Assessment Hubs

Children often display inappropriate behavioural difficulties for a variety of reasons.  Behavioural difficulties do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has a possible mental health problem or a special educational need (SEN).  Negative experiences or distressing life events can affect mental health in a way that brings about temporary change in a person’s behaviour.  A pupil that experiences frequent and persistent difficulties with behaviour, emotional and social difficulties can significantly affect their learning experience and that of their peers.

Consistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviour can also be an indication of an underlying problem.  Where there are concerns about behaviour there should be an assessment to determine whether there are any factors such as undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with speech and language or mental health issues.

Formal diagnosis should only be made by medical professionals.  However, schools are well-placed to observe children and identify those behaviours that children may be suffering from, or at risk of developing a mental health problem.

To support children and schools in Sunderland, Together for Children (TFC) have introduced assessment hubs and alternative provision that may support during an assessment process or during a young person’s current circumstances.  Together for Children recommend and support SEND range descriptors that are based on national best practice in determining needs of pupil with SEND.  There is a referral process to access the hubs and alternative provision and it is expected that schools will have considered the SEND range descriptions guidance prior to referring a young person.

There is a referral process to access the hubs and alternative provision and it is expected that schools will have considered the SEND range descriptions guidance prior to referring a young person.

The purpose of the Vulnerable Pupil Panel (VPP) is to provide a transparent, fair and impartial referral system into the Vulnerable Pupils Assessment Hub and appropriate alternative educational provision for pupils who are experiencing social, emotional and mental health difficulties within mainstream school settings.

Assessment hubs or alternative provision can be accessed via a referral process to the Vulnerable Pupils Panel.

The VPP will consider applications to the Vulnerable Pupils Assessment Hub and alternative commissioned places and will determine places in accordance with the needs of an individual young person.

1. Referral Process

1.1    For all pupils referred to VPP, schools will need to supply the following supporting documentation:

  • Fully completed pupil application, see also Section 8.
  • Current attendance certificate
  • Historical attendance information from previous 2 years (or length of time at the school)
  • Fixed term exclusions (number, reason, length) for every year in the school/academy
  • Internal fixed term exclusions (number, reason, length) for every year in the school/academy
  • Punctuality information for every year in the school/academy
  • School behaviour plans and/or SEND support plans demonstrating strategies already employed by the school over a period of time.
  • Involvement of any other agencies/services for every year since joining the school/academy and strategies reflected in support plans as above.
  • Academic Information (KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4 – targets and current progress) or most recent School Report
  • Evidence of the school’s graduated response to the student’s needs, directly linked to the Ranges guidance 2019 (include reports/recommendations e.g. EP reports)
  • Informed consent from parent/carer

1.2    Where all information has been provided and no subsequent information is requested, the school and parent/carer will be notified, in writing, within 5 working days of the Panel’s decision.  Contact is then made by the assessment/alternative provider to the parent or carer and mainstream school.

  • Following contact with the parent or carer an induction interview is carried out where targets, trial periods, length of provision and contractual obligations are agreed. It is mandatory that the home school attends the induction.


2. Assessment Hub Entry and Exit Criteria

2.1.1. The pupil experiences frequent and persistent difficulties with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties which will significantly affect curriculum access.

2.1.2. Pupils must be demonstrating behaviours identified in Range 3 – 4 of the SEMH element of SEND Ranges.

  • Incidences of non-compliant and uncooperative behaviour e.g. refusal to work, disrupting the learning of other
  • Difficulties self-regulating g. frequent emotional or aggressive outbursts, sexualised language, anxiety, mood swings, unpredictable behaviour, which affect relationships.
  • Significant self-esteem issues affecting relationships and behaviour patterns (‘acting in’ or ‘acting out’)
  • Low levels of resilience when faced with adversity
  • Behaviour causing a barrier to learning, e. pupil disengaging, may destroy own / others’ work, use work avoidance strategies, concentration very limited
  • Difficulty socialising with peers and adults e.g. lack of empathy, victim or perpetrator of bullying
  • May show low mood or refuse to communicate for periods of time
  • Risk of isolation or becoming socially vulnerable

2.1.3. The minimum assessment period in the provision is two weeks, with a maximum of 8 weeks.

2.1.4. Within the assessment provision staff including; teaching staff, educational psychologist, behaviour support and mental health worker will carry out initial interventions. The outcomes of which will be provided to schools in report format that will recommend the most suitable ongoing educational pathway.

2.1.5. All schools and academies allocated an assessment will need to enter into an agreed contract with the appropriate providers identified within this protocol, which will clarify the roles and responsibilities of each setting.

2.1.6. An exit review at the end of the assessment period will be used to develop, in conjunction with the home school, a support plan which will be used to support integration into the most suitable educational placement or reintegration back into mainstream provision.

2.1.7. The Hub will provide a reintegration programme for a period of 2 – 4 weeks for those pupils that are returning to mainstream provision or into alternative suitable education.

2.1.8. Considering the Schools Admission Code, Schools must be mindful that the parent/carer has the right to request a mainstream placement at any time.

Vulnerable Pupils Panel | Together for Children 

The Vulnerable Pupils Panel (VPP) previously known as the Central Provisions Panel (CPP) was developed to consider referrals to Together for Children’s locally commissioned alternative educational provisions. To read more click on the link below:

Vulnerable Pupils Panel | Together for Children



Link School Springwell Dene
Swindon Road, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear  SR3 4EE

Tel: 0191 561 5777

Office Opening Times

Mon-Thurs: 8am – 4:30pm

Friday: 8am – 4pm

Link School Pallion
Waverley Terrace, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6TA

Tel: 0191 561 4777



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