Applying for a Statutory Assessment
Schools can provide a lot of help from their own resources for children with additional learning needs. However, 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 (LA) 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. See sample letter below.
Put your request in writing to the Education Department of your LA 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. You should keep a copy of the request letter and make a note of the date as 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.
Sample letter – Statutory Assessment - Parental Request
I am writing to ask you to assess the educational needs of my child [give your child’s name and date of birth] under Section 323 of the Education Act 1996.
I am making this request as is my right under Section 329 of the Act.
I think my child may need more help than the school currently provides. [Give as much information as possible - Explain what your child’s educational needs are and how they affect them at school. Say which school your child attends, explain if your child has been receiving help and why you think it is not enough]
The following professionals are involved with my child and I would like you to get advice from them. [List the people involved with your child] I am also sending you copies of other reports which may help you make your decision. [Send copies of any reports you may have from a teacher, educational psychologist, doctor etc]
There is a timescale for the LA to follow in terms of what they should be doing and when.
The LA should inform you of whether it will go ahead with the assessment within 6 weeks of receiving your application. They should then inform you of their decision within 12 weeks after deciding to carry out the assessment.
Week 1 - Week 6
This is when the LA will ask you, the school, and other professionals for initial information about your child. They will want to know how the school has helped your child and about the progress they have made.
The LA will need to see as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision whether a Statutory Assessment is needed. They will need to see things like Individual Education Plans, samples of school work and copies of reports from any specialists who may be involved.
The LA now decides whether to carry out an assessment
In some cases the LA may decide to give advice to schools on how to meet your child’s needs.
If the LA decides that it is not necessary to carry out an assessment, they will write to you and explain why they have to come to this decision. They will also write to the school to let them know their decision.
The Code of Practice says that you should fully understand how the school will be helping your child, and how they will review your child’s progress. If you are not happy with this decision you can appeal to the Special Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW). SENTW was set up by the Welsh Government as an independent panel, to look at certain decisions LA’s make which parents are not happy about. If you need more information about this, contact your local SNAP Cymru office.
You may also see the following words, these are replacing the term Special Educational Needs
- Additional Learning Needs
- Additional Educational Needs
- Additional Needs
Week 7 - Week 16
When the LA has looked at all the initial information, they may decide that your child WILL need a full assessment, this is what happens next; the LA will ask you for information about your child; they will usually do this by sending out a questionnaire called Appendix A.
They will ask you what you feel your child’s difficulties are and what help you think your child needs. This can be difficult to do, but SNAP can help.
The school will complete a form telling the LA all the difficulties your child is currently having. They will tell them how they have helped and how effective that help has been. They will let the LA know of any teacher assessment results they have, e.g. reading and spelling tests. The LA will want to know as much about your child as possible so that they can decide what your child needs: this form is referred to as Appendix B.
The Child Health Department will arrange for you child to have a medical, which usually takes place at the hospital. This will happen, even if your child has already had a school medical. They are checking to see whether there could be any medical reasons why your child is not making progress, or is having particular difficulties. If you have any worries about your child’s health, you could tell the doctor about them when you attend the appointment. The report completed by The Health Department is sometimes referred to as Appendix C.
The Educational Psychologist will go into school to assess your child. He or she may already know your child, but will be asked to write a new report for this assessment. The Psychologist will usually tell you when they are going to school and they may be able to speak to you about your child afterwards. It is usually not a good idea for you to be present for the assessment, as the Psychologist will want to see how your child is managing within the classroom – and your child will not be used to working in the classroom with you present. The report produced by the Educational Psychologist is sometimes referred to as Appendix D.
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