Writing an I.E.P. can be so daunting. I have put together this blog post to hopefully make the IEP process clearer and less daunting for some. I have divided this blog up using the headings: Steps to Writing an I.E.P., Gather Information About The Child, Assessments, Writing the I.E.P. Targets, The I.E.P. Meeting, Who Attends?, When Are The Meetings?, What’s Involved?
Steps to Writing an I.E.P.
This is the layout of the I.E.P. I use. If you would like a copy of it here is the link to my store:
Page 1: Pupil Information
All Pupil Information at a quick glance, handy for contact details, handing over to new teachers or to outside agencies.
Page 2: Outside Agencies
Keep a list of up to date outside agencies the children are working with or have worked with in the past.
During IEP meeting parents can double check the contact details you have and update you on any sessions the children have for the upcoming term.
Pages 3 & 4: Pupil Profile: Learning Characteristics
I have broken this down into sections to make the information clearer and more organised. It is easier to scan through and find something you need during a meeting etc. These are the headings I find work best for me in the ASD class setting
Pupil Interview: if applicable questions could be asked to the pupil about their learning and how they feel about school etc.
Parent Input and Record of Meetings: In this section I like to include the dates and times of IEP meetings and who has attended from the school (e.g. teacher, SNAs, mainstream teacher) and the family members that have attended. I also include any big decisions made at a meeting or any new targets for the child. It is handy to have as a quick reference.
Page 6: Specific Long Term Learning Targets
On this page I have space for 4 learning targets. I fill in the child’s long term targets for the year here as an easy reference and guide for their short term targets.
Pages 7 – 10: Short Term Targets
I like to have this section landscape and have one page per target to include as much information as necessary.
I include any strategies/resources I plan on using and add to these during the IEP meetings. It is handy to look back on when planning lessons as you may not remember all of the ideas you had.
At the end of each term, I write a short reflection at the bottom. This helps to inform the target for the new term or the next target a child might work on. It is also helpful information for the teacher who will have the class the following year or the mainstream class teacher to see the pace the child progresses at.
Gather Information About The Child
I like to start by gathering as much information about the child as I can. I like to get information from anyone who has worked with the child most recently. Every year, I send home a parent/guardian questionnaire to find out what targets the parent would like their child to work on and to find out how the child is at home. An input from a parent is invaluable as they know their children the best. This helps you to form an idea of the child’s strengths and needs in your mind if you haven’t met them before. If you have an opportunity to meet with the parents/guardians before the school year starts, then even better, it is a great way to begin to build a relationship, get to know them and find out as much about their child as you can. I like to send home the questionnaire before the meeting and gather info about the child beforehand. That way, I am going into the meeting prepared, knowing some things about their child and we can have a much more productive meeting than if I didn’t know anything about their child at all.
Link to the parent questionnaire on my store is here:
Chat to the child’s previous teacher or SNAs that have worked with the child. Ask them lots of questions about what strategies worked, what didn’t work, what the child liked and disliked. Ask what targets they think the child should move onto next. If the child attends any public or private outside agencies e.g. Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, CAHMS, Behavioural Therapists etc. I would contact them and ask for their most recent report or recommendations for the child. This information might already be available to you but it is nice to start a relationship with the outside agencies that work with the children in your care. Personally, I find their advice invaluable and use their knowledge and advice to plan targets for the children in my class. Once you have chatted to some of these people you should have some ideas for some targets for the child you are working with.
At the start of the school year, I tell parents/guardians that we will spend the first month getting to know the children, helping them settle into their new class and routine and carry out assessments. I let them know that we will have our IEP meeting in early October. This has worked well for me for the past few years. If I have worked with some children the year previously we might have the meeting a little earlier or have decided on some of their new targets for the school year previously. We still need to carry out up to date assessments incase anything has changed over the summer months.
There are specific assessments you could carry out for children with Special Educational Needs. The SESS (Special Education Support Service) run courses on these assessments, they haven’t announced their calendar for 20/21 yet but here is a link to their website if you want to have a look:
Examples of some assessments (shown in the photos) the SESS run courses on are: VB Mapp (Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program), The ABLLS-R (The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised), The ALFS (The Assessment of Functional Living Skills Guide), Pep-3 (The Psychoeducational Profile-Third Edition)
If you can’t get your hands on these assessments or do the trainings before the school year starts, an assessment book I have found useful in the past is ‘The Basic Skills Checklist’. It covers a lot of skills that children should be taught, it is short and it is user friendly. Some examples shown below.
Writing the I.E.P. Targets
Once you have gathered as much information as you can and have carried out an assessment on the child, you should have enough information to fill in the ‘Pupil Profile’ section.
For writing the I.E.P. Targets, when doing the Post Grad in Autism it was suggested that a child with autism’s I.E.P. should nearly always include a ‘Communication and Language’ target and a ‘SPHE’ target as these are the areas a person with autism may typically have difficulty with. Since this, I always ensure to have a target on both of these topics, where appropriate. I also like to include a target on a strength or interest a student has e.g. if a child has an interest in cooking, I would include a target around this that might relate to maths, fine motor or to furthering their cooking skills. I think it is so important to remember to include a target based on an interest or strength as sometimes we can be too focused on the child’s weaknesses. Using a strength or interest to teach other topics or subjects to the child can be so effective.
I like to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to help write my targets and success criteria, shown below. This ensures that anyone reading the target could begin to work on it and knows exactly what the target and the success criteria are. Example of vague target: John will stop pulling hair. Example of SMART target: John will reduce the amount of times he pulls hair by 20%
The I.E.P. Meeting
Before the I.E.P. Meeting: If it is my first time working with the child or it is the first I.E.P. meeting of the year, I would go through the ‘Pupil Profile’ section during the meeting to make sure everything that is included is up to date and we have a true picture of the child at home and in school.
If it is my second year working with the child or the 2nd or 3rd I.E.P. Meeting of the year, I will make changes to the ‘Pupil Profile’ sections and send a copy home for the parent to have a look at to see if there are any changes that need to be made. I ask the parent/guardian to return it with any notes so I can update the I.E.P ahead of the meeting and to include any topics they would like to discuss in the meeting. I find this makes the meeting much more productive. It gives us time to prepare for anything the parent would like to chat about e.g. If a parent would like to talk about a particular behaviour a child is engaging in e.g. biting, I can gather all of my observations and reports about that behaviour to have ready to hand if needed in the meeting. I can also prepare resources or strategies for that behaviour to discuss with the parent.
In our setting, the Teacher and the Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) working with the child attend the meeting. It helps to ensure everything is covered, For example: there are some points of the day where the Teacher may not be with the child and the SNA is. It also helps to ensure everyone working with the child is on the same page and having an input into their targets, the strategies/resources that are going to be used etc. Having this many people at the meeting also means that someone is able to take some informal notes. If the child integrates for part of their day to mainstream, the mainstream teacher may attend the meeting too. I always make sure the parent is aware there will be this many people at the meeting as it can be intimidating. Sometimes depending on the situation, the mainstream teacher may have a separate meeting with the parent.
When Are The Meetings?
We have 3 I.E.P. Meetings per school year in our setting. This isn’t compulsory but it is what works best for us. We have the first meeting at the end of September/start of October. In this meeting we decide on the targets for the year and break them down to decide on what part of the target will be worked on for the first term. We have our 2nd I.E.P. Meeting in February to review the target we had been working on and to decide on the target to focus on for the rest of the year. In general, this meeting is much shorter and really just a check in as if there are any issues throughout the year, I would phone the parents or arrange a meeting if appropriate. Our 3rd and final I.E.P. Meeting usually takes place in June, we review how the child got on with their targets for the year and discuss any possible targets that they could work on in the next year. If appropriate, the child’s teacher and SNAs for the next year might attend this meeting too. We don’t always know who it will be at this stage but it is a nice way to transition to the next school year if we do.
I would always ensure to have extra pens, paper, water and some treats left out. Incase a parent or staff member forgets a pen or needs anything while we are there. We have general chat at the beginning and then we go through the I.E.P. I print a copy for the parent, a copy for myself and depending how many others are attending, some might share a copy of it. I will ask the parents to double check the child’s information on the first page and the details of the outside agencies the child uses, at this point I would always ask about any upcoming appointments the child has or any previous appointments the child has attended. As I mentioned above, if appropriate, we will go through the ‘Pupil Profile’ section.
We go through the long term targets, I like to have suggested targets ready for the meeting, depending on how well I know the child I might have 3 or 4 suggested targets. We discuss if they are appropriate or adjust the success criteria if necessary, we then move on and decide which aspect of the target will be focused on for the first term in the ‘Short Term Targets’ section. Again, I will have suggested targets ready here. This is a personal preference, I think it makes the meeting more meaningful and productive, other people prefer to start with a blank slate and come up with the targets at the meeting. I would of course let the parents/guardians know that I will have some suggested targets ready and ask if they have any in mind beforehand. This question is also included in the Parent Questionnaire I send home.
If you’re still reading well done for making it this far, that was a long post. I hope it is helpful to anyone writing an I.E.P.
If you would like some more information here are some useful links:
Special Education Support Service (SESS): Powerpoint on the I.E.P. Process:
NCSE: Guidelines on the I.E.P. Process:
If you have any questions or comments please contact me I would love to hear from you.