Assessments and statements
On this page you can find:
- What is a statutory assessment?
- What if the education and Library Board decides not to assess my child?
- How can I be involved in the assessment?
- What is a statement?
- Can I choose my childs school?
- What if I disagree with the final statement?
- What if the Education and Library Board decides that my child does not need a statement?
Most childrens needs should be met by their ordinary schools, but some children will need more help. The Education and Library Boards are best placed to provide this help, whichever type of school your child attends.
To decide what help your child needs, the Education and Library Board (Board) may need to carry out a statutory assessment. This is a very detailed examination which will find out exactly what your childs special educational needs are and all the special help which may be required.
Your childs school, or a professional involved with your child, such as a doctor, may also ask the Board 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 the school cannot provide all the extra help needed, you can ask the Board to make a statutory assessment of your child. You should always talk to your child's school before you ask the Board for an assessment.
The Board will then decide whether to make a statutory assessment. It will consider very carefully your childs progress at school and the guidance in the Code of Practice. It will also listen to your views and to the views of your childs school about your childs learning difficulties. The school will tell the Board about any special help they have already given to your child.
The Board will tell you what it plans to do, and will give you the name of one of its staff who can give you more information. If it intends to make an assessment, it will let you know the next steps. You will have at least 29 days to say whether you agree that it should assess your child. The Board will encourage you to offer your views about your childs needs.
The Board 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 at school. It may also ask you who you would like it to speak to about your child if it decides to make a statutory assessment.
Your views will always be welcome and you should feel free to ask any questions you have. The Board will be able to explain what happens during a statutory assessment, and the time limits that it works to.
If the Education and Library Board (Board) decides that an assessment is not needed, it will write to you and your childs school, giving the reasons for its decision. The Board may say what it thinks could be done to help the school meet your childs needs.
Even if the Board decides that a statutory assessment is not needed, your child may still get extra help. This may include outside specialist help. You should discuss your childs needs fully with the school.
If you ask for a statutory assessment and the Board decides not to make one, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.
If the Education and Library Board (Board) decides to go ahead with a statutory assessment, it must tell you. It must then gather advice about your childs special needs from the school, from doctors and from an educational psychologist.
You will also be asked to provide information and your views about your childs needs. You have an essential part to play because you know your child better than anyone else does.
You should tell the Board what you think, either by letter or in person. The Board can tell you how to submit your views and it may have guidelines to help you to take part in the assessment. If you would like independent guidance and support at any time during the assessment process, the Board may be able to suggest organisations or individuals who could help you. It will welcome any relative, friend, neighbour or someone from a support group whom you may wish to bring with you to meetings. Remember that this person should be someone you can trust and rely upon to support you and to keep a confidence when the need arises.
The Board will tell you about the different types of special help that schools in your area can give your child. You can then visit some of these schools to help you decide which of them you might prefer for your child.
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.
Your childs own views can play an important part in the Board's assessment. You, or someone else whom your child trusts, can help your child give views to the Board, if necessary.
Once your Board has collected all the advice and comments about your childs educational needs, it will decide whether to make a statement for your child and let you know its decision.
A statement of special educational needs is a document that sets out your childs needs and the special help required. The Education and Library Board will make a statement when it decides that the 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 one gives your own and your childs name and address and other details.
Part two gives details of all your childs learning difficulties and disabilities, as identified during the assessment.
Part three describes:
- the special help that the Board thinks your child should get to meet the needs set out in part two;
- 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 four tells you:
- about the school where your child will go to get the special help set out in part three, or
- the arrangements for education to be made otherwise than at school.
Part five describes any non-educational needs your child has, such as transport to school.
Part six describes how your child will get the help described in part five.
Attached to the statement are copies of all the advice the Board got during the statutory assessment.
Before the Board sends you a final statement, it will send a draft for you to consider. This includes all the parts set out above, except part four (describing the type and name of the school), which will be left blank. The Board will welcome your views. It will tell you how to give these before the statement is finalised.
You have a right to express a preference for the grant-aided school you want your child to go to. The Board will tell you about the range of grant-aided schools in the area.
Your preference can be for the school your child is already at. The Board must accept your preference as long as:
- the school you prefer is suitable for your childs age, ability and special educational needs;
- your child's presence there will not affect the education of other children at the school; and
- placing your child there will be an efficient use of the Boards 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. Try to make sure you know what they can offer.
You may want your child to attend an independent school which has facilities for pupils with special educational needs. The Board will consider your wishes carefully before it makes a final decision, but remember that it has no legal duty to meet a parents preference for an 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 Board will be pleased to help. Before it makes the final decision about the statement, the Board can arrange a meeting with you to discuss your wishes. It will keep you fully informed and will always explain its decision to you.
When the Board sends you the proposed statement, you will have 15 days in which to comment and to say which school you prefer. You can ask for a meeting with the Board. After this meeting you have another 15 days to ask for more meetings. Finally, within 15 days of your last meeting with the Board, you can send in any more comments you have and the Board will consider them. If you would like more time to comment, you should talk to the Board.
The Board will then send you a copy of the final statement and tell you of your rights to appeal.
The statement comes into force as soon as the Board makes it. The Board must provide your childs school with any extra resources that are needed. The schools Board of Governors must make sure that your child gets the special educational help set out in the statement.
If you disagree with what is in the statement, you should first ask the Board for an explanation. If you are still not happy, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal against:
- the description of your childs learning difficulties, given in part two; or
- the help to be given for your childs special educational needs, described in part three; or
- the type and name of the school your child should attend, given in part four, of the statement.
After the assessment, the Board may decide that your childs school can provide the special help for your childs special educational needs without the need for a statement. The Board will tell you of this decision as soon as it is made.
The Board may then draw up a note saying why it decided not to make a statement. If you wish it will send you copies of all the advice it got from the professionals it dealt with during the statutory assessment. The note and that advice should help you understand the Boards decision. If you agree, these papers can also be passed to the school to help the teachers to decide how to help your child in the future.
If, after you have looked at all the information from the Board, you think that a statement should be made for your child, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.
It is in the best interests of your child that any special educational needs are assessed thoroughly and quickly. The process from the time when the assessment begins until the Board issues a proposed statement should usually take no longer than 18 weeks. Clearly, all the people with whom the Board has to deal have a part to play in keeping the time to a minimum. You can play your part by replying quickly whenever the Board contacts you.
The Board must regularly check your childs progress and make sure the statement continues to meet your childs needs. It must review your childs statement at least once a year, though some statements may need to be reviewed more often.
Your childs school will have set targets for your child soon after the statement was first made. The annual review will look at your childs progress towards meeting those targets and agree new targets for the next year.
The school will tell you the date for the review meeting and invite you to attend. Before the meeting, it will ask you to send in your views on your childs progress over the last year. Your views are important, and the school, a voluntary organisation or a parents' group can help you give them.
The school may also ask for the views of other professionals who know and work with your child. Before the review meeting, the school will send you copies of all the views they have received.
The review meeting will normally be held in your childs school. It is important that you try to attend. You may take a friend, relative or someone from a support group with you. Your child can go along too for at least part of the meeting. Your childs own views on progress in the past year, and hopes for the future, are important.
After the review meeting, the school will set new targets and send a report to the Board so that it can review your childs statement. The school will send you a copy of its report. The Board will then decide whether it should make any changes to your childs statement. It will write to you, your childs school and the professionals involved in the review.
If your child has a statement, the first review after age 14 is particularly important in preparing for their move to adult life. This review will involve all those people and organisations who will play a major role when your child leaves school. This will include the careers service and your local health and social services authority. This review will produce a transition plan for your childs move to adult life. You and your child will be asked to help draw up this plan.
An annual review may lead to changes to your childs statement. For example, changes may be made if:
- your childs needs have changed significantly; or
- if the Board decides that different kinds of extra help are necessary; or
- if your child has to move to another school.
You will always be asked what you think before any changes are made. Reviews will not always lead to changes in your childs statement. While the Board may suggest changes at any time, changes are most likely to be made after an annual review.
The Board will tell you of any changes it is thinking of and the reasons for them. You will have 15 days in which to tell the Board your views. The Board will consider these before it decides whether to make any changes. The Board must tell you its decision within eight weeks of suggesting a change.
You have the right to ask the Board to change the name of the school in your childs statement. When your child is due to move from primary to secondary school, it is very important that you, your childs present school and the Board think carefully about the secondary school your child should attend. The results of the annual review in your childs last year in primary school will be important. So this review might be held earlier in the school year than other reviews. The Board should always try to decide your childs next school before the beginning of the term before the 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 childs special educational needs, given in part two;
- the types of special educational provision, described in part three; and
- the name of the school, given in part four.
A statement may last throughout your childs school career, or for just a part of it.
Through its annual reviews of your childs statement, the Board 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 it. If it does, the Board may decide to stop maintaining your childs statement.
If the Board intends to stop maintaining your childs statement, it will write to you, giving its reasons. If you disagree, you should tell the Board. If it then stops maintaining the statement and you still disagree, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.
The Board will stop maintaining the statement if your child leaves school at age 16. If your child stays at school, the Board may keep the statement until age 19.
Even if your child has a statement, you have the right to ask for a new assessment. The Board must agree, as long as:
- your child has not been assessed in the last six months; and
- the Board agrees that another statutory assessment is needed.
The Board will decide whether a new assessment is needed in the same way that it first decided to assess your child. In particular, it will consider whether there have been any significant changes in your childs life or special needs. The Board will tell you of its decision and the reasons for it. If you disagree, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.
If you are going to move, you should let your Board know. You should talk to both your present Board and your new Board about your childs needs and the best way of making sure they continue to be met.
When you move, your old Board will send your child's statement to your new Board. The new Board must then make sure that your child gets all the special educational help set out in the statement. Within six weeks of receiving your childs statement, your new Board must tell you when it will review the statement and whether it is going to make a new statutory assessment of your child.
Your child may have to start at a new school before the new Board reviews the statement or makes a statutory assessment. Remember you have a right to tell the Board what you think before it makes any change. Remember too, that, if you disagree with any change that the Board does make, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.