the free local offer are available from, but not limited to, the following services:.

SEND Services


Outreach from Plymouth Special schools

  • Courtlands School  and ACE (Transforming Futures MAT) (commissioned from the provider)
  • Quay Partnership Plymouth outreach offer from Plymouth Special Schools (commissioned from the Providers)

Parent/carer video explaining The Graduated Approach and Local Offer



Continue reading


Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:

 Plymouth Local Offer homepage



Is the information correct?

Let us know if the information on this page is wrong and needs to be updated.


Share this page

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email