A Statement of Special Educational Needs (Statement) is a legal document which sets out a child’s educational needs and outlines how the Education Authority (EA) will meet those needs in an educational setting.
Most children’s needs can be met by their school at stages 1-3. This is sometimes with the help of outside specialists. However, some children’s needs are significant and complex, and the necessary educational provision cannot be provided within the resources normally available to mainstream schools or your child may require a specialist setting. This is where a Statement would be required and the process of getting a statement is through a statutory assessment.
To get a Statement your child will need a Statutory Assessment The Statutory Assessment process is at Stage 4 and a Statement is issued at Stage 5 of the Special Educational Needs framework.
Proposed or Draft Statement
After a Statutory Assessment has been carried out and the EA decides that a Statement is required, they will send you a copy of the proposed Statement so that you have an opportunity to comment on it.
Letter with the Proposed Statement
The letter with the proposed Statement will also contain copies of the professional reports they received as part of the Statutory Assessment, for example, reports from school or nursery, health trust reports and the educational psychologist report. These reports are sometimes referred to as ‘advices’.
The letter will also include a form for you to name your school of choice and comment on whether you agree with the proposed Statement. You may wish to ask for more to be added to the proposed Statement or ask for more information on the level and type of support proposed. You have 15 days to make your written comments, sometimes called ‘representations’.
Amended proposed statement
The EA may then send you either an amended proposed Statement with all or some of your requested changes
the EA will issue the final Statement with a letter explaining your right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) If you are not satisfied with the final Statement you have the right to appeal to the SENDIST
If you would like help with a proposed statement click here for details of SENAC’s Advice and Advocacy services
What does a Statement look like?
There are six parts to a statement
Part 1: Introduction
This part contains information on your child’s name, date of birth, home language (if not English) and religion. This part will also detail the names and addresses of those who hold parental responsibility.
Part 2: Special Educational Needs (Learning Difficulties)
This section includes details on each of your child’s special educational needs that have been identified during Statutory Assessment. The advices/reports which were gathered during the assessment are attached to the back of the Statement in the appendices. It is important to check that every special educational need that is identified in the advices is included in Part 2. You can check this by underlining all the educational needs mentioned in each advice and check that these appear in Part 2, then you can move on to Part 3 and check that there is provision detailed in Part 3 to meet each of these needs.
Part 3: Special Educational Provision (Other than Placement)
This part has 3 sub-sections
- Objectives – these are the main educational and developmental goals that you want the provision to achieve.
- Educational provision – details of the educational provision that the EA considers appropriate for the difficulties described in Part 2. The provision in this section should be detailed, specific and quantified. It should set out clearly for example staffing arrangements, equipment or any modifications to the curriculum.
- Monitoring – the arrangements to monitor and review your child’s progress. This will include the preparation of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) by the class teacher and SENCo. A statement should be reviewed annually
For every need described in Part 2 there should be an objective and specified and quantified provision included in Part 3. There should be a description of all the provision to be put in place. In practice however, it is usually only where classroom assistance is offered that specific and quantified provision is detailed. Paragraph 4.21 of the Code of Practice states that “The provision set out should normally be specific, detailed and quantified (in terms, for example, of hours of ancillary or specialist teaching support.)”
Note: In regards to additional adult assistance, if your child needs a full-time one-to-one classroom assistant and/or supervisory assistance and the evidence in the advices supports this, you should request in your response to the draft that this should be written into Part 3, with the number of hours required, the level and type of assistance stated and written as one-to-one for your child alone.
The EA have a legal duty to ensure that the educational provision in Part 3 is arranged, even if some of the provision is to be provided by the school or Health Trust.
Note: It is often the case that general or vague phrases are used in Parts 2 & 3 such as ‘access to adult assistance’ or ‘autistic tendencies’. If you cannot tell from reading the Statement exactly what provision your child is being offered it will be harder to challenge.
Who decides what support is provided for my child?
The EA decides what education provision will be offered in Part 3 based on the ‘advice’ they receive from those who have contributed to the Statutory Assessment. So, it is extremely important that the evidence of need and recommendations for provision is included in the ’advices’. If it is not included you cannot request other provision, however, you can ask for further explanation and description of the specific provision included in Part 3.
You can also ask that the content of an ‘advice’ is reconsidered if you feel the EA have omitted an identified need, a recommendation or a strategy contained within an ‘advice’. If the EA agree to this it will be reflected in the final statement if not, you can appeal the contents of Part 2 and/or 3 to the SENDIST
What provision can be offered in Part 3 of a Statement?
All needs that are detailed in Part 2 should have provision which should be specified in Part 3.
Below are some examples of commonly offered provision. These are illustrative and are by no means an exhaustive list. The assessment of your child may call for any number of supports not listed here:
- Placement in a specialist or small group setting.
- Adult assistance in the classroom (for example a learning support assistant or teaching assistant)
- A behaviour management programme
- Specialist teaching, especially if the teaching is required for an area of learning that no support service exists. For example, numeracy.
- Mentor or Key Adult.
- Access to specialist services such as EA Learning Support Services (e.g. Literacy or Behaviour Support) or Health and Social Care Services (e.g. Therapies, or counselling).
- Training and expertise of staff to have knowledge and understanding of your child’s individual needs.
- Access arrangements for assessments/exams, such as extra time.
- Use of technology as an alternative way of delivering the curriculum.
- Access to a safe space or a sensory room.
- Adaptations made to the Curriculum to meet the child’s needs for example, modifications, differentiation or exemptions from subjects
Part 4: Special Educational Provision: Placement
In a final Statement, Part 4 will name the school that the EA decide is appropriate to meet the needs of your child. In a proposed/draft Statement, this section is left blank. This is because parents have the right to express a preference for a school.
You can express a preference for a grant-aided mainstream or special school or make representations for a placement in any other school, such as an independent or non-grant-aided mainstream or special school
Once you express a preference for a particular school, the EA must name the school in Part 4 of the final statement unless one of the following three conditions cannot be satisfied:
- The placement must be appropriate to the child’s needs
- The child’s attendance there must be compatible with the interests of the children already in the school
- The placement is compatible with the most efficient use of resources
Can my request for a school be turned down?
Yes. If your preference is turned down the EA have a duty to demonstrate that one of the three conditions above has not been met and why your request has been refused.
You may be refused on the grounds that the class in question is deemed as full. As children with statements are supernumerary (funded in addition to normal funding), class size cannot be the reason for refusal to place a child in the preferred setting. If the EA feel that another class in the area can offer the same provision, it would be more compatible with efficient use of resources to send your child there.
If, however, there is no other suitable school that can offer the same provision, then the EA would have a duty to arrange suitable resources to ensure that your child’s attendance at your preferred choice would not impact the learning of the children already in that class.
Requesting a placement, or school, does not guarantee that your child will be placed there. If the EA does not name your first choice of school or if no school is named, you have the right to appeal to SENDIST.
Part 5: Non-educational needs
This part describes any non-educational needs as agreed with the health and social services and/or other agencies and the EA. Only needs that are not relevant to the education of your child should be detailed in this section. If there are needs described here that would have an impact on your child’s learning, then you should request that they are moved to Part 2
If your child has been assessed as requiring transport, this will be identified in Part 5.
Part 6: Non-educational provision
Part 6 should clearly set out any non- educational provision required to meet the non-educational needs included in Part 5. This is normally provided by health services and/or social services in response to a request from the EA. However, no-one has an enforceable legal duty to put in place the provision outlined in Part 6.
It is therefore important that all your child’s educational needs are described in Part 2 and the provision is stated in Part 3. This may include therapies such as speech and language and occupational therapy.
If relevant for your child, details of the type of transport provision will be detailed in this section.
It is important to request that any needs that could impact learning are moved from this section to the Special Educational Needs Sections (Parts 2 and 3) as the EA do not have a duty to arrange the provision listed in Parts 6.
The only exception to this is EA transport, which is arranged by the EA’s transport office.
Right to appeal the final Statement
If you are unhappy with the contents of your child’s final Statement (Parts 2-4 only) you have a right of appeal to SENDIST within two months of the date you received the letter sent with the final statement.
If you would like further help with appealing decisions made by the Education Authority click here for contact details of SENAC’s Appeals Service