This is an area where I love to support children. Being able to thoroughly assess and identify a child’s strengths and challenges and recommend the appropriate strategies, therapies, and provision to help them progress in their education is extremely rewarding.
I work across Wales and England. In Wales children have Statements of Special Educational Needs (Statement of SEN) and in England children have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP).
My assessment process is holistic, and the content of my assessment is the same in Wales and England. The only slight difference is the reference to the sections of the relevant documents that my assessment recommendations will be used in.
I frequently get asked if a report from an independent professional will be accepted during the assessment of a child’s educational needs.
In short, yes it should be.
There is a public law duty for the Local Authority to take independent reports into account. If a Local Authority chooses to draft a Statement of SEN or EHCP without inclusion of an independent report, then you have a right to appeal.
Parents can also supply independent reports at the time of Statement of SEN and EHCP annual reviews. The Local Authority do not have to instantly agree or implement the information provided in the report, but, if the Statement of SEN or EHCP is not updated to truly reflect the needs of the child, again there is the right to appeal.
Some people believe that if an independent professional is engaged by a family, they will just write what the family wants them to include in their report, and attempt to sway the outcome of the assessment process.
This is not the case.
The definition of independent is “free from outside control; not subject to another’s authority”, “capable of thinking or acting for oneself”, “not connected with another or with each other; separate”.
When completing an assessment of a child’s educational needs as an independent professional, it is our duty to remain impartial and to focus on our area of professionalism.
Our duty is to provide fully independent advice, taking into account all of the information that is available to us, before coming to a clinically evidenced opinion about the child’s strengths, challenges, underlying causes for any of these challenges, and the ideal provision to meet the child’s needs.
Our reports rely on FACT, and not being stifled and restricted by commissioning and funding does mean that independent professionals will often have a broader outlook on what could be achieved for a child, how this could be achieved and the provision required to achieve the best results.
Almost all independent professionals will also have a far quicker turn around from referral to production of report and can often work to very tight timescales.
Want to learn more?
For more information about Statements of SEN visit http://www.snapcymru.org/help-for-families/statementing-process/
For more information about EHCPs visit https://www.ipsea.org.uk/pages/category/education-health-and-care-plans
Can I help you?
If you are at the point of needing an independent Occupational Therapist, specialising in working with children and young people to act as an Expert Witness, please do book a Discovery Session with me so that we can have a no obligation chat to see if we are a match to work together.