Statementing

Assessments and statements

Most children's needs should be met by their ordinary schools. But perhaps 1 child in every 50 across the country will need more help. The LEA are best placed to provide this help, whichever type of school your child attends.

What is a statutory assessment?

To decide what help your child needs, the LEA must decide whether to make a statutory assessment. This is a very detailed examination which will find out exactly what your child's special educational needs are and all the special help he or she may need.

Your child's school or a professional involved with your child, such as a doctor, may also ask the LEA to consider making a statutory assessment of your child. You will always be consulted by your school, or the professional involved, before they make such a request.

If you think your child is falling seriously behind other children of the same age and that your child's school cannot provide all the extra help he or she needs, you can ask the LEA to make a statutory assessment of your child. You should always talk to your child's school before you ask the LEA for an assessment. The LEA will look at your request very seriously and must agree to hold an assessment, unless they consider it to be unnecessary.

THE LEA WILL GIVE YOU THE NAME OF ONE OF THEIR STAFF WHO CAN GIVE YOU MORE INFORMATION.

The LEA must then decide whether to make a statutory assessment. They will consider very carefully your child's progress at school and the guidance in the Code of Practice. They will also listen to your views and to the views of your child's school about your child's learning difficulties. The school will tell the LEA about any special help they have already given to your child.

As soon as the LEA begin to think about making an assessment, they must tell you what they plan to do. They must also give you the name of one of their staff who can give you more information. This person is sometimes called the Named Officer. They will also tell you about the steps they will take if they decide to make an assessment. They must give you at least 29 days to say whether you agree that they should assess your child. The LEA will encourage you to offer your views about your child's needs.

The LEA should also give you the names of people and organisations who can help and advise you, and information about the special help your child can get in state schools. The LEA may also ask you who you would like them to speak to about your child if they decide to make a statutory assessment.

Your views will always be welcome and you should feel free to ask any questions you have. The LEA will also explain what happens during a statutory assessment, and the time limits that they work to.

How long will I have to wait for the LEA to decide whether my child should have an assessment?

Even if the LEA decide that a statutory assessment is not needed, your child can still get extra help.

The LEA have six weeks to tell you whether they will make a statutory assessment of your child. If the LEA take longer than six weeks, you should talk to the Named Officer, who will be able to explain the delay. If you are still not happy, you can, as a last resort, complain to the Secretary of State for Education, who can direct the LEA to resolve the problem. The LEA will be able to give you details of how to make such a complaint.

What can I do if the LEA decide not to assess my child?

If the LEA decide that an assessment is not needed, they will write to you and your child's school, giving the reasons for their decision. The LEA may still say what they think could be done to help the school meet your child's needs. Even if the LEA decide that a statutory assessment is not needed, your child can still get extra help. The school will be responsible for this, using their staged procedures. They may call in outside specialist help if they think it is needed. You should discuss your child's needs fully with his or her school.

If you ask for a statutory assessment and the LEA decide not to make one, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal if you disagree with their decision. You can find out more information about the Tribunal later.

How can I be involved in the assessment?

If the LEA decide to go ahead with a statutory assessment, they must tell you. They must then gather advice about your child's special needs from his or her school, from doctors and from an educational psychologist.

You will also be asked to provide information and your views about your child's needs. You have an essential part to play because you know your child better than anyone else does.

You should tell the LEA what you think, either in a letter or in person. To help the LEA make the assessment quickly, when they ask what you think you should try to reply within six weeks. The LEA can tell you how to submit your views and they may have guidelines to help you to take part in your child's assessment. The LEA can also give you the names of voluntary organisations and parents' groups that can help you.

The LEA will tell you about the different types of special help that ordinary and special schools in your area can give your child. You can then visit some of these schools to decide which you might like your child to go to in the future.

You have a right to go with your child to any interview, medical test or other test during the statutory assessment . At some stage the professionals may ask to see your child alone, because children often act quite differently when their parents are not there. The professionals will explain what they are doing and what they are looking for.

The LEA may also ask what your child thinks about his or her special educational needs. What your child thinks can play an important part in the LEA's assessment. If your child needs help to give his or her views to the LEA, you, a teacher or your Named Person can help.

Who is a Named Person?

Many parents want independent advice when their child's needs are being assessed and discussed. To help you get this advice, the LEA may invite you to talk to them about who you want to help you and whether you would like to have a Named Person. Your Named Person is someone who will help you to express your views and offer you support whenever you need it. Your Named Person may come from a voluntary Organisation or a parents' support group, or be a professional, friend or relative. Whoever is appointed as your Named Person should be able to give you advice and information as well as personal support.

What happens after the assessment?

Once your LEA have collected all the advice and comments about your child's educational needs, they will decide whether to make a statement of special educational needs for your child. They will normally tell you their decision no more than 12 weeks after they have decided to make an assessment.

A statement of special educational needs sets out your child's needs and all the special help he or she should have.
 

What is a statement?

A statement of special educational needs is a document that sets out your child's needs and all the special help he or she should
have. The LEA will make a statement when they decide that all the special help your child needs cannot reasonably be provided
within the resources normally available to the school. These resources include money, staff time and special equipment.

A statement of special educational needs is set out in six parts:

  Part I gives your own and your child's name and address and other details.
  Part 2 gives details of all your child's learning difficulties and disabilities,
           as identified by the LEA during the assessment.
  Part 3 describes:
           all the special help that the LEA think your child should get to meet
             the needs set out in part 2;
           the long-term objectives to be achieved by that special help; and
           the arrangements to be made for setting short-term targets and
             regularly reviewing your child's progress towards those targets.
  Part 4 tells you about the school where your child will go to get the special help
           set out in part 3, or the arrangements for education to be made otherwise
           than at school.
  Part 5 describes any non-educational needs your child has, such as
           transport to school.
  Part 6 describes how your child will get the help described in part 5.

With the statement, the LEA must send copies of all the advice they got from you and from others during the statutory assessment.

What happens once a statement has been prepared for my child?

Before the LEA sends you a final statement, they will send you a 'proposed statement'. This includes all the parts set out above except part 4 (describing the type and name of the school) which will be left blank. With your copy of the proposed statement, the LEA will send you a letter telling you how you can give your views on the proposed statement before it is finalised. The LEA will welcome your views.

Can I choose my child's school?

The LEA will send you details of state ordinary and special schools in the area. They will also send you a list of all schools known as 'non-maintained' special schools and all independent schools which are approved by the Secretary of State for Education as suitable for children with special educational needs.

The LEA will send you details of all schools suitable for children with special educational needs.

You have a right to express a preference for which state school you want your child to go to. This can be the school which he or she is already at. The LEA must agree with your preference as long as:

  the school you choose is suitable for your child's age, ability and
   special educational needs;
  your child's presence there will not affect the efficient education of
   other children already at the school; and
  placing your child in the school will be an efficient use of the LEA's
   resources.

Special schools usually take children with particular types of special needs. Some ordinary schools may have special provision for particular disabilities. For example, they may have good access for physically disabled pupils or special teaching for pupils with hearing or sight difficulties. You can ask to see schools' policies on special educational needs to make sure you know what they can offer and you can visit a number of schools if you want to. The LEA will send you full details of how you can make your views known to them.

You may want your child to attend a non-maintained special school, or an independent school which has facilities for pupils with special educational needs. The LEA will consider your wishes carefully before they make a final decision, but, if there is a suitable state school, the LEA has no legal duty to place your child at a non-maintained or independent school.

Deciding which school you would like your child to go to is an important matter and you will need all the information and advice you can get. Your LEA will be pleased to help. Before they make the final statement, the LEA can arrange a meeting with you to discuss your wishes. Remember that you can take a friend, a relative or your Named Person with you when you visit schools and meet the LEA. You may also want to talk to other parents through local voluntary organisations and parents' groups. The LEA must make the final decision. They will keep you fully informed and will always explain their decision to you.

How long have I got to comment?

When the LEA send you the proposed statement, you have 15 days in which to comment and to say which state school you prefer, or to say that you want your child to go to a non-maintained school or an independent school. You can ask for a meeting with the LEA to discuss the proposed statement. After this meeting you have another 15 days to ask for more meetings with the LEA. Finally, within 15 days of your last meeting with the LEA, you can send in any more comments you have and the LEA will consider them. If you would like more time to comment, you should talk to the Named Officer.

When will the LEA make the final statement ?

Usually, the LEA must make the final statement within eight weeks of the proposed statement. They will send you a copy of the statement and will tell you of your right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

The statement comes into force as soon as the LEA make it. The LEA must provide your child's school with any extra resources that are needed. The school's governors must make sure that your child gets the special educational help set out in the statement.

Claire was diagnosed as having a physical disability soon after she was born. She was assessed and given a statement when she was four. She uses a wheelchair and needs help from a classroom helper, but she has attended ordinary nursery, infant and junior schools. Now that she is at secondary school her statement has been changed to include a monthly visit from a physiotherapist, the use of a word processor and some extra help from a classroom helper.

What if I disagree with the final statement?

If you disagree with what is in the statement, you should first ask your Named Officer at the LEA for an explanation. if you are still not happy, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal against the contents of:

  part 2, the description of your child's learning difficulties; or
  part 3, the help to be given for your child's special educational needs; or
  part 4, the type and name of the school your child should attend.

What if the LEA decide that my child does not need a statement?

After the assessment, the LEA may decide that your child's school can provide special help for your child's special educational needs without the need for a statement. The LEA will usually tell you of this decision within 12 weeks of starting the statutory assessment.

The LEA will have learned a great deal about your child's needs as a result of the statutory assessment. Even if they decide not to make a statement, they should share what they have learned with you and your child's school. The LEA may then draw up what is called a 'note in lieu of a statement'.

WITH THE STATEMENT, THE LEA MUST SEND COPIES OF ALL THE ADVICE THEY GOT FROM YOU AND FROM OTHERS DURING THE STATUTORY ASSESSMENT.

This note will set out the reasons for the LEA's decision not to make a statement. The LEA should send you copies of all the advice they got from the professionals they spoke to during the statutory assessment. The note and that advice should help. you understand the LEA's decision and, if you agree, it can be passed to the school to help your child's teachers to decide how to help him or her in the future.

If, after you have looked at all the information from the LEA, you think that their decision is wrong and that a statement should be made for your child, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

John went to a nursery school an then to a primary school. Although he did well in some areas of his work, his parents were worried that he was getting behind with his reading. Both schools arranged extra help for him but by the age of eight he was still having difficulties. His school discussed his problems with a visiting specialist teacher. This teacher did some tests with John and gave his teacher some advice about work that she could do with him. His parents were still worried, and his school agreed to refer him to the LEA, who decided to carry out a statutory assessment.. After hearing the views of his parents and taking the advice of specialists, they decided that his problems were not so severe as to need a statement, but that he did have special educational needs. The LEA issued a note in lieu and sent his parents and, with his parents' agreement, his school, all the advice they had received during the statutory assessment. Now John is registered by his school as having special educational needs at Stage 3. He gets special teaching twice a week, in a small group, when he does work that has been carefully planned just for him

Elizabeth is partially sighted. She was assessed and given a statement when she was four. Throughout her time in ordinary primary and secondary school, Elizabeth was always in the top group in her class. At the annual review of her statement in year 10, after her 14th birthday, a Transition Plan was drawn up. The careers service, social services and the local college of further education all contributed to the Plan.

Elizabeth wanted to go on to higher education and wished to leave school at 16 and go with her friends to the local college of further education. The Transition Plan sets out the support the college should offer by making materials available to Elizabeth in Braille, and by arranging mobility training from social services. The college will use the Transition Plan to prepare for Elizabeth's arrival.
.

Can changes be made to the statement?

An annual review may lead to changes to your child's statement. For example, changes may be made if:

  your child's needs have changed significantly; or
  if the LEA decide that different kinds of extra help are necessary; or
  if your child has to move to a different school.

You will always be asked what you think before any changes are made. Annual reviews will not always lead to changes in your child's statement. But while the LEA may suggest changes at any time in the year, changes are most likely to be made after an annual review.

The LEA will tell you of any changes they are thinking of and the reasons for them. You have a right to tell the LEA what you think within 15 days. The LEA will always look at your views before they decide whether to make any changes. The LEA must tell you their decision within eight weeks of suggesting a change.

Kate had serious emotional difficulties. She was very withdrawn at home and at school and was not making any progress at school. She was given a statement and went to a special school when she was nine. By the time she was 12 her condition had shown a marked improvement and she was doing much better in class. This was noted in the annual review of her statement. After this review, the LEA decided to change Kate's statement so that she could move back to an ordinary school. Her parents agreed, and Kate moved to a local secondary school. At first it was for one day a week but this became full-time after a term. At her next annual review, Kate's parents agreed with the school that the LEA should stop maintaining her statement, which it then did. Kate's school continue to watch over her progress through their system of staged procedures for children with special educational needs.

You have the right to ask the LEA to change the name of the school in your child's statement. When your child is due to move from primary to secondary school, it is very important that you, your child's present school and the LEA think very carefully about the secondary school your child should attend. The results of the annual review in your child's last year in primary school will be important. So this review might be held earlier in the school year than other reviews. The LEA should always try to decide the name of your child's next school before the beginning of the term before he or she is due to move. You will always be involved in this decision.

You have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal against any change to the description in the statement of your child's special educational needs (part 2), the types of special educational help to be provided (part 3) and the name of the school he or she will go to (part 4).

How long does a statement last?

Your child may have a statement for his or her whole school career, or for just a part of it. Through their annual reviews of your child's statement, the LEA may decide that your child can continue to make good progress with the extra help that an ordinary school can provide within the resources generally available to them. If they do, they may stop maintaining your child's statement.

If the LEA want to stop maintaining your child's statement, they will write and tell you, giving their reasons. If you disagree, you should tell them. If the LEA do then stop maintaining the statement and you still disagree, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

The LEA will stop maintaining the statement if your child leaves school after his or her 16th birthday. If your child stays at school, the LEA may keep the statement until he or she is 19.

Can I ask for my child to be assessed again?

Even if your child has a statement, you have the right to ask for a new statutory assessment. The LEA must agree, as long as:

  your child has not been assessed in the last six months; and
  the LEA agrees that another statutory assessment is needed.

The LEA will decide whether a new assessment is needed in the same way that they first decided to assess your child. In particular, they will consider whether there have been any significant changes in your child's life or special needs. The LEA will tell you of their decision and the reasons for it. If you disagree with that decision, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

What happens if I move to another LEA area?

If you are going to move, you should let your LEA know. You should talk to both your present LEA and your new LEA about your child's needs and the best way of making sure they continue to be met.

When you move, your old LEA will send your child's statement to your new LEA. The new LEA must then make sure that your child gets all the special educational help set out in the statement. Within six weeks of receiving your child's statement, your new LEA must tell you when they will review the statement and whether they are going to make a new statutory assessment of your child.

Your child may have to start at a new school before the new LEA review the statement or make a statutory assessment. But if your child goes to a private school of any kind, the new LEA must pay any fees which were paid by your previous LEA, at least until they change the statement. Remember you have a right to tell the LEA what you think before they make any change. Remember, too, that if you disagree with any change that the LEA do make, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.
 

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