Tag Archives: Education act

ITS TIME THAT OFSTED PUT A STOP TO ILLEGAL EXCLUSIONS AGAINST CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

20 Feb

Yesterday was a rather productive day.

Its a day that two years ago, I longed to see.

Yesterday was all about reaching out, creating awareness and getting heard.

It was those important factors above, and a few more besides that encouraged me on the given tasks I had been set. Tasks I thought would never happen but was now about to suddenly surface.

The task was that of sharing our story with the world.

Two years ago I felt as if no one would listen. I was able to successfully bring every aspect of our story to light and people would take notice… Every aspect but this one! Now I’d been given an opportunity to change this.

It all began when the charity “Contact A Family” sent me an email with an attached survey surrounding the topic of “Illegal exclusions from school” Of course I had a lot to say on the given subject. I hoped that others affected would have too. The results could finally prove the extent of the problem and finally a campaign set in motion.

Thankfully this is what happened! The results have lead to the charity “Contact A Family” launching a national campaign highlighting the results of the survey entitled “Falling Through The Net”…

The charity’s Falling Through The Net survey, collected the opinions off over 400 families of children with disabilities or additional needs.

The results indicated that more than half (53%) of families have been asked to collect their child during the school day because there are not enough staff available to support them.

• More than half (56%) of families have• been told by the school that their child can’t take part in a class activity or trips because it is unsuitable for them.

• Almost a quarter (22%) are illegally excluded every week and 15% every day.

• More than half (53%) of affected disabled children are falling behind with school work and 43% feel depressed because of illegal exclusions.

• Half of parents (50%) are unable to work due to being called to school frequently.

The charity is making the following recommendations to improve the situation:

• Where exclusion is necessary, schools must follow statutory procedure to ensure decisions are lawful, reasonable and fair.

• The most frequently illegally excluded pupils with a disability or additional needs are those who have conditions which affect behaviour. Schools should take early action to tackle the underlying cause, and to put in support before a crisis occurs.

• Schools and teachers should work closely with parents to understand a child’s condition or disability and their extra support needs and ensure the child gets the help they need.

• Ofsted has an important role in identifying unlawful practice in the course of an inspection. School should be offered additional support to help them improve their practice. A grading of “inadequate” should be considered if schools continue to illegally exclude children with a disability, SEN or additional need.

Looking back through some of my blog post that I had written back when Little man was being regularly excluded from school (both officially and unofficially) I am reminded of the sheer frustration and anger this situation was causing for both myself and my child.

I’m reminded of them painful days full of tears and disbelief as we struggled to get of a never ending rollercoster of emotional terror.

My post remind me that I am in fact a much stronger person than I myself give credit too. Despite the forming of depression and a certain degree of hopelessness, I never once give up… even though I often found myself close to the edge I remained there by a thread… A very thin one.

It wasn’t just our family feeling the pressure, although at that specific moment in time I felt like the only one and that felling was a somewhat lonely one! There was many more like me and it was during those months that followed that I discovered many others like myself living in fear of the daily phone calls from their child’s school demanding they collect their child for whatever reason.

The Boy With Aspergers Facebook page which is an addition to this very blog has some 5,800 + members, many looking for the same answers, huge numbers struggling to work together with their child’s school in a productive manner. Instead these parents found themselves on our page asking the same question… “Are they allowed to continually request I collect my child from school and bring him home?”

Yes, they are…. But only if the statutory procedures are carried out by the school. Its when they fail to put these procedures into action to ensure such decisions are lawful, that they then become unlawful.

What happens to the schools who chose the latter? In most cases if not all… Nothing!

You see the Education Act states that it is a parents responsibility to ensure their child is educated once they have reached compulsory school age. If parents fail to ensure regular attendances AWOs (Attendance and Welfare Officers) likely step in and local authorities proceed to take parents to court if they fail to fulfil this parental requirement (for whatever reason). This can leave parents with a hefty fine to pay or even in some cases a prison sentence to serve. The thing is parents can be found guilty of an offence under section 441 or 441(a) regardless of the reasons behind the absences. Its simple if you are (a) the parent of the child and (b) they never attended school everyday regardless of the reasons, then that parent is automatically found guilty of 441 (the lesser charge of failing to secure school attendance) and will end up with a fine or find themselves on some type of parenting order. Its the law, plain and simple!

My point?

Your child’s school phones you up, sometimes on a daily basis and requests you collect your child as they are unable to contend with their challenging behaviour. You take your child home as the school requests you do, only the official routes are not put into motion… There is no exclusion letter setting out the reasons for your child’s exclusion. This therefore means that the local authority have not been notified and your child’s school have broken the law. Maybe you don’t know this at the time but when you eventually discover this to be the case you take action. Written complaints to governing bodies, LEA officials and ofsted! Yet nothing at all happens… Instead the school seem completely disregard it all and continue to operate in such a manner! How is this allowed to continue? If parents are taken to court and hit with hefty fines then why ain’t schools? After all laws are laws.

When I was called at the ridiculous hour of 8.30pm and asked that I keep my child away from school on the same day as a planned Ofsted visit I had finally been pushed enough. I took myself and child to the school and as he throw himself around the reception area in sheer anger and frustration I just stood demanding I speak with the visiting ofsted officer.

Next thing I knew she was stood behind me, placing her arm around my shoulder as she lead me to an empty class room for a chat. I remember it all becoming to much and I sat telling her through sobs and tears, the extent of the schools treatment towards myself and my child, paying particular attention to the ongoing illegal exclusions (including the one he was currently meant to be serving). I passed her evidence I’d collected, diary notes and some written thoughts from the little man himself. She agreed that the schools activity was illegal and promised to investigated. I tried making contact with the officer as the weeks turned to months but never had any luck. I was horrors with the schools final report and grade of a “Good” school. There was absolutely no mention on the subject. It even stated the schools understanding of children with SEN and certain disabilities. To say I was horrified is an understatement! I then lost every bit of faith I had left in a failing system.

Yesterday morning I gave a live radio interview to Paul Ross on the BBC LONDON 94.9 Breakfast show.

That same afternoon I found myself agreeing to a LIVE TV interview with SKY NEWS. Now I’ve done TV interviews before and have appeared on the news as well as sharing stories in national and local newspapers, but a LIVE interview was something new to me and admittedly as I stood waiting to enter the news room my stomach did an array of huge summersaults making me feel a tad sick!

I had to constantly remind myself of the pain we suffered… How awful life was for little man during those dark days attending mainstream school. I then collaborated a huge mass of messages in my mind, all surrounding the questions parents of excluded children would leave on our Facebook page messages I’d read on the Facebook page all searching for answers and support.

I just had to remember that by doing this I could help contribute somehow to making a difference for children like my little man and their family’s too! This combined with the great encouragement given to me from some great supportive people across social networks such as twitter and Facebook, was the virtual kick in the butt I needed to get in that news room and go for it.

Thankfully I was joined by Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family and the whole thing went pretty well.

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So… Here’s hoping together we can bring much needed changes to the way schools deal with the challenging behaviour of children with additional needs.

Would be interested in hearing from others who like myself and many others have had fight this battle. If your interested in featuring in a post I’m planing on this subject please email me via the address on my contact page.

Links to media articles on this subject…

An article on the guardian blog from a teacher who says illegal exclusion needs to stop! Click Here

An Article in the guardian newspaper (I myself contributed too under a different name) plus it features the wonderful Mama Owl (aka Juile Sheppard) and her beautiful boy Logan. Click Here

Enable – The official Contact A Family Report featuring mine and little mans experiences Click Here

Contact A Family Article on their findings Click Here

I’m afraid I haven’t been given the permission to broadcast the Sky News Clip as yet. It was showed at 1:50pm on the 19th Feb 2013 live on Sky news (Sky and freeview). If you are a Sky account holder You maybe able to view this on Sky Go today if you would like to see it. I will share on the blog as soon as I have permission to realise the clip.

Compulsory Mediation – Good Idea?

17 Sep

So the draft legislation has been out a few weeks now and one of the biggest changes that has stood out most to me is that of Compulsory Mediation.

As things stand at the moment, A parent can lodge an appeal to the first tier tribunal as soon as the local education authority (LEA) has written to the parent setting out a child’s proposed provision in the form of a draft statement. If the parent doesn’t agree with the provision offered they then have the instant right to appeal. This is done by making an application to the first tier tribunal. In the meantime the parent can request that the LEA meet for Mediation which is conducted by an independent mediator. However, the appeal process is still well underway and most will find that this gives the LEA that much needed kick up the backside.

The draft legislation which has been written to assist the changes in SEN provision in the near future states…

… Mediation: This section applies where a child’s parent or young person intends to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal under section 28 in respect of anything done by a local authority, or the content of an EHC plan maintained by a local authority.
This section does not apply in respect of an appeal concerning only of

(a) the school or other institution named in an EHC plan;

(b) the type of school or other institution specified in an EHC plan;

(c) the fact that an EHC plan does not name a school or other institution.
The childís parent or young person must notify the authority of his or her intention to appeal.

The local authority must then arrange for mediation between it and the parent or young person.

The child’s parent or young person must take part in mediation under this section before making an appeal.

The authority must arrange for the mediation to be conducted by an independent person.

For the purposes of subsection (6), a person is not independent if he or she is employed by a local authority in England.

At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator must issue a certificate to both the local authority and the parent or young person
(a) setting out what has been agreed by the parties (including any agreed time limits), or

(b) stating that no agreement has been reached.

The parent or young person may make the appeal only if

(a) no agreement has been reached, or
(b) the local authority does not act in accordance with what is set out under subsection (8)(a) before any agreed time limits expire.

Regulations may make provision about mediation under this section, in particular
(a) about giving notice;
(b) imposing time limits;
(c) enabling a local authority to take prescribed steps following the conclusion of the mediation;
(d) about circumstances in which mediation under this section is not necessary;
(e) about the circumstances in which the parties to mediation need not meet face-to-face during the mediation;
(f) about the consequences of failure to take part or properly take part in the mediation;
(g) about who may attend the mediation;
(h) where a childís parent is a party to the mediation, requiring the
mediator to take reasonable steps to ascertain the views of the child;
(i) about the provision of advocacy and other support services for the
parent or young person;
(j) requiring a local authority to pay the other partyís reasonable travel expenses and other expenses of a prescribed description, up to any prescribed limit;
(k) about the training, qualifications and experience of persons who may act as a mediator;
(l) requiring a parent or young person to take prescribed steps when appealing to the First-tier Tribunal under section 28 after mediation;
(m) requiring the First-tier Tribunal not to determine an appeal under section 28 if requirements imposed under this section have not been met.

Appeals which only concern the name of a school, college or other institution specified in the Education, Health and Care Plan or the type of school, college or institution specified in the Plan or the fact that the Plan does not name any school, college or other institution can be made without going to mediation. This is because the parent or young person will already have been able to request a particular school or institution in the further education sector, and had discussions with the local authority about which institution should be named on the Plan. Requiring mediation in these circumstances would involve repeating the same discussions. The clause gives the Secretary of State regulation-making powers concerning mediation as listed in the clause.

So, what does this mean exactly? Basically parents will not only have to agree to mediation but undergo it before lodging an appeal with the tribunal.

This seems somewhat odd to me. There is no mention of tribunal timescales which will need to be adjusted to fit the proposed changes. The only timescales mentioned are those agreed during mediation.

Worryingly, from what I have read this new legislation will only make the appeals process longer than it currently is which in all honest is already far too long! I understand that we need to reduce the number of appeals reaching the tribunal but this should only be due to the fact more children are getting their needs met and therefore no longer require the help of a judicial decision to ensure it happens.

Let’s be honest here! For most parents it’s only the lodging of the appeal that makes the LEA that little bit more active when it comes to communicating with parents! Most parents will request mediation but the majority of LEAs will take forever to respond. I understand that the legislation states the LEA must arrange this but as mentioned there is no mention on just how long they have to do so.

The draft legislation also states that the Mediator must be independent (not work for the LEA)! This is already meant to be the case and most mediators work for independent charities. However, it’s my experience that most parents feel bullied by the LEA even with a mediator present. The majority of SEN case workers come armed with a legal representive for the LEA as well as half the council. Most parents can’t afford to do the same and it’s often the case that only one parent can attend.

It was my understanding that the proposed changes to SEN were being put in place to not only help the child but lower the stresses put on parents. The Government should be confident enough that the proposed changes are enough to reduce the number of cases being brought to tribunal. Compulsory mediation is just another hurdle a parent must overcome before getting their case heard by a tribunal.

Why not state that LEAs and parents must take part in mediation before the case is heard by the tribunal. Stating the parent has to overcome all these hurdles before even lodging an appeal is nothing other than barbaric. It just seems like another way of putting parents off.

I’ve read the entire draft and there are a number of areas that concern me. Nonetheless there is only so much writing I can do tonight!

So, are you a parent of a child with SEN? Have you ever undergone mediation with the LEA? Have you ever take the LEA to the tribunal? What do you think of the proposed legistation in regards to mediation?

Check out the draft legislation here

Please don’t patronise me – the verdict

3 Jul

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So, here I am! Obviously not in prison but still feeling somewhat drained of every emotion in my body.

Please read my last post which will explain in more detail my reasons for writing this.

Basically, I was taken to court for my daughters school attendance which was said to be 80% (is now 95%). This wasn’t the first time! I’ve experienced this before as my last post explains I’ve been twice before. Having a child with special educational needs and Aspergers who refuses to attend school and when he does, he finds himself excluded as his needs can not be met, doesn’t seem to fall into the statutory requirements of “Special circumstances” and both times I was fined. As explained in yesterday’s post I was going to court this time for Alice. To be honest I was fuming as she is a child who has missed so much school in the past due to late nights (having a big brother who kicks of throughout the night isn’t easy) as well being made late when little man required all my attention of a morning only to refuse to leave the house. There are many other reasons as well as different parts that make up this story but as mentioned you can read yesterday’s post, I’m just to emotionally drained to go into it again today.

Well, Alice’s attendance went right up as little man started attending an independent special school and got transport half an hour earlier than Alice needed to leave. I also allowed her that bit of independence when allowing her to walk the two minutes to get to school alone.

Sadly during October to the end of Feburay Alice got every bug going. She also had a bad urine tact infection that made her attendance fall to 80%

Letters were written by myself and passed to the school. I even rang and emailed to cover my own backside. The current receptionist sent me back home with Alice on at least four occasions when I turned up with her reporting she had been sick during the night but felt well enough to attend (school policy I’m told). So can you imagine my horror at discovering the school and that of the attendance and welfare officer (AWO) were claiming these absences were actually unauthorised and I’d needed sick notes! The twist here was I’d signed a consent form which allowed the school to contact my doctors as they don’t like to write sick notes for schools.

I was fuming that I was going to court especially given the fact of our history and the reasons behind the erratic attendance of my son.

I went to look through my daughters school records and found most of the evidence needed to prove I’d been communicating. The rest just seemed to be amiss somewhere!

I defended my own case. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust a solicitor to do it better I just didn’t have the time required to get one. I was nervous but filled with anger, it’s the latter that keep me going.

If I was found guilty of the charge I was up for s444 (1A) then it was a very high fine or prison sentence I would be looking at receiving. Being up twice before it would seem the LEA wanted the latter, given they had made the point known that they didn’t think any of the other options were suitable for me (you know given I’m not a good “communicator” and all that)!

I had gotten to the point where I just felt victimised by my daughters school and that of the LEA. I had battled them both for years and won a discrimination case against them. I guess I just assumed that given little man had now left to attend a special school we could forget it and move on. God I was trying to lose any bitterness (and I had a lot to lose, why couldn’t they?)

I was most angry by the fact that my daughter had been sent home yet the register stated no reason was given for her absence. This was for more than 4 occasions. I was also fuming that the attendance print out that was sent to the court differed from the print out I had received from reception. This one had the reasons I had given for my daughters absence printed underneath each absence (you know them reasons I hadn’t given)!

The prosecutor who I understand was just doing her job was something of a bitch which I guess makes her ideal for the role. During the hearing I mentioned that I had won a discrimination case and how my child has SEN and Aspergers, I wanted it noted that the school seemed to be acting bitter towards me. The prosecutor just rolled her eyes and for a minute I felt like shaking the ignorance out of her. I just about held it together!

One thing that shocked me was they had a witness. This wasn’t made known to me and I felt cheated when she gave evidence. She was said to be in a Senior position within the LEA’s attendance and welfare departments.

I hadn’t received a letter about the pre court meeting which was organised by this women (someone I have never met) as soon as they wrote telling me I hadn’t bothered to show and was going to court I called her right up. She wasn’t there so I left a message explaining I never got the letter and could she call me back.

Of course she didn’t and I called my AWO who had prised Alice’s attendance and promised to find out why the receptionist wasn’t logging the reasons behind the absences including the times she was sent home. We spoke for 36 minutes but it would seem nothing was documented for court. Once I received the court summons I phoned her again daily… I’ve been ignored for months!

Now this witness was telling the court how I left a message saying I’d forgot about the meeting. My blood was boiling.

I had questions for her but she just answered in a way that displayed ignorance and the lies continued.

The court were a tad shocked when I produced the letters I had written to the school, ones I had taken from my daughters records. They also wanted to know why they hadn’t been given the attendance record that I had obtained the day before from the school. Of course they save some other crap excuse.

I really did just about hold it together! Having someone ask you if you understand how important it is for your child to receive an education, especially when you do what I do is pretty frustrating. After all I really can not help it if my daughter is sick can I?

When the magistrates stepped out to make a decision I had to step out and use the toilet. I couldn’t let them see my tears and I was at the very point of letting them come out. When I returned I discovered the magistrates were already back… That didn’t take long!

So as to remind you, here’s what I was up against…

Failure to secure regular attendance without reasonable justification (s444(1A) of the Education Act 1996)
This is used where the LA thinks the parent knows that the child is not going to school but is not trying to do anything about it. This is a more serious offence than s444 (1) because the parent is accused of not taking responsibility for the situation. Parents found guilty of this offence can be fined up to £2,500 or sent to prison for up to 3 months.

I was told to stand to hear my fate.

In my head I knew I’d be handed another blow of injustice despite my hard work of gathering visual evidence.

One of the three magistrates declared that I was NOT GUILTY of s444(1A) she said their was clearly some confusion based over the communications made by myself (really, I’d call it lies rather than confusion)!

However here’s the twist….

I was still found GUILTY for s444(1) the less serious charge.

(1) Failure to secure regular attendance of a child (s 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996)

This is used where a child is absent without permission and is without suitable alternative education. Parents found guilty of this can be fined up to £1,000.

So because the school had chosen to not authorise ALL of my daughters time off I had to be found guilty of this charge because it’s the law and the law is shit.

I didn’t receive a fine, a parenting order or anything of this kind. Instead I was given a one year discharge. This means if I come back within a year I’ll be trailed for the same case too. This was said to be their way of not punishing me!

Yet… I felt patronised as the magistrates continuously asked me if I understood while telling me that she didn’t want to see me back there. I had to ask them if they thought it made sense that I would fight the battles I have fought to ensure my eldest son an education only to not bother ensure my daughter had one too?

Now my fear is the school will never authorise an absence when my daughter is sick… Come on they don’t even authorise the ones where she has been sent home.

For this reason and others I’m yet to write about, I’ve decided that in order for this not to happen again I’ll be looking into another school for my daughter to attend!

I will also be putting in a formal complaint against the school for not recording her absences in the way they should have done (mainly sending her home and stating no reason was given for her absence).

Lastly it would seem that if your child’s school decide to not authorise an absence and you go to court then unless you have a medical note from your doctor for every absence then you will be found guilty of s444(1) which is the less serious charge.

I disagree that this should be the case so I’m getting ready for some serious campaigning!

Today I maybe blogging from a prison cell

2 Jul

Yep, I may well be a jail bird blogging from my cell (well, that’s if I’m actually given access to a computer that is)!

It’s 3 am and I haven’t slept a wink, I’m busy preparing my defence case (representing myself). This afternoon I’ll be of to court where I will need to prove that I didn’t intentionally keep my daughter home from school on the days she was sick.

I’ve been prosecuted twice before in relation to my sons school attendance. I was found guilty of section 444(1) failing to secure his attendance at school. I was found guilty because having a child with Aspergers who wasn’t receiving appropriate support causing him to develop school phobia and emotional behavioural problems, didn’t come within the statutory guidelines needed for them to allow me to walk with my head held high.

Statutory guidelines (“excuses”) only cover a handful of reasons for non attendance! These include illness, religion, travelling, and a few others that don’t cover incidents such a mental health, bullying and all those other reasons we find our children refusing to attend school, therefore creating a war zone come 8:50 am in the morning.

Such behaviour meant my daughters attendance struggled. However this was mainly lateness which gave her an unauthorised mark against her name (yes she was in but if the register was called she was given a half day absence against her name) When you have mornings like ours these marks tend to add up quickly!

Regardless of the above, once little man began attending his special school things slowly got back on track. Alice was given a little independence when I allowed her to walk the 2 minute walk down the hill to school.

With this things improved, I thought that with Little man in a new school I would have less to worry about. Sadly I was wrong.

If any of you have read the blog long enough you will already understand the struggles I had to get my son to school, a place that could not meet his SEN needs leaving him somewhat school phobic. My daughter suffered, what with being made late for school when big brother was hitting and spitting at mum. The fact the household received very little sleep because Little man doesn’t frankly believe in the five letter word is just another contributing factor.

When I was in court last, my mobile vibrated as the judge was speaking. When they retired I checked my phone only to discover a message from the Head teacher informing me Little man was yet again excluded, this time for 5 days. The head teacher was meant to be at court but instead had provided them with the information requested claiming he had meetings! I wasn’t found guilty of the more serious charge 444(1A) (which basically means the school were stating I had no intention on sending them into school… Yer right! I could actually do with the break.) However, I did receive a fine for the lesser charge of 444(1). Basically I couldn’t say he was sick on each of those days. He had received so many exclusions that these were now starting to confuse me. I’d spent so long trying to get him into a routine and now it was being wrecked. Ok, they couldn’t find me guilty on these days but they could of those that followed, the ones where he refused to attend, kicking and screaming.

The above made me so angry as I was fighting for a statement and having my child excluded every week didn’t help. I was also in the process of a claim against the school for discrimination which I won (settled out of court).

I eventually got my son out of the mainstream school and into an independent special school. There was however a period of time when he was educated in a library because the LEA would not agree to my school yet no state school would take him.

So, where does Alice fit in? Well, despite her improvement in getting there on time and therefore attending as she should, during the months of October through to January her attendance dropped. This was due to a reoccurring sickness bug which the school kept sending her home for. Then in January she had a very bad water infection that saw her on medication and close to hospitalisation. All days were covered. I had sent notes in, explained via email or visited the school in person.

They deny this! As a result I am being taken to court as my daughters attendance was recorded to have dropped to 80% with no reason given!

It would seem that the school have failed to log my letters or just chosen to ignore them. After all its up to them to authorise.

Lucky for me I requested her education records and obtained copies of some of these letters. Others were missing. Emails and records on verbal conversations have vanished as if they never existed.

I refused to plead guilty. My daughters attendance is near on 90% as it stands. I feel victimised by the school and LEA due to past difficulties.

The school state that a child must remain home if physically sick for a period of 48 hours. Nonetheless, when abiding by these policies, Alice receives an unfair mark against her name.

Now… I can’t just call up and get an emergency appointment with the GP because Alice is being sick. In the eyes of a GP an emergency this isn’t. There is nothing they can give her for sickness, So… it’s a waste of their time. We just keep her hydrated and comfortable.The thing is she may be sick the night before and just fine in the morning, yet when I tell staff she has been sick (purely because it wouldn’t be fair not to) we are sent jogging!

Shockingly, it also seems that despite her bad urine infection which I provided medical evidence in order to cover ourselves for, school still have it down as “N” in their attendance records which basically means “No reason given” what’s worse is that I called them, wrote to them and sent an email! Worse still, on one of these days she was actually sent home!

Under the freedom of information and data protection acts I was able to gain access to my daughters educational records, requesting things I wanted copied. Yes I was pleased to discover some of the items I needed to form my case were sat there right under my nose. Yet, I was also sadden to discover others were not (which worries me).

Within a few minutes of being given my daughters records I made the most horrific discovery! I was left sitting in a pool of tears as I tried to collect my thoughts. Ive decided to write this in another post… Why? Because in just a few hours I’ll be heading to court and I know writing about what’s worrying me will only make me feel worse… Basically it’s something I’ve put to the back of my mind because I need to focus on my court hearing.

I will therefore return when time permits.

So, I best go jump in the tub and get ready for yet another long winded court case where I’m sadly the defendant who abided by a schools policy and got her arss kicked for doing so.

Heres hoping I’m not gonna be made a jail bird… Here’s hoping I’ll be home tomorrow with my kids, blogging where I should be.

20120703-113623.jpgphoto credit google images

My contribution to the world of SEN

11 Sep

A while back I came up with the idea of creating a number of information sheets, that contained information for parents regarding special educational needs (SEN). These would be first published on the blog with the option of a download via my, ‘Goggle Doc’s’. 

 Like always, I took this plan and laid it out bear, for all members of my facebook page to see! This was in the hope of gaining constructive feedback, and establishing just how many people within one group may benefit from such information! The feedback has been overwhelming, with all that responded requesting I push on a head as many are at their wit’s end.

 Bearing in-mind the, ‘Green paper’ and the impact it would have on the way an LEA statemented a child, I was unsure whether It would now be a waste of time to go ahead with such an idea. However, given the response and the fact I’m still seeing a mass of parents visiting the, ‘Boy with Asperger’s facebook page’ on a daily basis, all with the same concerns, relating to the SEN system, especially that of the statementing process, (how it works and what rights they have). I decided to go ahead! 

 Of course these documents will need a complete overhaul, once the new system comes into play, but for now, they may be very beneficial to somebody who is about to, or otherwise already on, the Special educational needs roller-coaster.

 It’s a big old jungle out there, meaning there is a huge amount of information you will require! So… this is how if decided to deliver it!

I will create three sections, these will be… section one,‘Understanding Special educational needs’ (requests, assessments, decisions). Section two, ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’. Section three, ‘Preparation and the hearing’. Section four, ‘Maintaining a statement of SEN’(annual review, requests & decisions) Section five, ‘Disability discrimination

 Now you know what Sections will be covered, here’s what each will contain!

 Section one, ‘Understanding Special education needs’ (request, assessments and decisions):

  1. Introduction to Special educational needs (SEN)
  2. Stages of SEN & Is my child receiving the right support
  3. Request for a, ‘Statutory Assessment’
  4. Decision to make a, ‘Statutory Assessment’ (Process & time-scales involved in carry out an assessment)
  5. Decision to Statement (Delivered in three sections 1) The proposed statement, 2) Parental choice (type of school, including a break down of options) 3) The final statement.

Section two: ‘Tribunal, the right to appeal’

  1. A refusal to carry out a statutory assessment
  2. A refusal to issue a statement
  3. Appealing the contents of a first Statement (including the school named in part 4)
  4. Appealing the contents of an amended statement
  5. A refusal to amend following a statutory reassessment 
  6. A refusal to change the school named in part 4 of a statement
  7. An LEA’s decision not to amend a statement of SEN following an annual review
  8. An LEA’s Decision to cease to maintain a statement

Section Three: ‘Preparation and the hearing and decisions ’

  1. Mediation 
  2. Witnesses 
  3. Working documents
  4. Representation
  5. The hearing
  6. The decision

Section four: ‘Maintaining a statement’ (annual reviews, requests and decisions)

  1. The LEA’s duty to deliver the contents of a statement (required steps if duty is not delivered)
  2. The right to request the school named in a child’s statement 
  3. Requesting a Reassessment of your child’s special educational needs
  4. The Annual Review process (Including information on an interim review)
  5. The Annual Review Year 9
  6. Annual Review Year 10

Section five: Disability discrimination

  1. Admissions
  2. Every child’s right to education
  3. School trips and education & additional activities (including playtimes, assembles, after school activities)
  4. Unofficial exclusions
  5. Exclusions
  6. Alternative education
  7. Permanent exclusion
  8. Raising complaints
  9. Claiming Disability discrimination and the Law!
  10. The order of the tribunal

 Each section will come with useful links and contacts. Section one, (a) will be posted on Monday the 12 th September. This post will be copied and added to the SEN, Know how! Page (This page will list all the post already published, providing a link for easy allocation). This means you will be able to locate your desired section and its content whenever you require it. It’s a challenge to bring you, my readers, all of the above. But those that know me, even in cyber-space, will know, I love a challenge!

My plan is to cover all the above, depending on how fast I can do so, is yet to be seen. Remember the laws and procedures applying  to Special educational needs are all gearing up for a change (I will adapt this as need be, in-order to fit in with the new Education, health and Social care plans as of when it arises). As for how often I can publish each section and what it contains is random. I’m not prepared to tie myself to a certain day of the week, for one, this would be far to many weeks and at times I may decided to write two at once, or three a week, other weeks, I may have no time to write non at all. SEN is a complicated process, you really do need to be in the right frame of mind to get this out there. You should also remember I haven’t personally been through every single one of the listed above. However, I have been through many, and have read and studied a great deal in the subject. 

 Disclaimer: The information provided, has no bearing on my role as a tribunal adviser with NAS, and the advice provided is given on an independent level through my own choice to help others dealing with the listed issues and is created to form an additional feature to this blog and my facebook support page. Each post will contain a link that enables you to download as a fact-sheet via Goggle Docs. Copyright still remains the same! No one should copy or republish the information without given credit to the author and providing a Link back. If you require the use of this informational for anything but personal reasons, full permission must be sought. Please do not edit any of the wording in any of the post or the downloaded documents (these are provided for personal use only)!

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