Special Educational Needs and Statements

Some children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) need ‘extra or different’ provision in
school. Most children with SEN have their needs met by their school taking advice from the local education authority (LA) or health services, but without any direct support from  outside the school. Usually, their teacher and the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) will write an individual education plan (an IEP), setting out targets for them and any provision, such as occasional one-to-one tuition or special learning materials. Plans should be discussed with the child and their parents and reviewed at
least twice a year.

Most children with statements go to their local mainstream school, where they receive special provision of some kind e.g. help from learning assistants, specialist computer equipment or seating. However, about a third – those with the highest levels of need – attend a special school. The new Code of Practice has increased children’s rights to go to their local mainstream school.

A ‘statement’ sets out the child’s needs, the extra or different provision they are to receive, learning aims; the name of the school they will attend, and any other needs.

‘Statements’ are based on a formal assessment process. The LA must seek a wide range of advice on the child’s needs – from their parents and school, the psychology service, health and social services, and other agencies. Parents should ask for professionals to provide reports to the LA for them to take into account.

The LA has a legal duty to arrange for the provision set out in the statement to be made.
Parents may appeal to the independent Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW) if they are not satisfied with the provision or the school offered in the statement, or if the LA decides not to carry out a statutory assessment or not to issue a statement (ie ‘a notice in lieu’).

Statements must be reviewed at least once a year, in an ‘annual review’ organised by the
school. This meeting should include the child, their parents and teachers and any other
professionals involved. They will look at the child’s progress, set new targets, and consider
if the statement needs to be changed. This may lead to the statement being amended or, in some cases, discontinued.

Parents Guide to Special Education Needs (SEN)

You may find it helpful to refer to the following points when looking at your child’s schooling.

When early years education settings (such as nurseries), schools, local authorities (LAs),
health and social services decide how they will help children with special educational needs,
they should always consider what the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales
(CoP) says.

The most important law dealing with SEN is the 1996 Education Act. The CoP gives practical
guidance on how to identify and assess children with special educational needs. All early years settings state schools and LAs must take account of the CoP when they are dealing with children who have special educational needs. Health and social services must also take account of the Code when helping LAs. This means that when early years settings, schools, LAs and health and social services decide how they will help children with special educational needs, they should always consider what the CoP says.

You should be consulted about all decisions that affect your child.
If you have concerns or worries at any time, you should share them with your child’s teacher or head teacher or any other professional working with your child.
You should always ask for advice without delay.
If you want to talk to someone who is independent and knows about special educational needs, you can get help from the local parent partnership service who will be able to give you accurate, neutral information and support.
Special Educational Needs – What Does it Mean?
The term “special educational needs” has a legal definition. Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age: or they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities of a kind generally provided by the LA for children of their age. These children will need extra help from that given to other children of the same age.

Remember – you know your child better than anyone.
You might like to ask if:

  • The school thinks your child has difficulties
  • The school thinks your child has special educational needs
  • Your child is able to work at the same level as other children of a similar age
  • Your child is already getting some extra help
  • You can help your child

The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales (CoP).

Sets out the processes and procedures that all organisations must or should follow to meet the needs of children. They must not ignore the CoP.

An easy read explanation of the Additional Learning Needs & Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill is now available at the link below


What is the graduated response?
The graduated response recognises that children learn in different ways and can have different kinds or levels of SEN. So increasingly, step-bystep, specialist expertise can be brought in to help the school with the difficulties that a child may have.

The school must tell you when they first start giving extra or different help for your child
because your child has special educational needs and they must also tell you about your local parent partnership services.

In early years settings this level of intervention is called Early Years Action and in schools it is called School Action. Remember – it is how your child is helped that is important and not the way in which the school writes it down.

If your child does not make enough progress the teacher or Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) should then talk to you about asking for advice from people outside
the school. They might want to ask for help or advice from, for example, a specialist teacher, an educational psychologist, a speech and language therapist or health professional. This kind of help is called Early Years Action Plus or School Action Plus.

What is the SENCO?
The SENCO is the person in the school or early year setting who has a particular responsibility for co-ordinating help for children with special educational needs. Remember, the Welsh Government considers that all teachers are teachers of SEN and it is the class or subject teacher who is responsible for the actual
teaching of your child.

What is a statutory assessment?
This is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what your child’s special educational needs are and what help your child needs. A statutory assessment is only necessary if the LA believes that the school or early years setting may not be able to provide all the help that your child needs using the graduated response.

What is a statement?
A statement is a legal document. It will describe all your child’s special educational needs and the special help your child should receive. The LA will make a statement if they decide that all the special help your child needs cannot be provided from within the school’s resources. These resources could include money, staff time and special equipment. It is important that you read the statement and understand its contents and your local parent partnership service will be able to guide you through this process.

Most children with statements go to their local mainstream school and only a small percentage – those with the highest levels of needs – attend a special school. The LA must review a statement at least every 12 months but early reviews can be called if parents or school feel the need.

Please note that the Welsh Government is in the process of introducing a new approach to providing support for children with Additional learning Needs (ALN). By 2018 these guidelines will probably be in force. More details can be found here

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