Tag Archives: State school

Governments gone crazy for the Olympics

15 Aug

I’ve loved watching the Olympic games, cheering as GB take a number of golds! Yes, it was hard not to get the gold rush and therefore get swept up in the moment! Yet it seems I’m not the only one, there’s one or two who have simply let it go to their heads and therefore got a little dose of Olympic fever.

It seems that one person in particular has got so carried away with the excitement of it all and therefore felt the need to state to the nation how the UK government would be throwing more money in that big education pot so that children are given the chance to flourish when it comes to competitive sports.

Of course that person was David Cameron, so of course I rolled my eyes while mumbling the words “Arse Wipe” beneath my breath.

You see, Cameron has made a hell of a lot of promises since he got his dirty foot in the door. As time has run on his broken each, leaving family’s struggling and at breaking point as his made cuts to services that society rely upon.

My blood boils when I hear him making such statements. Yes, I believe our children should be encouraged to aspire into next generation athletes but I also believe that they also deserve the access to education as a whole! There are many children in this country being home schooled, sadly many are not through choice. This means sports are the last think on their parents overworked and worried minds.

Cameron needs to look at the bigger picture, the whole of the education sector in and throughout britain needs a good clean up and fast, because although it was bad before, since this man took to the house with the black door, it’s been simply diabolical!

Now… as predicted Cameron has actually just gone and shoot himself in the foot as it was revealed that since coming into Government the 2-hours of compulsory physical education that was put in place by our last Government has now actually been scraped and done so on the hush, therefore allowing the PM to collect his pounds, sticking them all back into the Governments big pot of savings, a pot mainly made up from the cut backs to services that are meant to be protecting our most vulnerable!

Now although I believe our children should be actively contributing in competitive sports I also believe that funding needs to be driven into other areas such as Special Educational Needs (SEN) Supportive outreach, training and courses for teachers as well as improvements towards providing education for those children educated other than at school. By this I’m vastly referring to off site education or Home tutoring funded by the LEA on medical grounds. The nations PRU (pupil referral units) are key examples. I’m sick of hearing local authorities claiming that those children in desperate need of support, can’t actually have it as there are little or no funds to delegate! Thankfully my child now enjoys a number of sports despite having Aspergers and past anxiety towards even the thought of one day actively participating in sports, especially that of contact sports. Admittedly this surge of improvement has to be the result of finally having left his former state mainstream primary school and then moving to an independent special school. The move has done well to demonstrated the impressiveness that comes with the reinstalled coincidence. However, you must not mistake my honestness for support of a crappy British PM. Despite my past difficulties with a string of teachers, I still find Mr Cameron’s latest statements to be harsh and unwarranted. He gives it all he has in way of a push and a shove in the direction of the states school teachers as he tries to convince the nation that his decisions to retract compulsory PE have been based around his concerns regarding today’s teachers lack of competitive ethos towards competitive sports as opposed to that of Government cuts. Now, I know what I believe!!

Little man met one or two exceptional teachers when he attended state maintained primary school. But as you know he also encouraged discrimination and bullying (mainly inflicted by teachers as opposed to children). Some may have been blinded by ignorance as a result of little if no SEN & Autism training whatsoever. I believe it’s these never ending difficulties between teachers and children that hold a much stronger case for funding. Most teachers are not in a position to freely campaign… But seriously, by you reducing funding over a period of time surely its obvious that there is little teachers can do to carry on being supportive towards physical education.

Sometimes I wonder what this man has going through his head, it’s as if he has this thing against working class families simply branding teachers in “state schools” as lazy… We’re not talking Mathematics but physical education (PE) most children will develop at their own pace when it comes to sport and those with passion will go far regardless. But it seems the PM thinks otherwise, with his suggestion of teaching kids to be more competitive, by creating a cultural change that replaces the “Everyone’s a winner motto” The PM needs to understand that for some children this just won’t stick! And for those others, well… A combination of the child’s determination, a teachers motivation and a good dose of funding can make it happen.

So… Maybe the PM should consider very carefully what it is his proposing before getting ahead of himself and sharing such plans and unconsidered decisions with the world! Especially when his not shared the changes his already implemented, including the removing of compulsory PE from education.

I mean come on,How stiupid must this man be? He must have considered the possibility that his secret operation would reveal its ugly head.

Cameron really doesn’t seem to understand his mistakes, never confessing that his decisions are just that, “His decisions” Franky, Instead of dealing with the bum error as it stood! the PM just made it a whole lot worse by continuously blaming teachers in regard to their lack of interest in teaching PE as well as encouraging children to get active and live healthy.

The only time I’ll ever give this man a thumbs up is when and only when we see him leaving number 10 closing the door behind him and heading in the direction of the job centre.

Special School – Don’t write it off!

12 Mar

As a parent of a child diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and special educational needs, I’ve been through the whole tiresome, wearisome battle to obtain a statement of Special educational needs (SEN) that states ALL of my child’s needs, as-well as providing the appropriate resources needed to meet such needs.

I’ve faced the whole mind-boggling experience associated with searching for an appropriate education setting, somewhere with the right resources to cope with what has been described as my child’s “Complex Needs”

I’ve embarked on the deliberating decision, when it comes down to the choice between Mainstream or Special School.

After many battles for, assessments, a statement, an amended statement & the almighty fight to obtain the right school placement, we finally found ourselves here!

Though it was far from easy, Little man now attends an independent day special school, especially for those children on the autism spectrum, catering for children through their primary and secondary education!

There is no words I can use to describe, how having your child’s needs finally met changes life for that of yourself, child and immediate family! When you finally secure that placement, having engaged in many years of consistent fighting for what only seems a child’s most basic right!

Three years ago, you would have likely heard me stating, “Mainstream schooling was the only form of schooling my child would be attending!” Admittedly, like most parents of children with autism or SEN, today, I was ill-informed, completely clueless if you like, to how special school’s actually operated! Well, why would I be any the wiser, I’d never even seen inside the doors of a special school, in all honesty, I guess I kind of collaborated the little I did know (well, what I thought I knew) to that of what I’d been told, the not so great opinions of others! This of course did nothing other than help produce an image within ones mind, resembling something far from accurate!

My opinion was my own, through it was sadly built upon that of ignorance! I’d naively thought that by attending a mainstream school, my child would learn the rules of socially acceptable behaviour, his “typical” peers would somehow be his social skill trainers, without even knowing the importance of their job, they would actively model how society expects one to perform in life.

Surly special schools could only pull my child under, corrupt his delicate evolving mind, somehow lowering his own expectations of what he could possibly do if truly desired! Those around him would swamp him, drowned him in their world, lower functioning children would draw out his more noticeable “autistic traits” he would somehow feed from them, becoming more and more aloof with each passing day.

Would he become more autistic than he possibly was, mimicking the social behaviour of peers? Would this actually lead my child to become a child who required little if no encouragement, staff assuming he was a lost course? Would it just be expected of him to achieve lower marks than he was typically capable of? Would he therefore never be pushed to display his full potential? Then there was the consistency the overly well organised routines, would this make my child more rigid, therefore more demandingly challenging with a total lack of flexibility within the home?

Right then, at that time, the possibilities, even if conceived from ignorance and lack of informed information, made special school not an option! My ill-informed mind was made up!

Nonetheless, 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have been given the option, regardless of whether he needed it or not! You see, this isn’t how it works, though within time, I came to understand this!

It wasn’t at least till 2-years ago,that mainstream school finally admitted that there were indeed problems (and lots of them)! Little man had gone from the active school refuser,the aloof quite child, to one who could not follow the simplest of tasks. He became far more challenging what with sensory triggers and a string of misconceptions. He was no longer able to contain his evolving desire for peer interaction, though he regrettably fell at every hurdle in his quest to achieve it.

Those that did befriend him, did so as to lead him into troubled waters, always getting him to play the clown while laughing uncontrollably when he got into trouble.

Misconceptions and mixed messages lead to constant exclusions, removal of life’s simple pleasures, privileges such as trips and playtimes.He found himself being taught in isolation, removed from what he knew, despite not being able to fully understand it anyway!

When Little man began stating he wanted to be normal, while bashing his head senseless against a wall, choice no longer had a degree of influence within this heartbreaking situation! Basically I needed him out! Unable to let this situation continue, I removed him from the school!

We filed a claim for discrimination on the grounds he was being treated differently as a result of his Aspergers Syndrome as-well as the fact no reasonable adjustments were being made! The school finally held it’s hands up, just days before the tribunal hearing I had been dreading.

By this point in time, an absolute turn around had occurred! The LEA no longer ignorantly refused to carry out a salutatory assessment of little man’s special educational needs! By this point I’d started training, learning the English Education Act, including those very important sections addressing special educational needs. What’s more I’d also obtain a solicitor (it was one thing helping others to get their child’s needs met, yet my own child’s education was in such a state, the solicitor could only but help)! The addition of letters devised by a solicitor did help to move things along, yes, I’m sure of this! Plus thanks to the appointed solicitor, Little man had now undergone independent OT, SALT and EP assessments, all of which greatly differed from those findings given by the LEA. This was all well and good, yet the discovery of the extent of his OT needs and possible additional conditions discovered by his EP, did cause me to draw one or two tears, before jumping back up into fighting mode!

Little man was no longer being home schooled and I’d managed to get the LEA to provide 5 hours a day of 1-2-1 tuition by a tutor at the local library! This was something that continued for almost 8 months!

A statement was finally produced, though it was better suited to a no frills range at the local supermarket. Parts 2 and 3 failed to include little if any real needs or any resources needed to meet such needs. The LEA were now frantically searching for a stat special school, non in which were even willing to meet him (with the exception of one)! I received daily letters through my letterbox from numerous school’s all stating the same, ” Sorry, we feel that we do not have the resources to meet ******** complex needs”

I’d come around to the prospect of a special school, gone were the days of ignorance, I’d now learnt that there were schools for both MLD and SLD as well as specialist schools catering for children with Autism spectrum conditions. I embraced the prospect of a school that had small classroom numbers, teachers who understood my child’s needs, such great things began to excite me. Given the last few years of hell, that mainstream school had brought us, my views had changed more than a little!

I could now be found saying

“My child will never attend a mainstream school again, not over my dead body!”

Now, this remark was not based on ill-informed opinions, underlying ignorance, but one made from experience, and not a good one at that!

With the discovery of Baston House, Independent Special School for those children holding a diagnosis of autism or aspergers syndrome, which was founded by the lovely Anna Kennedy (activist and a mother of two boys on the spectrum) I had to investigate and check the place out!

The school caters for both primary and secondary children, when visiting there was a handful of pupils but just meeting them along with the staff it become very clear that this was the place Little man needed to be!

I wasn’t under the illusion that it was an easy process, after all this was an independent school. However, with the LEA struggling to find a state school by the tribunal date, they gave up, no longer opposing any of my requested amendments.

This meant that not only did they now amend the statement to include all the recommendations of the independent assessors, making this the largest statement I’ve seen, I received some much sought after news.

Of course these amendments included part 4 of the statement! Baston house school was finally named, and I felt something I’d never felt possible, the up most relief and excitement that my child would now spend his school days in his new SPECIAL SCHOOL!

It’s been around 9 or more months now and we are currently approaching his annual review meeting! He will also move up to the secondary department which is within the same school, making this a less stressful transition.

Life now is a lot different! There are less phone calls from upset angry teachers, not one exclusion *madly touches wood* Amazingly little man has also risen 7 (YES, 7) sub levels in reading (in little over a few terms)! Ok, he still doesn’t sleep much and can’t help to have a supermarket meltdown, but his happier, that much, I’m sure off.

So, has special school caused him to regress? No, it’s actually the best decision I’ve ever made for my son, making the hardest and most emotional grating fight of my life, all now seem worth it! Seriously I wouldn’t change a thing!

So, if like me, you rejected the prospect of a special school, then remember this post! Do what you think is right! My advice… follow your heart, it will show you where to go, there is a school for every child, whether it’s mainstream, special or even at home, you’ve just got to find it!

Time to find your voice.

17 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s some suggestions on what you can do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other things you can do

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

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

Start a petition

Write the your MP

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