Practical support for identifying and meeting need

Supporting individual learning needs

Top 10 tips for supporting learning across the curriculum and age range

Click on the numbers below:

Extra opportunities for practice and overlearning

Consider how you can incorporate this learning into other areas as well as providing opportunities for overlearning in the classroom.

How could a child or young person practice this skill away from the classroom?

If a child or young person is engaging work outside of the classroom how can we bring this learning in?

Learning opportunities related to interests and subjects that are motivating

Optimal learning happens when we are interested and motivated by a subject.

How motivated is the child or young person to really engage with the subject?

Do they have any interests or personal motivators that the learning can be linked to?

What impact would learning this have in their daily life?

Develop steps to enable early success, helping to build confidence and self-esteem

We all benefit from feeling confident in our abilities; often it is this confidence that enables us to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones.

Think about how you are helping children and young people to identify their early success so that they can build on it.

Focusing praise on a young person’s approach to learning (strategies and efforts), rather than achievements, can help them to value how they achieve rather than what they achieve.

Provide alternative means of learning and recording

Consider the recording means that you are using; is it this that is limiting what work a child or young person in your class can produce?

Could introducing a different recording method, or coming at the learning from a different angle be beneficial?

Engage in a variety of types of tasks and activities

Providing a variety of tasks and activities helps children and young people, and adults, to attend for longer periods of time.

Build from concrete examples to abstract concepts

Consider the foundations that are in place for the child or young person to build on.

Provide visual representation to decrease memory demands

The use of visual supports is beneficial to all children, young people and adults.

A visual timetable and visual sequences can provide structure whilst also reducing the cognitive demand that an individual must manage as well as encouraging independence.

Consider the use of visuals in terms of lists, prompts etc.

Give thinking time to process and consider

Ensure that the children and young people in your class have time to process what they are being told and what is being asked of them.

Provide opportunities to talk through and clarify understanding

Checking back with children and young people to clarify what they have understood the task to be allows them to further consider the activity and how to move forwards.


Provide opportunities for children and young people to reflect on the learning that they have done before moving on to the next task.


Children and young people engage in many transition points throughout the day (e.g. between learning activities, into breaktime and between teachers) and, for some, these can be difficult. In addition, there are further significant transition points throughout an individual’s education.

Further information is available on the websites below:

There are many strategies that can help to support transition:

  • Share strategies agreed with pupil and parent/carers.
  • Meet with parents/carers to establish a good relationship.
  • Create pen portraits which outlines key facts and strategies, completed with the pupil.
  • Employ visual supports, e.g. photo books, maps, timetables.
  • Facilitate enhanced visits both formal and informal.
  • Enable staff to meet with key individuals who know the child or young person, read their information and have time to observe and meet them.
  • Share resources.
  • Complete an audit plan > for pupil with medical and physical needs.
  • Use transition toolkits for pupils (autism >, visual impairments > or hearing impairments >).
  • Review transition programme and any other individual arrangements agreed.
  • Engage in relevant training for staff in place before transition with consideration to any specific communication needs. See Other Ways of Speaking >

Expectations of schools – the graduated response to supporting learning needs across the curriculum

Universal – support for all children and young people

Learning environment

  • Holistic view taken, considering the strengths and needs of individuals.
  • Use of visual supports, e.g. timetables, sequences, consistent symbols, colour coding, checklists and calendars.
  • Explicit links made to previous learning.
  • Information is given in small ‘chunks’ with careful consideration given to the language used.
  • Time to process and respond. Tasks are clearly explained, modelled and scaffolded.
  • Language is modified to reduce demands on working memory > and processing.
  • New or challenging vocabulary is clarified, displayed and referred to. Visual cues, supports, gestures and objects are used to support understanding. This will also support pupils with English as an Additional Language >.
  • Repetition and reinforcement to embed the meaning of new words when teaching new vocabulary and concepts.
  • Support provided to evaluate their own performance.
  • Consideration is given to motivational factors and learning approach.
  • Metacognition > is used to develop thinking skills and independent learning.
  • Appropriate ICT is available.
  • Parents/carers are encouraged to support and share information about learning and development at home.
  • Pupil and parent/carer views about progress in learning is regularly sought.

Access to the curriculum

  • Quality First multisensory teaching is in place that focuses on intent, implementation and impact.
  • An appropriately differentiated curriculum is in place which takes account of individual needs.
  • The provision (and planned activities) is linked to needs and interests.
  • Routines and expectations appropriate to age and stage of development.
  • Planning considers ways of minimising or reducing barriers so that all pupils can fully take part and learn.
  • The whole school environment > is adapted to take account of learning needs, e.g. illustrated signs and sensory input.
  • Regular and precise assessments of progress so that suitably challenging activities are effectively planned.
  • Regular observations during activities to consider their understanding. These observations can provide insights which can then be used to re-shape tasks and give explanations that improve learning.
  • Appropriate access arrangements are in place for assessments.

Targeted – additional support for children and young people with an identified need

Learning environment

  • Learning/movement breaks > are built in to support with concentration and to enable better engagement with the lesson.
  • Pre and post-teaching > of new vocabulary/concepts to ensure overlearning.
  • Cued into learning as appropriate, e.g. using their name before giving instructions and/or using visual cues and prompts.
  • Support to understand ideas, concepts and experiences if they cannot gain information through first-hand sensory or physical experiences.
  • Homework is personalised to reinforce key skills covered in the lesson.
  • Arrangements to extend their participation within the curriculum, to prevent disaffection and promote engagement with schoolwork, independent learning and self-monitoring.
  • Praise for effort and achievement as they may have had to work twice as hard to produce half as much as their peers. Comments are positive, explicit and evaluative. See The Growth Mindset >.

Access to the curriculum

  • An increasingly individualised curriculum which remains similar to that followed by the majority of pupils but supports the specific learning objectives for those with SEN.
  • Individual interests and preferences are considered and how teaching can support these through personalised learning.
  • Regular and specific focused teaching, which is increasingly individualised, and led by the teacher.
  • Entry and exit data completed for each intervention to monitor impact >.
  • Appropriate assessment systems inform accurate next steps and small, precise targets that help development.
  • The purpose of any intervention is made clear and they are fully informed about their progress.
  • Teachers, in consultation with the SENDCo, establish a clear analysis of learning needs.
  • Close home-school links, to have awareness of changes in home circumstances that may impact on progress.

Specialist – additional support for children and young people with an ongoing and significant identified need

Learning environment

  • Provide and explicitly teach and support the use of resources which will develop independent learning skills, e.g. reading pens.
  • More specialised use of ICT to support learning, e.g. Widget >.
  • Additional pastoral support in place to focus on personal curriculum targets.
  • Flexibility within the timetable to allow for interventions to be implemented without impacting on access to the wider curriculum.
  • Homework is bespoke with practical resources provided when appropriate.
  • Regular ‘check ins’ with specific positive praise using the language of success.

Access to the curriculum

  • Highly individualised learning programme developed by the SENDCo with support from external practitioners as required. This will assist with assessment, monitoring, planning and provision.
  • Daily teaching of a programme of skills/concepts in fixed timetable periods that is monitored, and planned, by subject/class teacher and links to the work that is completed in class.
  • Individualised curriculum closely tailored to long and short term outcomes. This should include pre-subject based learning and functional life skills training where appropriate.
  • Assessment using a ‘small steps’ measure that demonstrates progress. It is planned carefully to give them every opportunity to demonstrate what they know and can do, using alternative means where necessary.
  • Attendance is closely monitored with effective planning in place to support any absence issues.
  • All staff are familiar with learning need and individualised targets so that interventions support their class based work.
  • Very close home-school liaison, to develop close collaboration with families that improve outcomes and to be aware of changes in home circumstances or other external factors that impact upon a young person.
  • Regular review meetings > and consider an Individual Education Plan/One Page Profile >. See also person centred reviews >