Children grow and develop at different rates, and adults all have varying ranges of ability. Assessments are standardised across the population with the middle 50% of people considered to have abilities in the 'average' range. That leaves the top 25% as 'above average' and the bottom 25% as 'below average'. It is quite common to see children and young people with an uneven profile of skills. It may be that they have 'Specific Learning Difficulties' (SpLD), that is, difficulties in one (or possibly more) areas, but not across the board.
It is important to remember that the SEND system is needs-led not diagnosis-led, although it often does not feel that way. It is important to get support for the impact of any difficulty on the individual, rather than rely on generic assumptions based on the label given. Many labels have very broad definitions and therefore tell educators or employers very little about the person.
Specialist teachers can assess for a range of difficulties seen in dyslexia and other SpLDs, such as reading, writing, comprehension, writing speed, working memory, visual stress and some motor difficulties, such as dyspraxia. They have a whole range of tests available to them, not dissimilar to those used by Educational Psychologists. Educational Psychologists ofte the same tests as a Specialist Teacher does.
Most children and young people with Special Educational Needs can be supported at school on 'SEN Support', however, a few will require provision that is 'additional to, or different from, that made generally for children of the same age in ...mainstream'. These children and young people may require an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) to set out and secure provision for them. Parents can request a Statutory Assessment by putting their request in writing to the Director of Children's Services (email is acceptable). Norfolk County Council then has 6 weeks in which to decide if the assessment is needed. There is no legal requirement to fill out any form, although Norfolk has one on their Local Offer website that may be useful to use. The 6 week coundown starts on the day the request is made.
Criteria for Statutory Assessment is that a child or young person may have Special Educational Needs that might require an EHCP to be written. No local authority can apply criteria that is higher than what the law states.
The term ‘SEN’ is defined in law. Section 20 (2) of the Children and Families Act (2014):
A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she-
a) has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.
The definition of Special Educational Provision is defined at Section 21 (1):
(1) ”Special educational provision”, for a child aged two or more or a young person, means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in
a) mainstream schools in England,
b) maintained nursery schools in England,
c) mainstream post-16 institutions in England, or
d) places in England at which relevant early years education is provided
(2) “Special educational provision”, for any child age under two, means educational provision of any kind.
Children grow into adults who may find their difficulties disabling in some contexts, requiring Reasonable Adjustments to be made in college, university or the workplace.
Secondary schools and colleges should have an appropriate person to carry out assessments for Access Arrangements for exams. Suitable adjustments are set out by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) and are subject to yearly changes.
University students may need a new assessment of their difficulties to make an application for Disabled Student's Allowances, and working adults may need Assistive Technology to help them with their work.
Reasonable Adjustments are subject to the individual being considered disabled under the Equality Act (2010).