Tag Archives: ACE

Time to find your voice.

17 Jun

This is a post of utter urgency! It’s a plea  for help from the wider community. Does your child have autism, special educational needs or problems in school? Maybe they don’t, but who knows what the future holds!

I was sat at my mothers yesterday checking my emails when I came across something most frightening… A life line for parents of school age children faces the big axe due to funding cuts,’ THE ADVISORY CENTRE FOR EDUCATION’ better known as ACE.

Ace is an invaluable DfE telephone support service who offer advice to parents of school age children on education issues, the main one’s being exclusions, admissions, special educational needs, bullying and discrimination. If your child has ever been exclude like mine, then you have properly used ACE at some point, to advise you on your next steps and whether the exclusion was carried out in away that is considered ‘legal’. The service offers free advice and is normally a parents first port of call. Exclusion letters will often contain the telephone number for ACE, one day I decided to use them. I was offered top notch information that was inline with the education act, I was provide with much needed assistance when I didn’t know where else to turn. The following day I received a free exclusion guide in the post, considering it was 4:00pm when I had called, I considered it an excellent service.

Ace, highlighted some real serious problems for me, including the fact Little man had been illegally excluded twice! If I had never made that call I would have been none the wiser and my guess is the unofficial exclusions would have continued. I rang ACE a significant amount of times over a two year period, with every call I was offered beneficial advice. I feel so strongly about this and was most upset that this service that has offered support to thousands of families for the last 50 years, would no longer be able to operate as they have been informed that funding will stop at the end of the month.

Now you maybe thinking to yourself as you read this, that its of no importance to you, but how would you feel if it was? This is a life line for many and is just one services that parents like me will lose! Unfortunately this isn’t all we have to worry about! Us parents to children with special educational needs as facing a host of possible changes, that in my opinion will only see our children in a more disadvantaged state then ever before. The pending changes thanks to the green paper already pose a huge degree of uncertainty, resulting in possible changes to the law, yet a huge reduction in services to support parents through this worrying time. If that wasn’t bad enough, we face the prospect of losing the right to gain legal aid which many families rely on when challenging schools and local authorities by taking them to the SEN tribunal.

So, lets take a long hard look at the facts. Big sources of parental support face closure due to funding cuts; the new health and social care plan is still very unclear; the removal of legal aid for education cases will be withdrawn at this critical time! Anyone would thing it was some kind of deliberate attempt to reduce the amount of claims being brought against LEAs and schools, not because the child’s needs are being meet… No, simply because parents will no longer be provide with sources of information on their current rights; will lose the right to have access to the legal advice needed or even instruct solicitors! What’s even more terrifying… Parents will lose the lifeline they once had to gain independent medical reports to ensure their child’s needs have been fully documented by those instructed by the local authority!

People need to remember these are children we are discussing! Many will claim that the parent should not relay on such handouts, yet it should be acknowledged that many of these parents are not in a position to engage in paid employment, what with many of these children needing home educating or solely being left out of education due to there being no suitable school placements… I cannot see what a parent is left to do?

I had to apply for legal aid to ensure Little Man’s old mainstream primary school received training in special educational needs. We settled a few days before the hearing as we were given a full apology, the promise of SEN training and a re-write of the schools sen policy. I then had the comfort of knowing I had at least tried to stop the treatment my child received being inflicted on others. I also needed the legal aid service for yet another appeal to the tribunal, for the contents of little mans statement of special educational needs lacked details of current difficulties and provisions to address such difficulties. This time my solicitor applied for funding to gain some essential independent reports, that without… my claim would have little success of winning. Little man received three appointments for three independent assessments that would gain us reports for legal purposes! I wasn’t prepared for some of the things I read in these reports and although I knew my sons difficulties were far grater then any documented by the local authority. I was sadden to see just the extent of how different these were. Although the reports highlighted such valuable information, they would show the disturbing differences between the two. Without such reports it is likely I would have never of known the extent of my child’s difficulties! Although little man can speak I now know certain degrees of his speech and language are considered severely delayed! Other important issues included the possibility of dyslexia and Little mans impaired motor skills. Its extremely possible that my child who will now attend an independent special day school designed for children with an autistic spectrum condition, would have been left to struggle trough a mainstream school, face permanent exclusion or as once suggested… be educated in a pupil referral unit.

Many of us are guilty of saying nothing myself included. We tend to complain once the affects have surfaced and we find ourselves and our child in a troubling situation. Its to late then, the damage is done. There are enough off us to get heard…

I ask everyone of you to consider the above and ask yourself if we are being provide with a service that will better meet our children’s needs or place us within a system that is far worse then the one we currently battle?

If you agree with me and my god, I hope you do! Please get yourself heard. Ace are asking for everyone’s support.

Here’s some suggestions on what you can do.

1. Contact urgently Sarah Teather MP and urge her to review the DfE’s recent decision not to fund ACE from the end of June this year.

2. Contact your networks of colleagues and urge them to write to their MPs.

3. Contact your own political colleagues, in the House of Lords or House of Commons, asking for their support for ACE.

4. Publicise our situation via your websites, asking for support and (if possible) donations to help us carry on our work.

5. Contact ACE to discuss how you can support us.

Please remember that without our help, ACE will lose there funding on the 30th June and will no longer be able to provide us with their expertise.

Other things you can do

You can also respond to the SEN green paper by the end of June

Join an online campaign to stop legal aid cuts, such as TREE HOUSE

Start a petition

Write the your MP

RISK OF PERMANENT EXCLUSION

14 Mar

If you have been reading the blog lately you probably know about little man getting excluded from school.

Well it gets worse If that’s even possible! He was excluded on Wednesday the 3rd March at 1 pm and was back at school on the 5th March. The exclusion was for a fixed period of 1.5 days. Well it was 8.30 am Friday morning and I was getting little man and his sister ready for school. I was getting a little worried that it would be hard for little man to settle back into his school routine but was very keen for him to get right back in there and give it a go. Little man seemed pretty keen to which was a blessing as refusing to attend had been a past problem. Just then my mobile goes It’s the school receptionist. She tells me the Head teacher wants me to bring little man in at 9.20 am as we have to meet and discuss what happens next. Well he goes back to school and gets himself on of those things called an education! surely that’s what’s next. 9.20 am is 25 minutes after the bell and if little man was going in at 9.20 am so was his sister!! We arrived and was greeted by the Head teacher. “Giovanni can you tell me the reasons you were excluded from school ?”  Little man looks at the floor and says ” YOU EXCLUDED ME! YOU SHOULD KNOW! I don’t think it was the answer the head was looking for as he asked the question another couple of times with little man firing the same answer back. “SO WE ARE NOT READY TO ATTEND CLASS THEN GIOVANNI ?” YOU MUST WANT TO WORK IN THE OFFICE WITH ME ?”  Little man shook his head. “Well if you can’t talk to me and give me the reason you think you were excluded maybe it’s best if you do” Hang on! The Head teacher had asked and he answered. You can’t keep taking him out of his class he needs his routine. If there is a problem in class removing him wont help in the long run. They must be able to see this by now. I expressed this and a number of other concerns before waving him off and setting off home.

I was scared to go anywhere. I would normally use this time to go and get the food shopping as it’s hard work with little man, his sister and my baby! But I was worried my mobile would ring and it would be them and I would not be able to get in to collect him right away! Or maybe I would have to leave the shopping and run. My mother who lives around the corner from me and his school would be working I’m sure! In case I gave mum a ring on her mobile in the hope she had finished and was at home. Not only was she still working but she gave me a good talking to. She was angry that I would put of doing day-to-day stuff in case they called. If they called then they would have to wait! I see her point I knew this but I still didn’t want to plan much just in case. 12.30 pm  I notice I have a missed call. Crap are my fears confirmed? I call back just waiting for the bad news. Phew the receptionist told me it was regarding little mans packed lunch It had gone missing from the trolley. This isn’t a first! They had given him a school dinner instead. He was having sausages and ice cream ( Not together I hope ) She tells me he isn’t really eating it but hey his giving it ago. I put down the phone and I remember thinking God how on earth is he coping with all them children making all that noise when using  cutlery! He can not stand the sound of the cutlery scraping on the plate, he says it makes him fuzzy and he freaks out if Alice ever does it at home he will flip out and most of the time this resulted in Alice getting hit.  Well there was no point in worrying so went about my day in the hope he was doing ok. I did my shopping and was pleased that I had done so without a single call 🙂  But once home I heard the dreaded Ring ring ! OH MY GOD! IT’S THEM! This time my heart was in my mouth. Whats happened I shouted down the phone like a mad mother. “Me and the Head have been discussing our options in terms of outreach support for Giovanni. We have contacted Brent knoll autism outreach team. This is a services that will offer… I butted in “I know I know I have read about them and I am also interested in their school so I know their services” “Well Ms Parkinson, this is not a free service and we will be funding it and you need to sign the paper work once it has come in. By the way the call was from Mrs Jeffery’s the schools SENCO! And I like the way they found it important to inform me that it wasn’t free! Cheeky gits!!! However this was fantastic news I was over the moon and felt positive for the first time in ages. I told her in a relieved voice that seeing the school number come up on my phone always made me panic. I have taken two calls from them today and with both heart attacks were in easy reach. She made a little noise that kinda sounded like a quick giggle. She said his had a few minor upsets but all is good. Wow I had less than an hour till home time seems his gonna make the day and I’m sure once Brent knoll are involved things will plan out.

It had been a few hours that the children had been home from school. Giovanni and Alice were sitting eating their tea at 6.15 pm when the phone rings. It’s the school Head teacher wanting a word. I roll my eyes and settle on the sofa in preparation for an ear burning frustrating conversation. And this is exactly what I got!  I’m sorry but Giovanni’s behaviour was so bad today that he may need to be put on a longer if not a permanent exclusion! Lucky I was sitting or I would have likely been falling. How can you go from a 1.5 day exclusion to a permanent one?? At 2pm he was fine a few upsets she said but nothing to worry about. That was a lie!!  The head says he has minor issues in morning but by lunch his out of control. His left the lunch hall a monster. I try to explain his been in that dinner hall trying to cope with his sensory processing  but he goes on to say no it was from lunch till home time. Yer! Point! How does that make a difference ? is this man crazy  don’t he understand anything surrounding ASD. Whats the permanent exclusion all about then? The Head teacher goes on to tell me that at home time he run around the deputy head with his fist together like a boxer and taunted her shouting come on come on you wanna fight, I’ve seen him do it hundreds of times he does it in a playful manner he kinda makes me laugh when his at it because his facial expressions really get me. I’m sure he was doing it in a playful manner. “No it was a threat that I can’t over look”.

He wanted him in on Monday at 9.15am and for me to collect him 15 min before his peers at home time. He would not be joining his class or even seeing them as he was to remain with the SENCO in her office all day apart from a one hour 1 2 1 he would have with a TA. He was even to eat lunch in the office. This was to be an In school exclusion. I checked it out and it can be done. I picked up on a few of their mistakes why dealing with this matter and contacted ACE who are great. Will have to share them mistakes another time as to many eyes around for me. I collected him from school after having been on this type of exclusion for three days  and once out the gate he burst into floods of tears. “I just wanna go to school and run about in the playgrounds I wanna see my teacher and be in class like everyone else.  It broke my heart and with this I promised him no more! If the Head Teacher don’t have Listen then it looks like home will be the safest place to be. I know this is what they want me to do but my main concern is for my childs welfare.

I have since contacted the LEA and told them about the possible permanent exclusion in the hope they assess sooner not later. I have also contacted ACE ( they sent the exclusion ace manual ) Parents in partnership, MP, Educational welfare officer, ISPA, and other autism support groups.

I just hope we sort it before it is too late and I’m home schooling a 9 yr old with a 3 month old baby to look after. Then dropping and collecting Alice from school twice a day. All this until a placement is found. Surly they see that this is best avoided. Yes I want him out of your school! But he needs another school placement to replace the one his leaving. permanent exclusion is not the right way to go about it.

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