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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Special educational needs: statements

A statement of special educational needs (SEN) sets out your child's needs and the help they should have. It is reviewed annually to ensure that any extra support given continues to meet your child's needs.

Statements - setting out your child's needs

Once your local authority has carried out an assessment, they can decide to record the information they have in a statement of special educational needs (usually just called a 'statement').

This statement describes your child's SEN and the special help they should receive. The local authority usually makes a statement if they decide your child either:

  • doesn't seem to be making progress under School Action or School Action Plus
  • needs a lot of extra help

Your local authority should normally write and tell you whether they are going to write a statement within 12 weeks of beginning the assessment.

For more information on assessments, see 'Special educational needs: assessments'. For information on School Action and School Action Plus, see 'Special educational needs: a step-by-step approach'.

Statements - what they contain

A statement of SEN is set out in six parts:

  • part one gives general information about your child and a list of the advice the authority received as part of the assessment
  • part two gives the description of your child's needs following the assessment
  • part three describes all the special help to be given for your child's needs
  • part four gives the type and name of the school your child should go to and how any arrangements will be made out of school hours or off school premises
  • part five describes any non-educational needs your child has
  • part six describes how your child will get help to meet any non-educational needs

You are sent a draft statement before your local authority writes a final statement. It will be complete except for part four, which describes the type and name of school or education provided out of school. Part four will be left blank so that you can say what educational provision you want for your child.

How long you have to comment

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 state school, or non-maintained special school or independent school, you want your child to go to.

You can also ask for a meeting with the local authority 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 'Named Officer' at your local authority. This is the officer at the local authority who you will have been told is dealing with your child's case.

The local authority must make the final statement within eight weeks of the draft statement. It will send you a copy with part four filled in with the name of a school. The statement starts as soon as the local authority completes it.

If you disagree with the statement

If you disagree with the statement, first speak to your Named Officer. You might also find it helpful to contact your local parent partnership service, who can provide neutral advice and support.

You also have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) against parts two, three and four - the local authority will tell you about the local arrangements.

You have this right to appeal to the SENDIST even if you are trying to sort out disagreements informally with the local authority.

Annual review and meeting

Your local authority 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 review 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, and will see if it needs changing in any way. You are also asked for your views on your child's progress.

You can take a friend or an independent adult, and your child should be able to attend at least part of the meeting.

After the meeting, the school sends you a copy of its report. The headteacher sends a report to the local authority recommending any agreed changes to the statement. This must be within 10 working days of the annual review meeting or by the end of term, whichever is sooner.

The local authority may then decide to make changes to your child's statement.

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