Schools can provide a lot of help from their own resources for children with special educational needs. Some children with more severe or complex needs may need more help than the school can provide. These children may need a statutory assessment to establish what their difficulties are. This may lead to a statement of special educational needs which will set out the help the child must have. Statutory assessments and statements are the responsibility of the local authority where you live.
Asking for a statutory assessment
Either you or your child’s school can make a request for a statutory assessment. It is a good idea to do it yourself even if the school have said they will do so. Put your request in writing to the local authority and include as much information as you can about your child’s special educational needs and what help the school has given. You can also include any professional reports you have about your child.
Download the ACE booklet Asking for Statutory Assessment for more detailed information and model letters.
The local authority has six weeks to decide whether your child should have a statutory assessment. During this time they will gather further evidence and a panel may meet to make the decision.
The assessment itself involves gathering reports from various people including:
- you as parent
- your child’s school
- an educational psychologist
- a doctor
- social care services (only if they have had contact with your child)
- Other professionals who are involved with your child should also send in a report. These might be a specialist teacher or a speech and language therapist. You can also ask for particular people to be contacted.
The proposed statement
All the people asked for reports must send them within six weeks. The local authority will look at the reports and then make a decision whether to write a statement of special educational needs. It must decide this within ten weeks of the decision to assess.
If the local authority decides your child needs a statement you will be sent a proposed statement of special educational needs. This will describe your child’s difficulties and the help they must have.
You will be able to send in your views about the proposed statement and ask for changes to be made. You can also ask for a meeting with someone from the local authority if you want to. You will also be asked which school you would like your child to go to. This might be your child’s current school, another mainstream school or a special school. The local authority has to take account of your preference but there is not an absolute choice.
The ACE booklet Getting the Statement Right has detailed information on how to go through the proposed statement and on your legal rights regarding naming a school. Click on the My Child in School series link below.
Within 8 weeks of the proposed statement you should receive a copy of the final statement. If you are not happy with the content of this or the school named you have a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).A statement of special educational needs is a legally binding document. Your child must have the help that is described there.
The statement must be reviewed at least once a year. For more information click on the My Child in School series link below to Understanding Annual Reviews.