Tag Archives: Register

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!

Stages of SEN, Is my child receiving the right support

23 Oct

STAGES OF SEN

 Is my child receiving the right support?

 The stages of SEN are known as the ‘Graduated response’ that all maintained educational settings must abide.

 Some children will receive a statement even before starting full time education. This would only happen if the child in question had such needs that would undoubtedly require extensive provision to be made when the child was to start at school. Sometimes this maybe due to the child having a severe learning difficulty or disability, one that is discovered in the foundation stages of education, between the ages of 3-5 or even before this.

 However, many children go into full-time education (primary years) having either no medical diagnosis or any obvious learning difficulties (this is especially true for the child who has ADHD or high functioning autism).

 All maintained schools must by law publish a SEN policy that should be made available for all to see. The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) along with the head-teacher and class teacher are normally a concerned parents first point of call. The SENCO’s key role and responsibility is to ensure that the SEN policy is being applied and its content remains efficient in how it applies to the school and the children in it. (though it is also the duty of the governing body and head teacher to ensure all policies remain up to date) The SENCO will also have the role of  ensuring the provision that is made for each individual child who is placed on the school’s sen register, making sure this is effective and the child is therefore achieving. This is where the Graduated response comes into play!

 Note: Although the SENCO will be expected to provide such duties as those above, it is the school as a whole (head-teachers, class teachers, governing body , etc.) who must together ensure a child is given the appropriate support to ensure that educational progress  is made while social & emotional needs are met. 

 On entry to a maintained Primary School

 Note

On access to primary education all children should be assessed to establish their attainment levels and individual learning style.

 A child who is starting primary school and is noted as having special educational needs, will be assessed using the curricular and baseline assessment process, therefore identifying the level of need the child requires.

 The child should then be placed on the SEN register and staff (teacher, senco etc.), should work with the parents to develop a suitable learning programme.

 Parents should be kept fully informed on their child’s progress and schools have a legal duty to inform parents when their child has been identified as having special educational needs and are placed on the SEN register.

 What is the Graduated response?

 This is basically an array of different strategies that need to be but into place to enable children identified as having SEN a way to progress both academically and emotionally. These strategies are broken up and divided into groups. It is only when all these strategies have been tried yet failed can a school claim to have used all its own resources in trying to meet a child’s individual educational needs. It is at this point that a school will claim that it cannot meet the child’s needs within its own resources. This is the point a statutory assessment and possible statement is needed (however I will touch on this in the next post, ‘Request for a statutory assessment’)

 Note: Remember, there are times when exceptions have to be made meaning a child could go from school action right to the assessment process as the child’s needs have changed so much, even resulting in a managed move to a special school for the period of assessment (I will touch on this more in the next post, as above). 

 The stages of SEN

 Stage 1

 School Action:

  This is the first stage, when a child is identified as a child with Special educational needs (SEN). They are then placed on the SEN register and the parent should at this point be notified. Teacher, teaching assistants and Senior staff and of course the SENCO, must work closely together with the parent putting a number of strategies in place to ensure the child makes good progress. These strategies may not involve anything huge and in many cases work set out for the child is just slightly differentiated from the work of their peers. Many children progress well and eventually are removed from the register needing no further assistance. 

 What, if it’s the other way around and your child doesn’t make progress?

 This is when we move on to the next stage.

 Stage 2 

 School Action +

 When the child in question fails to progress on school action they will move to school action plus. This is often when the child’s needs require a much higher level of support. It is common step for the child who have social, emotional difficulties or those on the autism spectrum. It is also common for a child with such difficulties, to move from school action to action plus pretty quickly (however it’s the step after this that’s one of the biggest and hardest to reach). 

 What happens on school action plus?

 The SENCO will at this point have the use of external services if need. Everything needs to be fully documented, as the school will need to show the LEA that they are not wasting school resources (funding) when other courses of action could be taken. The child’s targets will be recorded on an Individual education plan (IEP) the IEP will state the child’s short term targets and the provision that will be provided as to allow the child to succeeded in meeting the targets described. There will also be space for recording the outcome  (whether the child meet the targets) and the date/term in which the IEP commenced as well as the date it will be reviewed. Parents should also have a hand in the issuing of the IEP giving some parental input. 

 It is at this point the school can apply to the LEA for additional funding for services that operate outside the school. External services could include, visiting services or the provision to appoint support stuff on an individual basis. It has been known for a child at school action plus to receive 1-1 provision throughout the whole of the school day, including break-times! However, it should be noted that the school cannot usually continue with this level of support and should have usually applied for the process of a Statutory assessment from the LEA (which is something a parent can also apply for)

 This is where I finish and will continue this within the next post, ‘Request for a Statutory Assessment’ which will follow soon.

 This post will be available to download from GoogleDocs for your own personal use. 

Please note that you will need to wait for a period of 24 hours before it is available on GoogleDocs 

Claire Louise 

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