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Special Education

All you should know about The Statutory Assessment Procedure


Why is my child being assessed?

Your child’s teacher will have observed your child in school and will have already have offered assistance. There will have been a period of school-based help provided to assist your child. If the teacher feels that your child is not progressing as they feel they should, they will ask the LEA to intervene. The LEA will make a statutory assessment of your child’s Special Educational Needs.

The Statutory Assessment

All of the people involved with your child will be asked to write a detailed report about his/her Special Educational Needs. This is a process that requires all of the information to be on hand so the right decision is reached for your child.

Writing the Report – Who will be involved?

  • One of the main contributors to the report will be you. You know your child better than anyone else. Any information that you can give will be very important
  • Your child’s class teacher
  • The LEA’s Educational Psychologist
  • The Social Services
  • A Doctor
  • Any Support workers that work with your child on a regular basis
  • Language or Speech Therapists if they are working with your child
  • Anyone else who comes into contact regularly with your child and who is able to help with the report

kids running

There will be a form sent to you from your LEA. There will be a number of questions on it asking about your child’s formative years and their behaviour. If your child is of Primary school age, they will

  • Ask about his/her general health and skills. 
  1. This may include whether or not s/he has any eating or sleep related problems.
  2. Can s/he dress and undress themselves in the correct order?
  3. Are they able to realise when they need to use toilet facilities?
  4. Do they feed themselves?
  5. Do they understand what is said to them by others?
  6. Do they always play alone?
  7. How long can they concentrate on stories or playing?
  8. Are they comfortable in the company of their peers, siblings or other adults?
  9. Is your child able to share his/her toys?
  10. Do they have temper tantrums?
  11. Is your child subject to mood swings?
  12. Compare your child to others of his/her own age. You can also use any experiences you have had with your other children as a pointer to acceptable development.
  13. Does your child worry about a particular thing?
  14. Is your child aware of the difficulties they face?
  15. Are there things that your child does well?
  16. What are your own thoughts about the difficulties your child has? How best do you think your child would be supported?
  17. Is there one single event that has had a profound effect on your child? This could be in the form of bereavement or it may be a change in the make up of the family such as remarriage or divorce.
  18. Although your child is the one facing the Educational difficulties, this will also affect the rest of the family. What does this entail for your family?
  • Are they able to communicate their needs to others, pointing or verbalising their wishes?
  • Do they function similarly to their peers? i.e. chat, use the phone etc.
  • What are their favourite games?
  • Does your child attend any out of school activities such as Brownies, Cubs, Beavers etc.?
  • How do they relate to others?
  • Think about behaviour in the home.
  • General Points

It is felt that it is important that your child should have as much input into this process as possible. They will be asked to contribute their views to the statement if they are able.


  • You have 29 days to respond to the letter that will be sent to you by your LEA. This letter is the one telling you that they have been asked by the school to provide the Statutory Assessment of your child
  • Your LEA have 6 weeks to tell you whether or not they feel that your child will benefit from the Statutory Assessment. Do not forget that it is not certain that your child will be assessed.
  • Your LEA may issue you with a Note in Lieu instead of issuing a Statement of Special Educational Needs. More information about this is contained in another article.
  • If the LEA has decided that it would be in your child’s best interests to be assessed, the procedure should be completed within 6 months.
  • There is the chance to appeal against the findings of the LEA. First you must approach your child’s Head teacher or your Named Officer. Information about this is contained in the article about the Special Needs Tribunal.

I want to choose the school that provides the education for my child. Can I do this?

You do have a limited choice of school but your LEA will have to consider the logistics of your choice. It is not a certainty that this will be possible, as they have to assess whether the costs involved are reasonable, if educating your child in the school will cause difficulties for the other pupils and also that the school is able to meet your child’s particular Special Educational Need. The school is not named on the Statement to facilitate this freedom of choice. Your LEA has a register of all schools and will be able to advise you as to the suitability for your child. You will also be able to visit the schools to make sure that they will be suitable.


Special Education

How the world of a child with Aspergers syndrome looks like


We received on email an article written by a parent of a child with Aspergers syndrome.  It describes the common characteristics of children with this condition and ways in which parents and teachers can help.

“I am the parent of a child who has Aspergers syndrome – a form of Autism. I thought you might be interested in looking into our world for a short time.

My son, Victor, is 8. He was diagnosed with Aspergers eighteen months ago. It is common for children to go undiagnosed for many years as this disability is unseen and the symptoms can be similar with other difficulties e.g. dyslexia. He now has a statement and goes to an Aspergers unit which is attached to a mainstream school.

All children are different in some way and children with Aspergers are also very different but they will share a communication difficulty – an adult with Aspergers once described it as feeling like being an Alien from another planet.

Perhaps examples may help explain………….Victor’s main difficulties are poor concentration; a lack of understanding of social norms; obsessional behaviour, especially when stressed. When he was three years old, I took him to a local park and tried to play football with him. However, everytime he received the ball, he would pick it up and run away. I remember thinking…….perhaps he is going to be a rugby player! At 6 years old, Victor was taken to the local football fun club and placed in a team. As the children began to play, Victor stood still like a statue and moved only to shrug his shoulders……he didn’t understand the rules. He began to cry and I took him home. At Christmas school concerts I have seen him opening and closing his mouth in fish like movements because he realises the other children are singing yet he doesn’t know the words. Victor is also near the top of his class in science and maths, so his behaviour is not linked to any lack of intelligence/ability. School can be very difficult for children like Victor as teachers and parents try to help them to “fit in” to our world and despite a lot of effort, the child is often unable to change their behaviour dramatically. With care and effort, it has been discovered that Aspergers children learn visually rather than by reading. Victor therefore has a pictorial timetable which he can understand. When the teacher wants him to turn to page 10 in a book, as well as saying the command she holds up a sign with a number 10 on it. Victor can then go to page 10.

kids words special

The best way that Victor has been helped, has been when someone has taken the time to go into his world. When I stopped trying to “help” him to learn football he was happier. I watched what made him happy. Instead of fitting him to my world I am learning from him. He asks the most interesting questions sometimes and his insight is honest and straight to the point.

Victor has a lot of abilities and really his main disability is how other people treat people who are different. The parents who do not invite him to their children’s parties because he is “odd” – who give out party invitations in front of him but not to him. I think difference should be celebrated! it makes the world more interesting.”


Special Education

Top Learning Disabilities in Children of all ages


Identifying learning disabilities in children is often a complex task. A learning disability is not a set group of symptoms or signs. There is no specific age by which a learning disability will usually become apparent. While learning disabilities are usually diagnosed during the elementary school years, learning disabilities can develop much earlier or later, or go undetected for years. The first step in knowing if your child has a learning disability is understanding what a learning disability is.

What Is a Learning Disability?

There is considerable debate about the actual definition of a learning disability. The classic definition mandated for use by all school systems in the United States was created by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The definition also includes such conditions as perceptual hardships, brain injury, dyslexia and developmental apraxia. It is important to note that this definition has changed over the years and has been criticized as being too broad, focused only on academic performance, and it potentially leads to over-identification. For a glossary of terms related to learning disabilities, visitIDEA. Additionally, you can find information about services available to children with learning disabilities, as well as interpretations of the IDEA definition, in the article “What Are Learning Disabilities?” on the National Parent Information Network web site.

What a Learning Disability Is Not

It may help to understand what is not included in the definition of a learning disability. A learning problem caused by the following conditions is not considered a learning disability:

  • visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • motor disabilities
  • mentally challenged (retardation)
  • behavioral or emotional disorders
  • environmental, cultural or economic disadvantages

Beyond Definitions: Characteristics of Learning Disabilities

Children who have difficulty learning will often express recognizable characteristics when they begin to participate in instructional activities. However, your child may only be having trouble learning in one of area. For example, learning to read may be difficult for your child, whereas learning to add is very easy. If you think your child is having trouble in any of the following areas, read the next section on identification, diagnosis and evaluation of a learning disability.

The following list of common processes affected by learning disabilities is adapted from the book Keys to Parenting a Child with a Learning Disability by B.E. McNamara and F.J. McNamara. Potential psychological processes affected by learning disabilities include:

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skill Problems (Fine: difficulty using fork, spoon, playing or handling blocks, coloring or copying shapes and objects, poor or illegible handwriting. Gross: coordination problems, clumsiness, difficulty in eye-hand coordination)
  • Perceptual Deficits (trouble differentiating between letters that look alike or words that are similar; for example, b for d, or saw for was; difficulty understanding what someone is speaking about when there is a lot of noise in the room)
  • Attention Deficits (difficulty concentrating on a task, prioritizing information, excessive hyperactivity, impulsiveness, highly easily distracted; require little sleep, constantly in motion)
  • Memory Disabilities (difficulty with short term or long term memory, repeatedly forgetting certain task or item)
  • Language Disorders (difficulty with the reception, processing and expression of language; for example, difficulty understanding specific words, sounds, or sentences; dysnomia, or difficulty choosing correct words, grammar, or syntax; exceptionally quiet and non-expressive especially when directly questioned)
  • Social Perception Disorders(difficulty understanding social appropriateness or constraints of a situation. For example, saying inappropriate things, saying things not usual for child of similar age)

Additional information on characteristics of learning disabilities can be found at LD Online.

Identification, Evaluation and Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities

Despite all of the characteristics that a child with a learning disability may exhibit, it still may be difficult to know if your child is actually learning disabled. The best way to find out is to have your child evaluated. Arranging for an assessment can be done through your child’s school at no charge. You can also arrange to have your child assessed by an outside specialist which, if arranged through your school system, your child’s school is obligated to pay for.

Special Education

Introduction to Special Educational Needs


So, this may be an extremely useful article covering frequently asked questions to do with special educational needs.  Areas covered include how to tell if your child has special needs, the law and special needs, school policy and the implications of the different stages your child may be placed at.  This article is a must for all parents embarking on getting their child’s special needs identified and provided for.

All children are special

All children have needs and many children experience some type of difficulty at school during their educational careers. One in five of them will need some kind of extra help at school at some time.

This series of articles aims to help you as parents do your best for your child. It aims to show you how the partnership between parents and teachers can work well when they work together. It will also highlight the roles of the other professionals that may also need to be involved.

The Law and Special Educational Needs

The Government tell the schools and your Local Education Authority (LEA) what is expected from them. They have to give regard to “The Code of Practice”. It should be possible for you to see a copy of the Code of Practice at your child’s school. You can also send for a copy for your own reference from the DfEE. (see address below)

The Code of Practice

The Code of Practice is a set of guidelines, showing your school and LEA how they should identify, assess and then provide for your child’s Special Educational Needs. The Code identifies various Stages. Once your child has reached Stage 5 of the Code they will receive a Statement of Special Educational Needs. All parties concerned will review this every year. As a parent you have the right to be consulted throughout the whole of the process

Schools policy

All schools in your LEA will follow the same procedures. They will all have written Special Needs policies. These describe how they endeavour to help children with Special Educational Needs. It is a requirement that all schools produce a prospectus and somewhere in it there will be information about their special needs policy. All schools are required to have a SENCO and s/He will be able to give you a copy of the policy.