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‘Waves of Intervention’ – Quality First Teaching

The Waves of Intervention Model

The 'Waves of Intervention' model (national Strategies) describes how different levels of intervention can be understood and systematically implemented.

Wave 1 (Universal): describes quality inclusive teaching which takes into account the learning needs of all the children in the classroom. This includes providing differentiated work and creating an inclusive learning environment.

Wave 2 (Targeted): describes specific, additional and time-limited interventions provided for some children who need help to accelerate their progress to enable them to work at or above age-related expectations. Wave 2 interventions are often targeted at a group of pupils with similar needs.


Wave 3 (Specialist): describes targeted provision for a minority of children where it is necessary to provide highly tailored intervention to accelerate progress or enable children to achieve their potential. This may include specialist interventions.

Provision Mapping should be used to capture targeted and specialist interventions that will be ‘additional to’ and ‘different from’ the usual differentiated curriculum.

Quality First Teaching


The National Strategies suggested that the key to success with all learners is Quality First Teaching, the key characteristics of which are:

  • Highly focused lesson design with sharp objectives
  • High demands of pupil involvement and engagement with their learning
  • High levels of interaction for all pupils
  • Appropriate use of teacher questioning, modelling and explaining
    An emphasis on learning through dialogue, with regular opportunities for pupils to talk both individually and in groups
  • An expectation that pupils will accept responsibility for their own learning and work independently
  • Regular use of encouragement and authentic praise to engage and motivate pupils.

So Quality First Teaching is about what should be on offer for all children: the effective inclusion of all pupils in high-quality, every day, personalised teaching.

Before considering targeted intervention, schools should consider what they are offering through Quality First Teaching and how this offer could be adapted.

  • Are all of the elements of Quality First Teaching in place?
  • Are the targeted or specialist interventions offered in your school part of the offer in other schools?

If a large proportion of children need the same targeted intervention, the school should consider adapting their ‘usual differentiated curriculum’ to incorporate the intervention into their offer.