Planning learners’ additional support

Planning learners’ additional support

Planning support makes sure that everyone understands their role in helping children and young people with additional support needs reach their full potential.

In this section we’ll look at:

  • what is involved in planning to meet learners’ additional support needs
  • the different types of support plans
  • how good planning can help you and your learner.

What does good planning look like?

Planning is an ongoing process that helps you keep track of children and young people’s learning and development.

Planning is part of an ongoing cycle, which involves:

  • identifying a need
  • setting targets or goals
  • deciding what needs to be done to achieve those goals
  • setting a date for reviewing progress towards the goals
  • communicating the plan
  • reviewing progress on the agreed date
  • updating the targets or goals based on learning from the review.
The cycle starts with Gathering information to understand what's needed. It then moves through 6 stages: Agreeing and documenting the support needed; Setting goals / objectives; Agreeing timescales for meeting goals; Communicating the plan to relevant people; Putting support in place; Reviewing progress at appropriate timescales. The process is circular with arrows going from stage to stage with no end
Assessing additional support needs lifecycle

You should always involve children and young people and their parents or carers in planning, as they will often be able to explain what they need help with and when support is working or not working for them.

It can be easy to focus so much on the process that creating the plan can feel like an end in itself. It is important to remind yourself that the purpose of planning is to provide the right support at the right time for your learners.

Why plan support?

Good planning helps everyone. It helps:

  • clarify everyone’s shared understanding of what a child or young person needs support with
  • the child or young person understand what support they’ll get, and from who
  • you and others supporting them to know your roles in proving support
  • parents or carers understand what has been agreed, and
  • everyone keep track of what the support is trying to help the child or young person achieve.  

Having a written agreement of the learner’s educational objectives, the support needed to help them achieve those objectives, and when their progress will be reviewed, helps to avoid disagreement and leads to better communication between everyone involved.

Regular reviews of a support plan helps monitor a learner’s progress over time and allows for reflection on whether the agreed strategies have been effective.

Most importantly, effective planning leads to the right support being put in place as soon as possible, which leads to better outcomes for children and young people.

How local authorities plan support

All local authorities make their own arrangements to meet the support needs of children and young people in their area. These arrangements are often called ‘staged intervention’. Staged intervention involves setting out a set number of levels of intervention to help education professionals decide what level of support and what type of plan a learner might need.

Sometimes a child or young person, or their parents or carers, may ask you why they have a certain plan or are on a certain level of intervention. You should be able to find out more about how support is planned in your area from your local authority website , or you can ask your school leaders for information on this.

You may also wish to signpost parents and carers to our factsheet on Planning your child’s support .

Types of plans

Planning will look different depending on your learners’ individual needs, and the approach your nursery, school or local authority takes.

The day-to-day planning and monitoring of each learner’s progress is called ‘personal learning planning’ (PLP). All children and young people should have some PLP, with updates for families provided at parents and carers evenings.

If a child or young person needs extra help with their learning, they may need more individualised planning.

There are several levels of educational plans, wellbeing-focused plans and specific plans for children and young people with healthcare needs or who are living in care. Different local authorities can also use different names for education and wellbeing plans, but you may have heard of the following:

Individualised education plans (IEPs) – written plans for individual pupils who need more targeted support.

Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) – the only statutory education plan. CSPs are used to co-ordinate support for a learner when they need a lot of help from a number of different agencies.

For more information, see our page on Co-ordinated support plans

Child’s plans – plans for children and young people who have a wellbeing need or who need support from specialist agencies. Often a CSP or an IEP will be incorporated into a child’s plan if, as is often the case, the child or young person has additional support needs as well as a wellbeing needs.

It is best if you familiarise yourself with your area’s approach to planning and what they use plans for. That way you can understand what your role is in delivering any planned support and answer questions from children and young people or their families. Senior colleagues will also be able to help you with this.

What are my responsibilities?

Your role in planning a child or young person’s support will vary depending on your role within your school or nursery.

Teachers and nursery practitioners are expected to plan all children and young people’s learning and monitor their progress through personal learning planning.

If you are a nursery practitioner or a primary school teacher, you may be asked to contribute to planning meetings with children, parents, carers and other professionals. This is because you have day-to-day knowledge of a learner’s needs and may be significantly involved in providing their support.

If you are a subject teacher in high school or a pupil support assistant, you may be asked to provide information on a learner’s progress and any difficulties they face. This will help ensure that any planning for their support takes full account of their needs.

Usually, it will be a senior staff member (such as a deputy head or principal support for learning teacher) who will take responsibility for developing, communicating and reviewing learners’ support plans. However if you can see a child or young person is struggling with their learning, and may need more or different support, discuss with them and your colleagues whether a review meeting might be helpful.

Quick Tips

More like this

Module: Planning and reviewing learners’ support

15-30 minute learning module to introduce planning and reviewing learners’ support.

Image of the learning module

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