Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Needs

Provision for special educational needs – From 1 September 2014, the Children and Families Act 2014 has introduced changes to the legislation affecting how children and young people’s special educational needs are met. There are new requirements for education, health and social care services to work more closely together. Alongside this, the services which are universally available to children and families will be set out in a Local Offer.

Significantly, the former system of issuing statements of special educational needs for children with complex or severe needs has been replaced by a new assessment process which will lead (for some children) to an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). EHCPs can be issued between the ages of 0-25. An EHCP is a legal document which will have similar statutory power to a statement of special educational needs, but which will also describe a child or young person’s health and care needs where these are significant.

At school, most children will make progress with the support of their class teacher through the school’s arrangements known as School Support. School governing bodies are required to publish detailed information about their arrangements for identifying, assessing and making provision for pupils with SEN. This must be school-specific and describe a school’s arrangements for providing a graduated response to children’s SEN. This is known as the School Offer.

For the small number of children with complex/severe needs who do not make enough progress despite intervention from the school, it may be necessary for a statutory assessment of the child’s special educational needs to be undertaken by the SEND Operations Service.

Contact details for the SEND Operations team:

Mid Essex (Braintree, Chelmsford, Halstead and Maldon): 0333 013 9949
North East Essex (Colchester and Tendring): 0333 013 7667
South Essex (Basildon, Billericay, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford and Wickford)0333 013 4736
West Essex (Epping, Harlow and Uttlesford): 0333 013 9911

The new SEND Code of Practice requires the SEND Operations Service to implement a person-centred approach to assessment and planning. In Essex we call this One Planning. The starting point for an assessment will be to consider whether a child or young person’s special educational needs can be met through the provision available within the School Offer. We expect that most children or young people will have their needs met this way because increased resources have been provided to schools.

The Essex criteria for undertaking a statutory assessment can be found here: Essex criteria for statutory assessment

When we receive a request for a statutory assessment we will need to collect and collate a range of information about your child which might include:

  • A copy of the child’s One Plan
  • Detailed information about the action taken, and the support already given by the school
  • Information about the child’s health or medical history where relevant
  • Information about any other difficulties the child may have
  • Other assessment information that is already available, such as from a specialist advisory teacher or an educational psychologist
  • Views of the parent/carers and the child
  • Information from other professionals involved with your child

In most cases, we do expect that much of this information will already be available as a result of good One Planning which might, for example, have been led by your child’s school. We hope that this will help to speed up the process so that parents do not have to wait too long for an answer. We expect to deal with requests for assessment within four to six weeks.

If an assessment goes ahead, the whole process must usually be completed within twenty weeks. Parents/carers and all involved professionals will be closely involved in drawing up EHCPs where these are needed.

Advice and support for parents/young people in relation to the statutory assessment process is available from: