Identifying children with Special Educational Needs.
Support provided by the school
The code of practice envisages a gradual approach to identifying and addressing learning needs. The starting point is in-class support.
What is always required is an intensive analysis of whether the child is making adequate progress (see SEN Code of Practice) to do this one must evaluate the progress the child has made.
This Code provides the following non-exhaustive of criteria when determining if a child has made appropriate progress this includes when the child's progress is :
• similar to that of peers starting from the same base line;
• matches or betters a child’s previous rate of progress;
• closes the attainment gap between a child and his or her peers and
• prevents the attainment gap from growing wider.
The SEN Code of Practice states at paragraph 6.44:
Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. This SEN support should take the form of a four-part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes. This is known as the graduated approach. It draws on more detailed approaches, more frequent review and more specialist expertise in successive cycles in order to match interventions to the SEN of children and young people.
The four part cycle is as follows:
What to do if a child requires more provision than a mainstream school is able to provide them with?
There are broadly two scenarios that can occur.
1) When a mainstream school has used all the resources available to it to try to meet that child’s needs but if the child is continuing not to achieve his academic potential. The guidance in the SEND Code states when, despite the setting having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child, the child has not made expected progress, the setting should consider requesting an EHC needs assessment.
2) However there will always be cases where a child needs more support than the school is able to provide and it is obvious that the school will not be able to meet that child’s special educational needs. There will be cases where a child’s educational needs are so significant that the local authority or the Tribunal stepping into its shoes would not wait for the provision to be put in place by the school to fail before providing additional support. In such circumstances a needs assessment should take place immediately.
The needs assessment process (previously referred to as the statutory assessment process)
A parent of a child under the age of 16 or a school can request an assessment of a child’s special educational needs. The local authority must carry out an assessment if after reviewing all the evidence they conclude that a child may require their special needs to be determined by the provision of a Plan.
The local authority has six weeks to respond to a request for an assessment. The local authority must when considering if they will undertake an assessment notify the head teacher of the school of the child and social services.
The local authority must provide needs assessment for the child or young person if the evidence determines that the child has or may have special needs and it may be necessary for a Plan to be issued.
The SEN Code of Practice provides a useful checklist of the things which local authorities should consider in making a decision.
• Academic attainment and rates of progress;
• Nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
• Evidence of action already being taken by placement;
• Evidence that where progress has been made, it is only as a result of additional intervention and support above that usually provided;
• Evidence of physical, emotional and social development and health needs.
If you are unsuccessful in obtaining an assessment, there is a process of appeal available to you to a body called the first tier Tribunal. This will be dealt with in detail later.
The assessment process – the starting blocks to obtaining a Plan.
The evidence that the local authority must gather includes:
• Advice and information from the child’s parent or the young person.
• Evidence from the head teacher or principal of the school.
• Medical advice and information from an education psychologist.
• Advice and information in relation to social care.
• Advice from any other person the local authority thinks appropriate (i.e. speech and language therapist and occupational therapist)
• Advice and information from any person the child’s parent or the young person requests the local authority seeks advice from.
If a local authority decides, after conducting the assessment, that they will not issue a Plan they must inform the child’s parent or young person within a maximum of sixteen weeks from the request for an EHC needs assessment. If a Plan is not issued there is a right of appeal to the Tribunal.
In coming to its conclusion, the local authority must consider whether it:
A) has all the information available to it in relation to a child’s special educational needs and
special needs and disability
B) a clear understanding of what provision a child requires.
If it does have all the information available to it the Authority must determine:
1. Whether the special educational provision required to meet the child or young person’s needs can reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers, schools and post-16 institutions; or
2. Whether it may be necessary for the local authority to make special educational provision available by the provision of a Plan.