In England the Education Act of l981, Chapter 60 regarding Special
Educational Needs appears to have changed little during recent
years. This is therefore the one I shall refer to in giving you
the reader, some pointers on how to go about getting a Statement
of Educational Need for a child. For the United States see the Wrightslaw website by Pete and Pam Wright and for Scotland see www.childreninscotland.org.uk. If you know of any links to similar educational resources in other countries please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.orgTHE 5 STAGES OF A SPECIAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT
According to the law special learning needs fall into 3
categories, the following being the category for which most
ADD/ADHD children fall.
'Children who find learning more difficult than the majority of
children their age'.
This includes children with mental, physical or behavioural
problems. According to the law, these children, wherever possible
should have their needs met within mainstream school with
additional help and support provided.
Firstly, the parents, together with the school, can request an
assessment of their child by the Educational Psychologist. This
can be a lengthy process and parents should be prepared to keep
pressing the local authority for a date for assessment.
The Authority will then write to the parents to propose carrying out a
formal assessment and asking for parents views. A form will be sent
out asking about the child and their needs to be completed as fully as
possible. Try to take a step back and view your child as realistically
as possible. Try to give as many examples and explanations to each
question as possible.
Parents are also invited to send in reports by anyone else who has any
relevant information regarding the child.
29 days are allowed to complete this form and return it to the local
A 'named' person can be asked to help with this process. A 'named' person
can be a friend or professional who is willing to assist and attend
meetings with parents. Some points to consider when choosing a 'named'
person are as follows (taken from 'A Special Partnership' by Kerr,
Sutherland & Wilson, HMSO 1995):
A good communicator
Say if they disagree with parents
Be easily contacted
Be around for several years
Know the parent and child well
Know the education system or be willing to find out about it
Have some free time
Be good at seeing things through
Have no potential conflicts of interest
Be willing to make a long term commitment
Be trusted and relied upon by parents
Be a good listener
The person with all of the above must be unique, just a few would
Once the parental report is received, a decision will be made, whether
or not to proceed with the assessment. The Authority will write to the
parents, advising this.
The formal procedure will then start:
The Authority will ask for reports from:-
the child's present school
the Local Health Authority
the educational psychologist
Social Services to see if the child is known
any other agencies or therapists involved with the child.
A copy of the parents information regarding the child is sent to all
of the above, who will probably wish to see the child. They will then
send their reports to the Education Authority; where they will be
assessed. The Authority will then decide whether any special provision
If a statement is issued, a copy will then be sent to parents, along
with a summary of the child's educational needs, details of the
sort of help required and information as to how the help will be
provided. Copies of all reports will be attached.
If a statement is not issued, the Authority will write to the parents,
stating why this is the case. The parents have a right to appeal if
15 days are given for parents to respond to the draft statement.
Parents may comment on the proposals and further evidence may be
submitted. The parents need to confirm that the draft statement
1. All provision to be provided by the school or Authority or both.
2 . The number of hours of help .
3. Any special equipment required by the child.
4. Any special therapy required e.g. speech therapy.
5. Educational targets for the child, to be reviewed annually.
6. Any changes required to the National Curriculum.
7. A list of suitable schools.
Visits to schools are recommended and the parents choice needs to be
The Authority will then confirm the statement and send a copy to the
parents, the Headteacher of the child's school and to the
professionals who have submitted reports.
If parents disagree with the statement, there is a formal appeals
procedure. Information about this is sent with the statement.
A total of 26 weeks is the legal length of time for the whole
procedure. The 1994 Regulations set out the timetable for the
6 weeks - to consider whether an assessment is required
10 weeks - making the assessment and deciding on a statement
2 weeks - defining the proposed statement
8 weeks - finalising the statement
Total 26 weeks.
The school is then obliged to implement the conditions within the
statement. This includes producing an Individual Education Plan for
the child, setting out the targets and assessing progress. Parents are
included in this. If the child is to receive, say 14 hours of classroom
assistant time, then the school must employ a suitable person for that
The statement must be assessed annually.
Since writing this there has been a new Code of Practise for SEN. This now needs to be taken into account. However the majority of the comments above are still relevent so I shall just add the new CoP details below:
The Department for Education and Employment's 1994 Code of Practice outlines what a school should do if there are learning or behavioural difficulties with a child in school. This outline is called "stages of assessment" the stages of which are;
by Sarah-Jayne Bass of adders.org.
The teachers or head of year tutor gathers information and identifies any particular special needs of the child and consults with the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator). The parent can also express the opinion that their child has special educational needs also.
The SENCO takes responsibility for any S.N.s (Special Needs) provision and draws up an individual education plan (IEP) in consultation with the parent and the child's teachers. This is a detailed plan targets for the child to achieve, along with a date for a review to see how much progress has been made.
The SENCO brings in specialists to advise, e.g. Educational Psychologist or specialist teacher. If the child is not making progress the SENCO or Headteacher will discuss with the parent whether to instruct the LEA (Local Education Authority) to make a statutory assessment, which is a thorough look at the child's deficits, strengths or learning difficulties to decide if different or extra educational help should be injected.
The LEA based on the information that has been gathered about the child looks at the request for statutory assessment. They may request more information before making any decision.
The LEA considers whether to issue a statement of Special Educational Needs and writes a statement of the help required and goals to be met. There is ongoing monitoring and reviews.
A parent has the right to ask for statutory assessment at any stage, although the LEA will look at any evidence to show that they have tried to help the child at the stage three before the statutory assessment can go ahead.
Requests for assessment are looked at by a panel made up of people with knowledge and experience of S.E.N.s. (Special Education Needs)
What a Statement of Educational Need Should Contain
A Statement of Educational Need must follow the format as set out by Government Regulations and must contain the following information in the six parts that make up a Statement of Educational Need. (8.29)
Introduction: the child's name and address and date of birth. The child's home language and religion. The names and address (e.g.) of the child's parents.
Special Educational Needs (learning difficulties): details of each and every one of the child's special educational needs as identified by the LEA during statutory assessment and of the advice received and attached as appendices to the statement.
Special Educational Provision: the special educational provision that the LEA considers appropriate to meet the child's special educational needs. This explanation should cover:
The objectives that the special educational provision should aim to meet.
The special educational provision which the LEA considers appropriate to meet the needs set out in Part 2 in order to meet the objectives.
The arrangements to be made for monitoring progress in meeting those objectives, particularly for setting short-term target's for the child's progress and for reviewing his or her progress on a regular basis.
Placement: the type and name of school where the special educational provision set out in Part 3 is to be made or the LEA's arrangements for provision to be made otherwise than in school.
Example: the child needs to have regular physiotherapy
Non - Educational Provision: details of relevant non-educational provision required to meet the non-educational needs of the child as agreed between the health services and/or social services and the LEA, including the agreed arrangements for its provision.
Example: Physiotherapy provided by Health Authority
The Statement of Educational Need is signed and dated by the named officer of the LEA.
In addition: all advice obtained and taken into consideration during the assessment process must be attached as appendices to the statement. (8.30)
This must include:
Educational Psychological Advice
Social Services Advice
Other Advice: such as views of the child - other agencies whose advice sought is thought desirable
PARENTAL REQUEST FOR A STATUTORY ASSESSMENT
Parents may ask the LEA to conduct a statutory assessment at any time. The LEA must comply with such a request, unless they have made a statutory assessment within 6 months of the date of the request or unless they conclude, upon examining all the available evidence, that a statutory assessment is not necessary.
Suggested format for letter:
Letter should be addressed to:
Additional Educational Needs Manager at your Local Education Office
You may like to include some or all of the following:
Child's Name and Date of Birth
Name of School (if school aged)
1st Paragraph: I am writing to request that the LEA carry out a Statutory Assessment on my son's/daughter's special educational needs under Section 323 in Part IV of The Education Act 1996, as is my right under Section 329.
2nd Paragraph: A description of your child's difficulties/past history/medical diagnosis if relevant.
3rd Paragraph: The current provision your child receives:
e.g. pre-schoolschool: outside agencies involved, 1:1 helper, portage, what type of support your child gets, how much, who from, how long, a copy of Individual Education Plan (if available)speech therapy, physiotherapy, health and social services.
4th Paragraph: include detailed reasons why you think current provision is not meeting child's needs with evidence of lack of progress.
The LEA must take all parental requests seriously and take action immediately.
It should give notice in writing to the Social Services Department, the area Health Authority and the Headteacher of the child's school that the request has been made.
It should also ask the school for written evidence about the child; the school's assessment of the child's learning difficulties and the school's account of the special educational provision that has been made.
The LEA has 6 weeks from receipt of the request to notify parents of the decision whether or not to make an assessment.