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What works?

On this page you will find information to help you develop your practice with children and young people in the four broad areas of need. 

A number of organisations have What Works sites which hold information about interventions that have been peer reviewed and have gone through a panel process to be included. The aim is to help you to be confident that the resources referred to have a positive evidence base.  Online links are provided to all sources relating to England and the UK, organised within the Graduated Response to Need Framework within each of the four categories of need. 

Image shows teacher helping two primary-aged children cut up coloured paper to make musical instruments

Within this broad framework, categories of source will include diagnosis-specific organisations and materials as appropriate. Where a diagnosis might fit under two or more of these categories, such as autism, guidance will be given to interpreting the research.

The resources include ‘what works’ in respect of interventions and strategies to support children and young people with special educational needs, but they also include processes and resources to support identification, monitoring and planning for children and young people. 

Within each area of need, information is presented under the headings universal, targeted and specialist, enabling teachers and schools to develop a continuum of provision. 

The four broad areas of need are:

Image shows a teacher talking to a primary aged pupil who is colouring in.

Communication and Interaction

Image shows three primary aged schoolchildren building a Lego tower

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

Image shows a primary aged child standing in a classroom

Sensory and/or physical needs

Image shows a teacher helping primary aged children read through some instructions for an activity

Cognition and Learning

Image shows a group of primary school children in a classroom

The SEN Code of Practice (2015) states:

Paragraph 6.27

‘These four broad areas give an overview of the range of needs that should be planned for. The purpose of identification is to work out what action the school needs to take, not to fit a pupil into a category. In practice, individual children or young people often have needs that cut across all these areas and their needs may change over time… A detailed assessment of need should ensure that the full range of an individual’s needs is identified, not simply the primary need. The support provided to an individual should always be based on a full understanding of their particular strengths and needs and seek to address them all using well-evidenced interventions targeted at their areas of difficulty and where necessary specialist equipment or software’.

The four areas of need are helpful for SENCOs planning provision at Universal, Targeted and Specialist levels. They are helpful because a school or other educational setting can plan to meet a child’s presenting needs immediately without waiting for a formal diagnosis.