As many of you already know, I’ve been training to become a tribunal support adviser. I’ve never known what I really wanted to do in life in-till now and this is something I’m sure on. I am seriously hoping to succeed in this chosen path I’ve now taken.
Autism awareness is something I’m passionate about, and as many will already know, either from their own experiences or somebody else’s… autism and the Sendist first tier tribunal seem to go hand in hand with one another here in the UK. I acknowledge that not all children on the autism spectrum have Special educational needs (Sen) but a good chunk of them do and It’s then that many families are faced with problems and a good proportion of the time are faced with the prospect of a fight that eventually ends up in the hands of the tribunal to try and resolve! Ok some are lucky and school’s and LEAs have no problems providing the adequate education for the child! But in my opinion it’s a very small percentage that do.
It’s “funny” how one day everything is rosy in the land of education, but then before you know it, it’s all changed! It could come along and take any parent/career by surprise! It happened to me and it could happen to you!
When I discovered little man had Aspergers I didn’t know the first thing about Sen. The thing is as far as I was aware my child wasn’t on the sen register at school. As many fail to understand… “Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder don’t necessary mean they have special educational needs” I suppose the fact little man refused to even attend school most days, meant the extent of his problems were not seen within his school environment. Well, my point is… I had a great deal to learn back then!
Of course now we are in a completely different situation! Yes, my little man does have problems in school, considerably so that at present his going through the statutory assessment process, is currently part-time schooling and we have a pending DDA tribunal case in the near future. I suddenly had to learn everything from IEPs to exclusion.. all things I’ve never needed to think about before. It’s bloody hard when it goes from being told your child has no issues within school to issues so bad and complex your child now awaits the decision of an emergency “Special school placement” Because their level of need is now so high they cannot cope within the mainstream environment they currently with-side. You hear all this mind-boggling jargon and all you wanna do is SCREAM…”WHAT IN GODS NAME ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” School action, school action+, statutory assessments and statements.. “WHAT?” So much time is spent trying to work out what you as the parent needs to be doing to make sure your child is getting the very best education available that you have little time for anything else. I know when I first stepped into the world of autism and special ed I didn’t have a clue! Much of my day was spent running back and forth to and from school only later spending hours trailing the net for answers or calling autism/education advice lines.
It was from then I armed myself with a hardback copy of the Sen code and got myself a tool kit. I also started reading the Education Act (Mainly schedules 26 & 27) & The Education (Special Educational Needs) (Information) (England) Regulations. With this I began to gradually feel more confident in dealing with little mans special educational needs. The loneliness you feel when your child is diagnosed and when autism and Sen come together is immense. I thank all those that were there advising me along the way, making me strong! If it wasn’t for the likes of .…NAS, Ace, Ipsea and other organisations of this kind I would not have been this strong, I would have likely gone insane! I certainly would not have chosen this route (advising others on their rights within the education system) But that’s just it! By going through it I discovered that I wanted/needed to do more. I cannot thank those that have helped me enough, now this is my way of giving something back.
There was many reasons that made this chosen position feel right for me! The prospect that I will help other parents that like me had no clue where to turn, not knowing when and if they have a right to appeal, deadlines looming while all the time their child is failing or worse still being failed. This was my biggest reason! If my work helps just one family then all this training was worth it!
So… finally here’s the good news!. I passed the distance learning modules (All ten of them) These modules covered a great deal. I swear I’ve read the entire Ed act on Sen, followed by the Cop. I got the email in the middle of last week confirming my place on the two training weekends in Canary Wharf in the Clifford Chance Law offices. The trainers, managers and co-ordinator of the TSS service are fantastic and made us all feel relaxed and very welcome. The first day (Saturday) after a really long training session 10-5:30 p.m. (Ok it’s been a while since I did anything other then be mummy) me and the other trainees were taken out for dinner in this lovely Italian restaurant situated right below one of the tallest buildings, not far from the water. It was a wonderful evening and although I had just met everybody that day I was really comfortable in their company. Sundays training was very practical.. Yes I worried half the night I would mess this one up but it went pretty well.
Well, I’m back for my last bit of training on the last weekend of this Month, and yep I’m looking forward to seeing everybody again and getting stuck in! After that… It’s for real, I’m on my own!! As well as being on the front-line I will also undertake casework, and to be honest I can’t wait!!!
Canary Wharf London