An IEP is essentially a teaching and learning plan that has identified needs the teacher feels your child needs support with. It is not a legally binding document and the Local Education Authority does not have to produce a plan or make sure that the identified areas are being addressed and met by the school. An IEP is a school based document. It is there to inform teachers, and anyone else working with your child, of identified areas of need and support which are either different from, or additional to, the rest of the class.
An IEP should be SMART:
- Specific, so that it is clear what the child should be working towards.
- Measureable, so that it is clear when the target has been achieved.
- Achievable for the individual child.
- Relevant, to the child’s needs and circumstances.
- Time-bound, so that the targets are to be achieved by a specified time.
What Information is in the IEP?
An IEP includes information such as
- Any likes, dislikes or anxieties your child may have.
- Assessment information or identified areas of need and support, such as co–ordination difficulties, fine and gross motor skills delay (your child would be given different activities to do to help develop these areas of need), speech and language delay (different language tasks such as oral exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the mouth to help develop correct speech sound and practicing key words with a word bank), visual needs (this could be as simple as sitting at the front of the class so that your child can see the teacher better and interact with the set tasks.)
- Details of how the IEP will be co-ordinated and who will be providing the support. The school may have a member of staff who is experienced with working with special educational needs. It is an idea to speak to the schools SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) to learn more about who will be providing the support.
- Home based tasks ( this could be occupational therapy exercises or speech and language tasks)
- The parents and child’s comments.
- Targets that the child is expected to have achieved within a specific time period. (This could be a number of weeks or by the end of a school term)
- Information and timescales for reviewing the IEP.
Funding within schools is at crisis point and this places schools are under a lot of pressure to fund what is needed. This one to one time may have to be shared with another child who also needs support. Worst case scenario, the school may not be able to offer this support and the child has to cope without it. This is because an IEP is not a legally binding document and there is no legal obligation to fulfil this.
An IEP is a working document and should be reviewed regularly (2-3 times a year) through meetings between the teacher and the parents. It exists to help your child make steady and significant progress through additional support. This is to ensure that the IEP continues to address and meet your child’s needs. Parental input is important, as is the pupil’s views, if they are able to convey their thoughts, on the progress made and the effectiveness of the IEP. The teacher will discuss the targets and whether they are ongoing or have been achieved. New targets may also be set to be achieved by the next review.