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Writing an Individual Education Plan

This section provides some practical advice regarding the writing of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Examples of IEPs and proformas are included although it is anticipated that schools will wish to personalise any format which they choose to adopt.

Detailed and helpful guidance is provided in booklet form as part of the originally named DCSF SEN Toolkit Section 5. The reader is recommended to read this booklet.


An IEP should be written for children who are not making progress through conventional, differentiated classroom teaching.

“It should only record that which is additional to or different from the normal differentiated curriculum provision”  SEN CoP 2001.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is a written plan which clearly states

  • a learning intention
  • the learning strategy
  • the teaching strategy
  • the resources needed
  • the monitoring arrangements
  • the success criteria
  • the review arrangements.

Who is responsible for and included in writing and monitoring an IEP?

It is not the SENCos role to write IEP targets. It is the responsibility of the class or subject teacher to write IEP targets and ensure they are incorporated into the day-to-day classroom planning. The pupil and the parents should be fully involved in deciding on the targets to be included in the IEP; however the teacher’s professional judgement is essential if a successful IEP is to be written. The teacher will have a thorough knowledge of:

  • the child’s learning style
  • the child’s rate of learning
  • the child’s current skill level
  • the curriculum requirements.

The reviewing of an IEP should be a continuous process carried out by individual class and subject teachers, with the child. The success of the IEP should be evaluated at least twice a year by the SENCo, relevant teachers, the parents and the child.

What makes a quality IEP?

It is important to remember that children learn most when they are motivated, having fun and feeling confident.

A good IEP will have a simple learning intention but a creative/fun teaching strategy.

It is important to state a learning intention which you will be able to demonstrate has been achieved. It is essential that if a target is not achieved then the IEP is analysed to consider what went wrong.

  • Was the target too big a step?
  • Did the child have all the entry skills required?
  • Was the child motivated to practise the skill?
  • Was the teaching strategy appropriate?
  • Were the resources used appropriate (using a paintbrush and A3 paper instead of a pen and lined paper)?

The size of the target and the length of time that an IEP will run will depend upon the level of difficulty the child is experiencing. A child with significant additional needs will require IEPs with very small target step sizes which are reviewed regularly.

Staff, parents and children will be motivated by the successful completion of targets. Staff who include targets that are too ambitious or who run too many targets concurrently are unlikely to be successful.

Targets for literacy and numeracy should be linked to the learning objectives in the strategies.

Schools may use proformas or ICT to produce their IEPs. Programmes such as IEP Writer can be a useful starting point for staff but the SENCO will need to oversee that they are appropriate.

Is the process for managing the writing of IEPs different in a secondary school?

The same rules for writing IEPs apply to secondary schools in content and ethos. However there are a number of important factors that can alter the areas linked to responsibility for writing and monitoring of IEPs. These factors are the size of secondary school, the number of students on School Action, School Action Plus and with Statements and, most significant of all, the number of teachers that each student is taught by. This can often be as many as 14 subject specific staff plus a tutor.

If IEPs in secondary schools are not carefully co-ordinated there could be a danger of overload of targets for students who are already struggling. No student should have more than four targets.

Secondary schools will need to devise a system for writing, monitoring and evaluating IEPs that can be managed within the context of the inclusive school setting. Each secondary school will have its own systems in place but all have to adhere to the guidance set out in the SEN Code of Practice.

Assessment and Education Provision

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