This can be a difficult time for you as a parent if you are concerned about the progress and support for your child. It’s important to fully understand why the local authority reached this decision. You can contact the SEND SERVICE at the local authority for more information about their decision and for their view on what the next support steps for your child might be. You can also ask if they will meet with you, ahead of any conversation prepare your questions.
When preparing your questions, think about the reasons why you are seeking an assessment and what is hoped will be achieved by the process. Reasons usually fall into one or more of these categories:
- There are gaps in knowledge – it is not known what the needs are, and an assessment is the only way to determine these
- There is little or no progress despite support from the setting
- The setting need help from the local authority to provide what is needed.
Progress is not limited to academic attainment and can be across any of the four broad areas of need (communication and interaction; cognition and learning; social, emotional and mental health difficulties; sensory and/or physical. (See 6.28 to 6.34 of the SEND Code of Practice for a full definition).
Some ideas for when you speak to the local authority…
- Ask them to explain what they expect the setting to provide. Make notes about this because you might need to go back to the setting to discuss this with them.
- Ask them to be clear about the evidence they would need before carrying out an assessment. For example, this might be more information about your child or young person’s progress and the impact of any previous advice or recommendations.
- Check they have all the evidence that was provided. Share any new information such as recent letters or reports.
- Was there any information you forgot to put in your family views form that you would like to share?
- Are they recommending the setting seek any specialist advice? Ask about the service being suggested and what is hoped to be achieved by their involvement.
- Have the local authority considered all of your child or young person’s needs? For example, you might feel the local authority have identified support or a specialist service to help with some areas of need, but not all.
Take notes of what is said, to help you remember. After your discussions you should have an understanding of why the local authority reached their decision, even if you do not agree with the reasons.