Tag Archives: Government

The Children And Families Bill 2013 – Are You Worried?

15 Mar

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Worried about the child and family bill 2013? Well, if your child has SEN or a disability then you should be!

This is a post I’ve needed to write since I first read the published Children and Families Bill 2013 but ended up having so many questions flying around in my own head that I couldn’t find a way to relax enough to put them in to words (well, words that made sense anyway).

I have now been given the opportunity to head up to Westminster on Monday, to meet with the Minster Ed Timpson where I will be able to put those questions and opinions forward! So…I thought it would be a good idea to share them here with you guys first and also see if you had any opinions to add.

If you remember the post I wrote last year relating to the Green Paper you will know that back then I had already developed grave concerns relating to the proposed reforms relating the that of Special educational Needs (SEN). Now reading the Children and Families Bill it is only fair to say that those initial concerns have now been greatly heightened and with good cause too.

1: One of my major concerns surrounded that of the removal of school action/action plus. The green paper offered little indication on what was therefore being implemented to make things easier for those children without Statements/Education Health Care Plans [EHCP] to obtain appropriate support and services. Looking at the bill it seems that as I feared, “Nothing” is actually being put in place that will truly benefit the child who doesn’t fit the criteria for SEN. The Department Of Education (DFE) has stated that these children will have some degree of support through that of the “Local Offer” Though it should be noted that the bill as written states that the Local Authority (LA) are required to make information available relating to the education, health and social care services it “expects” to be available within its local area! This seems to hold no legal duty and therefore leaves these children in a somewhat similar situation than the one they are already in.

2: The Bill states that it has expanded the list of schools parents can request as a preference when naming the school in their child’s EHCP. This maybe so, but the fact the LA can still claim that for the child to attend the parents preferred school would be an inefficient use of resources, therefore meaning they wont name that school, actually means parents are in no way a better position than the one they are currently facing now! Well, I fail to see the difference.

3: At the start of the process the green paper promised a much quicker assessment process, with timescales being greatly reduced and parents not having to battle their way through the SEN System. However, the Bill fails to reflect this and actually fails to make known any sort of timescales for assessments, reassessments or appeals whatsoever.

4: The suggested requirement for parents to meet with LA officials before an application is made to tribunal is just pointless. It was first suggested that Mediation would become compulsory, meaning parents needed to take this route before applications for appeals to the tribunal were omitted. However, it was later agreed that this type of requirement was somewhat unfair, one making little if no sense! But then the the bill has stated the possibility of a meeting to discuss possible mediation etc is to be held before submitting an appeal to the tribunal! Come on… This will again make an already long process longer. If parents thought they could just pop down the LA and sort the whole mess out over a cuppa then don’t you think they would? No mother likes to endure the whole stressful notion of having to battle the LA at the tribunal, don’t you think we’d avoid it if we could. Again the whole lacking of timescales contributes here greatly. Why shouldn’t appeals be submitted at the first instance of it being denied. Its already known that it is only then that most LAs will actually start putting things into action and communicating with parents.

5: Another huge concern for me is the lack of information given on how the integration of the new EHCP will affect those children who currently have statements of SEN? Given a great deal of the law and SEN code will need to be rewritten to fit in with the new sen reforms how is this going to work with the statement! After all, if statements are going to be replaced this cant possibly be done by the time the new laws come into practice! With many of the laws that relate to those statements being written off, where is the legal protection to ensure the provision is still provided to the child who obtains that statements? Will statements be gradually phased out, scrapped and reproduced as EHCP as a result of annual reviews? What about those who have had annual reviews shortly before the legislation is made official? Will they hold a statement that offers no protection for a year? What happens when they are older will they receive the same protection if they remain in education? How will these new changes incorporate the social care side of things? Will those who have SALT on part 3 of their statement find that it then becomes a requirement of the health care system, no longer the duty of the LA to provide? A health care system that has no legal duty to provide it?

Which brings me to my next concern…

6: The lack of duty with the health sector. As it stands most of the areas which the LEA consider to be non educational are tossed over to part 5 of a child’s statement! I don’t think anybody from the health sector currently ever sees that part of little man’s statement or that of any other childs! Why? because they have no duty to provide any advised provisions, thats why! So, I guess I should be excited about the LAs joint commissioning with the health sector. Sadly I’ve already lost faith in this proposal.

The fact is that the LA have a duty to provide educational provision and regardless of joint commissioning it will stay that way! So, them “non” educational support needs will fall in the hands of the health sector right? With the guys at the LA actively communicating with those in the health sector things will now be hunky dory, right? Don’t be fooled! Their will be no legal requirements made of the health sector so basically… Nothing’s changed! Its just like having the non educational aspects of a statement tossed in part 5. The only difference is the health sector will know they are there, but in no way does this mean they will have to provide such services! What with waiting lists for a basic blood test on the rise and government funding cuts that have already had detrimental impacts on the NHS and related services, it looks like even more children will be left without the support they need to succeed. Yes, they made it sound so promising when talking about it all in the green paper, but in reality, it isn’t really that pretty no matter how much you dress it up!

As mentioned Little man receives SALT and OT which the LA tried its best to toss into part 5 of his statement. It took two independent assessments and reports, a pending tribunal case (that luckily didn’t make it to the hearing) for the LEA to throw the towel in. Which brings me to the issue of legal aid, if this ends up restricted then I guess children all over England and Wales are gonna be in huge trouble.

7: My next point to make is that of the funding issue. Again the bill has been very careful not to give many clues on the budgeting side of things. Delegations of school’s budgets for those children just outside the SEN scoop have not been discussed, and very little information on the individual funding of a child’s EHCP has been offered. Ok, so we know about the idea of personal budgets, yet the finer details are still up in the air. However, at this early stage my concerns currently surround the area of passing money to families and letting them go about it themselves. Ok, this way we know what our children are getting and we can hopefully obtain the services needed to cater for our child’s needs, but isn’t this just another way of removing the responsibility and the workload from the LA. I want to know how they are going to monitor the situation to ensure that the provision on the EHCP is being implemented? Will the parents be required to document spending of the budget having to knock up an annual spending report for the LAs records? I don’t know about you guys but I’m to busy being a mother and an advocate for all that!

8: Is this just another way to lower spends? Honestly this is a serious question, one that deeply worries me! How can we as a country struggling against a Recession with cuts already hitting children’s services the hardest, have faith that our children’s needs will be met this way. The bill is missing huge chunks of legalities that although haven’t been great have all the same protected us somewhat, giving us a case to fright for our children. With the bill being very unclear when it comes to appeals, timescales and a duty to provide services who can blame me for thinking that this isn’t a way to slowly help refill the governments penny jar. After all legal expenses are just that expensive so by removing many of the legal rights associated with the statement, less appeals can be lodged and the expenses decrease… Sad but logical!

9: Has anyone else noticed that the idea of a key worker, a single person to point us parents in the right direction, has suddenly been dropped from the bill. I’ve read many of the governments responses to the concerns raised, though I failed to uncover concerns relating to a family key worker! I therefore wonder why it suddenly disappeared without trace, especially considering it was one specific aspect of the green paper most of us parents applauded? Too expensive an idea maybe?

10: The EHCP is for those with SEN between the ages of 0-25 years. However, what most people fail to realise is that this is not exactly true! Its pretty clear from reading the bill that once your child/young person leaves education then the plan will crease. This actually makes sense, after all the only aspect anyone really plans to fulfil is those provisions given in the EHCP is that of the educational part of the plan. As mentioned the area of health and social care will have no legalities attached meaning it won’t be worth the paper its written on. It will be this part that your child will probably need most when leaving education, yet it seems that more assessments from social services to obtain the help needed to help young people with the transition into adult life may well require that of you having to fight for it… Again!

Thanks for reading my thoughts and opinions on the Bill. I actually have some strong views on the sections covering adoption and children in care and have decided to express them in a separate post which I’ll try and publish sometime over the next couple of days.

Now I would love to pick my readers brains a little and ask… “What would be the most important aspects of the bill you would want to raise with the Minster?” Please it would be great to hear your thoughts.

To access the Children and Families Bill and associated documents, click HERE

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

SEN Reform Aspirations – You Decide!

19 May

So, yesterday, I appeared alongside little man, in one of our local newspapers! This was for two reasons, #1 in celebration of my success at becoming a Mad Blog Awards finalist for the Second year running, and #2 the governments (Department of Education) update on its pending plans for Special educational needs (SEN) known as the “Green Paper – Support and Aspirations”

It’s this I wish to expand on, here on the blog today!

OK, the government published it’s progress report on the above paper, earlier this week. Reading the report I still find myself worried on a number of different levels.

Now, although I’m up for the whole idea of children with a disability or SEN receiving support up until their early adult years (25 years of age) the overall majority of this progress report still strikes me as worrying.

Excuse me but I can’t seem to shrug this niggling feeling I have at the back of my mind, that this is either some kind of money-saving tactic, a way of shrugging a degree of responsibility on to somebody else, or just an ill thought out process! What’s more it’s in my opinion that some of the most important issues remain unresolved or somewhat unclear let alone progressed!

Actually it would seem that some of these proposed changes, are anything other than changes at all!

For example: section 2 giving parents control!

“parents will have a clear Choice of school with equal rights to express a preference for any state funded school”

Ok, so we can make our preference known and the local authority has a duty to meet those preferences… Right?

Hang on a minute… That is unless

#A It’s unsuitable to the child age, aptitude, ability or sen

#B Incompatible with the education of other children of whom the child would be educated

and lastly… the all important factor, the get out of jail free card…

#C An insufficient use of resources

Mmm… Isn’t that how the system is meant to be working already?

Does this system actually get families anywhere currently? No

That’s why I thought we were meant to be changing it!

Scanning through the entire proposal, it seems a lot of the stuff we need changing isn’t actually changing at all, wheres the things we don’t want changing (just slightly amending) are being scrapped altogether!

These seem to be the things us parents cling to when trying to obtain efficient education for our children (remember the law states efficient is all our children require)!

A great example of this would be the graduated approach (School action & action plus) which is all set to be removed leaving parents of unstatemented children quaking in their boots, and rightly so!

So, why has the government made such a decision? This is due to their worries concerning labelling or should I say “Over labelling” Although to some degree, I agree that this is a problem to some extent, I’m also worried that this will stigmatise those that have a genuine need for additional support, support that only that of a statement can offer.

Yes we’re hearing about extra funding to train sencos and teachers but is this really enough assurance for the parent of the unstatemented child, the one that has no legal rights if support is offered or not?

We just can’t categorise these children, it’s not one size fits all! Regardless of a child’s disability, special educational needs or even attainment, every child is different! Not every child with autism requires SALT, not every child with dyslexia requires extra TA support. I remember my son always being compared to a fellow child with Aspergers in his “then” mainstream school! My child badly needed extra support with speech and language mainly due to his literal understanding of language, but because the other boy didn’t require such help, I was told little man didn’t either! I fear many will be over looked just as they are today with the scrapping of school action and school action plus. Both needed to be amended, as to allow the parents more confidence in the system, but this… I cannot see the benefits to the parents, just the governments budgets as the numbers of children with statements (soon to be EHCP) falls the piggy bank belonging to the government will fill up nicely!

I remember what it was like fighting for that statement, it was tough, I really don’t see much in the way of making that fight any easier when reading this proposal.

Looking at how the government has so far messed up in nearly every other area, it looks like its gonna be a bumpy ride ahead, so hold on tight parents, you can’t afford to let go.

Failing to regulate one’s own emotions

14 Feb

I’m the type of patent who likes to embrace her son’s diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, though there are days, when I fail to focus on any positives, these long hard days filled with meltdowns, the explosive type, filled with rage and a good degree of violence!

Violence used to be a huge problem back when Little man was between the ages of 7-9 years old, however, with a lot of work we managed to get his explosive ways under control, and although he has always hit his younger sister, this become less frequent and manageable. I myself used to be his punch bag and with some two years since he had hit out at me, I thought this milestone had been well and truly achieved.

Since Little man turned 11 on the 1st October 20211, things have once more turned nasty and have progressively become worse since. Having seen the huge reduction of such violent and challenging behaviour outbursts over these past 2 years, their return has simply knocked me sideways and I’m completely at a loose on how to fix this!

His violent ways often spring without warning, leaving myself or his little sister in the firing line. Strangely, since leaving the mainstream school and receiving a full education alongside his peers, in a place he is far more happier, this violence has grown worse at home! he went through so much at mainstream, he was isolated, excessively excluded and sadly discriminated against, yet despite this he didn’t become violent towards me, though he did self harm on a few occasions! So why now? School life seems good, it is terribly frustrating that he is now in the right educational setting, yet another issue as serious and worrying as this should arise! There is no bullying and I know that he happy at his new independent special school, so why?

His not 7 anymore, his a reasonably sized 11-year-old boy who can pack a pretty impressive punch! This is a child who despite his nick name, ‘Little man’ is now almost as tall as myself! My son is now, taller, stronger and about to experience a flood of hormones… if not already!

Lately, meltdowns have been highly explosive, his jackle and Hyde personality takes over without warning and my usual tools of redirection that I’ve created over the years, are sadly little use, if any at all! The Switch in mood is so sudden that I now struggle to see it coming, I cannot decode a trigger, something I would have once described as one of my talents! I usually see the forming of a dark cloud building and as a result, I am often able to clear it quickly! Sadly once more, myself and his sister have become his target when frustration reaches its limits… I have found myself jumping in the path of his blows to protect my daughter and regrettable, just recently she tries to return the favour 😦

Thursday the 9th February 2012, Little man was sat at the PC, writing yet another one of  his business plans for when he reaches adulthood, a calm presence filled the air and everything was… well, fine!

Suddenly, Little man unplugs my iPhone which happens to be charging, I tell him this and politely requests he replugs it in to the extension lead, while reminding him he should ask if he can use the extension in the future! This didn’t go down well, shouting and screaming he tells me to F#*k off and plug it in myself as it’s my charger!  I actually did this in the end, as not to fuel this any further! However two minutes later and for no apparent reason whatsoever, little man randomly switches of the TV which his sister is watching! I ask why, to which he states, “if I can’t do what I want, she can’t watch TV” This was all the crap I needed! Already feeling quite unwell, as if a ton of bricks lay on my chest, I told him I wasn’t in the mood as I felt reasonably unwell, to which he continued to refuse. Getting up, I head to the TV , Little man runs off to which I presumed he was heading for the extension lead to once again remove my charger… Like this was now a game! Though actually, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Suddenly as the TV screen flicked on, I felt a pain fly up my back… No bloody way! Turning my head slightly, my fears were confirmed, stood behind me was little man who had just punched me in the centre of my back! Feeling so angry I ordered that he went to his room, now I know I should have persisted, but given the fact… my 2-year-old toddler was becoming increasingly distressed and I didn’t want my 9-year-old daughter getting hit, I scooped the toddler up from his chair and ordered my daughter to follow me to the bedroom where she could finish watching her film.

Little man would now stay out the way, downstairs and hopefully become much calmer, he could finish his business plan before settling down on the sofa or heading to bed! Again… could I have been anymore wrong? He followed us upstairs swearing all the way  and at one point he even beat the hell out of my bedroom door… AGAIN! Losing the will to live, I informed him, I’d call the school and see if they could help me fix this, he flipped out, telling me to stay away from school before once more setting himself upon me like some frenzied lion! I know that this was partly my fault now as he then felt threaten. Although I normally reframe from such behaviours, it should be understood that by now I was close to breaking point, tears quite literally streaming from my eyes as I tried to think of a way to turn the situation around.

It got to the stage where the little man needed to be carried into his bedroom, I must have incurred super human strength as I lifted him, ignoring the thumps and pinches, I placed him in his room making a bee line for  the door, though I wasn’t quick enough as I found myself being hit by a number of heavy flying objects. Before I knew it he had taken up to running at me inflicting an array of high flying kicks directly to my body, seriously consumed with anger, sadness and sheer frustration, I told him that if he laid another finger on me I’d call the police! Again this wasn’t the best choice of words because 1) He felt threaten, 2) I pointed in his face, 3) he kicked me instead… well, feet do not have fingers do they!

I  was actually now extremely exhausted by the whole experience that had been continuing on for some 2 hrs now, not being able to bear a minute more of this, I turned to leave the room when he gave me one final blow in my back which  just happens to be the act that pushed me over the edge, giving me an intense desire to hit him back (which I don’t do, and don’t want to do)! I spun around and instead of hitting him I began screaming the words “No…… more, please no more!” as I proceeded in kicking toy boxes that resulted in them flying across the room, I also found myself knocking books from their shelf… I had lost it! Suddenly there was silence… stood shocked little man stared through me, he then lowered his eyes to the ground and started to cry as he asked me, “Mum why have you done this?” Then he very cheekily said out loud, ‘ Mum, you really should control your anger’ He no longer chased me just sat scrapping Lego bricks back in their rightful boxes, I retreated to my bedroom only to surprisingly discover the toddler and his sister were now spread out across my bed sleeping! Closing the door behind me I sat with my back against the door, tears filling my eyes as I looked at my bruised arms and legs, I cried, not due to the physical pain but the emotional one, plus the uncertainty and unanswered questions left me feeling isolated and alone! Should I be calling the police, what would make him stop! I couldn’t allow him to grow up with this approach to a problem, it wasn’t a solution! I love him and have that understanding… What if he hit someone else who then turned around and battered him, would he be behind bars by his teen years or even fall in love and beat his wife! Consumed with worry and knowing it was my responsibility to avoid any of the above happening! I grabbed the iPhone and visited my A boy with asperger’s Facebook page where everyone was so brilliant helping me find answers, making suggestions or just giving me a virtual hug!

The house was now silent, looking around his bedroom door I notice his laid out on the floor surrounded by a mass of Lego, I quietly pick up what seems like thousands of Lego bricks, I then slip a pillow under his head and place a cover across his body, kissing his forehead I then turn of the light (they is no way, I’ll even try to move him, if he wakes it could be an even longer night than it has already)!

I didn’t sleep for the remainder of that night, a host of things crammed my mind inducing a type of dull headache! What now? We have asked for help, but what with a massive waiting list for a CAMHS behavioural therapist, an LEA that avoid me like the black plague, I’m running out of options! Is there any respite? No! Do I look like it would help? Of course! With a Government only interested in throwing money at the 2012 games, I sadly hold little hope, after all our family situation isn’t as important as a sporting event is it? Well, it’s not every year we host an oympics…. but it’s everyday I host a meltdown, so…. I guess we will have to wait, after all we’re good at that, wouldn’t you agree?

As Britain has its education system affected by government cuts, Cameron invest £650m in Pakistani schools

6 Apr
David Cameron is a British politician, Leader ...

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Its my 29th Birthday today and instead of starting my day on a high, I instead woke up to an unwanted kick in the guts from the one and only David Cameron.

IS CAMERON DELIBERATELY TRYING TO TURN THE BRITISH PUBLIC AGAINST HIM?

Well, that is what supporters he has left! I for one would absolutely love to give him a piece of my mind (amongst other things)

So, what’s the man who runs the country (very badly) gone and done now? Well, brace yourselves folks as this is a tad disturbing! Mr Cameron has only gone and promised Pakistan a nice big fat check of…. WAIT FOR IT£650 Million to invest in….. WAIT FOR IT.….. Pakistani schools!

And why is he doing this? To make amends for the diplomatic rift caused by no other than that of himself. Last year Mr Cameron accused the country of, ‘Looking both ways on terrorism’ and this is the PMs way of an apology. “CAMERON, GET THEM A BUNCH OF FLOWERS MATE” I’m personally fuming with this man! Our education system is facing huge cuts, my son doesn’t have a school place and only yesterday I heard that primary school’s are so full that the possibility of primary school units being attached to secondary school’s looks more likely by the minute.

The A boy with Asperger’s support page I created on Facebook is fit to burst when it comes to parents with children on the spectrum that are not getting their special education needs met both in and out of school. What does it all boil down to? Money!!! We are totally sick of having to go to tribunal to fight for hours to be placed in part 3 of our children’s statements, “That’s those who are lucky enough to have a statement.” Many parents are still right at the starting pointing, battling for the statutory assessment their children require the LEA to perform, a process that takes forever.

We are short on school’s and there were many that were promised re-builds that have now been told to dream on! Special school’s are far and few between and if your lucky enough to get your child into your preferred special school or any school for that matter, they still may not receive the full support they need due to the schools being so overcrowded that the staff are teaching in makeshift classrooms, e.g… shipping carts, school hallways, cleaning cupboard, etc.

I’m sorry forks if you think I’m out of line here, but I’m only speaking up for what I believe to be an injustice to our country. I am all for giving to other needy countries the world pulling together and all that, however I have a child who has been dragged through the mill as a result of a system that is meant to provide him with an adequate education (Yep, the Ed Act 96 states that the child must be provided with an adequate education not the best, which makes it harder for a parent to battle against LAs when not naming the parents preferred school in a child’s statement) It’s shameful that the UK government even fail to ensure that an education of even this level is provide.

My point is, ” PAKISTAN SPEND ONLY 1.55 PER CENT OF ITS NATIONAL INCOME ON SCHOOLS BUT IS PLACING BILLION-POUND ORDERS FOR SIX CHINESE SUBMARINES AND 36 FIGHTER AIRCRAFT” As reported by the daily mail this morning.

The Daily Mail also reports that, “BRITAIN IS ALSO TO GIVE HIGHLY SENSITIVE MILITARY TECHNOLOGY TO COMBAT ROADSIDE BOMBS TO THE PAKISTANI SECURITY SERVICES, WHICH ARE WIDELY BLAMED FOR FUNDING AND ARMING THE TALIBAN.”

“Oh my God” If this is correct then I can’t see how this man is still allowed to run our country! Not only is he providing £650 million pounds to invest in Pakistani schools when our own schools are struggling to provide a good enough education it’s been made even worse since the new government come into power and decided to implement cuts to a service that is already failing due to funding, but they are also risking the lives of our own troops in Afghanistan when going as far as offering to spend further millions on a centre of excellence for for the countries soldiers and spies in an area of militancy. What worries me is that Cameron was unable to answer the question of whether he was able to guarantee that the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) will not hand such technology to the Taliban!

HOLLY BLOODY COW! This guy is playing with the life’s of our brave troops and our children’s future. I’ve always hated politics, I try avoiding it completely but sadly as you grow up and have children you realise things that you can’t ignore and it’s all based upon money and status, which really makes me sick!

Cameron defends his actions by claiming it’s in our best interest to invest and help Pakistan, if they are a success we’ll have a good friend to trade and invest with! He then went on to state that if Pakistan fail we will face problems of migration of extremism, So, its therefore in Britain’s interest that they succeed!

Here’s my thoughts on such a statement,

Oi Cloth ears, I don’t want a bloody friend (I HAVE ENOUGH OF THOSE ALREADY THANK YOU!), What I want is for you to do what is right by my child and billions more like him here in the UK. I want you to stick outrageous amounts of cash into our education system, build more schools, put a stop to this silly delegated funding that is happening. I like many parents don’t want to go to the SEN tribunal to fight for my child’s right to be awarded a place in a school that can meet his needs when there is no others that can (BELIEF ME I’VE LOOKED) I want hours clearly stated in part 3 of Little mans statement (That’s my son by the way!) I want an individualised speech and language programme with a specific amount of hours dedicated to such a programme and specified in again part 3 of his statement. This is just some of what my child needs! You are handing out ridiculous sums of money to a country who doesn’t even need it! (SUBMARINES AND AIRCRAFT’S DON’T COME CHEAP) Don’t get me wrong, in no way do I blame the Pakistani people for this, It’s not their fault that those above them choose to spend just 1.55 per cent of its budget on education, However it’s not our fault either! Furthermore Sir Cameron… I want British troops who risk their lives for our country to receive a water tight guarantee that they will not be at risk anymore then they already are! By this I am not accusing the ISI of any wrong doing that’s not my job, I’m merely stating that if you cannot guarantee that the ISI will not share your gift with the Taliban then you are a bad man to take such a gamble. These man have family who do not wish to greet them home in a box! If you wish to apologise for remarks that you made which offended the Muslim nation… then do it the normal way with a shake of the hand and a gift of a smaller nature. That way you can come home and start making something of our schools (OR LACK OF THEM) If you do fancy being charitable then how about helping out Japan? Given that this is a place where schools are being re-built from scratch due to the recent disaster!”

LASTLY, I HAVE ONE QUESTION TO ASK OF MR DAVID CAMERON, “ARE THE GOVRENMENT TELLING BIG FAT PORKIES, IS THIS COUNTRY REALLY IN DEBT AS A RESULT OF THE LABOUR PARTY?” Please feel free to comment as to let myself and my readers know your answer.

Well, that feel’s a little better having got that of my chest! For all of you that work, when you get your next pay packet and feel a little sick at the large amount of money missing due to the amount of tax taken from you by the government then remember what the government is using it for. I’m not going to sit here and moan on and on about tax payers money as I pay so little right now, given that I’m a full-time carer for my children, one of which has Aspergers possible ADHD and special educational needs and currently has no school place. But before anyone decides to get on their high horse, I should mention that all my spare time is used to help the wider community as I’m a volunteer. Basically yes I do work! I just don’t get paid for it. My work is done around the children and little mans schooling, which means that not only I am getting the experience of doing what I love but the comfort of knowing I’m helping others. At the end of the day this huge sum of money Cameron plans to put into Pakistani’s schools is british tax payers money, yet many of these taxpayers are in the same boat as me when it comes to their child’s floundering education. Even more families are being forced out the workplace or can’t get a foot in it due to the latest cuts which has hit many of the services offered by the DWP, childcare being one of them.

To end a very long rant before I go off to enjoy what is left of my birthday, I want to share with you the “WHAT £650M COULD BUY” list produced by the Daily Mail in today’s paper.

  • 60 years of free school meals for every primary & secondary pupil in England
  • 21 new state-of-the art academy schools
  • 1 years salary for 250,000 newly qualified teachers
  • 24,074 full university student fees at the new rate of £27,000 for three years
  • 30 grammar schools could be completely rebuilt 4,333 under privileged pupils could be sent to Eton College for full secondary school

There are things I would personally remove from the list to replace with other things that in my opinion are much more needed, for eg… new special, primary and secondary schools, home to school transport and specialised services, professionals and teachers but sadly I don’t have the statistics 🙂 However the list sums it up, Cameron is taking the biscuit! BIG TIME!!!

Aspirations Or Clever Financial Alterations! You Decide

12 Mar

We waited and waited and on the 9th, March 2011 we finally got to see  what the Coalition had in store for us in way of the ‘Green Paper’ titled ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability’


Talking as a parent i’m pleased to see that the  proposed education, health and social care plans (EHSCP) that are planed to replace statements of special educational needs will still give parents the same legal protection that a statement brings. The proposed plan would be aimed at 0-25 year olds not just school aged children. The plans will also involve support in the areas of health and social care as well as education, something that has been missing for too long! However I do wonder how this will affect those already with statements especially in terms of funding and the talk of allocated key-workers. Surely the statements will be reviewed in the same way as the EHSCP and so forth! The statements will therefore need to be maintained in-till the child reaches 25 and be amended to include the health and social care aspect.

Another proposal I welcome is the prospect of being given more choice on where our children are educated. I know many will accuse the coalition of  creating barriers to inclusive education in mainstream schools, but I am a firm believer that mainstream is not always the right way. People must remember that all children are different regardless of their special educational needs or disability, Just because society thinks that every child with sen/disability should learn beside their peers, In reality this isn’t easy for some (My son included) I believe that mainstream was seriously affecting his mental health which is the case for many children. I’m also very interested to hear more on the proposal of individualised budgets with greater parental control giving us a voice that allows us to express views on what services and provision such funding should provide. This is proposed to come into action by the year 2014. In till such date I will remain completely open mind. My mother used to tell me, “If something seems to good to be true, then it probably is.” For that reason I dare to get my hopes up.

Some maybe shaking there heads branding me a pessimist! Well, they would be correct, I’m just that!  Sadly it’s true but myself like many others have been made to feel this way when it comes to SEN & education. It’s my opinion that things will never be easy and we are used to battling for every thing our children need. I for one would be a little shocked to discover that I actually had some time on my hands to do other things instead of battling the system by way of phone calls, meetings, emailing, letter writing, campaigning and so on…  I really struggle to get my head around the idea that parents will be able to have an active part in the decision process surrounding their child’s provision & funding. We have to drag the local authority by the arse all the way to the tribunal just to get a little TA time or use of a laptop! So if this does plan out I for one will fill a little strange being suddenly heard and valued (Well, valued maybe pushing it a tad to far!).

Though some of the proposals look good on paper, I’ve been asking myself , “Are these just words being sugar-coated to look sweeter then they really are?” I mean, let’s not forget that the government are in the process of making huge cuts which will affect many of the services that have a role to play within this very paper. How will they be able to provide what is expected of them? Another important question to ask is, “How much are the Coalition planing to save through the implementation of the green paper?”

I’ve also been thinking about the legal side of things. Given the position I’m currently in (Advising parents on their appeal rights on LEAs sen decisions) I see a lot of re-training heading my way if the green paper is fully implemented. The law would need to under go a radical overview, with large areas, especially section 26 and 27 of the Ed act 96,  needing to be rewritten from scratch and the publication of a new code of practice.

But one of the biggest concerns for me is the proposal of a “single, multi-agency assessment” on the same day, rather than separate assessments on separate days. As much as I welcome a speeder assessment process then that of the current statutory assessment (10 week assessment, with the overall process from start to finish taking 26 weeks) but to propose just ‘one single assessment’ with the involvement of all professionals (and possibly even voluntary agencies) is quite honestly barbaric!

The paper has empathised that those children considered to have the most complex needs, will be the children assessed and issued with an education, health and social care plan, therefore how do they propose to assess a child with such complex needs in one single assessment? Children on the autism spectrum will be just one group of  many children who’s needs may be completely missed due to the child’s particular mood, environment, behaviour, anxiety , etc., on the chosen day of the assessment. I know that my own child would not cope with such an assessment, what with all them eyes on him and questions fired at him! What would it even involve? Are we talking about sending an autistic child (or any child for that matter) into a room with a large number of professionals sat with inquisitive prying eyes, clip boards, and a list of questions as long as their arm? If yes, I guess they can expect a shock at the response they get! It just isn’t going to happen… Surely complex means ‘COMPLEX!’ my definition of  such a word would be, “A complex issue or range of problems that take time to fully resolve” The government is forever banging on about children being placed on the sen register at the drop of a hat, well, I can see a situation being created leading to children dropping of it just as quick!  My son can just about cope with an assessment with one or two professional, any more then this rather than being chucked off the register, he will likely be labelled as a child who is dangerous because he will likely hit out as an attempt to escape the highly stressful situation that he has been placed in. Although I agree it’s not ideal him or any other child with sen having to undergo a range of assessments over a course of time, the one day method wont make things any better but a great deal worse!

Let’s be honest would you or I enjoy being sat in a room with a range of people staring at you like some caged animal reporting your every-more?

26 weeks is way too long but one day! Seriously there is no in-between with this government. I mean do the they really have the child’s best interest at heart?

We have to ask ourselves, has the green paper been created with the  ambition of improving the life chances open to children with sen, and  to offer better support for family members, or is it really their ambition to do away with essential services and provisions with little uproar, while at the same time attempting to reduce the number of  children that are placed on the SEN register?

It’s those children considered to have less complex needs that I’m  seriously worried for!  What defines less complex needs? I’ve spoken to many parents hundreds in-fact that have battled in the past  and present with both schools & local authorities to prove just how complex their child’s needs actually are! I know from past experience that schools won’t except this in-till your child is pushed to the point of self-destruction or has become a complete failure at everything due to the stress they have been placed under. Parents of children with Aspergers or high functioning autism find this to be the case a huge proportion of the time. School’s and LEAs say the same thing over and over again, “Your child isn’t an underachiever, therefore warrants no provision to be made for him/her!” Yet there they are whacking their heads against Walls with the frustration of the work load or noise levels in the classroom, they are always running into social difficulties, becoming isolated from their peers and even excluded on a daily/weekly  basis. It’s ludicrous!

By doing away with school action and school action plus I fear these children will suffer a great deal more than they are currently made too already! What with schools being able to commission the services and put the provision in place that these children are said to need, in this current financial climate is like playing with fire. Much more detail and reassurance is needed and although I know that we are once more welcome to give our views on the paper, I just feel given the length of delay in publishing the paper, including some finer details within in it as to make things a little clearer would have been most welcome!

Ministers have to give the public more information in regard to the finer details that make up the aspirations of the green paper. Including the legal aspects, cost (including how much this new system will put back in to the governments pocket in way of savings) and very importantly the statutory duties of those involve

To some parents this paper means nothing! To others it’s the prospect of a better further for their child in both the early years and that of early adult life. Making provision for children aged 0-25 in all areas of education, health and social care is long awaited. Will this be the start of something promising or just another unfulfilled promise by another Government?…. Only time will tell!

 
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