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Special Educational Needs

Children with special needs

A child who has special needs should get extra assistance at school if they have significantly more difficulty learning than other children of the same age or have a disability which affects how they can use educational facilities that are usually provided for children of the same age in the same area.

A learning difficulty can be the result of, for example:

  • a disability
  • behavioural problems
  • problems in learning to read

Your child does not have a special need just because the language they speak at home is different from the language used at school.

In most cases, the school should decide what help children with learning difficulties need. Children who have significant difficulties will need what is known as "A Statutory Assessment" from the Local Education Authority. If you think your child has learning difficulties you can ask for such an assessment to be carried out. There is a legal process which the Local Education Authority must follow to decide if your child does need a Statutory Assessment. If they refuse to assess your child you can appeal to a special Educational Needs Tribunal.

If the Local Education Authority decides that your child needs an assessment, they must ask for reports on your child from:

a) you 
b) a doctor 
c) an Educational Psychologist 
d) the school

You have the right to be present at any examination of your child. If you refuse to let your child be examined by a health or educational professional, the Local Education Authority might take you to Court to compel you to do so.

Your own report on your child can include your opinions and experiences and reports by other professionals who may have seen your child.

The Local Authority must then decide whether your child does need the type of help that they can only obtain through "A Statement of Special Educational Needs".  This is a legal document produced by the Local Education Authority which sets out your child's learning needs and the help they should receive to meet those needs.

The Statement must also specify where your child will be educated although this may continue to be at the school which your child is already attending. Indeed, most children with Statements are taught in ordinary schools.

You have the right to appeal to a Special Educational Needs Tribunal if you do not agree with what the Local Authority has decided for your child in the Statement.

Please note that although every effort is made to ensure that this page is accurate and up-to-date, it should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law and does not constitute legal advice - we cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences. This information is written for people resident in, or affected by, the laws of England and Wales only.

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