When a child or young person has additional educational needs that might require more support or resources than are usually provided by their school or college, the child’s parents or the young person can apply for an Education, Health and Care plan to access additional provision.
SEND Tribunals have been set up in order to settle any disagreements about the sort of additional provision a child might require. For example, a parent might feel their son needs 1:1 support in the classroom; some input from a speech and language therapist; or further assessments to identify undiagnosed needs, while the Local Authority might maintain that the boy’s needs can be met in his school without such additional input.
The parent or young person making an appeal to the Tribunal will need to present evidence to demonstrate why the current provision the child or young person is receiving is inadequate. In such cases, it is useful for parents to collect evidence: to keep meeting minutes, school reports, the results of any assessments the child or young person has had within school or from agencies outside school: the GP, Speech and Language therapist, Occupational therapist, counselling services, and so on.
Such information could include: –
- Any advice from external agencies, for example, contact with the GP re a child’s anxiety, diet, sleep habits or toileting problems.
- Information about the child over a period of time: perhaps speech and language therapy reports from their early years.
- Baseline assessments from the school. Schools will keep baseline scores for pupils from their Reception classes, measuring the child’s progress from that baseline as they move up through the school. Many secondary schools carry out baseline assessments for their new Year 7 pupils, using such assessments to predict the children’s GCSE grades.
- Assessments of reading age. Does the school monitor pupils’ progress with reading? If the child has fallen behind their peers, have they been given any support to close the gap, and how successful has that extra help been? Do the school’s reading tests measure reading comprehension, (understanding the content of a passage), as well as reading accuracy, (being able to read the words aloud.)
- Assessments of spelling age. If the child has fallen behind their peers in spelling, what has been put in place by way of catch up, and how successful has that been?
- Whether the child is working at Age Related Expectations, that is at the level expected from a child of their age. Is the child making steady progress in school?
- End of year reports. Is there any consistency in teachers’ comments over time, for example, do school reports regularly mention the child’s lack of focus, distractibility and poor concentration?
- Any sensory issues you may have noticed at home: a restricted diet, a preference for soft and comfortable clothing, an intolerance to noise, an aversion to having their hair cut, teeth cleaned or nails cut.
- Have you seen any evidence of poor co-ordination? Is the child able to ride a bike, catch and throw a ball, eat without making a mess, dress themselves with clothes in the correct sequence and the right way round? Can they colour in, draw, cut out and write neatly?
- If an Educational Psychologist’s report has been carried out, are there any discrepancies between the child’s Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, Working Memory and Processing Speed scores, or a discrepancy between their IQ scores and their performance in school.
All children are individual and are certain to develop at different rates. Every child will have strengths and weaknesses, but keeping a record of evidence from a range of sources over a period of time, will provide a Tribunal with the most comprehensive overview of the child’s needs.