Broad area of needs

Descriptors of SEN support provision in the four broad areas of SEND (pdf)

Cognition and learning

Description of what this group of learners might find difficult

Children and young people who 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 are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication

Profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), where children 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.

Expectations of all settings

The setting provides a welcoming and inclusive environment that promotes participation and achievement and prepares children and young people for learning

Clear processes in place to identify strengths and needs.

Strategies for the classroom teacher:

  • De-clutter PowerPoints: mix words and text
  • Provide copies of slides
  • Explicitly teach key word vocabulary
  • Know the difficulty (e.g. RA) of any text that you use
  • Support short term memory by using mini whiteboards
  • Alternative ways to demonstrate understanding - diagrams, voice recorder etc.
  • Coloured background on slides and handouts
  • Provide writing frames, sentence starters
  • Teach sequencing as a skill - stories, alphabet, cartoon strips
  • Links to prior learning explicitly made
  • Prompts and headings provided to help with sequencing/recording of information.

Communication and interaction

Description of what this group of learners might find difficult:

Children and young people with communication and Interaction needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because

  • they have difficulty saying what they want to
  • understanding what is being said to them
  • they do not understand or use social rules of communication.

The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

Children and young people with ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can affect how they relate to others.

Expectations of all settings

  • Ealing SALT send weekly S&L messages…display staffroom CPD
  • Colourful semantics – whole school and targeted
  • Interventions in place delivered by trained staff

Strategies for the classroom teacher:

  • 'Rules' of good listening displayed, taught, modelled and regularly reinforced
  • Have a comfortable space in your classroom or around school for quiet times to talk
  • Label areas of your classroom or whole school with photographs, pictures or symbols
  • Develop interactive displays to support communication
  • Build in an opportunity for pupils to have structured conversations with you or other adults
  • Introduce activities where pupils have structured opportunities to talk with their peers e.g. Partner talking
  • Visual timetables and visual support for classroom routines/rules
  • Model and teach students how to use their language for thinking and learning
  • Pre-arranged cues for active listening - cue card, symbol, name etc.
  • Instructions broken down into manageable chunks and given in the order that they are to be done
  • Clear modelling of tasks – what a good one looks like (WAGOLL)
  • Minimise use of abstract language
  • Sentence starters
  • Targeted questioning
  • Thinking time before expecting a response
  • Careful seating plan to avoid sensory overload - under lights? Near buzzing sounds? See the board?
  • Carefully structured group work- clear roles.
  • Access to quiet, distraction free area - possible time out
  • Checklists, task lists - simple with visual clues.

Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH)

Description of what this group of learners might find difficult:

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties, which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include:

  • becoming withdrawn or isolated
  • displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour
  • Self-harming, substance misuse or eating disorders

These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as:

  • anxiety or depression
  • unresolved trauma
  • attachment disorder conduct disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Schools and colleges should have clear processes to support children and young people, including how they will manage the effect of any disruptive behaviour.

Expectations of all settings:

  • Clear, agreed strategies for behaviour management in class and throughout the school
  • Whole school strategic approach to mental health
  • All staff are consistent and relentless in their drive to build positive relationships with their pupils
  • Lessons are interactive and differentiated to accommodate different learning styles and pace
  • There are planned opportunities for learning social and emotional skills.

Strategies for the classroom teacher:


  • Plan individual time/activities with the child to enhance the teacher/child relationship
  • Once a behavioural incident has been dealt with, give the child a ‘fresh start’
  • Use positive language and behaviour management strategies to encourage change
  • Plan for TAs to build positive relationships and then use them flexibly to pre-empt difficulties
  • Plan activities at success level for the child, to increase confidence and opportunities for success and positive reinforcement
  • Give positive feedback/ non-verbal signs
  • Build a relationship with the child’s parents, giving both positive feedback as well as dealing with issues


  • Have a range of simple calming exercises/activities that pupil can use if in heightened state of anxiety
  • Use visual timer to measure and extend time on task
  • Use post-it’s for questions and ideas rather than interruptions
  • Provide to do lists and structured lesson steps
  • Assign duties which require self-management


  • Make directions clear and concise
  • Encourage positive reference to self
  • Provide visual prompts/ scaffolding/ equipment
  • Give the child ‘take up time’ after giving an instruction

Managing/reducing difficulties

  • Use bound choices eg ‘You have a choice, you can do xxx now or yyy’ to limit options
  • Use delayed consequences to reduce conflict, eg ‘Put the phone away now or I will need to speak to you at break time, thank you’
  • Reduce transitions both within and in and out of the class/plan how you do this to minimise disruption
  • Seat child where distractions are minimised
  • Consider how sensory stimuli can be reduced if this is a trigger 

Sensory and physical needs

Description of what this group of learners might find difficult:

Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability, which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties. Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Expectations of all settings:

  • Ensure educational facilities, equipment is in place to allow pupils to access all opportunities available to their peers.
  • Liaise with Ealing MD team

Strategies for the classroom teacher:

  • Flexible teaching arrangements and differentiated curriculum where necessary
  • Use of adapted implements e.g. pencils, scissors, cutlery
  • Fine motor skills group
  • Targeted handwriting - gross motor (1:1)
  • Sit and move cushions
  • Multi-sensory teaching methods
  • Writing slopes -pencil grips, scissors, putty therapy
  • Weighted jackets, ear defenders, sensory diets
  • Use equipment recommended by specialists
  • Ensure appropriate font and size of text
  • Check oral information/instructions have been understood
  • Keep background noise to a minimum
  • Allow extra time to complete tasks
  • Use environmental checklist

Key questions:

  • Are the individual needs of learners with SEND communicated effectively and to what extent does this ensure teaching strategies are effective?
  • How do you ensure that all teachers use assessment information on learners with SEND to plan and differentiate lessons?
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Last updated: 30 Aug 2023

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