Statements - setting out your child's needs
Once the Education Authority (EA) in your region has assessed your child, they can decide to record the information they have in a statement of special educational needs.
This statement describes your child's needs and the special help they should receive. The EA usually makes a statement if they think your child's school cannot provide this help.
The EA should write and tell you whether they are going to write a statement within 12 weeks of beginning the assessment.
What's in a statement of special educational needs
A statement of special educational needs has six parts:
- general information about your child and the advice the EA received from the assessment
- a description of your child's needs following the assessment
- the special help to be given for your child's needs
- the type and name of the school your child should go to and any arrangements out of school hours or off school premises
- any non-educational needs your child has
- how your child will get help to meet any non-educational needs
You are sent a draft before the EA writes a final statement. It will be complete except for part four which is left blank so that you can say what educational provision you want for your child.
Commenting on a statement
You have time to review the draft statement and have the right to disagree with its contents. You have 15 days to comment and to say which school you want your child to go to.
You can also ask for a meeting with the EA and you have another 15 days to ask for more meetings after that. Within 15 days of your last meeting, you can send in any more comments.
If you would like more time to comment, you should talk to the officer at the EA who is dealing with your child's case.
The EA must make the final statement within eight weeks of the draft statement. They'll send you a copy with part four filled in with the name of a school.
If you disagree with the statement
If you disagree with the statement, first speak to the EA officer dealing with your child's case. You might also find it helpful to contact the Special Education, Disputes Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS) which can provide neutral advice and support.
You also have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
You can still appeal to the tribunal even if you are trying to sort out disagreements informally with the EA.
Annual review and meeting
The EA in your region must review your child's statement at least once a year, checking your child's progress and making sure that the statement continues to meet their needs. Your child's school will invite you to a meeting and ask you to send in your views on your child's progress over the past year.
The review meeting looks at written reports and at your child's statement to see if it needs changing in any way. You can take a friend or an independent adult and your child should be able to come to at least part of the meeting.
After the meeting, the school should send you a copy of its report. The headteacher also sends a report to the EA recommending any agreed changes.
This must be within ten working days of the annual review meeting, or by the end of term, whichever is sooner. The EA may then decide to make changes to your child's statement.