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Assessing Children for Special Educational Needs

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
Education Needs Assessing Children

Education is the gateway to future success for all children. The hallmark of developed democratic countries is the provision of high quality education for its youth. However, not all children learn at the same rate. Some children have special educational needs and require individualised assistance to learn. One of the early steps in successfully providing education to all children is assessing children for special educational needs.


In the UK, special educational opportunities are provided on a graduated basis. Children who need only a little extra help learning can often get the assistance they need within the regular school structure. Students can receive extra help during instruction and certain accommodations can be made during testing. Schools can also work with parents to create an individual education plan (an IEP). However, if these actions are not enough, parents (or involved professionals) can call for the next step - assessing children for special educational needs.

In fact, a detailed assessment is needed less often than one might think. In most cases, School Action and School Action Plus are more than sufficient to provide all children with a quality education. But if it becomes apparent that the child's special educational needs are not being met, parents or local school authorities can request an assessment.

Assessing the special educational needs of children begins with the collection of information from people who have knowledge of the child and their situation. Once all the views are collected, the local authority conducting the special educational needs assessment must decide whether to put the information into a statement or require that the education needs being met within the school.

If the local authority decides not to assess the child or determines that their needs can be met without additional accommodations, the parents have the right to appeal these decisions, provided that they act within the statutory time limits.

The Process

The process of assessing children for special educational needs can be lengthy. Each step in the process has been assigned time limits by law. The entire process could last as long as 9 to 10 months. Although the assessment procedure may seem intimidating and cumbersome, it's essential to see it through. Students who struggle because of special educational needs are often able to excel once those needs are recognised and met.

The earlier students' needs can be addressed, the better it is for their education. Diagnosing their needs and providing essential support early lessens the chance that they will fall too far behind. There is often no need for students with special educational needs to attend a different school. With the right understanding of what they need for success in education, students can often work quite well in a mainstream setting. This is known as inclusion.

There is truly no reason for children with special educational needs to struggle. The education system contains procedures and safeguards to ensure that all students receive the learning assistance that they need. As students approach the end of formal education, transition planning supports the successful entry into adult life and work. There is no reason why special educational needs should limit the hopes and dreams of any child.

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@Pat. Can you make an appointment with the head teacher? Ask that your granddaughter has an individual assessment to see if she could be entitled to any one-to-one help. Failing that you could ask your local authority for advice on how to get her up to speed.
AboutLearningDisabilities - 19-Nov-14 @ 2:24 PM
Ive got my 9 yr old grandaughter on recidence order. She was 10 wks premature has had lots of problems but now doing ok. But since going up to year 5 shes exspected to do 9 yr olds work. She strugging shes at least 3 yrs behind.and needs one on one. Shes getting so flustrated.& upset. She has a ta to 6 or 8 other children but thats not enuf.
Pat - 19-Nov-14 @ 7:28 AM
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