Advice for parents

The statutory assessment process

We believe that addressing a child’s needs in good time can have a significant and positive impact on later schooling. A working knowledge of the process of assessing and providing for those needs will help to get the best provision for a child when he or she needs it – whether in a local mainstream school, or in more specialised provision like Woodcroft.

If you feel your child’s needs cannot be provided for in their current school or early education setting, a statutory assessment may be needed. A statutory assessment is a detailed investigation, carried out by your local authority, to determine your child’s needs and outline any special help required. This assessment may result in an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan). Pupils attending Woodcroft usually either have an EHC plan or are being assessed for one.

In the first instance it may be possible to approach the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in your child’s current school or early education setting. They may agree to request that the local authority make an assessment to see if your child needs an EHC plan. A request can be made by any member of staff at your child’s school, or by a doctor, health visitor or nursery worker. Also, you can approach the local authority directly to request an assessment through the local authority SEN team, which is usually listed somewhere on the Local Offer page on the local authority website. A local authority has six weeks to decide whether or not to carry out an EHC assessment. If they decide to carry out an assessment you may be asked for reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder; doctors’ assessments of your child; and/or a letter from you about your child’s needs. You’ll usually find out within 16 weeks whether or not an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.

The authority must consider your wishes carefully before making a final decision. You have the right to appeal against the decision through the relevant Ministry of Justice Tribunal (First tier Tribunal – Special Educational Needs and Disability, see below).

Useful links

If you think that your child may have special educational needs, or the support that he or she is currently receiving does not meet his or her needs, the following organisations may offer guidance, support and publications on how to proceed. Please note that Woodcroft is not liable for the contents of external websites, nor does it endorse the services, organisations or websites listed.


Directgov is a government website that brings together public service information. The above link will take you directly to the parents’ section. It gives an overview of the step by step approach to identifying and addressing children’s special educational needs and offers useful links to other sources of information and advice.

Special educational needs and disability tribunal

Parents whose children have special educational needs can appeal to the relevant Ministry of Justice tribunal against decisions made by local authorities in England about their children’s education.

The Council for Disabled Children

The council (formerly called IASS and the National Parent Partnership Network) supports the work of local parent partnership services throughout England. Parent partnership services can be found in every local authority in England. They provide information, advice and support to parents and carers of children with special educational needs.

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

ACE are a national independent registered charity offering free advice for parents via their website.

Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (IPSEA)

IPSEA give free and independent legal advice and support in England and Wales along with advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

National Autistic Society (NAS)

Woodcroft’s provision is accredited by NAS. They also provide individuals with autism and their families with help, support and services.

Further reading

Following the introduction of the Children and Families Bill 2014, the government has updated its advice on special educational needs and disabilities. Links to two of the guidance documents are provided below.

Guide for parents and carers
Guide for young persons