This article provides a response to some of the issues raised by Anne Pinney’s summary, published in the September issue of BJSE, of the Audit Commission’s report on statutory assessment and Statements of Special Educational Needs. In developing her critique, Lani Florian, lecturer in special and inclusive education at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and Editor of the Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, asks a series of important and challenging questions. Can the broad notion of ‘special educational needs’ complement ideas about ‘areas of need’ or ‘categories of handicap’ and enable young people with severe, complex or long–term disabilities to have their needs met? Is SEN funding fairly distributed, among pupils with special educational needs in particular and across the education system in general? Should the relationship between the processes of formative and statutory assessment and Statements of Special Educational Needs be reconceptualised? Can the protection offered by the Statement be maintained in association with the development of good inclusive practices? And if there is to be a move away from provision designed to address children’s individual difficulties, what forms of thinking, procedure and practice will enable staff to develop new ways of meeting the needs of all learners? I hope that the questions raised by this article will stimulate other commentators to contribute to the debate about our responses to special educational needs in the pages of BJSE.