Additional Learning Needs at Abercerdin
What happens if my child needs some extra support in school?
All schools have pupils who have additional learning needs 'ALN'. If your child has an additional learning need they may need support for one or more of the following areas:
- English As An Additional Language,
- Looked After Child (children who are in Foster Care),
- Special Educational Needs,
- More Able and Talented.
Abercerdin Primary School has two ALN Co-ordinators who carefully monitor the pupils' progress. Mrs Stone is in charge of the Foundation Phase and Mr Francis is in charge of Key Stage Two ALN.
Special Educational Needs
How these children are to be treated is set out in law and government guidance. Most SEN law is in Part 4 of the Education Act 1996, and most guidance is in the SEN Code of Practice. The Code says that all children and young people with SEN should have their needs met.
To establish whether a child or young person has SEN, and what kind and amount of help they need, Abercerdin Primary carefully tracks how much progress each child is making compared to their peers in terms of their development and learning. We take into account academic progress, language and communication, social skills, organisational skills (sequencing and planning) and sensory and physical development.
We work out what the child could achieve if they were given the right help. If a child should be achieving at above average levels, then we will need to do more than measure how they’re doing compared to their peers but consider what they should be achieving if they had the right help.
The information below shows what parents are entitled to at each school-based stage and via statements of SEN, and what parents can do when they have problems. We use ‘must’ to indicate a legal requirement and ‘should’ to indicate the Code’s guidance.
The school-based stages
Many children have special educational needs but do not have statements. For these pupils early years settings and schools are advised by the Code to use two ‘school-based stages’ to provide extra help:
• Early Years Action or School Action,
• Early Years Action Plus or School Action Plus.
The stages are called school-based because all or most of the extra help is provided by the school. At the action stage, the help can be minimal, for instance weekly group sessions with a learning support officer; at the action plus stage, the school provides more help, but also goes outside the school to obtain, for instance, advice from an educational psychologist; a speech and language therapist; or a specialist autism or behaviour adviser.
The Code says that a child may be placed on the Action stage when they fail to make progress, including with persistent emotional and/or behaviour difficulties, and/or with communication/interaction difficulties, despite a differentiated curriculum. The Action Plus stage should be triggered if these difficulties continue despite the additional help at Action.
Individual Action Plans
For both Action and Action Plus stages, the school will draw up six weekly plans. These will record the strategies and resources staff will use to help your child, the expected results over a defined period of time, and when the plan should be reviewed to record success or failure of these efforts. Failure should mean trying something additional or different, and if not enough progress is recorded over successive IAPs, help should be escalated to the next stage or to assessment for a statement.
The plan is called an Individual Action Plan, or IAP for short. The IAP is reviewed every half term. At Abercerdin Primary both children and parents are consulted on the IAP and take part in reviews.
• we must tell you if we are making special educational provision for your child,
• professionals should ensure that you understand procedures, are aware of how to access support, and are given documents to discuss well before meetings,
• you are entitled to know via the school’s ALN policy who the school’s ALN co-ordinator (ALNCO) is, what SEN specialism and facilities we have, how we allocate resources to and among pupils with SEN, and any arrangements for parental complaints about SEN provision,
• where the school knows a pupil has SEN, the governors must do their best to ensure the pupil receives the provision for their needs,
• the governors must also ensure that the pupil’s SEN are known to all those likely to teach him or her.
Statutory assessment and statements of SEN
Some pupils will have a Statement of SEN as they need more help or help different from that usually provided in ordinary schools.
The educational parts of a statement of SEN are legally enforceable. The statement is a document that describes in detail all of a child's needs and all of the help (the provision) required to meet those needs. The LA (not the school) must make decisions about statements, and the criteria for those decisions and the procedure for making them are set out in law.
The criterion for the LA deciding that an assessment is needed is that the child needs or probably needs a statement of SEN. Children must have statements of SEN if they have difficulties that an ordinary school in the LA’s area cannot provide for out of its own resources. Many LAs provide more money to schools for SEN than used to be the case, and parents are therefore often told that statements are not necessary. But if your child requires, for instance, full-time trained support, or regular speech or occupational therapy or other regular specialist help from outside the school, it is likely that the school’s resources will not be enough and that a statement is necessary.
When the LA receives a request for statutory assessment from a school or from parents, the LA must decide within 6 weeks whether or not to assess. If the LA refuses, then you have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), a national body independent of the LA.
Statutory assessment is the process of the LA gathering information on whether a child needs a statement. The LA must get ‘advice’ (reports and evidence) from the child’s parent, the school (including IEPs), an educational psychologist, medical advice, social services, and from anyone else they consider appropriate.
Parents may well want to get advice from experts independent of the LA, especially if they are in conflict with the school or other professionals over what their child’s needs are or what help is required. Parents can also get help with the process from Parent Partnership advisers or from voluntary organisations (see the ‘get help from’ section below).The LA is allowed 10 weeks to complete this evidence gathering, and then has 2 weeks to decide whether to issue a statement or not. If it decides not to issue a statement, the parent has the right to appeal to the SEN Tribunal.
During statutory assessment, you as a parent have legal rights:
• to contribute your views,
• to contribute your own evidence about your child’s needs and the provision required to meet those needs,
• to complain to the Secretary of State if the LA breaches the time limit without good reason.
The proposed/draft statement stage
The LAs must send a copy of the statement they propose to make to you and allow you to request changes and to state what school you want your child to go to.
The form of the statement is set out in law which the LA must obey, and the Code deals with this. It must describe all your child’s needs (learning difficulties that require special educational provision), and it must match each need by specifying the kind and amount of help needed to meet it, e.g. full-time one-to-one support from a learning support assistant trained in the use of PECS (or whatever is needed for that child).
You may feel that the statement does not properly describe all of your child’s difficulties (for instance, if the effects of sensory sensitivity). Voluntary organisations can advise on how to analyse a proposed statement and how to respond: see the ‘get help from’ section below. If you want changes to the statement you can ask for a meeting with the LA officer involved so that you can suggest the changes you think are needed. You can take an adviser with you to the meeting.
You have a right to choose a maintained school, whether mainstream or special, which the LA can only refuse if it can show that the school would be unsuitable, or that placing your child there would be incompatible with the efficient education of the other children with whom your child would be educated, or with the efficient use of resources (the LA’s money). If you want an independent school, you must be prepared to show why maintained schools cannot provide an adequate education for your child.
The LA must issue a final statement after it issued the proposed statement. If you disagree with the final statement you have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability).
During the proposed statement stage, you have the following legal rights:
• to contribute your views about the statement
• to ask for a meeting with the LA officer
• to state a preference for a maintained school, or make representations for an independent school
• to receive all the reports prepared during statutory assessment with the proposed statement
• to complain to the Secretary of State if the LA breaches the time limit without good reason
The final statement and afterwards
You should check the detail of the statement to ensure you are happy with it. Even if you did not object to the proposed statement, you can appeal.
Once the statement is issued, the LA must ‘arrange’ the provision specified. If a failure of provision is not remedied after complaint to the school and LA, you have the right to complain to the Secretary of State or to take legal action.
Statements must be reviewed at least annually. The Code suggests more frequent informal reviews for a child under 5. It also suggests interim reviews where sudden changes in the child’s needs or knowledge about the child require it: for instance, where the child’s placement appears to be in danger, or there is a new diagnosis.
The annual reviews from Year 9 on must consider the young person’s future following the end of compulsory school age and should set up a ‘transition plan’ covering post-16 options. (see separate section on transition)
IAPs (or an alternative) should also be used (as above) to document strategies and resources, targets, and outcomes, and should also be reviewed preferably termly.
If the statement is no longer adequate and the LA is not willing to amend it, you have the right to request statutory re-assessment, which follows the same process, with rights of appeal at each stage, as statutory assessment.
Statements can only be ‘ceased’ when they are no longer necessary: for many young people with SEN, they continue to the age of 19. If the LA wants to cease to maintain the statement, it should inform the parents who have a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) if they want the statement to continue. The statement must remain in force and implemented until the appeal is decided.
Statements can be transferred from one LA to another if you move. In this case the new LA may decide to maintain the statement or may decide to re-assess: it must tell you what it proposes to do within 6 weeks of the transfer.
For phase transfers (from infant to junior school, primary to middle, primary to secondary, middle to secondary or secondary to a sixth-form college, the LA must amend and issue the amended statement by 15 February of the year of the transfer.
As a parent you have the right to:
• appeal the final statement
• insist on the provision in the statement being made
• request re-assessment and appeal if refused
• be invited to contribute to annual reviews, and to attend
• receive all advice for the annual review at least 2 weeks before the meeting, and receive a copy of the report of the meeting
• appeal against an LA decision to cease to maintain
(Information and text taken from the Autism Education Trust.)