Staged intervention

A teacher helping a pupil with some work

Find out more about using the staged intervention model to meet learner needs.

What is staged intervention?

  • Staged intervention is used as a means of identification, assessment, planning, recording and review to meet the learning needs of children and young people.

  • It provides a solution-focused approach to meeting needs at the earliest opportunity and with the least intrusive level of intervention. The process involves the child, parents/carers, school staff and, at some levels, other professionals, working in partnership to get it right for every child.

  • Staged intervention is designed to be flexible and allows for movement between stages depending on progress.

What is different in Curriculum for Excellence?

Although staged intervention processes are well embedded across Scotland, the starting point is usually where an additional need has been identified. In Curriculum for Excellence all children and young people are entitled to support to meet their learning needs and this universal aspect should be reflected in designing learning experiences.

Find out how staged intervention in one secondary school helps to meet the needs of all pupils in the following video.

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An example of a staged intervention model

Local authorities have developed models of staged intervention based on the principles detailed above. This example of staged intervention contains five levels (universal to stage four). This reflects the universal entitlement to support within Curriculum for Excellence. A short description of the stages has been included to enable mapping to other staged intervention models. As with all staged intervention processes, movement between stages usually follows exhaustion of the provisions at the level below.  In some cases acceleration through the stages will be required to meet the individual needs of the child or young person. 

Universal stage

The universal stage represents the learning and teaching practice of any classroom or learning environment, including ethos and values and whole-school approaches. Identification of needs and planning to meet those needs rests with the class teacher or early years practitioner. Support may include differentiation of the environment and curriculum to meet the range of needs within the class group as a whole. Teachers and early years practitioners may seek advice and support from other appropriate staff from within the school and from visiting professionals but teachers and early years practitioners will be responsible for implementation of recommendations. 

Stage one: Supporting individual needs in school

Within stage one the responsibility for identifying and planning to meet the needs of the pupil remains with the class teacher. However, it is necessary to have a strategy for provision of support where all available classroom options have been exhausted. Referral to an in-school assessment/co-ordinating team to consider other options available within the establishment may be required. 

Curriculum flexibility may be utilised to support individualised learning to meet the needs of the child or young person. The team should consider the most appropriate planning mechanism, for example an individualised educational programme. Support and advice may be provided by visiting professionals, classroom assistants, and learning support provision.

Stage two: Support provision within a school cluster

Stage two provides for support where the needs of the child or young person go beyond that which can be provided for by the school. In these circumstances it would be appropriate for a referral to be made to the relevant ‘learning partnership’ or ‘community/cluster’ groups for assessment and establishment of additional support. Examples may include input from community link workers, support assistants, counselling staff etc. Planning mechanisms may include Individualised Educational Programmes and, where appropriate, co-ordinated support planning. Educational planning should also be recorded in care plans where appropriate.  

Stage three: Extended provision outwith school

When the needs of the young person cannot be met by the resources available within the community/cluster partnership, authority-wide specialist resources may be accessed to ensure provision of support and continuity of learning. Assessment and support will be co-ordinated through an authority-based multi-agency team, for example a Community Assessment team or Joint Assessment team. Support provided may include special school or special unit provision or support from the Youth Support team.  

Stage four: Extended provision outwith an authority

The fourth stage is where it is considered that the needs of the child go beyond the provision which may be made within the authority. In these circumstances placements may be made to specialist provisions which are outwith the resources available to the authority. For example, provision made at another learning centre managed by a voluntary organisation, or other local authority. This may include consideration of whether a residential or day placement is required or appropriate. It is likely that the assessment of need at this stage will be made by a multi-agency group.