An Individual Education Program (IEP) is a legal document designed to support children with disabilities and specific learning difficulties so that they may experience school success more in line with their peers. An IEP is intended to support the psychosocial, emotional, and cognitive development of the child in an integrated and holistic way.
An IEP usually includes;
- a summary of the child’s current strengths and needs
- accommodations the child needs to succeed in the classroom and in exams
- SMART targets addressing learning goals
- A list of key stakeholders involved in the development and review of the IEP
- A timeline for when progress will be evaluated and the IEP reviewed
There are many key stakeholders involved in formulating and reviewing the IEP often including the child’s class teacher, learning support and their parents or guardians. In most states and countries, there are legal requirements for when a child should be issued an IEP under disability laws. If you are unsure of the laws and policies which govern a child you’re concerned about, it is worth spending some time to look up the policies in your country, state or country. Schools are also required to have their own policies and guidelines for writing IEPs. An Individual Learning Plan (IPL) serves a similar purpose in that it outlines the needs of the child and types of support the child or student might need. Sometimes IEP and ILP are used interchangeably but in many places an ILP is not mandated by law and is usually issued by the school as they perceive the need.
IEPs are reviewed differently across schools. It is common for review to take place once per year but are sometimes reviewed twice per year. A review normally takes the form of a parent/teacher meeting in which key stakeholders (usually learning support) will be present. The meeting structure varies from school to school, but should include;
- A review of the child’s progress against each of their targets since the last IEP was developed
- A chance for each stakeholder to express their observations, concerns and future goals for the child
- Development of new targets in line with each stakeholder’s views and agreed priority
- Stakeholders agreeing to the IEP and signing off on the document
IEP documents can be time consuming to produce and difficult to review clearly if not well structured and concisely written. Unlike a diagnostic assessment report, an IEP should not aim to comprehensively describe the child’s cognitive profile and needs. Rather it should be a snapshot of the child’s most significant needs at the time, containing a list of very specific, measurable targets that could reasonably be achieved before the review date. Keeping IEPs to the point and manageable significantly increases the chances the targets will be actioned and make it easier to evaluate and demonstrate progress to the child and their parents.
Collaboration and communication is critical in the IEP process. It’s important that your IEP is easy to read for parents and busy teachers, and that it encapsulates all the necessary information without becoming too detailed to be practical. Getting the structure and contents of the IEP balanced in a ‘just right’ way makes it easier for everyone involved to access and implement the IEP effectively. Busy teachers need accessible IEPs. When regular teachers are absent, teaching assistants and supply teachers need to have access to the child’s information at their fingertips to avoid missed intervention lessons and days when the child may not be supported as required.
This practical, one-page IEP template is easy to refer to and allows teachers (including visiting teachers) and parents to see at a glance the child’s needs and timetabled sessions. It’s yours for FREE and is fully editable! This IEP template would be useful for mainstream teachers, those working in learning support, home school parents, or as a way to inform your child’s teachers of their needs at the start of the year.
Download my free IEP Template
This FREE IEP template will help you
- Quickly and simply summarise the child’s needs.
- Ensure supply teachers are aware of accommodations and appointments without relying on specially written notes.
- See at a glance what to focus on when planning.
- Ensure the child’s strengths and views are considered.
You might also find my post on how to identify working memory difficulties helpful.