Many parents are so relieved to get that letter saying the LEA has decided to issue a statement of special educational needs for their child that they think their work is done. And they'd be very, very wrong. A statement is useless if it does not define your child's needs completely and set out in detail how they will be met.
When you receive your draft statement, you or your advocate, must ensure that all your child's special educational needs have been properly identified and stated in part two of the draft statement. Then, you must ensure that every stated need should be met with appropriate provision in Part three.
Each special educational need specified in Part 2 must be met by provision specified in Part 3: R –v- Secretary of State for Education ex parte E  1 FLR 377, CA
If your child's needs have been inadequately stated in part two, now is the time in your response (which normally needs to be within 15 days) to make sure you add them so that they can be included ans provision provided.
This process is not made easier by the way the statement is set out. Instead of listing Need, then Provision next to it, all the needs are set out then all the provision, so it is up to you to match one against the other. I would recommend using a table to do this - one column headed Needs- Part 2, the next, Provision, Part 3 and a third column entitled, My Comments.
Then go through part two and pick out each separate need and list it in a separate row under the first column. Then go back down your list and search through part three of the proposed statement document for a matching provision. The statement document has evolved to be quite narrative in format, often just pasting in chunks from the Ed Psych report (in our case from the Ed Psych report that we had paid for ourselves) This does not necessarily mean that the statement writer has understood your child's needs, just that they know how to copy and paste.
Part 2 can include narrative description of a child as well as specifying SEN (cf R –v- Secretary of State for Education ex p E  1 FLR 377): W –v- Leeds CC  EWCA Civ 988,  ELR 617, 29/7/2005
So your final table should have all your child's needs in column one that have been stated and with your own additions if needed (make sure it is easy to understand you have added these yourself)
In the second column, which reflects Part 3 provision, you should have listed everything you can find that matches with the needs. This may well be eye opening.
Then in the third column make your notes and observations about the provision.
Then go back through Part 2 and Three and make sure you have covered everything. You may well find that there are unstated needs or needs that have been stated that there is no provision for. Of course, you may see that your statement writer has done a sterling job and everything is as it should be.
If you have non-educational needs and provision listed in part five or six, ensure this is also adequate. Sometimes speech and language is listed as non-educational. If your child needs this help for living (eg eating) then is is non-educational. If they need OT or SLT for learning - ie, writing help for dyspraxia, communication skills, then is should be in parts two and three as educational provision.
You can ask for a meeting during this time with the LEA and after the meeting you have another 15 days to ask for further meetings. Within 15 days of your last meeting, you can send in any more comments. If you would like more time to comment, you should talk to your case officer.
There should be no school named in part four at the point of issuing a draft statement. But be aware that the LEA is not obligated to name a school that can provide 'the best' education, just one that provides an 'adequate' education that meets your child's needs.
The LEA/SENDIST is under a duty to secure provision which meets the child’s SEN but is not “under an obligation to provide a child with the best possible education. There is no duty
on the authority to provide such a Utopian system, or to educate him or her to his or her maximum potential. …”: R v Surrey CC ex p H (1984) 83 LGR 219.
It's a very good idea to research suitable schools before you even know if you're getting a statement so you know what type of school can meet your child's needs. Often you will know exactly which school you want them to go to - and that's the next step!
This advice and more is detailed in my SEN statementing book, Special Educational Needs, Getting Started with Statementing. It's available in paperback or ebook from Amazon & WH Smith online or paperback from Waterstones.com. Or you can order it from your local bookstore. So many SEN books are expensive so I have priced this at just £6.99 to make it accessible to as many parents as possible.
Legal Quotes Source: ISC
She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
Latest posts by Tania Tirraoro (see all)
- Ofsted’s grim verdict on SEND in England - January 22, 2020
- Ofsted explains its new way of reporting on SEND provision in education - January 17, 2020
- New Autism Toolkit launched to get support for children #RightFromTheStart - January 14, 2020