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Assessing and meeting needs

The SEN Code of Practice gives guidance to anybody including early education settings, state schools and local authorities that helps to identify, assess and provide help for children with SEN. It sets out the processes and procedures that all these organisations must or should follow to meet the needs of children. They must not ignore the guidance in the Code and they must take account of the Code when they make their SEN policies.

Children with SEN will need different levels of support, according to their needs. Appropriate provision, based upon individual children’s needs is achieved through a ‘graduated approach’ where, increasingly, step-by-step specialist expertise can be brought in to help the school with the difficulties that a child may have.

The 'graduated approach' is explained in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.

Statutory assessment and statementing

Where the school or early education setting cannot provide all the help a child needs the local authority will consider carrying out a statutory assessment to find out exactly what the child’s needs are and what special help they need.

As a result of the assessment the local authority may issue a statement of Special Educational Needs.

Statement of Special Educational Needs

A statement describes the child’s Special Educational Needs and the special help they should receive, including, as appropriate, money, staff time and specialist equipment.

The statement comes into force as soon as the local authority makes it. From that time, the local authority must provide the child’s school with any extra resources it needs. The school’s governors must do their best to make sure that the child gets the special educational help set out in the statement.

The statement is legally binding and enforceable, and can only be changed by agreement by parties concerned through a formal review, or by appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Format of a statement

The format of a statement is stipulated by law and set out in Schedule 2 of the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001, and described in paragraph 8:29 of the Special Educational Needs
Code of Practice.

You can read it here:

Reviewing the statement

Local authorities must check each child’s progress and make sure that the statement continues to meet their Special Educational Needs. They must review the statement at least once a year, but they can do it more often if necessary.

The procedures for organising annual reviews are set out in Regulation 18 of the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001.

You can read it here:


Who attends a review?

Watch these two video clips in which a headteacher opens meetings to review the progress of two children, Marley and Sophia. Pay attention to the range of people involved and their roles, and consider the variety of expertise they bring.

  • Review meeting 1 (Sophia) - welcome and introductions
  • Review meeting 2 (Sophia) - welcome and introductions
Sections of a review meeting

The various parties who contribute to the statement also contribute to the review. If key professionals are unable to attend review meetings, they must send in reports.

Watch this video clip in which Marley’s parents comment on reports from the visual impairment service and the music therapist.

  • Review
                  meeting 1 (Marley) - other reports
After the review

After listening to everyone’s views at the review meeting, the school will set new targets. The headteacher sends a report to the local authority recommending any changes the people at the meeting felt should be made to the statement.

The local authority must then, on receiving this report, decide whether:

  • The statement should remain the same;
  • Changes should be made to the content of the statement in response to different circumstances or changing needs;
  • The statement is no longer required to support meeting the child’s needs.