The management of SEN in schools follows a needs led, staged process. When a school identifies a problem with learning or they know that a child has another disability or difficulty which is making it hard for them to learn properly the child is usually put on “School Action” (though sometimes stages are skipped if it is obvious that a child is going to need extensive help – some children have Statements well before they even start mainstream school). The school identifies the problems and puts a plan of action in place to try and meet the extra needs the child has. This is usually in the form of an IEP which specifies targets and the action and extra help to be put into place to help the child meet those targets. If the extra help does not “work” the school may try a variety of interventions. If it becomes clear that the child is still not making adequate progress to meet the targets and expectations despite all that has been tried, the school may then move to call in some outside advice from specialists such as the Educational Psychologist, Learning Support, Emotional and Behavioural Support, Speech and Language specialist, Autism outreach etc, etc, whatever is appropriate and available in the area. This is the trigger for the child to move onto School Action Plus.
New plans, informed by specialist advice, are drawn up and implemented, again usually through regularly reviewed IEPs. It is only if despite the interventions the child does not make sufficient progress that Statutory Assessment would be considered.
The first thing a LA usually does when it receives a request for Statutory Assessment is contact the school to see what help has been given, for how long and to what extent it has worked in resolving the problems. Without this evidence they would not usually accede to the request. A statement would only result from such an assessment if the LA agreed that the child’s needs could not be met from within the school’s normal resources.
If your child has been doing well and making good progress under School Action it would be very unlikely that the LA would agree to any Statutory Assessment.
It is very natural to have concerns about how your child will manage in the more demanding secondary environment. Firstly you need to be clear about what help she has been receiving in her primary school which has clearly been effective as she has progressed well. Do they anticipate that she will have more problems with any aspect of secondary school? You will want to know from the secondary schools you are considering whether they will have the same sort of help available or what particular programmes, help or equipment they have to help children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. How will they monitor how your child is managing? How will they help her transition? The SENCOs should be happy to discuss these issues with you if you contact them. Usually there is liaison between the primary schools and the secondary schools to make sure that transition for children with SEN proceeds smoothly and the destination school is fully aware of the child’s needs.
In many schools there is quite a bit of help available without any need for a Statement. Notebook computers, dyslexia programmes, extra pastoral support would often be accessible to any child who needed them. However, schools do vary in what they are able to offer from their own resources so it is worth finding out about this from the SENCO beforehand.
You may find people at your local Parent Partnership Service or Choice Advice Service can advise you on specific schools and that there may be leaflets and helpsheeets or even workshops sometimes on offer for parents of children with SEN making the transition to secondary school.
For a good overview of the law on SEN and how the system works the IPSEA website is clear and useful:http://www.ipsea.org.uk/