Educational Psychology Service - EHC recommendations and basic support

We provide psychological advice and recommendations to support Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans to help meet a young person's Special Educational Needs (SEN).

As well as the extra support we recommend, schools also need to meet a basic level of support outlined by the Department of Education. This 'quality-first or high-quality teaching' needs to be in place for all cases, alongside our recommended support plan.

The SEND Code of Practice (DfE, 2015) states that: 

Our definition of what constitutes quality-first or high-quality teaching is taken from the Department for Education’s Teacher Standards (DfE, 2011). As outlined within this document:

“The standards define the minimum level of practice expected of trainees and teachers from the point of being awarded qualified teacher status (QTS). The Teachers’ Standards are used to assess all trainees working towards QTS, and all those completing their statutory induction period.

They are also used to assess the performance of all teachers with QTS who are subject to The Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012, and may additionally be used to assess the performance of teachers who are subject to these regulations and who hold qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS) status.” (DfE, 2011, p.3)
Department for Education’s Teacher Standards (DfE, 2011).

Quality-first teaching

As set out in the Teacher Standards (DfE, 2011), we define quality-first or high-quality teaching to mean that the teacher will:

Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils by:

  1. establishing a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect 
  2. setting goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions
  3. consistently demonstrating the positive attitudes, values and behaviour expected of pupils

Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils by:

  1. being accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes 
  2. being aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and planning teaching to build on these 
  3. guiding pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs 
  4. demonstrating knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching 
  5. encouraging pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study

Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge by:

  1. having a secure knowledge of the relevant subject(s) and curriculum areas, fostering and maintaining pupils’ interest in the subject, and addressing misunderstandings 
  2. demonstrating an understanding of and taking responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever the teacher’s specialist subject 
  3. demonstrating a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics - if teaching early reading 
  4. demonstrating a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies - if teaching early mathematics

Plan and teach well-structured lessons by:

  1. imparting knowledge and developing understanding through effective use of lesson time 
  2. promoting a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity 
  3. setting homework and planning other out-of-class activities to consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding pupils have acquired 
  4. reflecting systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching 
  5. contributing to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within the relevant subject area(s). 

Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils by:

  1. knowing when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively 
  2. having a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these 
  3. demonstrating an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and knowing how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development 
  4. Having a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs, those of high ability, those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities - and being able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them

Make accurate and productive use of assessment by:

  1. knowing and understanding how to assess the relevant subject and curriculum areas, including statutory assessment requirements 
  2. making use of formative and summative assessments to secure pupils’ progress 
  3. using relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons 
  4. giving pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encouraging pupils to respond to the feedback

Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment by:

  1. managing classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them 
  2. maintaining good relationships with pupils, exercising appropriate authority, and acting decisively when necessary

Fulfil wider professional responsibilities by:

  1. developing effective professional relationships with colleagues, knowing how and when to draw on advice and specialist support 
  2. deploying support staff effectively 
  3. taking responsibility for improving teaching through appropriate professional development, responding to advice and feedback from colleagues 
  4. communicating effectively with parents with regard to pupils’ achievements and wellbeing

In addition, Ofsted outline the following points upon which they make their judgements on the quality of education, behaviour and attitude, and personal development provided to pupils within their School Inspection Handbook (Ofsted, 2022).

The school’s curriculum:

  • is ambitious and designed to give pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEND, the knowledge they need to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences in later life
  • is planned and sequenced so that the end points that it is building towards are clear and that pupils develop the knowledge and skills, building on what has been taught before, to be able to reach those end points
  • remains as broad as possible for as long as possible, including when delivered remotely - the school does not offer disadvantaged pupils or pupils with SEND a reduced curriculum


  • have expert knowledge of the subjects that they teach and are supported, where necessary, to address gaps in their knowledge so that pupils are not disadvantaged by ineffective teaching
  • present information clearly, promote appropriate discussion, check pupils’ understanding systematically, identify misunderstandings and adapt teaching as necessary to correct these
  • deliver the subject curriculum in a way that allows pupils to transfer key knowledge to long-term memory. Teaching is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and pupils can work towards clearly defined end points
  • use assessment to check pupils’ understanding to inform teaching, and to help pupils embed key concepts, use knowledge fluently and develop their understanding, and not simply memorise disconnected facts
  • consider the most important knowledge or concepts that pupils need to know and focus on these, and prioritise feedback, retrieval practice and assessment
  • ensure that remote education, if needed, enables all pupils to access lessons and learn, monitor pupils’ engagement and communicate with parents and colleagues effectively if there are concerns

Behaviour and attitude, including:

  • having a calm and orderly environment in the school and the classroom, as this is essential for pupils to be able to learn
  • setting clear routines and expectations for the behaviour of pupils across all aspects of school life, not just in the classroom
  • developing pupils’ motivation and positive attitudes to learning, as these are important predictors of attainment. Developing positive attitudes can also have a longer-term impact on how pupils approach learning tasks in later stages of education
  • fostering a positive and respectful school culture in which staff know and care about pupils
  • creating an environment in which pupils feel safe, and in which bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual violence - online or offline - are not accepted and are dealt with quickly, consistently and effectively whenever they occur

Personal development:

  • promotes equality of opportunity so that all pupils can thrive together, understanding that difference is a positive, not a negative and that individual characteristics make people unique - this includes but is not limited to, pupils’ understanding of the protected characteristics and how equality and diversity are promoted
  • ensures an inclusive environment that meets the needs of all pupils, irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, and where no discrimination exists, for example in respect of wider opportunities for pupils
  • develops pupils’ confidence, resilience and knowledge so that they can keep themselves mentally healthy
  • supports readiness for the next phase of education, training or employment so that pupils are equipped to make the transition successfully, including, for secondary schools, through careers information education, advice and guidance

As pupils enter Year 9, schools and colleges must support their students to prepare for adulthood. The SEN Code of Practice (DfE, 2015) states that schools must do the following to prepare their students for adulthood, and so educational psychologists expect that these provisions will already be in place for all students and this will not need to be repeated in the provision section of psychological advice:

Maintained schools and PRUs must ensure that pupils from Year 8 until Year 13 are provided with independent career guidance. Academies are subject to this duty through their funding agreements (Section 6.13, p.94).

FE colleges and sixth-form colleges are required through their funding agreements to secure access to independent careers guidance for all students up to and including age 18 and for 19 to 25-year-olds with EHC plans (Section 7.9, p.114).

High aspirations about employment, independent living and community participation should be developed through the curriculum and extra-curricular provision. Schools should seek partnerships with employment services, businesses, housing agencies, disability organisations and arts and sports groups, to help children understand what is available to them as they get older, and what they can achieve (Section 8.7, p.124).

For teenagers, preparation for adult life needs to be a more explicit element of their planning and support. Discussions about their future should focus on what they want to achieve and the best way to support them to achieve. Considering the right post-16 option is part of this planning (Section 8.8, p. 125).

Local authorities, schools, colleges, health services and other agencies should continue to involve parents in discussions about the young person’s future. In focusing discussions around the individual young person, they should support that young person to communicate their needs and aspirations and to make decisions which are most likely to lead to good outcomes for them, involving the family in most cases (Section 8.15, p.127).

Young people entering post-16 education and training should be accessing provision which supports them to build on their achievements at school and helps them progress towards adulthood (Section 8.20, p.128).

As children approach the transition point, schools and colleges should help children and their families with more detailed planning. For example, in Year 9, they should aim to help children explore their aspirations and how different post-16 education options can help them meet them. FE colleges and sixth-form colleges can now recruit students directly from age 14, so this will be an option in some cases.

In Year 10 they should aim to support the child and their family to explore more specific courses or places to study (for example, through taster days and visits) so they can draw up provisional plans. In Year 11 they should aim to support the child and their family to firm up their plans for their post-16 options and familiarise themselves with the expected new setting. This should include contingency planning and the child and their family should know what to do if plans change (because of exam results for example) (Section 8.21, p.128).

When considering a work placement as part of a study programme, such as a supported internship, schools or colleges should match students carefully with the available placements. A thorough understanding of the student’s potential, abilities, interests and areas they want to develop should inform honest conversations with potential employers (Section 8.33, p.131-132).

Last updated 30 May 2023