5: What is an IEP? Individual Education Plan

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Individual Education Plans are written by the school usually when a child is on Stage 2,3,4 and 5 of the Sen Code of Practice. An IEP is a detailed plan that sets out targets and strategies to help your child learn. An IEP will usually contain three or four individual, short-term targets for your child to focus on. The targets may relate to aspects of the curriculum (literacy, numeracy, etc) and/or they may focus on other areas such as engagement in class, behaviour or social skills.

IEPs are written by the school and should be regularly reviewed and updated

What is included in a good IEP?

The IEP will specify what will be taught to your child, what resources and strategies will be put in place, and these should be based on your child’s individual needs.

The IEP should also say when it will next be reviewed, and what criteria will be used to evaluate whether or not your child has met their targets. The IEP should state whether or not each target set in the previous IEP has been achieved – most good IEPs include a column to record this as it is an important guide to your child’s progress.

Targets on an IEP should be detailed, specific and time-related, not vague or general. Targets should be realistic and provide your child with the opportunity for success and achievement.

Targets on an IEP should be appropriate to the age and level of development of your child and the purpose of the targets should be clear and written in a way that anyone new to your child’s educational background can pick it up and be able to use it.

When you read the IEP ask yourself,

  • Do you understand what is being taught and how?
  • Is it clear what your child will be able to do when the targets are met?
  • Do the targets address the priority areas of need for your child?
  • Do you know when the targets will be reviewed?

Some schools will follow the SMART acronym, which means targets should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time limited

S: Specific – targets should be specific and clear so that you know what it is trying to achieve e.g. rather than “J. will improve his reading skills” it would be better as “J. will be able to read a passage, without assistance, from level 2 reading book by the end of the year”

M: Measurable – targets are set in a way that your child’s progress can be measured, for example this could be through test results, observations or standardised tests or screening

A: Achievable – targets should be appropriate to your child’s level of development and within your child’s ability. It is important that your child is kept fully engaged in their learning and that they feel confident about their educational progress and they know they are fully supported.

R: Relevant – targets should reflect your child’s priority needs and tailored specifically for them.

T: Time limited – targets should have specified time limit and should be reviewed. This will allow progress to be monitored at regular intervals. The IEP should be reviewed at least bi-annually.

You should ensure that you are included in discussions about your child’s IEP, and that you are receiving feedback on their progress. Where possible your child should be included in discussions about what targets they would like to achieve for themselves.

Poorly written target SMART target
J. will improve his reading skills By December 2020 J will be able to read a paragraph from … reading book, Level 2 at 100 wpm with less than 5 errors. This will be assessed every two weeks
J. will use a calming strategy when upset Given a choice of 3 picture cards of a calming strategy J. will independently choose and act upon that strategy 4 times out of 5. These will be recorded by teacher/CA or other relevant adult and assessed every 2 weeks.
J. will improve his addition and subtraction skills J. will be able to use number lines and mental arithmetic to solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of single digit whole numbers. The CA will work with J and will record progress daily

Important evidence

Keep copies of your child’s IEPs because they will be a source of important evidence should you want to make a case for additional support, or should you need proof that your child is not managing in a mainstream environment and may need a specialist setting.

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For advice about your child’s education please contact our Advice Line to speak to one of our advisers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the Advice Line will continue to operate its usual hours from 10am to 1pm Monday Tuesday and Wednesday.

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