Sheffield Support Grid

The Sheffield Support Grid (SSG) is a guidance document for school staff and other professionals. It is intended to help schools give support to learners with additional needs.  It helps support learners in a fair, consistent and clear way.

There are currently three versions of the SSG:

See our flowcharts in the Links and documents section of this page. This is on the right-hand side of this page if you are on a computer or tablet.  On a mobile phone these will show at the bottom.  These explain what the Sheffield Support Grid is and how it is used. 

5 cartoon characters, one is in a wheelchair

Who has produced it, and why?

The SSG has been produced by Sheffield’s citywide SENCOs.  They have worked with different teams of professionals across the city to do this.  They include:

  • Educational Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Hearing Impaired Service
  • Speech and Language Therapists.

The SSG is intended to provide a ‘baseline’ understanding of a learner’s needs and how best to support them. It makes clear how important high-quality teaching is.  It signposts to appropriate supporting strategies to match a learner’s need.

The SSG should help learners with similar needs get a similar level of provision.  This is regardless of where they go to school in Sheffield.

The SSG is split into four areas of need.  These are from the SEND Code of Practice:

  1. Communication and Interaction:
    • language delay
    • speech sound difficulties
    • autism spectrum disorder
    • sensory processing difficulties
  1. Cognition and Learning:
    • general learning disabilities
    • specific learning difficulties like dyspraxia or dyslexia
  1. Social, Emotional and Mental Health:
    • difficulties with emotional regulation,
    • anxiety
    • ADHD
    • anorexia
    • psychosis
  1. Hearing and Vision (sensory impairments) and Physical:
    • hearing difficulties
    • visual difficulties
    • motor coordination difficulties

The SSG is about needs, not diagnosis. The conditions listed above are just a few examples. They are not meant to be a complete list. The SSG can be used for children who do not have a diagnosis.  The school should not delay putting support in place while waiting for an assessment.

Likewise, it is not always possible to match a specific diagnosis to a specific area of need. This is because children with the same diagnosis can be affected in very different ways. For example, a child with an autism diagnosis may only have needs in the area of Communication and Interaction. Another child with the same diagnosis may also have needs in the other areas.

Within each area of need, the grid describes five levels of need. The list below outlines what you can expect at each level:

Level 1

  • Provision: Needs can be met through high quality inclusive teaching
  • Put on SEN Register*?: No
  • Reviews: Regular parents’ evenings
  • Documents used: May have a Learner Profile

Level 2

  • Provision: Some adaptations in the classroom. Possibly with some small group or individual interventions
  • Put on SEN Register*?: No, unless the learner has needs that are consistent and ongoing
  • Reviews: Regular parents’ evenings or 3 SEN reviews per year
  • Documents used: Learner Profile or SEND Support Plan

Level 3

  • Provision: Some targeted and individual interventions over the week
  • Put on SEN Register*?: Yes
  • Reviews: 3 SEN reviews per year
  • Documents used: SEND Support Plan or My Plan

Level 4

  • Provision: Frequent, specific specialised input
  • Put on SEN Register*?: Yes
  • Reviews: 3 SEN reviews per year
  • Documents used: My Plan or EHC Plan

Level 5

  • Provision: Daily, specific specialised input at all times across all aspects of the curriculum
  • Put on SEN Register*?: Yes
  • Reviews: 3 SEN reviews per year
  • Documents used: Will normally have an EHC Plan

What is the SEN Register?

It is a register kept by a school of all learners who receive special educational provision.

For each area and level of need, the grid lists a range of teaching and learning strategies.  It lists sources of additional advice and support. Schools are expected to use this as a guide for planning support. Provision should be tailored to the individual child. Not all the provision listed will be suitable for every child who has needs at that level.

Not all schools do three SEN reviews per year. Some include them into parents’ evenings.

If you are worried about how many SEN reviews your child/young person is getting, you should talk to the school first. If you continue to have concerns, you may wish to contact Sheffield SENDIAS. They can give you further advice and guidance.

If a learner has additional needs, the SENCO will decide which SSG level is the best fit.  This will be the best fit for their needs and their provision. To make this decision the SENCO will use assessments completed:

  • in school
  • by external professionals

To help with this, scores on various standardised assessment scales have been matched to SSG levels. For example this could be a speech and language assessment. Talking with everyone involved helps decide which SSG level(s) best describe a child. It should involve the child’s parents and outside professionals, where appropriate.

The use of the SSG is checked by the citywide SENCOs. They call this moderation.  This is to make sure there is consistent use across all schools in the city. The citywide SENCOs look at a sample of cases for each school in the city. During moderation, the levels for these cases are either agreed or amended.

Some services expect learners to be on a minimum level on the grid to accept a referral.

For example, the 0 to 5 SEND Service supports children at level 3 or above on the Early Years SSG. When children are in Foundation Stage 2 (Reception) they support children at level 4 and above. The Autism Social Communication Team will look at SSG levels to prioritise their work.

There is usually an alternative way of accessing support and advice from a service. For example, parents and professionals can ring the helplines for:

Schools still have the oversight of their pupils.  They can prioritise which pupils need to be seen by services like:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Speech and Language Therapy

There is also a link between SSG levels and Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans. A learner placed at level 3 or below on the SSG would not need provision over and above what is usually provided in a mainstream school. This means they generally would not need an EHC plan. Although requests for an EHC needs assessment are considered based on all the evidence provided.  They aren't considered on grid level alone.

It is important to be aware that parents have the right to request an EHC needs assessment at any point.  This is regardless of the grid level their child has been placed at. The decision to do an EHC needs assessment is based on evidence about if a child may have SEN that may need provision to be made in line with an EHC plan. This would mean that they require more than is usually provided in a mainstream school.

Parents/carers should discuss with the SENCO in the first instance if they disagree.

Parents may wish to contact SENDIAS or use the disagreement resolution service.  Parents may want to use the school’s formal complaints procedure.  This is if the disagreement cannot be resolved.   Details of the complaints procedure must be published on the school’s website.

Mainstream schools get funding as part of their budget to support children with SEND. This is known as a school’s “notional SEN budget”. The amount of SEN funding for each school is calculated using a national formula. It is not based on individual assessments of the needs of the pupils on roll. Schools are expected to use this funding to make special educational provision for their pupils.  This is up to a nationally prescribed threshold (currently £6,000 per pupil per year). This is the maximum amount. It does not mean that every learner with SEND will receive support costing £6,000.

The local authority also delegates “high needs” funding to Sheffield’s seven localities (A to G). Each locality comprises several secondary schools and their primary feeder schools. The amount of top-up funding that each locality receives is based on the percentage of learners who are placed at levels 4 and 5 of the SSG.   Schools get a part of this funding direct for their learners at levels 4 and 5. 

Different localities use this funding in different ways.  This is in line with their strategic priorities. For example, they may use it to:

  • buy in training
  • fund nurture provision
  • give funding to individual learners who have been placed at level 4 or 5 for need or provision. If a learner is on different levels for needs and provision, then the level for need is the one most closely looked at. The provision level is also taken into account.

Localities must make sure that provision in EHC plans is funded from a combination of notional SEN funding and top-up funding. Schools should make sure that the special educational provision in an EHCP is in place.

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