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Graduated Response Tool

The purpose of this document is to ensure every CYP in a Somerset school receives the support they are entitled to.

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Part of
Graduated Response Tool

The purpose of this document is to ensure every CYP in a Somerset school receives the support they are entitled to.


How to use the graduated response tool

How to use the graduated response tool

Statutory Special Educational Needs (SEN) information

Statutory Special Educational Needs (SEN) information

What is the Graduated Response and the Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle?

Graduated Response and the Assess, Plan, Do, Review Cycle?

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)



Expectations for Teachers, Governors, SENCOs and Headteachers

Teachers, Governors, SENCO’s and Headteachers responsibilities

Expectations for Whole School Inclusion

Expectations for Whole School Inclusion

Quick Checker

Quick Checker

Inclusion for each Broad Area of Need

Inclusion for each Broad Area of Need

Graduated Response Tool – Complex Medical Needs

Graduated Response Tool – Complex Medical Needs


We have separated this section by the four areas of need set out in the Code of Practice.
Many learners may have needs across more than one category and certain conditions may not fall neatly into one area of need. When reviewing and managing special educational provision the four broad areas of need may be helpful as a guide to ensure you can provide support across these areas.

Whilst there is a wealth of suggestions and strategies, this is not an exhaustive list of the barriers that you might see and the provision that could be used to support children and young people (CYP).

Children and young people (CYP) say:

The education was brilliant. because I got all of the right help.

When I had an assessment for what would make my life at school easier, they were quite willing to put procedures in place.

There needs to be a broader and better understanding of SEND in order to give people a better experience in a mainstream school.

Cognition and learning

SEND Code of Practice

‘Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including moderate learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), where children and young people are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children and young people are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment. Specific learning difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.’ Code of Practice, 6.30 and 6.31.

See the Graduated Response Tool – Cognition and Learning Universal table at full width
What will you see?What can help?
What will you see?General Many CYP show a slower rate of progress than their peers.This could be due to a range of factors for example developmental delay or the impact of life events. Often their rate of progress will increase over time through high quality teaching and in class supportat a universal level. It is important to check hearing and vision prior to consideration of or assessment for cognition and learning barriers.What can help?General
  • Understanding strengths and interests
  • Knowledge and understanding of barriers to learning
  • Knowing CYP starting point and next steps to develop learning
  • Consistent HQT (see Special Education Needs in Mainstream School)
  • Activate prior learning
  • Teaching using a multisensory approach with a lot of opportunities for overlearning
  • Teaching is sequential build on what the CYP knows
  • Model, scaffold to independence
  • Use of effective questioning to enable engagement in learning
  • Regular assessment informing next steps
  • Opportunities to talk through learning with a peer
  • VSLST Core Training available in a range of areas of cognition and learning. Training request form available via VSLST resource pages on SSE or via school’s VSLST advisory teacher
  • Call Scotlandresources and guidance posters
  • What will you see?Reading CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Engaging with reading independently or with some adult support
  • Making progress in their reading skills such as reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension
  • Reading words outside of their vocabulary
  • Matching the quality of written work with their language skills
  • What can help?Reading
  • Use strengths,hobbies, interests and choice to engage students in reading
  • Opportunities for success in reading (reading books with over 95% accuracy and reading familiar books)
  • Daily reading-short and frequent
  • A strong culture of reading for meaning and enjoyment with an emphasis on language development and comprehension
  • Explicit teaching of fluency including re-reading for speed, intonation and response to punctuation
  • Being read to and talking about text, developing comprehension skills such as summarising, predicting and inference
  • What will you see?Phonological awareness skills CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Identifying syllables, alliteration, rhyme
  • Identifying and recalling individual sounds, graphemes
  • Blending sounds and segmenting sounds orally
  • Identifying and recalling individual phonemes (sounds)
  • What can help?Phonological awareness skills
  • A cumulative multisensory phonics teaching programme, including applying skills in context with frequent opportunities for overlearning
  • A synthetic phonics teaching programme, including applying skills in context with frequent opportunities for overlearning
  • What will you see?Recognising common high frequency words CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Remembering letter-sound relationships for reading and spelling
  • Remembering high frequency words for reading and spelling
  • Accurate and/or fluent reading
  • Matching the quality of their written work with their language skills
  • Understanding (comprehending) text
  • Inferring meaning from and/or answering questions about text
  • Reading words outside of their vocabulary
  • CYP may appear:
  • Anxious or refuse when asked to read aloud
  • To have over reliance on adults or peers and to avoid reading
  • To overly rely on images and contextual clues when reading
  • To dislike or avoid reading at home
  • What can help?Recognising common high frequency words
  • Teach HFW using a multisensory approach, overlearn and use in context
  • Pre teach vocabulary
  • Opportunities to listen to stories read and developing language skills (Teacher read aloud sessions)
  • Explicit teaching of reading skills such as inference, scanning and summarising
  • Paired reading approaches with peers
  • Use of audio books, reading software such as ClaroRead and reading pens
  • Paired reading
  • Teaching of topic vocabulary
  • Use drama and role play to support understanding of text
  • Use of abridged versions of texts to support access to more challenging material
  • Resources
  • Sound mats, key words, phonics games, plastic letters, ability and interest appropriate reading books
  • Essential Letters and Sounds, Sound Linkage, ReadWrite inc, ReadWriteInc Fresh Start, Rapid Readers, Read, Write Gold ReadWrite inc,
  • What will you see?Spelling CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Accurately spelling high frequency words and spelling rules such as root words, prefixes are not secure
  • Recalling and/or knowing graphemes
  • Spelling accurately using the correct grapheme (letter) choice i.e. spelling phonetically
  • Breaking down words into syllables and sounds
  • What can help?Spelling
  • A structured multisensory programme spelling programme based on accurate assessment delivered with regular opportunity for overlearning and applying in context
  • Teach ‘etymology’ the roots, suffixes, and prefixes of words
  • Teaching of topic vocabulary
  • Use of ‘boxes’ font when introducing words – supporting CYP to see the physical structure of a word, using visual clues as well as spelling strategies
  • Resources
  • Key word mats, vocabulary lists, glossaries
  • Essential Letters and Sounds, Sound Linkage, ReadWrite inc, ReadWriteInc Fresh Start
  • Word Shark, Units of Sound
  • Apps: A+ Spelling, Mt Thorne Spelling with Dragons
  • What will you see?Writing/Recording CYP may have difficulty with:
  • The pace or quality of their handwriting and/or letter formation, and do not competently use an alternate method of recording
  • Understanding accurately using punctuation and grammar
  • Difficulty forming or remembering sentences
  • Sequencing thoughts
  • Word finding
  • Written work does not reflect ability or knowledge when speaking
  • What can help?Writing/Recording
  • Engage prior knowledge around the subject
  • Teach relevant vocabulary
  • Opportunities to talk before writing and to ‘talk like an expert’
  • Support writing with images, actions and drama
  • Model the thinking process around language choice, grammar and mark when writing
  • Allow thinking time
  • Rehearse sentences
  • Resources
  • Writing support such as pen grips, writing slopes, alternative methods of recording using technology such as speech recognition (Dragon Naturally Speaking) with training on their use
  • Dictate function on Office 365.More information can be found at Dictate in Microsoft 365
  • Word banks and scaffolding materials such as sentence starters, graphic organisers, pictures, labels, images, writing frames
  • Talking tins for recording short sentences/other recording devices for longer pieces of writing (speech to text)
  • Magpie books for word finding
  • What will you see?Numeracy – General CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Remaining focused or motivated when learning in maths
  • Learning new mathematical skills
  • Making progress in their maths learning
  • Sharing their thinking around maths tasks with peers or adults
  • Using or applying mathematical concepts
  • Sense of number and estimation
  • Keeping up with the pace of learning
  • High levels of anxiety within the maths classroom
  • Mental arithmetic skills
  • Basic understanding of quantity
  • Understanding Base-10
  • The four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
  • Recording operations using written methods
  • Difficulty understanding specific concepts such as fractions, ratio, percentages, time and money
  • What can help?Numeracy – General
  • Start with opportunities for success
  • Understand the specific barriers and strengths of learners
  • Chunking, colour-coding, highlighting, regular review of learning points
  • Opportunities to consolidate learning through play
  • Access to worked examples and read world examples
  • Allow the CYP to talk through their learning and thinking
  • Reinforce understanding of maths using ‘hands-on’ diagrams and models
  • Follow Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract sequence of learning to introduce new concepts
  • VSLST Core Training available in a range of areas of numeracy-training request form available via VSLST resource pages on SSE or via school’s VSLST advisory teacher
  • Dyscalculia toolkit resources Products – Dyscalculia Toolkit
  • Bradford Primary Maths Toolkit
  • What will you see? Reading skills in maths CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Reading mathematical questions
  • Reading maths as a pace that is line with peers
  • Understanding and using new mathematical language
  • Remembering longer mathematical questions
  • Using decimal points and place value
  • Reading or ‘seeing’ vertical tables
  • What can help?Reading skills in maths
  • Provide key words and sentence frames to support discussion around maths
  • Peer reading support for language heavy questions
  • Use of visuals and actions to support the introduction of new mathematical vocabulary and concepts. Allow extra time, chunk and colour code steps in a problem
  • Use a large red decimal point and make it obvious
  • Print tables in a different colour or highlight them
  • What will you see?Memory and speed of working in maths CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Remember verbal instructions, remembering information, keeping up with the pace of lessons
  • Remembering sequences of numbers and therefore times tables
  • Remembering words for symbols and the procedure the symbol represents
  • Remembering where to begin in a page and presenting work in an organised way
  • Finishing work in the given time scale
  • Answering independent or confidently and they may need lots of checking from adults or peers
  • Managing stress when working in time pressures
  • What can help?Memory and speed of working in maths
  • Avoid copying from the board
  • Carefully choose language and length of verbal instruction. Encourage highlighting and chunking. Present information in a multisensory way
  • Teach times tables in a multisensory way with colour, rhyme, music finger tables
  • Teach each symbol in a multisensory way with physical movement and memory cards and on active displays
  • Discuss page size, model examples and use larger squared paper or mark where to start
  • Practice ‘against the clock’/sand timer in fun ways. Allow more time, allow time for discussion before timed tasks
  • Develop estimation skills so that they can be more confident with their answer when comparing to an estimate
  • Lots of opportunities to work in timed situations with limited pressures
  • What will you see?Directional confusion in maths CYP may have difficulty with:
  • Using left and right
  • Mathematical language such as prepositions (above, below) horizontal, vertical, diagonal
  • Reading from and recording on tables, charts and graphs
  • What can help?Directional confusion in maths
  • Use a marker to help pupil start in the right place, prompt and sit with peers
  • Use physical movement to demonstrate direction, signing or communication in print
  • Colour code axes and column, row headings, use an L-shaped piece of card to read from tables/ use direction arrows on graphs and colour code co-ordinates Resources
  • Access to concrete resources (an’ enable table’) whiteboards, number lines, range of concrete resources
  • See Manipulatives ( for support using manipulatives
  • See Videos of children using Cuisenaire rods: The Cuisenaire Company
  • What will you see?Cognitive barriers to learning (Executive Function) Working Memory Working Memory is crucial for developing fluent literacy and numeracy skills, organisation and following instructions. CYP may have difficulty:
  • Remaining focused on the task and/or appear not listen effectively
  • Being motivated to learn
  • Keeping up with the pace of whole class teaching and learning
  • Remembering instructions
  • Managing multi-step tasks and problem solving
  • Copying from a worksheet or the board
  • Understanding and/or retaining verbal information (auditory processing)
  • Understanding and/or retaining written information
  • Organising tasks such as time keeping, homework, equipment
  • Making academic progress
  • Keeping their place in tasks
  • They may appear to daydream
  • Peer social interactions
  • What can help?Cognitive barriers to learning (Executive Function) Working Memory
  • Guide to Executive function: executivefunction101ebook_344.pdf (
  • Working Memory Core Training through VSLST- Request form on VSLST Resource pages of the SSE
  • Recap information from the previous lesson, reminders of the ‘big picture’ of learning
  • Provide a visual model/example so the pupil knows what is required
  • Be prepared to repeat instructions or modify how the learning activity is presented (repeat with a smile)
  • Remove distractions
  • Gain CYP attention before giving instructions
  • Teach listening skills
  • Avoid split attention
  • Reduce cognitive load
  • Keep it short and simple (KISS)
  • Teach key vocabulary and overlearn
  • Give processing time (wait time)
  • Ask pupil to repeat instruction
  • Dual coding (visual and aural presented together)
  • Clear uncluttered presentation with no unnecessary images
  • Clear visual environment
  • Colour coding and highlight of key information
  • Where possible include movement and rhythm, as a moving image is often remembered more easily
  • Use CYP strengths, such as drawing, to map out thoughts using diagrams or flow charts
  • The use of visuals e.g. task steps, visual timetable, now and next boards
  • Use scaffolding but look for opportunities to remove it over time
  • Teach the CYP strategies to minimise cognitive load such as note taking, highlighting, skimming and scanning, mind mapping, visualisation, colour coding, memory aids, Apps, memory games
  • Use of small memory aids such as on a keyring with key words, facts, calculation techniques, sentence starters
  • Resources
  • Relevant visual prompts
  • Provide print outs of key information to avoid the need to copy from the whiteboard
  • Use digital aids such as recording devices and i-Pads to help retain the essential information
  • Text to speech software – such as apps
  • Understanding how working memory problems impair classroom learning (
  • What will you see?Speed of Processing Processing speed is the pace at which you take in information, make sense of it and begin to respond. This information can be visual, such as letters and numbers. It can also be auditory, such as spoken language. CYP may:
  • Take significantly longer than peers to start and complete tasks
  • Appear to forget information or instructions
  • Seem easily distracted
  • Give up easily and appear frustrated with learning
  • Lack confidence in their learning
  • What can help?Speed of Processing
  • A calm quiet environment when giving instruction
  • Give time to process any information that is given either orally or in written form
  • Give time to think and recall the word needed to answer question (take up time)
  • Give time to recall / formulate sentence / thoughts
  • Give time to be able to recall the appropriate sounds when spelling
  • Give time to be able to retrieve the correct sound and blend them together when reading
  • Give extra time to complete tasks. It is also important to be aware that the CYP may find tasks more tiring than other pupils
  • Chunk information
  • Accompany talk with demonstration where possible
  • Visual processing – provide ‘windows’ to section off written material
  • What will you see?Approaches to learning CYP may:
  • Lack confidence and be reluctant to take risks in their learning and copy peers
  • Appear tired, distracted or passive
  • Appear anxious when asked to share learning
  • Have varied performance
  • Lack perseverance and have low self esteem
  • Be reluctant or unable to ask for help
  • Be overdependent on adult support
  • What can help?Approaches to learning
  • Exploration of underlying learning needs using checklists or assessment
  • Pastoral support such as monitoring of self-esteem, regular specific praise
  • Use of student interests and strengths
  • Opportunities to learn how to play and to learn through play: UNICEF-Lego-Foundation-Learning-through-Play.pdf
  • Ensure high levels of success
  • Role playing what to do when work is challenging
  • Developing scripts for when work feels difficult
  • Support to reflect on the successes, challenges and thought processes for a piece of work
  • Last reviewed: March 25, 2023 by Keir

    Next review due: September 25, 2023

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