My son is 12 years old and is currently in year 8 at secondary school. He has a diagnosis of Dyslexia and has been on the SEN register since year 3. Provision provided at school consists of small class size (14) for English and use of Lexia 3 times per week. He is a reluctant reader and has difficulties with his writing, spelling and comprehension. He also has short-term memory difficulties and requires some support in maths.
He is currently predicted e/f grades at GCSE in nearly all subjects and is making less than expected progress in English. We have requested additional support for him and we have discussed provision maps which are not SMART. We have discussed the use of audiobooks and e-books but this is frowned upon. During our meeting with the school, we specifically asked, 'despite best endeavours and high-quality teaching, our son is not progressing' (his effort grades are always A&B) can we apply for an EHCP? The Senco said we would not qualify. Do we apply for EHCP or try something else?
We are sorry that you son is finding the situation at his school so challenging. Under the new school support system, schools are required to ‘assess, plan, do and review’. The impact of the school’s support and interventions should be regularly evaluated and revised, particularly where interventions are not working. If the school is unable and/or unwilling to take any further action, then requesting an EHC needs assessment is always an option for you. To help you further understand this process we have set out below some information on the relevant legal tests.
The legal definition of a special educational need is whether a child or young person has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age. The process for obtaining an EHC plan is that a parent or school can request the local authority to carry out an EHC assessment. The legal test, which the local authority must apply in order to decide whether or not to assess a child, is whether the child may have special educational needs for which it may be necessary for special educational provisional to be made in an EHC plan. This test is not particularly high and the local authority cannot apply blanket policies such as refusing to assess children with dyslexia, for example. Each case must be considered on its merits and the legal test must always be applied. If an assessment is refused there is a right to appeal that decision to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). If the local authority goes on to assess the child they will then apply another test to determine whether to issue a plan.
To start the process you, as a parent, can write directly to your local authority explaining your son’s particular special needs and challenges, and that in your opinion he has special educational needs for which special educational provision is necessary. The local authority is legally required to reply to you within six weeks to let you know whether or not it agrees to carry out an EHC needs assessment.
As part of the assessment process, the local authority will obtain evidence, including from your son’s school and an educational psychologist. The assessment process is your opportunity to provide as much supporting evidence as possible about your son’s special educational needs. Bear in mind that you will need to show that he has greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age. You will also want to show that the current provision put in place by the school is not working and, if relevant, that the school is unwilling/unable to offer any other support. Evidence of your son’s educational attainments will be useful. As part of the assessment process, you can ‘reasonably’ request the local authority seeks advice and information from an expert or person who can provide evidence of your son’s special educational needs. You could request a report from a dyslexia specialist. We hope this information is of use to you. Please do visit the IPSEA website for more resources on EHC assessments and plans.