Statutory Assessment and Review Service

Information on the Statutory Assessment and Review Service.

Case Study

Consideration of a statutory assessment

A referral for statutory assessment may come from the school, the educational psychology service or a health professional. It will detail your child’s strengths, their special educational needs, and any barriers to learning they may be experiencing. This information will be collated in partnership with you, as parents or carers. 

Parents or carers of a child or young person may also make a request for consideration of a statutory assessment of educational needs. Information and evidence from parents should be provided with the request so that the Statutory Assessment & Review Service can make an informed decision as early as possible. The online request form will guide you through the process.

A referral or request for consideration of a statutory assessment does not automatically lead to a statutory assessment being initiated or to a statement of special educational needs being made.

If you think your child has a learning need that is complex and may require consideration of a statutory assessment of their educational needs, you can talk to their teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) in the school.  If your child has not yet started school, you may wish to raise concerns about the child’s difficulties with medical or social care professionals.

What Happens Following a Request for Consideration of a Statutory Assessment of educational needs?

The assessment process can be stressful and the Statutory Assessment & Review Service encourages participation and open discussion with parents and carers. 

Once a request or referral for consideration for a statutory assessment is received, the Statutory Assessment & Review Service will consider the evidence provided by:

  • the school, 
  • the child (who is over compulsory school age) or the parent of a child (in any other case),
  • an Educational Psychologist, and
  • medical and health professionals, EA SEND Services staff and social services where appropriate.

This evidence helps to inform what the child can do, the complexity of their special educational needs and whether they need special provision above and beyond what school and EA SEND Services are able to offer.

Evidence and information used to decide whether to make an assessment:

  • Views of the child,
  • Medical or other difficulties that impact the child’s learning,
  • The school's assessment of the child, the category, type, and severity of the SEN,
  • Details of stage 2 special educational provision made by the school and the EA,
  • Academic attainments and non-academic factors, and
  • Any other evidence submitted by or at the request of relevant parties.

EA decides that a Statutory Assessment is Not Necessary

Where the EA’s decision is that it is not necessary for it to make an assessment, parents and carers will be informed of the reasons for the decision.  A named SEN Link Officer will be able to talk to parents and carers to explain the process including the right of appeal to the Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal if they do not agree with the decision.

EA Decision that a Statutory Assessment is Necessary

If the decision is made that a statutory assessment is required, we aim to complete the assessment within 26 weeks. Parents or carers will be provided with details of a named SEN Link Officer with whom they can discuss any questions or concerns regarding the assessment process. 

The EA is required to seek information, using available technology and electronic communication, where possible, from any or all, of the following: 

  • information from the parents, carers;
  • educational advice and information;
  • advice and information from an educational psychologist;
  • health advice and information from a registered health care professional identified as appropriate by the relevant HSC Trust;
  • advice and information in relation to social care from a social worker (if appropriate), as identified by the relevant HSC Trust;
  • any other advice and information which the EA considers appropriate or which the parent or carer reasonably requests that the EA should seek.  

Once all of the advices and representations have been received, the EA must decide whether the degree of the child’s learning difficulty or disability, and the nature of the special educational provision necessary to meet the child’s SEN, requires it to determine the child’s special educational provision through making a Statement. The main consideration for the EA will be whether or not all the special educational provision necessary to meet the child’s needs can reasonably be provided within the resources normally available to mainstream schools.

Outcome: Decision is Not to Make a Statement

Having examined the available advice and information, the Statutory Assessment & Review Service may conclude that the child’s SEN can be met from within the school’s own resources and will advise parents or carers that no statement is required.  In some cases, the EA will issue a Note in Lieu of a statement which will outline the reasons for not issuing a Statement of SENs, with supporting evidence gathered during the statutory assessment process. It also sets out recommendations through which the child’s special educational needs can further be addressed.  We will notify parents and carers of the decision and set out the reasons for the decision.  A named SEN Link Officer will be able to talk to parents and carers to explain the process including the right of appeal to the Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal if they do not agree with the decision.

EA decides to issue a Statement of SEN

If the EA decides that a Statement of SEN is required, our team will write a first version called a proposed statement. This will describe the child’s special educational needs and the proposed support, which will be over and above what is ordinarily available in a mainstream school. A copy of the proposed statement and copies of all the advice or information gathered from professionals will be sent to you.

You can contact your named SEN Link Officer to discuss the content of the proposed statement.  You will be asked to name the school which you would prefer your child to attend. This may be the same school that they currently attend, a different mainstream school or a specialist provision. The SEN Link Officer will be able to talk this through with parents and carers and if they need more time, they can request this.

Once parents or carers have agreed with the proposed statement, the SEN Link Officer will consult with the appropriate school, who in turn will need to consider if they can meet the child’s SEN as detailed in the proposed statement.

If it has not been possible to place the child in the school of parental preference, the SEN Link Officer will contact you to discuss further options. 

What Happens Following a Statement of SEN being issued?

Parents and the school will receive a copy of the Final Statement. 

A statement of special educational needs sets out the child or young person’s special educational needs, describes the provisions and supports which are needed to help meet those needs and the educational setting which they should attend.

The child will be recorded at Stage 3 on the SEN Register of the school.  The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) will be updated with targets and strategies which follow the recommendations in the advices received as part of the statutory assessment. 

What if I don’t agree with a decision made by SARS?

A child learns best when all partners are working together. Good communication and positive relationships between parents or carers, schools and the EA are vital. 

If you don’t agree with the decision, it is important to keep the channels of communication open. You can speak to your SEN Link Officer or a member of the Statutory Assessment and Review Service. 

For general advice, you may wish to contact the EA SEN Helpdesk on 028 9598 5960, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

The Dispute Avoidance & Resolution Service (DARS) is a free and independent service that works towards avoiding and resolving disagreements between parents and the Education Authority, or parents and a school, in regard to children with SEN. The service provided by Global Mediation provides a forum for exploring differences, identifying points of agreement and finding a way forward which is acceptable for all involved. You can also telephone (028 9072 6060) or write to Global Mediation (55-59 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8FE).

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) considers parents’ appeals against the decisions of the Education Authority about children’s special educational needs, where the parents cannot reach agreement with the Education Authority. It also deals with claims of disability discrimination in relation to children at school.  They can be contacted at 0300 200 7812 or email [email protected] 

It is in all our best interests to work together to resolve complaints swiftly. Effective comments and complaints handling can provide real insight into what we do well and where we can improve. It keeps people at the heart of what we do and helps us to understand your point of view.

You can find out further information on the EA’s Comments and Complaints Procedure, or make a comment or complaint via our contact form

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