Tag Archives: permanent exclusion

A little bit of inspiration

23 Jul

As I sit here happily, typing while listening to some Mary J. Blige, I think back to a time when things weren’t so pretty!

This time last year I saw myself battling and fighting for my sons rights. I was at the start of a discrimination claim against my Sons old mainstream primary school and was still, like thousands of others desperately trying to obtain a statement of special educational needs so my son would get the support needed in a school better suited to his complex needs. These two battles pushed me to the core, not only was I becoming stressed both physically and mentally, so was my son. I knew I couldn’t give up, not when my son was being treated like an outsider and even faced the prospect of permanent exclusion. He was never allowed on trips or was hidden away during inspections or when the parents of prospective pupils toured the school. He was highly misunderstood and it was slowly killing me! I was never quit prepared for what it would take to get myself through them hard and deliberating days. I had heard some talk about the battles fought to obtain these statements, get children into schools that catered to their needs, yet you never quite realise the true extent of what it takes out of you till your neck high in it! Honestly, I cannot begin to put this into words, those parents of children with SEN (special educational needs) will know what I mean when I say, “It could have quite possibly caused me to experience a full on mental break down! There were tears, shit… far to many tears, appointments, meetings, exclusions and phone calls, over and over again. Some days I was close so very, very close to giving up! Yes, I would often vacillate between giving up or pushing on! I remember all those voices, the ones that told me, “Don’t give up Claire, Its worth it in the end.” Yet it made no difference to me then! That light at the end of the tunnel was nowhere in sight.

It’s one year later and my children have just broken up from school! Unlike last year, I don’t dread the day my son returns, not now he will be returning to a better place. Yes, as many know already, Little man is in an Independent special school for children who have autism/aspergers as their primary need.

Little man spent so long isolated in mainstream, then home schooled before finally getting a great tutor. However he was still without a peer group! I really did think that it would take so much longer to settle in this new school than he actually has. He is already up one sub-level in his reading and earned himself a fantastic school report. His school have told me his a, “Great lad and a lovely boy!” For me this is amazing and almost brought me to tears. Silly… I think not! If you have ever watched your child’s education and self confidence fade away, then you will understand this feeling of joy I’m now feeling inside.

I know there are still hundreds of thousands of parents still fighting that same battle and by god do I empathise! The experience affected me in such a way that in November last year I started a voluntary role advising parents on their children’s educational rights and helping them through the tribunal process. I also started a Facebook page a few years back that now has over four thousand members, parents like me and young people on the spectrum comment daily about the lack of support received from the system. I hear our own story repeated over and over, so similar in so many ways it’s scary. I try and encourage them parents not to give up and remain strong for themselves and their child, yet I know that like me they must think, “It’s no use!” But those who have read my story over the past three years would have read some of my most testing moments, from pre diagnosis to full diagnosis, court cases brought against myself for non school attendance and the battle to bring Little mans discrimination at school to a final end. You will remember the posts that I wrote through tears at the inability to get my child what he needed,  “A Statement” and the tears I cried for once I had succeed it was hardly worth having. Then there’s the fight for an amended statement and a long search for a place in a special needs school. Gosh the sheer pain I felt discovering that every school the LEA approached just refused him, stating his needs could not be met, No one would give him a chance! The LEA would not agree to my parental choice of an independent special school, so… I fought and fought and with all my strength giving all I had, we made it… we finally made it here!

 Achievement slips and certificates replace the dreaded exclusion letters. Phone calls are made and emails are sent containing words of prise! Although his had some difficulty days, those around him understand why, they remain consistent,  they just get it! This was something I found difficult to vision a year ago. I never dreamed I would be displaying a picture of a smiling Little man at his new school, Yes that special school I fought for! I never imagined that I would proudly post a picture of all his rewards. This wasn’t because a lack of faith in my child, but a lack of faith in a system that had continually let us down.


I’m not stating we will never face a difficult moment again, and will always now remain overcautious. I’m sure we will have our ups and downs, but for once, for the first time in a long time, I feel we have achieved something amazing. My son is writing, literally putting pen to paper, something he had refused to do for a whole year! Things like these are the little things a parent of a child that has no difficulties could easily take for granted. For us these are reasons to celebrate.

Do you know how long it is since my son did a parenting and actually enjoyed it… To long! When he brought this painting home today I was incredible proud, so much so I could have burst.

I have a few reasons why I decided to bring you this post today. I of course had a desire as a mother to shout from the roof tops, “Check it out my sons star of the week at school” (the worlds of the proud mother). My second reason was to post in the hope that all my readers, the ones who are in that dark place I was in a year back, take some inspiration from it, they remember my story and think, “If she can do it, so can we!” and lastly because today is Special Saturday

I wish every single one of you the best of luck, stay strong, I’m always here to listen.

Flexible school plan

14 Oct

Sleep is becoming a distant memory. How we take it for granted when we have it, and fall apart when we don’t.

Yes, by reading the above statement it is clear that I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night! I first had to deal with little man (despite the fact I was just about ready to drop).  By the time he had finally entered the land of nod, I was then wide awake! Its crazy how you go from tried to over tired, then suddenly wide awake! Well, I’m sure the second coffee didn’t much help!

To be honest once I did lie down, I couldn’t switch of! My head was giving me an array of problems, solutions, outcomes and what ifs to just about everything happening in our lives right now. I ended up grabbing a pen and paper and jotting stuff down. I was quite literally taking notes on my own thoughts. Looking at  what I wrote this afternoon, it’s clear I need to get some much needed stuff of my chest. So what better place then here. After all a lot has been happening this school year. Note we are still in the first school term, meaning this is all within a five week period! I suggest a cupper and a comfortable seat as this isn’t the shortest post I’ve ever written.

Latest exclusions

Judging by the last school year, I shouldn’t be at all surprised with the way this ones planning out!

Since Little man went back to school in September his received constant exclusions. These exclusions were imposed all within the same month and given one after the other. Two of these exclusions were given for a fixed term of two days, and the third being for a longer period of five days. However that five day exclusion was messy and after a refusal on my part to send little man to a pupil referral unit/specialist school for children with social, emotional behaviour problems, to avoid a permanent exclusion, we were left not knowing what was going to happen in terms of Little mans return to school  for a few more days and everything was a tad confusing. It had been a pretty tough week for the family as a whole. Exclusion was not having any kind of desired affect on little man! At least there was no evidence that it was! It’s in my opinion that by excluding a child a teacher sometimes unintentionally contributes to the child’s long term challenging behaviour. I like many parents & carers make the same statement.… When excluding the child the teacher may simply be giving them what it is they want, an escape! A child maybe struggling with work, tasks, social situations, or just simply doesn’t want to be in school (Getting back home to their “safe zone”) Other times a child may be far to excited, anxious or confused, leading them letting it all pour out in an inappropriate manner. Then there is them times the child is in self destruct mode and exclusion is the only option. Little man displays a range of emotions and reactions to exclusion. Sometimes it’s clear to see that he considers the outcome of his behaviour to be a benefit to him. He comes home to an environment that he feels much more relaxed in. Other times little man shows anger, upset and a great deal of resentment towards those directly involved in the exclusion process. Little man will often show this degree of upset when he can’t understand the reason surrounding his exclusion, disagreeing with the action taken against him, quite often indicating that he feels misunderstood, or what he has done was justified as their was a reason behind it. Example being someone did something first or someone wasn’t being fair to somebody he considers a friend. In these incidents it’s hard to establish what has gone on. It’s all well and good being informed in a letter, displaying a list of reasons stating why your child was excluded because…… But when you don’t know what triggered of the behaviours then how do you address them? Little man becomes inconsolable when his excluded on the days a school trip or activity are due to take place. Little man has often stated that the reason he can’t attend is because his different! This seems to unfortunately had a bad impact of his self-esteem. This is when the system upsets me most! To me this is like handing out double punishments and gives the child a feeling of low self-worth. It’s rare he participants in anything his class undertakes and this I can only describe as dehumanising. Punishing a child by not letting them attend a trip for behaviour that hasn’t yet occurred is damaging. How will the child ever learn from the behaviour ? Little man must have the mentality of , “Why bother? I wont be going anyway. After he missed his last school trip that involved a ride in a coach there and back (Reason he was so… excited) he told me he would never believe them again! That he will not let himself get excited till his there! How heart breaking it is to hear your ten year old say that. I understand the teachers did to considered the whole of the class. However I think it’s got to the stage where little man is considered a doomed case. I think on a few occasions certain children have slipped the odd “Ginger” comment in there, I have spoken to a parent of at least one child who calls him this. Yet I’ve never been informed. Little man don’t wait for no one to be around before off loading his string of abuse towards the person who upsets him, he just does. Ok he is pretty dam stereotyped and often says the wrong thing! But sometimes these things are said without true meaning. A new word being, “wasteman” after I asked what it meant he replied, “Mum it means a dust man, who collects rubbish” we had to explain what it meant. This is a word his heard within his school setting and now loves to use.

LEAs Agreement to undertake a statutory assessment

After sending an appeal to the tribunal (LEAs refusal to assess), and the prospect of meeting with the LEA (dispute/resolution service) and the school re-admitting  the Assess one! The LEA finally agreed to assess little mans special educational needs. Finally a move in the right direction! The LEA also agreed to contact our preferred specialist school for an emergency assessment place. Though one has not yet been made available, I still have hope. ( what else can you have?) I received a letter stating they are awaiting a response from the school (specialist school) and I have made an appointment to go see them myself (after a lengthy phone call, where I pleaded my case to a very understanding receptionist). I can’t fault the LEA (for once) as they are doing all the right things and have moved very quickly. Little man has already seen the LEAs educational physiologist, though this didn’t happened as planed as he was not allowed to be in his classroom setting which she could have done with observing. Still if it means avoiding a massive upset then so be it! I think things went well and she saw enough. Yesterday we attend a medical assessment which was somewhat exhausting given little mans excitement at the buildings electric windows and his constant need to operate them. I am in the process of writing my evidence that has to be submitted within the next few weeks! Anyone with any tips on this, I would be most grateful to hear them.  So…. For now I just hold bated breath that all will be Ok in the end .

Risk of permanent exclusion results in a flexible school plan

We were informed on the last exclusion that little man now faced the risk of a permanent exclusion. As I’ve briefly touched one above, we were offered the placement at a specialist school/PRU . Yet after careful consideration, two visits to the school (One with little man) and a home visiting I felt it to be unsuitable for little mans current level of need. The locked doors and security guard  gave an impression of a young offenders unit. Though It’s true to, “Never judge a book by its cover” but little man has a fear of locked doors and this accompanied by a list of other issues was to much to expect him to overcome. So I stood my ground and refused (Looking out for my sons emotional well-being as well as his educational one). We didn’t hear much after that! We had a phone call from the head stating the PRU was expecting him on Monday, which I corrected him on. With this we were left dangling for a few days in till I took him back and as a direct result of this action a meeting was held. There isn’t much point going into the detail of the meeting (for once it was a reasonable one) I just wanted things discussed and options and ideas shared. Well, finally a plan was emerging, I stated I was happy to be flexible if they could be too. I didn’t think the current situation was doing my little man any good and did I really want his self-esteem suffering anymore then needed? Of course not! So we discussed the option of part time school or home schooling with flexibility. The head wanted to speak with the LEA to make sure everything would be legal and above board and for once we were kinda in agreement with one another (I know, big achievement that one) That evening the school left me a voicemail that offered a part time solution to the current situation! Part time schooling for a period of two weeks. We would then have a meeting and if faced with the prospect of no managed move for the remainder of his assessment, we would then have to decided our next steps.

So with that very…… Long update (So sorry about that people), I will bid you good bye. And as always thanks for all the support

The good, the bad, and the dam right ugly!

1 Oct

This post is brought to you today bearing Mixed news, developments, and gratefulness.

Let me start with the good news!

Many of my readers and loyal followers will be aware of my struggles in obtaining a statutory assessment of Little man’s special educational needs. Well, after a refusal, pending appeal tribunal, school resubmitting the assess one, the prospect of hours of mediation with the LEA on the 13th of this month and a whole lot of stress! The Special educational needs panel have made the decision to make a statutory assessment. With this the LEA also informed me that they well contact our preferred specialist school to ask for an emergency assessment placement.

I’m not under any illusion that it’s all rosie from here on! This is just the first step and given how hard it was to obtain it, nothing can shock me. The decision a lone has taken 7 months from that first request that was refused. It’s extremely frustrating how back on the 1st March when I first requested an assessment Little man had only uncounted One exclusion, and now it’s more like ten! A great deal of stress, tears and constant worry for what? It’s a disgrace that your child needs to be seen as totally failing before anybody looks up and takes notice. What ever happened to early intervention and every child matters? We have all these rights when it comes to our child, but who has regard for them? Do they not realise that by letting it get “This bad” is like allowing our children to become “emotionally unhinged” If this is the process to obtaining an assessment, I’m dreading the decision to statement or the content that statement may contain.

However for now I’m just pleased we are a step closer and things are at least moving in the right direction. Little mans emotional needs are my main concern as without emotional well-being there is little point of anything else. I just hope all his needs are taken into account when decisions are made in relation to emergency placements.

So.. here comes the big fat bad news!

With everything good that happens, something totally lousy often follows. Of course we are a prime example of this. Little man went back to school on the 28th September after a fixed period exclusion of two days. However he had only just about got his foot under his desk when…

If you haven’t guessed it already then Why not? 🙂 Yep Little man was excluded once more for a fixed period of five days. So that’s three exclusions in around 11 days (Oh and that’s counting the weekends) However this exclusion comes with a twist! IT MAY WELL BE HIS LAST! Permanent exclusion is on the cards and to be honest I’m not at all shocked nor surprised. After all Little man + current educational setting = affliction and scandal.

So it would seem that after all these exclusions, school know see what I see! IT’S NOT WORKING! You would think that after something has been done two-three times max, and it’s having no positive effect, it’s a done deal. I’m so furious that it took this level of action to come to the same conclusion I did back in March. I’m not saying he should get away with anything and everything, but their have been so many incidents that have been a direct result of anxiety. Of course there has also been times my son has been naughty (He is 10 years old) but I feel even then some less extreme forms of punishment could be given. Even an exclusion that was unavoidable can’t have a desired affect. How can it when his excluded so often?

If I was asked a year ago if I could see this happening one day in the future, I would have answered “Yes I could” Ok maybe not right now maybe not in a months time but sometime in the future. Now some would ask how? How could I have guessed this would happen, when a year ago Little man’s school stated they had NO CONCERNS? I quote “He is very well behaved at school” I heard this a thousand times, and often I questioned myself.. Was it me? Why was he only showing challenging behaviour indoors? It was quite simple really! Little man spent so much time at home and not at school it was near on impossible for them to say otherwise. Lets face facts. So much time was spent judging me as a lazy ass parent who just didn’t fancy taking her child to school. I don’t think so, life wasn’t a picnic and sleepless night, refusal to get out off bed, get dressed and go to school was an exhausting experience (Nearly as exhausting as this one) As soon as he got the “routine” and he started to see school as something that he needed to do, something that wasn’t an option, he recognises that he had to attend and did. With this the school recognises that yes actually he can be challenging and with this comes a new pattern! Exclusion, reintegration, exclusion, reintegration………..

I should know more then anyone that yes, Little man can be a “handful”. But as his mother I also know that he can be interesting, clever, funny, polite and caring.

On his return to school that day I had already noted in his contact book that he was anxious. What with missing his trip and a serious incident that happen at home, he was like a ticking time bomb. The reintegration meeting had only been a few minutes in when problems began. He refused to sign the new behaviour contract as a new sanction was added. This sanction was to spend time out of class and In the office with the head teacher. I feel he explained his reasons in a reasonable manner, minus two swear words. He stated that he didn’t like being in his office due to past incidents like.. Having to tuck school shirt in or miss play and confusing statements made by the head. Some statements made by the head have caused little man distress as the head hasn’t adjusted his language as advised by specialist teachers who have assessed little man. He still uses metaphors and other complex terms that little man just don’t get. Little man has often taken things he has said literally  and he can ponder what his said for days on end trying to work out what it was he actually meant.

With little mans refusal to sign his behaviour contract and his odd use of a swear word, it was becoming clear that the head teacher considered calling it a day. However before doing so he told little man he was going to in-force the contract regardless of him not signing! Well, little man pretty much lost it then. He was close to tears and ripped up the contract and all the copies that he could find. This was contract number three and back when he first signed that very first contract he was made to believe that by doing so he was in control and was making decisions for himself which gave him some control and responsibility . He now felt betrayed, like the school were somehow breaking a law of some short. From then on things got worse and sadly he swore at the head telling him he was a F***ing Irish idiot (Not great I know) Yes it wasn’t on and he had over stepped the line but by in forcing the miss play time sanction then and there was pretty crazy. It was like pouring petrol on the five. I stood in tears as I watched Little man flying through the corridors hitting himself and the wall. I knew then I should take him home! I knew then he would face yet another exclusion. So as I took yet another one of those phone calls that evening. The ones I’ve come to know all to well recently! I just hung up and cried. I didn’t just cry for little man, I cried for every child like him and every parent like me. (And yes there are many families in the same position)

Over 75 per cent of children who are excluded have special educational needs (SEN) and exclusion rates for children in the middle band of special educational needs are 17 times higher for children without SEN. 27 per cent of children with autism have been excluded from school. Government figures out today show that children with SEN are over 8 times more likely to be excluded than those without SEN. (Sonia Sodha)

Surly these statistics highlight the sheer state of the system. Yet what is being done to change these figures? Not much from where I’m standing.

So now we have a new set of problems. Yes, the LEA will assess and No I have no idea when and where. I will attend a meeting with the Head teacher on Monday, so Lets just wait and see! after all what choice do I have 😦

Lastly a thank you.

Message to all my readers, loyal followers, new friends and old.

I cannot thank you all another for your care & support. I didn’t know the world was made up of so many caring people. I thank you for your comments, messages and your time. I’ve made some fantastic new friends and I discovered so much along the way.

The facebook page has turned into a raving success with almost 3000 members and growing by the day. I am so thankful to have found a wonderful admin team who like me have a passion to raise awareness. They have helped create a great, supportive page and for this and their great advice to me and others, I’m truly grateful. Thank you ladies 🙂



RISK OF PERMANENT EXCLUSION

14 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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