1. Get as much information as you can
Finding out about statementing will help you to understand the process better and feel more in control. Knowing your rights and the rights of your child will also help you to make sure their needs are being met. You can find out more about the statementing process.
I filled in this form very roughly one day in a café, not realising it was being included in the final statement. I was quite unsupported about how important it was, as part of a legal document that as going to define his provision.
2. Your views are important too
As a parent you know your child better than anyone else, so your input is incredibly important. Your views will form part of the statement, so make sure you think carefully about what you want to say and what support you want your child to receive.
3. Talk to other parents of children with similar needs
Make contact with other parents whose children have similar needs to your child. Ask them about the services their children receive, their experiences of the statementing process and where they go to get support.
Join the Mencap parents forum to share your experiences with other parents
- Search for Mencap groups in your local area
- Contact a Family offers advice, information and support to parents of children with a disability in the UK, and enables parents to contact other families on a local and national basis. They also have a useful guide to Special Educational Needs. Visit the Contact a Family website or call their helpline on 0808 808 3555.
Solidarity with other parents is one of the main ways of feeling ‘I can get through this'.
4. Be as open as possible
Talking about your child can be very emotional, but try to be as open as you can about their needs and what life is really like for you. Your child has a right to a good school and good support, so tell the professionals working with your child exactly what their needs are and what you would like to happen in the future.
5. Keep a record of everything that happens
It is a good idea to keep copies of everything you receive from the local authority, and everything you send to them – keeping everything in date order can help to make sure you don't miss any deadlines. It is also worth making a note of any telephone calls that are made, and what is discussed during the calls.
6. Remember the little things
It is easy to overlook things when preparing for a statutory assessment. Try to think about the day-to-day things your child might need help with, like going to the toilet, dressing and undressing and communicating with other pupils and staff.
Having support with turning on a tap so my son could wash his hands, or having somebody to clean his glasses for him so he could see what he was doing in class were small but incredibly significant details.
7. Get evidence to support your views
Getting help is not always easy, especially if your child has very complex needs. You may have to work hard to build your case if you are applying for your child to change schools, or if you are requesting a high-cost residential school. In these circumstances it is vital that you gather as much evidence as possible from the professionals who know your child well, and you may also want to invest in an independent assessment.
- Contact the British Psychological Society for more information about independent assessments by calling their help desk on 0116 254 9568.
8. Don't let the statement get you down
Some parents will sail through the statementing process, especially if they are working with supportive professionals who value their knowledge of their child. However, for other parents it can be an emotional and upsetting experience, especially as the statement will tend to look at the things your child cannot do. Whatever your situation, try to stay focussed on what it is all for – this is your opportunity to make sure your child gets the educational support they need to get the most out of life.
Instead of thinking about what he couldn't do, I would think about what he needed to help him do it.
9. Remember it won't last for ever
Although the statementing process can be stressful, remember it won't last forever. In a few months you will have made some major steps towards getting the right help for your child.