Planning for additional support needs

Planning for learning is an ongoing process subject to continuous review, through pre-school, school and beyond into lifelong learning. Almost all children and young people who have additional support needs will have their learning and wellbeing met by day-to-day nursery or classroom practice. This practice is subject to normal planning processes such as curriculum planning and monitoring, self-evaluation, quality assurance and external professional monitoring.

Planning for individual learners is not just about writing a document. It offers opportunities for everyone involved to develop increased knowledge and understanding of the child or young person, by learning about how they cope across contexts. It encourages parents, professionals and the child or young person to develop joint commitments to achieving shared and agreed aims and targets. It enables parents to develop their understanding of how staff in school are working with their child. It enables children and young people to have a better understanding of the purposes and outcomes of the activities they do in school. It ensures that members of the school team identify and own their responsibilities to the child or young person.

The key partners involved in planning are school staff, the parents, any other professionals involved and - wherever possible - the child or young person. All should be involved in identifying and agreeing the targets and in implementing, monitoring and reviewing the plan. It is essential that everybody involved in contributing to and/or reviewing a plan has access to a shared information and knowledge base. Designated time for education staff to meet and share information with other professionals and with families also is key to achieving this.

Every plan should build on the outcomes of targets/goals identified previously. Have targets been achieved? If not, why not? Are the targets previously identified still relevant and/or appropriate? Are there other targets that have a greater priority/relevance? What assessment is required to support the identification of new targets?

Monitoring and evaluation of the achievement of targets should be ‘built in’ and ongoing. A child or young person’s ‘failure’ to achieve targets is primarily the responsibility of the adults involved in identifying targets and in carrying out the intervention aimed at helping them achieve the targets agreed. It is important that all those involved have ownership of the plan and evaluate, on an ongoing basis, the appropriateness of targets agreed and adapt/change strategies and resources identified as necessary.

Where a child or young person is likely to have significant lifelong additional support needs the plan should be a document which coordinates action inside and outside school to develop the child or young person’s social, life and independence skills. For these children and young people some targets may be set for longer than one year (i.e. continue throughout their time in school education) and may need to be broken down into targets achievable within the school year.

The Child’s Plan

The Child’s Plan is a key document where the ‘team around the child’ records the interventions and outcomes to improve a child’s wellbeing, including meeting their additional support needs. Using the wellbeing indicators, it should outline the agreed actions that professionals will take to meet the additional support needs and/or improve the child’s wellbeing. The complexity and detail in the plan will be proportionate to the level of need and support identified. Please see our Child’s Planning Framework Guidance 2017 for more details.