Tag Archives: UK Primary school

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? ūüôā 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 ūüė¶

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 ūüôā



Fix the system not the child!

24 May

Angry blogs are never a good idea but in more cases than not totally can’t be helped.

I used to daydream about what life would be like when I’m a mummy, Like most young girls I saw the perfect picture of marriage and children. In conversations with friends you would always say I wonder what my child will look like and 9 times out of ten you form this picture in your head. I think we all say we are moving to spain ūüôā well those of us from the UK. We girls create this perfect image of adult life that of course is not the reality we will come to face. I’m in no way stating my children are not perfect because to me all three of them are perfect in every way and I’m incredibly lucky to be a mum. The point I’m trying to make is we never consider what life would be like with a child that challenged us and our strength to be a parent. do we ever wonder about the kind of personality they may have? I remember little mans birth and the shock when I discovered he had a mob of red hair. I will be honest when I state I was upset by this but only because of society and the way people act about red heads. For this reason little man spent his first few days of life with a hat stuck to his head. When my hormones had settled and the shock wore of I was fine. I was only shocked because it wasn’t the picture I had created in my head, Of course I didn’t care what colour hair he had he was my beautiful baby. Little mans red hair was always to blame for his unruly behaviour people would say red hair fiery temper or oh it’s the red in him that does it! We still get that remark! I feel like shouting ‘ NO IT’S NOT HIS BLOODY HAIR IT’S AUTISM’ I was so worried he would be a child who was bullied for having red hair because as we all know kids are crawl. I used to take him to all the toddler and under fives¬†playgroups in the hope he would have a great social life growing up he would form good strong friendships. He would be invited to everyone’s birthday party or he would be off playing in the park with the other children and I would be sat chatting with the parents. Again reality would bite me in the bum as I was quick to learn I wasnt a school gate mum and little man would often get barred from the park! But regardless of it all I totally loved him with all my heart and always will.

So there is a point to all this reminiscing. Little man like thousands of other children on the spectrum are always being expected to change or fit in with “society” They live life with the consent threat of exclusion if it is felt they don’t fit in with the so-called ¬†requirements of ¬†events and activities they are often left behind. Are you under some illusion that those with Autism & Aspergers don’t feel rejected? It’s the insensitive actions of others that lead our children to the world of depression and anxiety. Every family touched by Autism has a story to tell. Most if not all of these stories¬†are based around parents and careers forever having to fight the system for their childs rights. I ask whats the point of the Special educational needs code of practice, and the Disability Act if the LEA has no regard to the code? I applied for a statutory assessment of little mans educational needs under section 328 of the Education Act 1996. The Sen Code states the LEA must come to a decision if to carry out such an assessment under section 323 within six weeks. Little mans case was to be brought to the panel on the 15th-Apr-10 though this didn’t happen. I waited a week rang them only to discover it had been delayed and would now be heard on the 14-May-10. The LEA told me the delay would be explained to me in a letter in which of course im still waiting on. Again the date past and I called this time I was told my request was denied. It’s the 24th-May-10 and the LEA have still not wrote to explain the reasons it is refused and my rights to an appeal. With this I called Ipsea who confirmed that the LEA where clearly not complying with the code. I have written to the LEA and asked them to release the decision and reasons for delay. I have given them five working days before taking the matter further which really gets my back up! Why do I have to go down this route? Its one obstacle after another. ¬†It’s ludicrous that not only am I having to appeal I’m also having to battle for the required information to do so. It’s easy to see that given the pure state of the education system why so many children are left without school placements. Now yes I am pretty wind up but given the current circumstances who can blame me? In my view inclusion and the whole school approach is pointless if no one is going to take it seriously

Since my last update concerning little man and school things seemed to be up and down, but giving that there were a few positives I was clinging to the hope of a turn around. This hasn’t happened and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t see no clear way forward. It seems that any accomplishments little man has made in relation to school and wanting to go are close to disappearing and all our hard work undone. Now Before I pour my heart out and cry all over my Mac I wish to praise little mans morning TA who I¬†consider to be an exceptional teacher who offers him a great amount of support and even better understanding. His mornings at school are improving and from the conversation we had recently and the comments she writes in his contact book I can only assume she has had some degree of training in working with children on the spectrum and if not then I can only put it down to a gift. He has a great relationship with her and has opened up to her in many ways. On reading his contact book she mentions an outburst he has in class when a teacher talks about the weather being so hot, she goes on to say that to calm down they went for a walk and sat in the playground under a tree. It was then she wrote that after speaking with him it had become clear that the Irritability and anger was real anxiety about the hot weather. I almost cried as for once someone other than me was relating to him and understanding him! Thats all he needs I am confidante that this TA well help my son to grow and over time the behaviour to fade. She is the one person who has taken the time to ask me what I do in certain situations or why he may display a certain behaviour. She is keen to take my contribution on board and happy to try suggested techniques This in itself goes a long way in proving that working in partnership with the parent of the child on the spectrum is extremely beneficial. If this TA wasn’t in class and Little man had this same out burst that involved him being loud, aggressive and dangerously throwing things what would have happened? Exclusion is pretty likely or a playtime missed is another option! Any of these actions would result in further outburst and in addition other punishments. I’m not in any way saying the other teachers are useless! His classroom teacher has over 30 students and it would be impossible to provide little man with this degree of one 2 one support but it’s also the lack of training. How can someone possibly understand if they know nothing about it? A year and a half ago I was ripping my hear out not knowing what to do next and at times still do. I’ve been to a number of classes and workshops, Have created two active social networks and an autism art room and devoted to advocating, reading and researching the condition to better understand my child. But He still brings me a new challenge all the time the whole things a learning game. The system is failing children everywhere all with different strengths and weaknesses. What most forget is just because you are able to deal with the challenges of one child on the spectrum in no way means you will be able to deal with the next! They state our children have stereotyped behaviours but what is this? It’s the same! Just because a child has autism don’t mean his the same as another autistic child of the same age every child autistic or NT¬†is an individual no two children on the spectrum are the same and educational settings should bear this in mind.

I’m pretty sure you are wondering how little man can possibly be experiencing any problems at school given the improvements he has made since working with his TA. Well sadly the TA only works with him in the mornings and once afternoon comes around all that hard work is wasted as little man gets into situations that always lead him into being labeled the disruptive child with the foul language. Since my last school update little man was excluded from his trip and went on to be excluded from school. His on the fifth exclusion since 3rd March this year. There is a week left till half team and if little man gets excluded before then the Head teacher will be forced to meet with the Governors. Since returning to school last Monday he has been placed on a behaviour contract and full-time one 2 one has been put into place. I have no personal dislike to his lunchtime TA and im not trying to blacken him in any way when I say his just no good for little man. It’s with this TA he finds himself in the most trouble. His hit him and called him names and our biggest problem right now is he runs away from this TA which has landed him in some serious problems that I am soon to touch apron. Find a trigger and remove the trigger. Maybe im wrong but it’s looking like the TA is the trigger. Why is little man like this with this TA? Simple little man sees him as a peer not a teacher. Yes he like the morning TA but knows where he stands with her. Yes he also likes the afternoon TA but sees him as his buddy. I just want whats right for little man, yes he has to deal with things better but only if the system operates better. I thank the school for putting all these provisions in place but as my child continues to be excluded and I am still receiving calls relating to behaviour then lt’s clear that the school can no longer meet his needs. So an appeal for the assessment is a must and with them fluffing around little man’s problems are growing.

As for little man running away well its got to the point that this has led to a serious incident in which has caused my child become increasingly¬†stressed over his return to school after the weekend. Little man again has run through the school hall where the After school club takes place and as it was half an hour or less before home time they are busy setting up! BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER¬†I MUST STATE THAT ALTHOUGH THE CLUB OPERATES¬†AT THE SCHOOL IT IS SEPARATE¬†AND IS NOT RELATED¬†IN ANYWAY OTHER THEN THEY ARE BOTH RUN BY THE SAME LEA. So as little man was running the worker shouted for him to leave. At this point another child who little man loves to play fight with shows up. Now i’m guessing that little man may have shown of a little but also was pretty impulsive when he called her a bitch ( Not good I agree ) With that it is said that the worker said ‘YOUR MUM’S A BITCH’ His friend heard it and shouted something and with this the worker bent down to little mans level and made him feel uncomfortable by how close she came, She went on to say ‘ You can’t talk to me like this I’m not your teacher’ My son may act like his not scared of anything but she scared him. He came dashing down the corridor to find me in the office. He had to be stopped as he tried to run into the Heads office as inspectors were in and having a meeting. He was clearly very upset as he was crying and to me seemed a little shocked. Yes I wanted to go and talk to her but left it to the school staff and tried to do the right thing. Lets not forget this is a school im in and as angry as I was there was mine and other children to consider. Of course she denied it which again brought little man to tears. She claims to of had another adult with her but my son also had another child and it was clear to see he wasn’t lying. Aspies are not good liars and don’t often try to be. I’m upset that after speaking with the deputy head I discover the TA wasnt there because little man run away (AGAIN) I’m also upset that the school refuse to take responsibility¬†¬†alongside the after school club. They state that although it was during school hours it is the after school club that needs dealing with. However I do have a point that I deem to be strong and worth quoting. A few days prior¬†I received a call at home in the evening from the headteacher informing me and asking me to prepare little man to miss his playtime the following day. The reason was he had run a long the after school club tables and called a member of staff who works for the club a fat pig. It’s too confessing for my child to be punished for something only for an adult of th same club to swear at him a few days later. I now have the challenge of getting him there today. Like it’s not enough. He went to bed crying that he was scared last night and im going to feel awful in these next few hours as I have to insist he goes. How is this fair and why should a child with Aspergers or any child in fact have to attend school fearing an adult. Yes ive explain she only comes at home time but he can’t see it like this yes he understands but can’t get past the fear. So as it’s 5am already and I have not slept a wink regardless of little man having gone to sleep at a pretty decent hour I best finish here and sort myself out. But before I finish I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for the support and thanks to the readers who joined the groups over on Facebook!

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows for EVERY child that looks in one!


EXCLUSION TWICE IN 2 WEEKS.

20 Mar

I’m so disappointed, upset and angry that I found myself writing this.

Little man has now been excluded for the second time in 2 weeks. It’s outrageous that a pupil on the autism spectrum and with educational needs is being treated in such a disgraceful manner. It is now in my opinion that this is discrimination only problem is proving it.

Reasons given for his exclusion  as stated in letter from the Head teacher.

  • Being foul and abusive to both children and adults.
  • Being severely disruptive in class
  • upsetting children.
  • Dangerously throwing playground equipment about.
  • Refusing to follow instructions from a range of adults¬†of adults.

The exclusion will be for the fixed period of 2.5 days commencing from¬†Thursday 18th March and ending on Tuesday 23rd March. During this time it is my responsibility to make sure little man doesn’t enter onto school premises ( hard considering he has a younger sister I need to take and collect from school ) I am also not allowed to be seen to have him in any public place during school hours. Regardless of his exclusion if found to be in a public place with or without me I could face the prospect of a ¬£50 fine. What a disgrace. Not only must my son miss important education but also remain on house arrest why doing so! Then their is me. Am I supposed to put my life on hold with every exclusion? Do they forget that I’m a mother of not one child but indeed three. My youngest is just three months old. Clinic appointments are a must.

I felt that when I arrived to collect little man the Head teacher failed to discuss his reasons for exclusion in a reasonable manner. I found the conversation to be rushed and unsympathetic. Understanding is needed that way better behaviour management techniques can be used¬†resulting in little man remaining in school.¬†I’m the mother of a child that is expressing unwanted behaviour in school and the staff within school lack understanding¬†and due¬†to this I feel as if I can’t make plans or go to far in case I am needed to collect little man if these problems arise. Then once home I’m then expected to stay in doors in the fear of being fined. Where is the right in this? You can a least have the decency to look at me, and not rush a conversation that I find important. This is my son’s education and your not taking it serious! I told the Head teacher who at the time had a TA with him that I would expect the reasons for exclusion in a letter by the end of the school day. He had already briefly told me ( leaving out the dangerously throwing playground equipment out ) but I understood this to be my right and his obligation as a head teacher. I didn’t want to take chances with this school given the past.¬† The Head teacher had also had me collect little man on two other occasions. I wasn’t aware of mine and little mans rights at the time and being upset with the situation I just did what I felt was expected of me. It was after contacting ACE that I discovered It was¬†illegal to send little man home without pursuing the relevant regulations. It turns out this was called unofficial exclusion. Regardless of parent consent it was still not lawful. This made me feel like¬†he had taken advantage given that he knew I didn’t know the laws surrounding exclusions. It was this incident that pushed me into educating myself on the guidance on exclusions and the SEN code of practice. I also started reading the laws regarding disability rights.

When we left little man told me what had happened. He said he was to miss some off morning break and half hour of lunch break. For being rude to a member of staff the previous day. Didn’t they see removing him from breaks as punishment was not working. The unwanted behaviour he was showing was getting worse not better. It was my feeling that inclusion within school wasn’t happening. I felt it to be more for the benefit of playground assistants due to them not being able to cope with challenging behaviour. This to me is a form of discrimination it has to be. The decision to remove him from breaks and class was something that was happening on a daily basis. It was easy to see that he seriously struggled to cope with unstructured time. presumably due to difficulties with sensory overload, his environment, frustrations with lack of order. It’s clear to see that intervention is needed to assess his needs and work on discovering what triggers his challenging behaviour. Strategies are then needed to help avoid meltdowns before they have occurred.

But this was not it! The worse was still to come. Little man explained that when he stopped¬† running way he was speaking to the Head teacher who was ordering him to go to his office when a TA run up behind him and grabbed him. The Head said good job as he took his legs and they both carried him from the busy playground to the Head teachers office. He said he felt silly as the children laughed. He waved at them as he was carried as he didn’t want them to think he was sad. But he was sad and he was scared that if he tried to get away they may hold him tighter and he would get hurt. He said he told the Head and TA once in the office that mum would be cross as they grabbed him. Apparently little man was given a shocking response when he replied WELL GIOVANNI¬†YOU LIKE TELLING STORIES. Now can you imagine my anger.This was emotional abuse. I was appalled that a pupil Aspergers or NT could be treated in such a disgusting way. I phoned to be told he was at lunch. I continued calling with no success. When I collected the letter at the end of the day he was still unavailable. The avoidance just made me more upset. Then when I saw that one of the listed reasons was dangerously throwing playground equipment. I knew they were attempting to cover themselves. Little man admitted to all listed reasons for exclusion but this one he strongly deny. I also remember that when I collected little man from school this was not a reason that the Head had listed to me in our conversation. It was pretty easy to remember this given that the conversation was short, rude and unhelpful. Even if he had thrown things in the playground why restrain and carry him to the office when he was stood speaking with the Head I see no danger there! And secondly why have you chosen to not tell me about it?

I am still waiting to hear from the Head. It looks like my concerns will have to wait till we meet on Monday to discuss little mans return to school. In the meantime I have emailed and written to the LEA, Educational Welfare Officer, Governing body, Exclusion officer.

I also plan on contacting local newspaper and radio. The sooner the LEA make a decision as to  whether  a statutory assessment is needed the better. Provisions need to be put into place in order for little man to receive the educational  and emotional support he needs. If this means moving him to a school better suited to his needs then well be it.

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