SEND Outcomes Framework

Focus on outcomes

All plans should be written in collaboration with, parents, children and young people. They should be outcomes driven.

Plans should not be about input determined by a professional, but have has the child / young person at the centre, with the child / young person and their family fully involved in identifying what is personally important to deliver the outcomes they seek.

What do we mean by ‘goals’ and ‘outcomes’?
  • Goals are what a child/young person (and their family) want to achieve.
  • Outcomes are what they actually achieve.


  • Blair’s goal is to achieve a healthy weight by the beginning of the summer holidays.
  • By the summer, we’ll know if she has achieved it.

Goals/outcomes may be to

  • Maintain a child or young person’s situation (e.g. to continue to live at home), or to
  • Change their situation (e.g. to improve their language skills)

Goals and outcomes are not:

  • Services (e.g. short breaks)
  • Activities (e.g. going swimming)
  • Outputs (e.g. speech and language therapy session)
  • Resources (e.g. 5 hours of TA support)
Local Practice

Locally, we define outcomes as being either:

  • Long term – the Preparation for Adulthood outcomes:
    • Good Health
    • Preparing for Employment
    • Independent Living & Housing
    • Friends, Relationships & Community.
  • Medium term – what will be achieved by the child or young person by the end of a particular ‘phase’:
    • Early years
    • Primary (Key Stage (KS)1/KS2)
    • Secondary (KS3/KS4/KS5)
    • Further education.
  • Short term (up to a year).
Questions to test an outcome

If you reached your outcome …

  • What would it give you?
  • What would it do for you?
  • What would it make possible for you?

Other questions to ask include:

  • When, where and with whom will you work on this with?
  • How will you know when you have achieved your outcome?

To further support achieving the outcome, you could then ask:

  • What barriers are stopping you from reaching your outcome?
  • What (else) could you do instead?

Example: Five hours of Speech and Language Therapy - NOT an outcome, but a resource to assist in achieving an outcome.

What would that:
Give you?

  • Time with a speech therapist

Do for you?

  • Help me be more easily understood by my friends
  • Help adults find out how they can help me speak better

Make possible for you?

  • Friendship
  • Social activities
  • Feel confident around other people

Outcome: To be understood by my friends so I can play with them at the after school club every day


Developing SMART Goals

Developing short term SMART goals to underpin long and medium term outcomes

Goals should define clearly and unambiguously what is to be achieved, how that achievement will be seen or measured, and over what timeframe. Therefore, goals can be defined by the acronym SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound

If goals are not SMART, it becomes difficult to tell if they have been achieved or not and the degree of success. But just knowing what the letters stand for doesn’t help to actually set goals!



Exactly what is it that you want to achieve? Is it clear and understandable by all?


Who: Who is involved?

What: What does the child or young person want to achieve?

Where: Identify a location (if appropriate).

When: Establish a time frame.

Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Why: What are the specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the outcome?

Measurable What it is you need to do to achieve the goal.  

How will the child or young person and/or service provider know when a goal has been achieved?

What evidence could be used to show if the goal has been achieved?

What will be different if the goal is achieved?
Achievable This has to be something you can do over time.  

Is the goal possible, is it fair, taking into account the current situation?

Are there contributing factors to consider such as additional resources?

What will successful completion look like?
Realistic Are they likely to achieve the goal within the timeframe?  

Why is this goal important?

What will have changed/improved as a result of the goal being achieved?

What will successful completion look like?
Time bound If you don’t know how much time you have, you don’t know when to take action.  

When should the goal be achieved by?

How often should progress be reviewed?

Have review dates/progress checks been built into the process?
Developing SMART Language

Lots of frequently used language in goals can be unclear/ambiguous. The words below have been broken down in order to avoid any confusion over the meaning, therefore making them SMART:



10 times more, once more, 25 times more?

Give quantity as a percentage – 15%

or a number – 25


Unless you specify what improvement will look like, it’s a matter of opinion.

State what improvement is expected.  


The standard or level required to do something ‘successfully’ is a matter of opinion, unless it is specified.

good communication

Can mean different things to different people. Better to specify – written or verbal skills? Feedback, counselling, advice or presentation skills?


Will mean different things to different people – if you don’t want to have a debate about it, record what ‘efficiently’ will look like when the outcome is set.


Is once a year enough?

Be specific!

aim to

It is difficult to evidence that you have aimed to do something, and your time would be better spent getting something done instead! Also, to aim to do something implies an element of doubt– this is not SMART.


Is a matter of opinion unless clearly stated what this looks like.


Is this really achievable? Use 100% in an outcome very carefully; you should allow for a small margin of human error. Are you setting the child or young person up for failure?


You should be able to define what ‘effective’ looks like.


Can be interpreted in different ways – better to specify within half a term, a term or a year.


Implies finishing something, but used on its own doesn’t give us any information about what is actually required. A completed piece of writing is not the same as a well structured piece of writing.

Related articles