SEND support - the graduated approach

What if a child or young person can’t reach the levels they should? What's a SENDCO?  What if a child or young person is ill? What's an EHC plan?

If a child or young person isn’t doing as well as they should at school or college, they should get extra help. Many will need this at some time.  

For most children and young people won’t need extra help for long. Their teachers and staff in their school or college will know exactly what to do to support them. They can also get advice from specialists. 

Very few children and young people have long-term needs. Only a few will have a learning difficulty, a disability or an illness that means they will need an Education Health and Care plan. 

The first level of support - quality first teaching 

The people who teach children and young people should always be checking that students are making progress that suits their age. If they aren’t, they should be: 

  • working out what might be wrong 
  • doing something different, or putting in extra help 
  • keep checking it's helping

This is called 'quality first teaching' in schools. It should happen in colleges as well. 

The second level - SEND support  

If the child or young person’s learning doesn’t improve quickly and they seem to need even more help, they have a special educational need and/or a disability (SEND). In schools, this is called SEND support.  

Schools should talk with parents/carers about how much support is needed and how it will be provided. All mainstream schools get money to provide special educational needs support. Schools must have a SEND Information Report on their website saying how they do this. It’s called their SEND Offer. 

SEND support for schools 

We give Lambeth schools Graduated Approach Tables to help them support children and young people in school. This is called Ordinarily Available Provision. 

We have set up a School Inclusion Fund. Schools can apply for extra money to help individual children and young people with the specific support they don’t offer. 


Unfortunately, some groups of children young people with SEND are at higher risk of exclusion than their peers. Schools are required to take SEND into account when considering exclusion. Also, the SEND Code of Practice states that: 

 "Schools have a duty to arrange suitable, full-time education from the sixth day of a fixed period exclusion. Suitable education means efficient education suitable to a child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any SEN the child may have." 

For further information about exclusions, you can read this information on Lambeth’s Schools and Education pages. You can also get free, confidential and impartial support from Lambeth Information, Advice and Support Service (LIASS

Post-16 SEND support 

All mainstream sixth forms, sixth form colleges and FE (further education) colleges also get extra funding to support SEND.  

Colleges should work with schools to help young people with SEND prepare to make the move into post-16 education. The young person should get the same type of support as in school and the college should continue  supporting and monitoring progress.  

What is a SENDCO? 

SENDCO stands for special educational needs and/or disabilities coordinator. They are also called SENCOs in some schools. 

All schools must have a SENDCO to make sure that needs are being identified, assessed and planned for. They are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the school’s SEND policy.  

A SENDCO is a qualified teacher who has had extra training about SEND. They: 

  • arrange all the extra support for children and young people with SEND.  
  • work with class teachers to make sure support plans are in place, and checks that progress is being made.  
  • work with parents to help their child 
  • work with local council support services 
  • work with other professionals, for example, in health services 

In colleges, the person responsible for SEND may have a different job title, like Additional Learning Support manager, or Student Support manager. 

What if a child or young person is ill? 

All children and young people under 16 should be getting full-time education. Between 16 and 18, they should be in education, apprenticeship or training at least part-time. 

If a child can’t go to school because they’re ill, schools should make sure they still get education the first few weeks. 

If they're ill for more than 15 days, or aren’t getting help from a school, we can help. 

Education out of school might be:

  • teaching at home
  • a hospital school 
  • a ‘virtual’ school 

or, a mix of these depending on their needs. 

FE Colleges have different rules. Parents, carers or professionals should check with the college to see how they will support a young person who is ill. 

How to get support for an ill child or young person 

If a child or young person is too ill to go to school or college for more than 15 days, a parents, carer or professional should talk to their teacher, the SENDCO, or Student Support at college. 

Going back to school or college 

Children who’ve been away from school or college for a while might need help go back. A the school or college about how they will help. 

We can work with parents and carers, the child, and the school or college to plan the return and agree what help might be needed. 

What if a child or young person needs an EHC Plan? 

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan is for children and young people who have major special educational needs that will last a long time. 

Most needs can be supported using the money schools and colleges already have, or by using the School Inclusion Fund. 

If the needs are so much that parents and professionals think they can’t be supported by the usual funding, it’s time to ask us for an education, health and care (EHC) assessment. 

Find out more about applying for an Education Health Care Plan