Special educational needs statutory assessment process

Support for children who have the most significant and long-term special educational needs

Frequently asked questions

What does a statutory assessment means for me and my child?
Statutory assessment is a very detailed assessment of your child’s educational needs and any special help that they require. The the local authority (LA) will use the statutory assessment process to decide whether a statement of special educational needs is necessary.

When will a statutory assessment be carried out?
The Special Education Needs Code of Practice (2002) is very clear in its advice that most children with special educational needs should be supported in their school or early education setting.

However if your child still does not seem to be making enough progress or needs a lot of extra help, the local authority (LA) may decide to carry out a statutory assessment of your child’s needs. It is usually only required for children who have long-term special educational needs which require a very detailed assessment.

Who can request a statutory assessment?
Parents, those with parental responsibility and schools can make a request to the the local authority (LA) for a statutory assessment. Once the LA has been asked to carry out a statutory assessment, the LA normally has six weeks to decide whether to do so.

The LA will write to you to:

  • Explain that it is considering carrying out a statutory assessment.
  • Explain the procedures for an assessment and timescales.
  • Provide you with the name of an officer at the local authority who will be your point of contact.
  • Tell you about the Parent Partnership Service who will be able to help you with independent advice and support.
  • Ask for your views, the views of your child’s school about your child’s special educational needs and for details of anyone you would particularly like the local authority to talk to about your child.

What happens after the request for a statutory assessment?
The LA should make a decision about whether to assess within 6 weeks of receiveing the request. The possible outcomes are:

  • your child's special educational needs can continue to be met appropriately through the support available at School Action Plus. This means that the statutory assessment will not go ahead. As a parent or carer you have the right of appeal at this stage; OR
  • more detailed information is required about your child's needs and so the statutory assessment process will begin.

What happens when a statutory assessment is carried out?
If your child has an assessment you can ask for this to take place where you and your child feel most comfortable. You also have the right to see any written reports. During the assessment, information is collected from:

  • You and your child.
  • Your child’s school or early education setting.
  • An educational psychologist.
  • Health professionals such as doctor, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist or health visitor.
  • Children’s social care, education welfare officers and other people you think would be useful.

The LA will consider the information gathered within 10 weeks and either:

  • write to you explaining their reasons for not issuing a statement of special educational needs, and issue a note in lieu. As a parent or carer you have the right to appeal at this stage; OR
  • issue a proposed statement.

When the authority issues the proposed statement for your approval there will be the opportunity for further discussions and correspondence. If you are not able to reach an agreement, the LA will finalise the statement. If this is not acceptable, you will find details of how to appeal enclosed with the final statement.

What is the timescale from making a request to the completed final statement?
The whole process should take a total of 26 weeks.

  1. Overview of assessment process timescale (PDF)
  2. Exceptions to the recommended timescales (PDF)

 What is a note in lieu?
A note in lieu will be produced if it is considered that your child’s special educational needs can be met by School Action or School Action Plus. It should set out the reasons for the LA’s decision with supporting evidence from the statutory assessment. This information can be used to plan how best to meet your child’s needs in school.