When you receive a ‘Notice of Consideration’ letter from the Education Authority (EA) saying that they are considering carrying out a Statutory Assessment you will be asked for your parental consent for the EA to seek advice from other professionals.
This is form SA3 to be completed within 22 days
Included in your letter you will also receive Appendix A(1) – Parental Representations.
You will also have an opportunity to attach (if relevant) any independent advice/reports. The EA will refer to this as Parental Evidence Appendix A(2). So when you include these attachments entitle them ‘Parental Evidence’. Support from any specialist can be used as evidence e.g. therapists, home tutors, support from specialist charities, or the Health Trusts. If you have any private reports the EA should take these into account.
Completing Parental representations
It is not easy to write about your child in terms of all their difficulties. Children have good days as well as harder days. However, the help that your child will need to support them in school will need to be there for them on their worst day. Therefore, it is important to describe what difficulties they have when times are hardest for them.
The aim is to ensure that your parental representations provide
- strong evidence of any learning difficulties that have been identified and
- evidence of action taken by the school and what support the school have already provided.
The Education Authority will consider the case for a Statutory Assessment where the information presented to them suggests that despite ‘relevant and purposeful’ action by the school, with help from external agencies that your child’s difficulties still remain or that there has not been sufficient progress despite the help provided.
The following notes will help you when you are considering what to include in appendix A(1)
Refer to any difficulties during the birth, any relevant medical concerns or conditions that were identified or diagnosed.
Did your child reach all expected milestones? Did you or any other professional, medical, health visitor etc, express or identify any relevant factors or concerns about any early development?
Refer to anything during these early years that you think may be relevant or you were concerned about. Any problems with feeding, toilet-training, mobility, responding to others, any sensory issues etc.
Refer to any involvement from any other professionals who advised you about your concerns, any relevant medical concerns, conditions, diagnosis etc.
Who advised you and what was their input?
What was the result of any of this advice, action taken, etc?
As well as the areas listed on your form for this section include how any medical or health conditions affects your child. Include all concerns relating to health, allergies, special diets, any medicines required etc.
Is there any level of anxiety or worry, describe their emotional wellbeing and any social or behavioural issues.
As well as the examples listed on your form under this section it may be relevant to refer to activities such as using cutlery, holding pencils, doing buttons, can they determine between their left and right hand if not you might want to put that down, any difficulties with co-ordination, climbing stairs etc.
What physical activities do they enjoy, what are they good at, what activities causes the greatest difficulty, stress, challenge or worry?
Describe any physical or mobility problems your child may have and how these impact on their life and independence. What support do they need due to these difficulties?
What level of independence is there, how much support do you have to give for dressing skills, attending to personal hygiene, bedtime routines, getting ready for school etc? Refer to any difficulties and how you try to help with these.
Does your child stay on task when dressing etc, do they use any rituals, routines to help cope with these tasks, are they aware of personal hygiene, can they manage buttons, zips etc?
Think about how long the processes of dressing take. If your child has any difficulties coping with this area or needs some level of support, either physically or with instruction and encouragement to complete them, then put all your concerns, observations, behaviours etc on your form.
Going places; what level of independence is there? Are they aware of their own personal safety, dangers, road safety awareness or are they always supervised? Include anything you think is relevant.
If there are any speech difficulties, any input from a Speech Therapist etc. make reference to them.
As well as those examples listed on your form in this section you might want to give more detail to areas of communication your child finds challenging.
Can they follow instruction, do you have to repeat instructions or break it down, do they take things literally, does this cause misunderstandings between them and their friends or peers? Do they understand humour in conversation?
Do they understand facial expressions, can they read them, or do they misinterpret them? Do they worry or get stressed by any challenges in communicating with others?
How are their conversational skills, can they relate personal information, their address, etc.
Include anything that you think is relevant and impacts to any degree on their ability to mix, socialise, concentrate, learn, participate in class etc. and suggest what support they might benefit from to help them overcome or cope with this area.
Playing and learning at home/outside
As well as the activities and suggestions on the form, make reference to homework activities and what difficulties, if any, arise from this. Do they stay on task, how long does homework take, what is their motivation like? Do they have any independent working skills, what are listening and attention skills like?
What do you do to help them if any of these things occur, what do you find works best, how much supervision do you need to give them?
How do they occupy themselves during unstructured times, what do they enjoy and what is challenging to them?
How do they interact and play with other family members, friends etc?
As well as describing how your child interacts at home you may want to refer, if relevant, to how they make and maintain friendships. How sociable are they, how they interact with people they don’t know? How do they cope in groups of people, peers etc. Include any social activity that causes them concern etc.
Refer to any of the examples listed on your form that may be relevant to you child. Include any behaviours, anger thresholds, any triggers that you are aware of that cause anxiety or behavioural difficulties, perhaps frequency if relevant.
Mention any difference in behaviour between situations that are familiar as compared to unfamiliar if relevant. Are there any strategies you use, have you had any input from any other agencies to give you help or advice on behavioural issues in the home? Again, anything that you think is relevant and adds to the challenges your child faces.
What do they enjoy the most at school and what do they find the most challenging, what aspects or areas of school cause the most concern or worry?
How do you feel they have progressed at school; how do they get on with their classmates, the staff etc?
Are they motivated to go to school, do they chat about their school day, what are the positives and the negatives?
What activities, if any, are challenging, any subject, any school routines, school assemblies, in the playground, lunchtimes etc.
How is your child at moving round the school, how much supervision or instruction do they need?
Do they understand the concept of time, can they follow a timetable?
How do they concentrate in class, what concerns have been raised or discussed, what are your views on these?
What areas of the curriculum cause the most challenges or difficulties? How are they helped or supported to face these difficulties?
Your general views
In this section you may be asked what you think your child’s special educational needs are and how you feel those needs should be met. To complete this section ask yourself what specifically you feel your child needs within school to address each of their learning difficulties.
List everything you think is relevant. Reference how your child has progressed, what aspects of learning they have difficulty with, speech and language difficulties, sensory, physical, concentration, organising skills, listening skills, following instruction. Mention areas of the curriculum they have difficulty progressing in e.g., literacy, numeracy etc. Any learning difficulties that your child has that in your opinion requires special educational provision and what you feel this provision should include.
If relevant, what are your child’s views on how they would like to be helped in school?
Also, in this section refer to any other concerns you have about your child and their future. How they cope with the difficulties they face, their self-esteem, do they get frustrated etc and what you would hope to see put in place for them to help them progress and achieve.
When EA agree to carry out a statutory assessment
When you have sent your parental representations and evidence the EA will consider and decide whether to carry out your request for a statutory assessment. If it is agreed that an assessment will be carried out you will receive a letter with a Parental Advice Form Appendix A(iii).
The headings on the Parental Advice Form will be similar to the ones you have followed when requesting an assessment therefore you can include the same information plus any additional information you would like to add.