Assessment of Pre-school and School-age Children

n.b. New legislation coming into force will make much of the following obsolete but you may still find it useful

For information on Additional Learning Needs please click here


Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs

Under the 1996 Education Act the Secretary of State has issued a Code of Practice on Special Educational Needs. All schools and Local Authorities (LA)s are required to have regard to this Code when managing their Special Educational provision. From 2000 a Code of Practice was adopted that Local Authorities are legally obliged to follow.

The Code has a four stage approach to assessment. Schools will take the lead in assessing pupils needs during the first two stages and at stages three and four LAs will share the responsibility with them, focusing on statutory assessment leading to a possible Statement of Educational Needs for a child.

A Statement of Special Educational Needs is a formal and legal document setting out a child’s needs and the special help he or she should have. The LA must ensure that the child receives the Special Education provision described in a Statement. The Code recommends that LAs and parents might discuss the identity of a ‘‘named person’’ who in future can give parents independent advice and information at the start of the assessment process and for any subsequent Statement.

Assessment takes place in order to ascertain each child’s individual particular needs and to ensure that they are offered the setting which is right for them, and in which they will be happy.

A statement of Special Educational Needs applies only until a child leaves school - it may not apply in colleges or other further education establishments.

For more information see - Special Educational Needs and Statements

CSIE publish a useful leaflet on special educational needs and the statementing process.
SNAP is there to offer support and advice.
The Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) has independent experts who give advice to parents and carers who are uncertain about, or disagree with, the LEA’s view of their child’s Special Educational Needs. They offer a free Representation Service.
The Parents Federation is also an important source of information for parents

Parents who disagree with the LAs decision may appeal to the new Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW).

The Children Act

The Children Act 1989, as amended by the Children Act 2004, brought together the legislation concerning the care and upbringing of children. One of the central principles of the Act is that the welfare of children is paramount. Another key theme of the Act is that while parents have a number of rights, they also have responsibilities. Under the Children Act, local authorities are expected to provide a range and level of services which are appropriate to provide for the welfare of children in need in their area. Children in need are broadly defined as children whose health and welfare may suffer significantly without support from social services. The Children Act 2004 made provision for the establishment of a Children's Commissioner for Wales; to make provision about services provided to and for children and young people by local authorities.

Child Care Plans

Every child receiving a service from the Local Authority should do so on the basis of an
assessment of need and a child care plan. In the case of children accommodated by or on
behalf of the Local Authority, including children accommodated for short-term respite care,
the Children Act gives quite specific directions for the content of the child care plan. The plan should specify what will be provided to meet a child’s needs and contain sufficient information about a child and the family to ensure that those providing services do so in a way that is sensitive to a particular child’s character and lifestyle.

Every Child Matters

Every Child Matters (ECM) was launched in 2003, partly in response to the death of Victoria Climbié. It is one of the most important policy initiative and development programmes in relation to children and children’s services of the last decade. Every Child Matters covers children and young adults up to the age of 19, or 24 for those with disabilities.

Its main aims are for every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the
support they need to:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic well-being

Each of these themes has a detailed framework attached whose outcomes require multi-agency partnerships working together to achieve. The agencies in partnership may include children’s centres, early years, schools, children’s social work services, primary and secondary health services, playwork, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS). ECM stresses that all professionals working with children are aware of the contribution that could be made by their own and each others’ service and to plan and deliver their work with children and young people accordingly.

Families First / Cymorth

Cymorth is the Children and Youth Support Fund provided by the Welsh Government. It
aimed to provide a network of targeted support to improve the lives of children and young
people from disadvantaged families. Cymorth funding is administered through Children and Young People’s Partnerships within each Local Authority. Cymorth funding underpins many current services that support families, children and young people. The funding for these projects is coming to an end in March 2013 and some Cymorth funded projects in this guide may cease to exist as a result.

Families First will be introduced, from April 2013 and will replace Cymorth funding. Transitional arrangements have been set up with local authorities for 2012-13 to support the move from Cymorth to Families First.

Families First is an innovation programme that promotes the development by local authority areas of effective multi-agency systems and support, with a clear emphasis on prevention and early intervention for families, particularly those living in poverty

For more information see - Families First

Early Support - Cefnogi Cymru

Early Support is a mechanism for achieving better co-ordinated, family focused services for young disabled children and their families

For more information see - Early Support

The Early Years Forum

The Early Years Forum helps to plan for Special Educational Needs of young children prior to them starting full-time school

For more information see - The Early Years Forum

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