The information below applies to children and young people in Wales. If you are in England, please download the factsheet on EHC needs assessments in our Education Rights Series
How do I get a statement for my child?
The great majority of children with Down’s syndrome will have a statement of special educational needs that specifies the help that they will need in school. It’s important to realise that getting a statement is based on an assessment of educational need. It will not happen automatically just because your child has Down’s syndrome.
The first stage in the process is the statutory assessment. The local authority may initiate this, for instance if they have been told about your child by health services. However you shouldn’t just wait for this to happen. Parents have the right to make a request for a statutory assessment. Do this in writing to your local authority. Provide as much information about your child as you can. If you already have medical or educational reports on your child, you may want to send these in.
It is sensible to start this process at least a year before your child is due to start school.
Your LA has six weeks from the date of your request to decide whether to assess. Once they have decided to do so, they will gather evidence from you as parents, your child’s school or nursery, from medical professionals and, if your child is known to them, from social care. They may also seek reports from other professionals such as a speech and language therapist.
As parents you are probably very proud of what your child has achieved. However it’s important in your evidence not to underplay your child’s difficulties; otherwise they may miss out on vital support.
On the basis of the reports the LA will decide whether to issue a statement. If they do, they will send you a copy of the proposed statement for you to give your views. See the page on the proposed statement.
All change but not yet
There will be a change in the system in Wales within the next few years. The draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill has been published and is open for consultation until December 2015.
However at the moment the law is still the same and your local authority should not refuse your request for an assessment on the pretext that the law may be changing.