To intervene or not?

READING TIME- *8 minutes*

Being a SENDCo places you, amongst many other things, in a privileged position to be able to facilitate support to some of our most vulnerable children with additional needs. This ‘support’ can come in numerous ways. From assigning a mentor/member of staff to have an ‘extra’ conversation in the morning before lessons to an additional adult in classrooms. However you ‘group’ these forms of support, they are most commonly known as interventions. In this blog I will detail some ‘best practice’ around this part of the SENDCO role.

In order to do this successfully interventions need to be a whole team/school approach. It is imperative that the success of SEND students is not left to one person, such as the SENDCO to solely hold this charge. This is where successful schools with values-led approaches will allow their students to reap the benefits.

Before any intervention is allocated you first need to understand where the needs lay. It is therefore important to understand fully the needs of your cohort.

Which of the four areas as per the SEND Code of Practice do your students additional needs fit into?

Communication and Interaction

Cognition and Learning

Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Sensory and or physical needs

Some key questions to ask yourself would be, what are we trying to address? Why is there an issue? What previous support has been put in place? What is it the teacher/teaching in the lesson is not able to address? From these starting points you would need to then think what can we offer as a school? Who is best placed to deliver this? How?

Here are some examples of SOME interventions a school can offer: Note the distinction between academic and mental health provision.

Art Room The Art Room is a national charity housed around the UK. The Art Room gives students a creative space to grow, achieve and learn.
Literacy and Numeracy Catch Up


Small group support to accelerate students literacy and numeracy abilities. Using literacy and numeracy packages delivered by a HLTA/Teacher.
Handwriting  A conventional handwriting intervention to help students with their pen grip and writing of high frequency words.
Mindful Art  A therapeutic provision aimed at helping students channel their creative juices whilst thinking about behaviours and actions.
Mindful Movement A therapeutic provision aimed at helping students with their breathing, movement and social actions.
Key Skills Group


Run by an external support agency- such as a Communication and Interaction Team. Working with a small group of ________ Students addressing coping mechanisms and social skills.
Self Worth Group


A small group of students to address friendship, adolescence and personal issues.
School Nurse


Provision of a school nurse helps students with allergies, personal health issues and advice and guidance.


Working through the DOT B programme of mindfulness, this provision helps students with their breathing, anxieties and emotions.
Sensory Room A room with multi-sensory devices aimed at helping students manage their emotions and work on their sensory needs.
Thrive Provision A nationally regulated provision run by trained Thrive practitioners aimed at supporting small groups with their developmental milestones.
Boxing Group A fitness group designed to help destress, regulate emotions and increase fitness and motivation.
 Mentoring Support/Regulation through meetings and conversations/target setting.

When deciding which student need(s) will benefit from each personalised opportunity, it is important to keep parent carers’ in the communication loop. Gather their views by sharing detailed information about what is on offer and the intended outcomes from the sessions. Make it clear how long the intervention will last both in terms of the frequency and total amount of sessions. Ask the parent carers what they think should be included in the intervention? How would it look if they themselves could deliver it? 

It is good practice to send any letter home directly to the parent and keep their return/consent form in the child’s SEND file. For some external provisions you will need to gather parental consent and then complete a referral form.

Before an intervention begins ensure you are clear what lessons the students will be potentially missing, have you considered what the students feelings about this are? Have you informed the teachers so they can adapt their planning? What will be the impact of them missing this learning? How will they be assessed and reported in the subject missed? How will impact be evaluated? Therefore it is important for them to be on board.

Prior to commencing any intervention it is also useful to gather pre intervention data. There are a variety of items you can use for this, for example:

  • Current attendance data
  • Reading Age
  • Numeracy Age
  • Number of conduct points
  • Their Strengths and Difficulties Score- SDQ questionnaire
  • A Boxall profile report
  • Student Voice
  • Current School Assessment grades

The necessity to do this allows for you to evaluate the impact of your intervention. So how will you know if your intervention has made a difference?

If any intervention is to determined as cost effective then some of the following measures need to be considered. For example, if an additional adult, i.e a Teaching Assistant is removing a student from a lesson then they should aim to make 1.5 times the rate of progress than the students would have made in their lesson. If the additional adult is another teacher, then I would expect double the rates of progress from the student(s) being in their usual lesson. However, this is measurable if the intervention is one of an academic nature. But what about a therapeutic one or one that is addressing an emotional need? In those circumstances your pre-intervention data needs to be carefully thought through. You also need to loop back to your starting point. Why? Why are you putting this intervention in place? What are you trying to address? How will it make a difference?

Post interventions is just as important as placing a student within an additional form of support. If you do not follow up the progress made by reporting to teachers, adults and other key people concerned with the students then the intervention may be lost.

So how will you provide a follow up? Provide a report to teachers? Inform parents/carers of progress? Add information to the students SEND file/profile/passport?

Also, how will you provide the information to the students parents/carers? How will the student be transitioned back into lessons?

When you finish your interventions by sharing key information in the form of a one page, post intervention report. Ensure you ask teachers to keep these in their personalised SPOT folders- Student Progress Over Time folders. This is the teachers’ record book of the needs of students in their classes.

As a SENDCO a follow up of the interventions with parent/carer meetings and learning and progress walks within lessons. I would have also have a conversation with the students and talk to them about their feelings towards how the intervention went.

As professionals if the intervention is not successful we would need to ask why? What stopped it from working? What can we do differently next time? Or simply, should we run this intervention again?

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  1. This is a really succinct overview of how a school can implement successful interventions targeted at specific individual needs; thanks for posting it. I particularly like the way that your list of possible interventions addresses not only the needs of pupils who would be identified as ‘SEND’, but also acknowledges (through e.g. Mindfulness, physical exercise) that most of us at some point have a ‘special need’.
    I wonder, have you ever experienced resistance from teachers or school leaders to any of the interventions you have listed?

    Btw, should para 2, line 1 read ‘In order to successfully allocate interventions…’?

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