Parental views on the statutory assessment and educational planning for children with special educational needs

Una O'Connor, Roy McConkey, Brendan Hartop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Within the UK educational authorities have a legal duty to undertake an assessment of childrenwho are deemed to have ‘special educational needs’ and to draw up plans for meeting these needs.The procedures used are currently under review, and as a contribution to this a study of parentalviews was commissioned in Northern Ireland. Over 1000 self-selected parents completed a structuredpostal questionnaire and a random sample of nearly 100 parents took part in follow-up telephoneinterviews. Information was gathered on the children’s characteristics as well as parentalexperiences and opinions of the process. The majority of parents appear to be satisfied with boththe assessment and statementing process, reporting that it fairly and accurately reflected theirchild’s needs. Moreover, most parents felt that it had been beneficial for their child, and to a lesserextent, for them personally. Multivariate, statistical analyses identified the characteristics of dissatisfiedparents. Most parents identified specific improvements they would like to see in the processand many of these are applicable beyond the formal procedures used in the UK. In the main,these centred on the relationship between parents and professionals, improved communication betweenthem and access to clear information. It is argued that future decisions about the form andcontent of statutory procedures for children with special educational needs must be done in fullconsultation with parents and alongside the evolving values that underpin society’s responses todiversity and our understanding of what it means to have a disability. The viewpoint of the childalso needs to be considered more so than in the present arrangements and the dearth of researchin this area is noted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-269
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2005


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