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School Action is taken to support a child who demonstrates some or all of:


  • limited or no progress, or even (occasionally) regressing, despite efforts to ensure teaching is targeted at the child’s perceived areas of weakness;
  • difficulty with the basics - literacy and/or numeracy;
  • problems with social communication and interaction - may find it difficult to make friends, turn-take, sit-still, play;
  • emotional or behavioural difficulties which haven’t improved despite deploying the school’s regular behaviour management techniques;
  • sensory or physical problems and makes little or no progress despite the provision of specialist equipment.

School Action Plus involves any, or all, of the above, plus outside agencies – perhaps an educational psychologist or health professionals such as a speech and language therapists.


Involving parents

The school has a duty to let parents know about this extra support. Ideally school and parents should work together to give the child the best possible chance of success. The type, nature and frequency of provision will be decided by the SENCo and class teacher, with parents consulted and kept informed.

Strategies to support pupils’ needs in School Action and School Action Plus are usually set out in an individual education plan (IEP). If your child makes good progress, School Action may be discontinued. 


School Action Plus


At School Action Plus there should be an increased emphasis on adapting learning to fit the child's needs at any given time, with clear individual programmes to support targets, specialist teaching approaches and access to specialist learning materials if needed.

School Action Plus will be used when a child


  • makes little or no progress in specific areas of the curriculum over a long period;
  • struggles to produce work on a par with their peers. Works at national curriculum levels significantly below those expected for children of a similar age;
  • spelling, sums, reading remain problematic. Continues to have difficulty in developing literacy and numeracy/mathematical skills;
  • struggles with behaviour or has emotional difficulties which substantially and frequently disrupt the child's own learning and/or that of the group, despite having a personal behaviour programme or strategies;
  • has sensory, medical or physical needs and requires additional specialist support. May have organisational difficulties, poor coordination, struggle with writing, have difficulty with speech.  Support can take the form of equipment, regular advice or visits by a specialist service such as speech and language or occupational therapy;
  • has ongoing communication or interaction difficulties that prevent the child from developing and maintaining social relationships. The child may find it difficult to: make friends, to share, join in, be understood, follow instructions or comprehend the nuances of language. 


Action to support pupils’ needs

This includes any or all of:

  • Assessment, planning and review by the SENCo. Usually an IEP or similar will be issued. At School Action Plus, external services such as a speech therapist may be involved with the assessment process.
  • Grouping for teaching purposes – this may include small group or one-to-one help.
  • An extra pair of hands. The main provision will be from the class teacher guided by the SENCo but peer and/or some LSA support may be used. At School Action Plus additional, often specialist, adult support brought in by the school, is the norm.
  • Curriculum and teaching methods that suit the way the child learns. Teaching and learning should be designed with the individual child in mind (differentiated).  Particular attention should be paid to IEP targets and a child's preferred learning styles (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic). 


Further reading

SEN How A School Should Help

SEN Professional Help - useful information on the various SEN professionals who can provide assistance in and out of the classroom

The Special Educational Needs Coordinator

The Special Needs Register

Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

National Curriculum And P Levels For Children With SEN

Getting an Educational Psychology Assessment 

Statutory Assessments And Statements of SEN

Getting Reading Right - A Case Study


Seeking a school:

SEN And Schools

Choosing A School - High Level Support

Unit And Resourced Provision For SEN

Special Schools Reviewed By The Good Schools Guide

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