Special Education Needs (SEN)

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: What is a statutory assessment?

Answer: A statutory assessment is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what your child’s special educational needs are and what special help they need. This is only necessary if the school cannot provide all the help that your child needs. - Related Link

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Question: How can I get a statement for my child?

Answer: You have the right to request a statutory assessment of your child’s special educational needs. In order to do this you would need to write to your local education authority (LEA) with this request. However, we would always advise that you discuss this with your child’s school before doing so; the Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice on this. They can be contacted on 01983 825548 or via email parentpartnership@iow.gov.uk .

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Question: I am worried that my child is having difficulties at school – what can I do?

Answer: If you have any worries or concerns, you should speak to your child’s school straight away. The school can help your child through School Action or School Action Plus. For an explanation of School Action and School Action Plus – see separate FAQ. If your child does not make progress with this help then the school can make a request to the local education authority to commence a statutory assessment of the child’s special educational needs.

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Question: How long does the statutory assessment take?

Answer: The whole procedure takes 26 weeks.

Once we receive a referral we have six weeks to advise you of the LEA’s (Local Education Authority) decision. If it has decided against starting a statutory assessment of your child’s special educational needs, you will be given reasons why and details of what you can do next – a copy of this letter will also be sent to their school.

If the LEA (Local Education Authority) has agreed to start a statutory assessment, it has 12 weeks to gather the information required and decide if a statement is necessary. The LEA will aim to issue the final statement within 8 weeks of the date of the proposed statement.


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Question: What help is available for me as a parent?

Answer: Parent Partnership is an independent parental service which provides advice and guidance for parents of children with special educational needs. They are based at 11 Orchard Street, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO3O 1JZ and can be contacted on 01983 825548 or parentpartnership@iow.gov.uk

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Question: What happens after the assessment?

Answer: Within 12 weeks of starting the assessment the LEA may, from looking at all the information received, issue your child with a ‘Statement of Special Educational Needs’. If the LEA decides not to make a statement, it will explain its reasons why and issue a ‘Note in Lieu’.

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Question: What happens to the statement when my child leaves school?

Answer: The statement would automatically lapse and if they go onto college/university it would be the college’s responsibility to consider any special educational needs.

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Question: I am moving to the Island soon, what should I do as my child has a statement?

Answer: We would advise you to contact us as soon possible on 01983 823412/823456 to discuss the procedure.

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Question: What if these mainstream schools cannot meet my child’s special educational needs?

Answer: A few children have special needs which are so severe or complex that they cannot be supported properly in mainstream schools. In these cases we may agree a place in a non-maintained or independent special school, with special facilities.

We will only make a decision about a non-maintained or independent special school after a very detailed assessment. And we will only consider specialist boarding schools approved by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). We take great care to make sure that a
suitable school is selected. This involves detailed discussions between us and the child’s family.


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Question: What are special educational needs?

Answer: The term ‘special educational needs’ has a legal definition. All children with special educational needs have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. They may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age because of a range of needs such as in their thinking and understanding, physical or sensory difficulties, emotional and behavioural problems or difficulties with speech and language.


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Question: What changes are happening to the SEN system?

Answer: From 1 September 2014, some of the key changes include:
• Replacing the statement of SEN with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
• Allowing young people with SEN from birth and up to the age of 19 to have an Education, Health and Care Plan and, in some cases, up to 25.
• Giving some parents and young people the option of a Personal Budget to purchase some elements of the SEN support needed.
• Requiring local authorities to set out a ‘Local Offer’ of what support they expect to be available for children and young people with SEN and disabilities.
• Changing the SEN Code of Practice; this sets out the government’s expectations on what local authorities, schools and other bodies should be doing to support children with SEN and disabilities.
• New and explicit requirements around the involvement of children, young people and parents in decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN and disabilities.
• Requiring education, social care and health services to work together to support children with SEN and disabilities through the ‘joint commissioning’ of services.


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Question: My child is at pre-school and I think they need a statement – what can I do?

Answer: Discuss this with your child’s pre-school/nursery or contact the Early Years SEN Service on 01983 821000 for advice.

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Question: My child is at pre-school and I am worried that they are having difficulties – what can I do?

Answer: Discuss this with your child’s pre-school/nursery or contact the Early Years SEN Service on 01983 821000 for advice. The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: I am worried that my child is having difficulties at school – what can I do?

Answer: If you think your child may have special educational needs that have not been identified by their school, you will need to talk to your child’s teacher, or ask to the see the Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) ([this is the person in the school who has a particular responsibility for co-ordinating help for children with special educational needs]) or Headteacher. You will be able to talk about your concerns and find out what the school thinks.

The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: What are ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’?

Answer: ‘School Action’ is the first stage of identifying a child’s special educational needs. This is done through the school. If a child requires more help then they move onto ‘School Action Plus’ – this would involve advice/support from outside agencies e.g. Educational Psychology, Speech, Language & Communication Therapy Service etc. If after this your child is still not making progress then a request for statutory assessment is made. You should be consulted at each stage by your child’s school.

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Question: My child is on School Action/School Action Plus. What will happen to these categories under the new SEN reforms?

Answer: From the 1 September 2014, these categories will be replaced with a single category called SEN Support. Children and young people should be transferred to this new category by September 2015. The new SEND Code of Practice (2014) outlines a ‘graduated approach’ for SEN support.
Under this approach, all early years and education providers must continue to use their ‘best endeavours’ to meet the special educational needs of children/young people and ensure that they have the support they need. They are expected to follow a process being called ‘assess, plan, do, and review’. The need for high quality teaching is emphasised.

Schools are required to keep records of individual children’s progress which explains how they are monitoring and evaluating any SEN support provided. However, it is left to schools to decide how they will do this. There is no specific requirement to use ‘individual education plans’.

Regardless of these changes, education settings are still required to follow the Equality Act 2010 in meeting the needs of children/young people. This includes taking steps to proactively consider the needs of children and young people and making reasonable adjustments to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in their education.


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Question: How can I get an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) for my child?

Answer: Any professional working to support your child can request that the Local Authority (LA) carries out an education, health and care needs assessment. Requests are most often made by the Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or the Headteacher of your child’s education setting, but can be made at any time from birth to the age of 25. You can talk to any of the people who support your child about an assessment and, if they agree that an assessment is needed, they should sit down with you to complete the request form.

You or your child if they are aged 16+ (or their advocate) can also make a request for an assessment by writing to the SEN Assessment & Review Team. In your letter you will need to include your child’s name, date of birth, which education setting they attend and reasons why you feel that an education, health and care needs assessment is needed. We would always advise that you discuss this with your child’s school before doing so; the Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice on this. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them.
- Related Link

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Question: What is an education, health and care needs assessment?

Answer: An education, health and care needs assessment is a co-ordinated and detailed exploration to find out exactly what your child’s special educational needs are and looks at outcomes for them to achieve and decide on the support they will receive to help them to do this.

An education, health and care needs assessment is only necessary if your child’s education setting cannot provide all of the help that they need and will usually only happen after the graduated approach has been followed. The assessment will also identify needs in the area of health and social care if your child has needs in these areas.


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Question: How long does an Education, Health & Care needs assessment take?

Answer: The whole procedure takes 20 weeks.
Once a referral for an assessment has been received, the Local Authority has six weeks to advise you of the decision. If it has decided not to start a statutory assessment of your child’s education, health and care needs, you will be given reasons why and details of what you can do next – a copy of this letter will also be sent to your child’s school.

If the Local Authority has agreed to start a statutory assessment, it has 6 weeks to gather the information required and decide if an Education, Health & Care Plan is necessary. The Local Authority will aim to issue the final Education, Health & Care Plan within 4 weeks of the date of the draft plan.

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Question: How will the Local Authority know what progress my child is making?

Answer: Once the Local Authority has issued a statement it must check your child’s progress and make sure that the statement is meeting their special educational needs. The statement must be reviewed at least once a year and this is called an Annual Review. There are two main purposes to the annual review:
• Is the statement still needed?
• Are any amendments to the statement needed?

This meeting will be arranged by your child’s school and will involve yourself, your child and other relevant professionals e.g. educational psychologist, health authority, Social Services etc.


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Question: My child was referred for statutory assessment/education, health & care needs assessment but this was turned down – what can I do now?

Answer: If after considering the evidence submitted the Local Authority decides not to carry out a statutory assessment, we will write and tell you the reasons why. You will receive a formal letter with the reasons and details of your right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal if you disagree with the Local Authority’s decision. You can also ask for a meeting with your Casework Officer.
The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them.
- Related Link

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Question: How will the Local Authority know what progress my child is making?

Answer: The Local Authority must check your child’s progress and make sure the Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan continues to meet their special educational needs. This must be done at least once a year for children and young people aged five years and over and six monthly for those children up to five years of age, but there may be more frequent reviews, depending on your child’s needs.
You will be contacted with a date for the review meeting, usually by your child’s education setting, inviting you to attend. Before the meeting, you should be asked for your views on your child’s progress since the last review.
There are two main purposes to the annual review:
• Is the plan still needed?
• Are any amendments to the plan needed?
This meeting will be arranged by your child’s school and will involve yourself, your child and other relevant professionals e.g. educational psychologist, health authority, Social Services etc.
This process is the same if your child currently has a Statement of SEN.


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Question: Can I ask my child’s school to hold his/her annual review earlier?

Answer: Yes you can, however, we would advise that you discuss this with your school.

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Question: I have a general complaint about special education provision. What can I do?

Answer: The local authority, education provider or health provider must work with you to try and resolve the disagreement. The local authority must also ensure that parents and young people have access to an independent disagreement resolution service. The Local Offer should provide details of this service and how you can make use of it if there is anything you’re not happy about. Whether or not you use a disagreement resolution service is completely optional.

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Question: My child has a statement and I’m not happy about what’s in it. What can I do?

Answer: You can ask to meet with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) of your child’s education setting to discuss your concerns and you can also ask that your Casework Officer be present in the meeting. If you would like some support in contacting the school, the Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: My child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (or is being assessed for one) and I’m not happy about the section on education

Answer: Your rights of appeal remain similar to what’s currently in place for those with statements. The main change is that you will be required to consider mediation before progressing your complaint to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
Mediation is optional. However, you will need to let a mediation advisor know that you do not wish to undergo mediation before you can progress your complaint. Mediation is not necessary if the appeal to Tribunal is about disability discrimination or about a dispute over whether a child should go to a particular school or placement.

The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: My child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (or is being assessed for one) and I’m not happy about the sections on health or social care

Answer: If the health or social care needs relates to your child’s SEN, then you can still complain against the local authority. This is because the local authority is still responsible for special educational provision.
However, if your complaint is about wider health or social care provision, then you need to pursue the complaint separately. These complaints cannot be taken to a Tribunal.
You can still ask for support from a disagreement resolution service or mediation with the health or social care provider to try and resolve the complaint.

The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: My complaint is about something else. What should I do?

Answer: Section 11 (page 232 onwards) of the new SEND Code of Practice (2014) has more information about the different ways you can make a complaint, depending on what the complaint is about.
You can download a free copy of the Code of Practice from the Department for Education – www.education.gov.uk.
The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: My child has just been issued with an Education, Health & Care Plan and I am deciding on a school placement for him/her. What happens if my preference of school is not met?

Answer: A Local Authority will have to agree to a placement unless they feel it would be an inefficient use of resources or if it would have a negative impact on other pupils at that school if your child was to attend. If you disagree with the local authority, you will be able to make a request for the case to be considered by a SEN and Disability Tribunal.

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Question: What if a mainstream school on the Island cannot meet my child’s special educational needs?

Answer: A few children have special needs which are so severe or complex that they cannot be supported properly in mainstream schools. In these cases we may agree a place in a non-maintained or independent special school, with special facilities. We will only make a decision about a non-maintained or independent special school after a very detailed assessment. And we will only consider specialist boarding schools approved by the Department for Education. We take great care to make sure that a suitable school is selected. This involves detailed discussions between us and the child’s family.

The Parent Partnership Service can also offer advice and support to you. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: My child has a Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan and are in their last year of primary school. What do I need to do about a secondary school place?

Answer: The Local Authority is required to amend a child’s Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan by 15 February in readiness for them starting at a secondary school in the September of the same calendar year.

The SEN Assessment & Review Team manages the admissions process for children with a Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan and will write to parents to ask them for their secondary school choice towards the end of the calendar year when they (child) has started Year 6. Parents will have 15 days to make their choice. If no choice is received, the Local Authority will allocate your child a place in their local school. Children with Statements of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plans will generally be educated in mainstream schools however if you express a preference for a school that is not a priority school for your area, you may be responsible for transport arrangements/costs.

The issue of secondary school placement should be discussed at the Year 5 annual review meeting which is held the year before they are due to transfer.

The secondary schools will have open evenings for prospective parents to have a look around and meet school staff. You will need to contact the schools directly for dates of times of these open evenings. Alternatively, you can arrange to visit the school outside of the opening evenings and if required, Parent Partnership can help you with this.. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them.


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Question: What is a statement of special educational needs?

Answer: A statement is a legal document which sets out your child’s learning needs and the educational provision which the school should put in place in order to address these needs.

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Question: What is in a Statement of Special Educational Needs?

Answer: A statement is a legal document which describes all your child’s special educational needs and the special help they should receive. A statement is set out in 6 parts:
Part 1 – Sets out your own and your child’s personal details e.g. address, date of birth, religion, etc. It also lists all the information received as part of the statutory assessment.
Part 2 – Details your child’s special educational needs as identified during the assessment.
Part 3 – Details the help your child should get to meet their needs as described in Part 2, long term aims, setting short-term targets, how progress will be monitored.
Part 4 – Names the school your child is attending/will attend.
Part 5 – Describes any non-educational needs your child may have which have been agreed between the LEA and the health service, social services etc e.g. medical needs
Part 6 – Details of how your child will get help to meet their needs as described in Part 5 e.g. medical treatment and care.


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Question: How long does a statement last?

Answer: The statement could last for the entire length of your child’s school career or just part of it. If the Local Authority decides to remove your child’s statement they will advise you in writing first with the reasons why, which will be in the form of a proposal to cease the statement. You will be given the opportunity to contact the Local Authority if you are unhappy with this decision. If the Local Authority does not hear from you within the specified time, the statement will be ceased 10 weeks from the date of the official notice.

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Question: My child has a statement. When will this change over to an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Answer: Local authorities will have some flexibility for how they move children over to the new system. However, the Government has made it clear that they expect children and young people to move over at key ‘transition’ points.

All Statements must be changed over to an Education, Health and Care Plan by April 2018;

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Question: My child is in further education and has a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA). When will this change over to an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Answer: Local authorities will have some flexibility for how they move children over to the new system. However, the Government has made it clear that they expect children and young people to move over at key ‘transition’ points.
All learning difficulty assessments (LDAs) must be changed over to an Education, Health and Care Plan by 1 September 2016.


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Question: My child was issued with a ‘Note in Lieu’ – what is that?

Answer: A Note in Lieu of a Statement summarises all the information gathered during the assessment along with advice for school/professionals in meeting your child’s special educational needs, unlike a statement it has no legal status. The formal letter attached to it will also give you details of your right to appeal if you disagree with the decision not to issue a statement.



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Question: Are there any special schools on the Island?

Answer: Yes, there are two special schools on the Island, both are for children with severe and complex learning difficulties, Medina House is for children up to National Curriculum Year 6 and St George’s School is for children National Curriculum Year 7 and above. - Related Link

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Question: My child has Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan; would he/she be entitled to transport to and from school?

Answer: There is no separate transport policy for children/young people who have a Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan and the criterion specified in the Isle of Wight Council’s Transport Policy would apply.

If you would like your child to attend a school which is further away from their nearest, suitable school, the Local Authority is not obliged to provide transport. The Local Authority could either name a nearer school or name your preferred school which is the further one, but you as the child’s parent would be responsible for the transport costs. However, each case would be considered on an individual basis. Please contact the SEN Assessment & Review Team on (01983) 823470 to discuss your child’s case further and to request a transport application form.

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Question: What is the Code of Practice?

Answer: The Special Educational Needs & Disability Code of Practice (2014) gives guidance to all people that help to identify, assess and provide extra support for children with special educational needs.
All early years settings, schools, academies and colleges are responsible for meeting special educational needs through teaching that is adapted and personalised for individual children. Some children will need support that is additional to or different from that which is provided for most of their peers. This kind of help is called special educational provision and all education settings must make every effort to ensure that this is in place for children who need it.
You can download a free copy of the Code of Practice from the Department for Education – www.education.gov.uk.


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Question: What help is available for me as a parent?

Answer: Parent Partnership is an independent parental service which provides advice and guidance for parents of children with special educational needs. Please click on the 'Links' tab to visit their website for further information or to contact them. - Related Link

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Question: I am moving to the Island soon, what should I do as my child has a Statement of SEN/Education, Health & Care Plan?

Answer: We would advise you to contact the SEN Assessment & Review Team here on the Island as soon possible on (01983) 823470 or via email at sen@iow.gov.uk to discuss the procedure and begin the process of identifying suitable school placement and provision. We would also advise that you inform your current Local Authority of your move so that information can be passed on.

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Question: I am moving to the Mainland soon, what should I do as my child has a Statement/Education, Health & Care Plan?

Answer: We would advise you to contact the SEN Team within the Local Authority of the area you intend to move to as soon as possible so that suitable school placement and provision can be explored. We would also advise that you inform the SEN Assessment & Review Team on (01983) 823470 or via email at sen@iow.gov.uk of your intention to move so that information can be passed on.

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Question: My child has a Statement. Will they get an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Answer: Most likely, yes. The Department for Education has said that all children who are eligible for a Statement should also be eligible for an Education, Health and Care Plan. The only cases where existing children and young people might not change over to a Plan is if:
a) Their needs have significantly changed.
b) Your child is no longer in education or training before the planned changeover.
No ‘new’ Statements can be issued after the 1st September 2014 (unless your child was already being assessed for one immediately before that date). And all Statements must be changed over to an Education, Health and Care Plan by April 2018. Please see the following link for the Isle of Wight Council’s transfer review plan: - Related Link

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Question: Can a 0-2 year old have an EHC plan?

Answer: Yes. A child under 2 can have an EHC plan. Special educational provision for a child under 2 can be educational provision of any kind. Anyone can bring a child who is under 2 to the attention of the local authority. The local authority will then need to consider whether it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for them in accordance with a plan.

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