A statutory assessment is the process which identifies a child or young person’s special educational needs.  It is usually the final stage of a longer process of supporting a child.

In almost all cases, students attending Catcote Academy have already had a statutory assessment completed earlier in their education.

What was the old system like?

The statutory assessment process could last for up to 6 months and was confusing and overwhelming for many families. Many Local Authorities administered this process through formal letters, never having face to face contact with the child or family. A number of professionals (including the child’s school, an educational psychologist and a medical officer) were asked by the Local Authority to provide written advice on the child’s special educational needs. This was then used to decide if a Statement of Special Educational Needs was required to support the child.

A Statement was a legal document which set out a child’s special educational needs, objectives and the provision required for the child to achieve them. The Local Authority where the child lives had to provide the services set out in the statement. Statements ended when a child left maintained education (i.e. to attend further education and a Learning Difficulty Assessment (or section 139a) was completed.

Statements were often filled with jargon or professional language and usually only described the things that a child was unable to do or found difficult. Objectives were not specific and provision was not quantified.

What has changed?

Statutory assessment is only considered when a child cannot be supported from the resources normally available to an education setting (around £6000). The new process will take a maximum of 20 weeks.

Every local authority in England will be free to decide exactly how they will carry out the assessment, but they should embed the following principles:

  • Children, young people and their families at the heart of the process, including being empowered to make decisions;
  • A ‘tell us once’ approach to sharing information;
  • Better co-ordination and integration between professionals;
  • Use of person centred and keyworking approaches which treat the child as an individual;
  • Identify aspirational short and long term outcomes.

Many, but not all, statutory assessments will result in an Education, Health and Care Plan. Again, the format of the plan will be localised, but will draw together all of the information gathered during the assessment process – including the child and family’s views and wishes, a description of the child/young person’s needs alongside their strengths and preferences, details of the education, health and social care support they require, the outcomes they want to achieve and the education setting they will attend (after the age of 3). It is also good practice to include a support plan setting out the outcomes, support and sources of funding.

The format of the Education, Health and Care plan will differ between LAs, but should:

  • Reflect the views and wishes of the child or young person and their parents;
  • Celebrate a child’s strengths as well as the things they struggle with;
  • Identify SMART outcomes and specify the provision required to make progress;
  • Be clear, concise and accessible;
  • Be based on evidence gathered during the assessment process.


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