2: How to request a statutory assessment of my child’s needs in school?

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What is a Statutory Assessment?

  • A statutory assessment is a full assessment of your child’s educational needs which is carried out by the Education Authority (EA) at Stage 4 of the Code of Practice.  It takes up to 26 weeks to complete.
  • The purpose of the assessment is to determine if the EA are required to meet the child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) through a statement of SEN.
  • Statutory assessment involves gathering reports (sometimes known as advices) from a number of people involved with your child’s education including parents, school, medical/HSCT professionals, the Educational Psychologist and any other relevant professionals e.g. social services if involved.
  • The statutory assessment does not always result in a statement. After the assessment is carried out the EA may conclude that your child’s needs can be met by the school. Sometimes they may support this decision with an additional document called a Note in Lieu which may allow for access to some EA support services at Stage 3 of the Code of Practice. Click here for further information about the 5 stages of the Code of Practice
  • A statutory assessment is different from assessments that may be carried out by school, educational psychologists at Stage 3, or healthcare specialists e.g. Autism, Speech & Language.
  • Only the EA can carry out a statutory assessment of Special Educational Need and this is the only assessment that can lead to a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN)

When should I request a Statutory Assessment? 

  • If you feel your child’s needs cannot be met within the resources of the school and they are not making sufficient progress with the support they are already receiving, you might want to consider requesting a statutory assessment
  • Statutory assessments can be requested by those with parental responsibility any time from the age of 2 years until the child leaves school up to the age of 19 years.
  • A parent can request a statutory assessment at any time if they believe:
  1. that their child has significant and complex special educational needs that are impacting on their ability to learn and
  2. that the support they have received in school and by external professionals has not resulted in adequate progress.

Can anyone else request a Statutory Assessment? 

Yes.  A number of professionals can make this request on your behalf, for example the School Principal, the Educational Psychologist or Paediatrician.  If you make this request yourself however, you can be sure of the exact date your request was made, and you can follow up if deadlines are not adhered to.  You are also guaranteed your parental right of appeal if your request is refused.  These rights are important and are not guaranteed if others make the request for you.

Should I discuss this with the school first? 

Yes. Speak to the class teacher and the schools Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) about your concerns and if further support is not available from the school you can make your request for a statutory assessment directly to the Education Authority (EA). The school will be contacted by the EA for their advice once you make your request. The evidence to support your request will be stronger if the school agree with your concerns.

My school says that I will be ‘jumping the queue’ if I request an assessment.

This is not correct. There is no waiting list for statutory assessment, each request is considered in line with the statutory timeframe.

Often statutory assessment is confused with the assessment an Educational Psychologist (EP) will carry out at the school’s request. Each mainstream school in Northern Ireland is currently allocated a number of hours per year for consultation and assessment with the EP. This is commonly referred to as the ‘Time Allocation Model’. This is mostly but not exclusively for children at Stage 3 of the Code of Practice.

Conducting a statutory assessment at Stage 4 is wholly the statutory responsibility of the Education Authority. Educational Psychology time used for Statutory Assessment at Stage 4 is separate and additional to the hours allocated to schools under the Time Allocation Model.

Therefore, if a parent or school request a statutory assessment, the school will not lose any of the allocated hours for contact/referral or assessment for children requiring Stage 3 provision or Stage 3 assessment.

How do I request a Statutory Assessment? 

  • The request can be made in writing to the Education Officer (Special Needs) at the Education Authority office in the area you live. See contact details for EA’s regional offices here.
  • Get confirmation that the EA have received the letter/email. If you are delivering by hand, ask the person receiving the request to give you a receipt.
  • It is important to keep a copy of the letter and a note of the date it was sent so that you can check the timeframe Evidence of the date you sent your request is also needed if your request is unsuccessful and you wish to appeal the decision.
  • You can also request a Statutory Assessment online through the Education Authority’s website EA online request form You will find a walkthrough video on this page which explains how to complete the form.

What should I say in my request for a Statutory Assessment?

Your request for a statutory assessment should briefly and clearly set out the reasons you feel your child needs more help than the school or nursery is able to provide. Briefly outline any support or help that your child has already received and who (if anyone) from outside the school setting has been involved.

Bullet point the difficulties your child is having at school and at home and record information about any diagnosis or referrals you child may have. Your letter does not need to contain supporting documents/reports at this stage.

At this stage you are mainly triggering a statutory process, your request letter does not require full details about your child. You will be provided with another opportunity in the process to provide more information. You may wish to use this sample letter to request a statutory assessment

What happens next? 

  • Within a short time (within 10 days) you should receive a ‘Notice of Consideration’ letter from the EA saying that they are considering making a statutory assessment.
  • The letter will ask for your parental consent to seek advice from other professionals. It will include Parental Advice (Appendix A (1)) and Parental Evidence (Appendix A (2)) forms for you to submit  to support your request. You will be given 22 days to submit this information. It is at this point that you can send in supporting documents and evidence. The school will also be sent a form to complete at this stage.

How to provide parental evidence 

Click here  for further information

When will I find out if the EA are going to assess my child?

  • The EA must make their decision to assess, or not, within 6 weeks of your request.  They can make the decision earlier if they have received all the advice and evidence that they need to help them make a decision.
  • If the EA decide that a statutory assessment is necessary, they will tell you of their decision by letter, and the process of statutory assessment will begin.

After the EA have agreed to carry out the statutory assessment, they will request Appendix A (3) this is a proforma with specific questions to answer. If you have already covered these questions in appendix A (1) and A (2), you do not need to repeat yourself.  It is important that all three submissions are attached to the resulting Statement or Note in Lieu at the end of the process.

If the EA decide not to carry out a Statutory assessment, they must tell you why and inform you of your right to appeal their decision to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal SENDIST

You have 2 months from the day you receive the letter to appeal the decision. If you would like further information and support with appeals you may wish to contact our Appeal Service

Can I ask the EA for a re-assessment of my child’s educational needs?

You can ask for a statutory re-assessment if:

  • you believe that your child’s needs have changed since the last Statement was issued,
  • or if you believe that a different kind of help or provision is needed, or that more help is needed
  • or if you believe that your child should attend a different kind of school

Sample letter for requesting a statutory re assessment

Should I speak to the school and the EA first?

Yes. Speak to your child’s class teacher and the School Principal about your concerns. When you write to the EA to request a reassessment, explain why you think the current statement is not good enough and/or how the child’s needs have changed

What if the school offers to write on my behalf?

The Principal is able to write and ask for a reassessment, but if you do it yourself you can be sure that the request has definitely been made and you will know exactly when the request was made.

However, if the Principal is willing, you could ask him/her to write a letter which supports your parental request for a re-assessment.

Who should I write to?

Write to the Education Officer (Special Education) at your EA regional office.

https://www.eani.org.uk/contact/contact-us

The EA should contact you within 6 weeks to let you know if they are going to consider your request.

Keep a copy of the letter and make a note of when it was sent. This will be important if you need to appeal the EA’s decision.

In certain circumstances you can appeal if the EA decide not to re-assess or if they turn down your request to have your child placed in a different school. The EA must tell you when you have a right of appeal. If you have any doubts you may wish to contact our appeals service for clarification.

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