I've been strongly advised to seek statements for my twins by their hospital consultant. Any advice welcome.

(60 Posts)
jajas Wed 16-Apr-08 19:17:45

My twin boys have been behind in their development since starting school almost 2yrs ago (they will be 6yrs old in July and were 10 weeks premature). The nursery that they attended strongly recommended that they delay starting school (in fact my first thread ever on Mumsnet was a couple of years ago asking about the implications of such action). They eventually started in Reception against our better judgement but after 3 weeks ended up back at the nursery until 5 months later when they rejoined. We tried to get them held back to do Reception again as they had missed so much but the Head assured me that they would be fine and would get extra help in yr1.

Now in yr1, they have struggled albeit with a great teacher but we had a meeting with him a couple of weeks ago and he expressed concern about them. He said that it would be very beneficial if they could be held back and do yr1 again and asked if we would be happy with that and of course we concurred.

The Head has now written to us saying that she spoke to County Hall and that they cannot be held back unless they are statemented. We assumed that they weren't that bad and so agreed that some extra help would be the way to go thus keeping them with their peer group.

By coincidence one of the twins had his annual consultation today with the paedeatrican and she is strongly recommending that we apply for statements for both of them. Apparently we are to contact the Educational Pyschologist who will visit them at school to observe (she came to the house a year ago but didn't report back on an awful lot).

Sorry, very long winded but can I ask if anybody knows what happens next, how long it takes and how hard it is to get them statemented? I get the feeling that it is a very protracted and hard won process from odd threads and articles read before.

Thanks in advance!

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 12:52:04

Well tbh I think if parents have little faith in schools it is often with good reason. A trip through the SN section will show you that.

It is a good idea to make sure you are completely on top of the statementing process. LEA's will not automatically follow the law. For example if your child needs SALT it will not be put in parts 2 and 3 of the statement unless you insist. Wether you decide to insist or not is up to you. When ds1 was in mainstream we decided we would - and it was lucky we did as his SALT went on maternity leave and was not replaced (the LEA therefore had to pay for a private one to go in). The school were pleased to have the private SALT in - but they would not have been pushing for SALT to be in part 2 and 3- they didn't even know it was an option (much less that it was the correct place for it).

When he moved to special school the new statement had SALT in part 5 - we decided not to bother getting it moved as we trusted the school to have necessary skill/expertise - and there was an onsite SALT. It's worked out fine.

mrz Thu 17-Apr-08 15:19:48

If parents and schools are working together there would be no need for organisations such as IPSEA who are surely there to offer legal advise if things go wrong??

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 15:55:29

IPSEA don't offer legal advice as such. They're offer independent support to parents. They will support parents going to tribunal etc, but most would employ solicitors as well.

I many cases the LEA refuses to follow the law (eg my example with SALT- the LEA refused to quantify hours- they should have).

In many cases I have come across schools have pretty much refused to work with parents (was vaguely my experience in mainstream).

mrz Thu 17-Apr-08 16:04:22

Maybe I misunderstood their website
"We give free and independent legal advice and support in England and Wales "

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 16:08:28

<sigh> They provide advice on the law relating to SEN (such as putting SALT in parts 2 and 3 of a statement), and they will provide tribunal support. However their volunteers are not (generally) lawyers and so people going to tribunal for example would usually have a lawyer working for them as well. When I rang them for example I spoke to a trained volunteer parent. Not a lawyer.

I was using the term legal advice in the strict sense that a solicitor/barrister would recognise it.

mrz Thu 17-Apr-08 16:09:43

and I was using the legal term in the same way as IPSEA use it.

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 16:12:43

this is the type of service they offer

I would advise any parent about to start statementing/dealing with SEN and the education system to look at the IPSEA website and contact the helpline if necesssary. If you do be aware you will be asked to leave your details and will be phoned back-something that might takes days because they are so over-run. They are very good,

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 16:19:12

oh fgs mrz. I'm not sure what your problem is here. Picking a fight over the semantics of 'legal advice' is fairly unhelpful to the OP.

jajas- IPSEA are the first stop for advice on statementing etc. They will take you through step by step. You can also contact your local Parent Partnership, but it's worth remembering they are funded by the LEA so their advice isn't always impartial (mine for example told me my son didn't need 1:1 hmm)

mrz Thu 17-Apr-08 16:25:45

I don't have a problem other than I don't see the need to involve a third party unless you feel the school /LA isn't fulfilling their statutory duty. I agree by all means involve others if this is the case but surely schools should be given the chance to fulfil their duty of care before taking such action. In my experience as a parent of a child with SEN and as a maintained school SENCO things run much more smoothly when both sides work together for a shared goal.

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 16:36:31

hmm

You can work together for a 'shared goal' much better if you know what your child is entitled to. That's the role IPSEA can play. For example when we were statemeting the IPSEA website provided the template and the information I needed to ensure that SALT went in parts 2 and 3 of the statement. I was able to print off the relevant bits of the website and pass them across to the statementing officer (with whom I have a great relationship incidentally).

As a parent you will not necessarily be told the 'truth' but the school (perhaps because they don't know it), or the LEA (often because they don't know it either- I honestly think my statementing officer thought SALT should be in part 5 until I handed her the information) or if they do know it then they might still not do it (such as ds1's statement now, SALT in the wrong place and not quantified- we took the view that as long as he remains at his SLD/PMLD school that doesn't matter).

Having the necessary information before you go in means that you know what to ask for.

SENCOs and schools vary. I either have personal experience of, or close friends have experience of 6 different SENCOs for example. 2 have been excellent and the other 4 useless, one of them to the point of being obstructive.

Getting independent advice doesn't mean you have to fall out with the school or can't work with the school. It just ensures you're not a walkover. DS1's mainstream school were very pleased with the statement we got him (full time 1:1 and SALT in part 2/3 of the statement) - it made their life a little easier.

yurt1 Thu 17-Apr-08 16:55:07

I think re-reading this you are mistaking how I am suggesting using IPSEA. I am suggesting their use (in the first instance and assuming no problems arise) as an information resource. As the quickest and easiest and most independent (and free) way to get information about statementing and the LEA's legal responsibilities. If things turn difficult then they can be there to help, but they can also just provide information to ensure the process is smooth and easy.

I don't actually know anyone at all who has gone through the statementing process without referring to IPSEA's advice in some way. Even if that's just checking things on their website.

welovetelegraphpoles Thu 17-Apr-08 21:58:48

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welovetelegraphpoles Thu 17-Apr-08 22:09:04

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jajas Thu 17-Apr-08 22:12:56

Ok I will take a look at the IPSEA site over the weekend. I rang the Parent Partnership today but they aren't taking on any new cases until after the Easter Holidays which is next Monday. We had the Educational Psychologist visit at home so have written to them asking for a school visit to follow.

The Head isn't that keen or so it would appear initially to involve 'outsiders' for want of a better expression. She has consistently assured me that they can deal with it within the school but the Paediatrician clearly thinks otherwise.

I'm being positive about this, hoping that they will get the help but of course have worries that they won't get anything and then I will be worried sick that they will slip through the net. The Paediatrician painted a very gloomy picture of how they will progress through school (or not as the case would be) if we don't get help. Both my twins (especially one of them) is very quiet and she said he will just sit not understanding at the back of the class and no-one will notice him as he won't be behaving badly sad poor little thing.

Friends have been great, very supportive but I do dread sympathy ~ well patronising sympathy IFYKWIM.

welovetelegraphpoles Thu 17-Apr-08 22:30:58

Message withdrawn

yurt1 Fri 18-Apr-08 07:21:54

The paediatrician is being quite 'blunt' which suggests that the extra help really is needed iyswim.

One of the biggest problems with SN education in mainstream (and I'm not suggesting your twins be educated anywhere else) is that it depends year on year on individuals. They had a great teacher this year but may not next year iyswim. A statement offers legal protection for support they're entitled to iyswim. OK, often they're ignored, but you have something to work with when you have a statement.

I don't buy the "you need a statement to be held back a year"- that's LEA doublespeak. There is nothing legally about the year a child has to be in other than LEA self derived policies. Usually the statement would not mention which year a child is in either. That just sounds like some sort of excuse for not doing it.

When ds1 was in mainstream they looked at repeating reception. The LEA weren't keen as they said that ds1 would 'have' to move to secondary at a certain time (actually as he's in special school now it makes no diffference the school goes from 3-19), and my friend's dd in the same LEA has been in all sorts of year groups. What the school did with ds1 was 'officially' move him into year 1, but he still spent a lot of time in reception class. I guess that needed an LSA for him to work (which he had via his statement).

What I'm saying is that if you statement don't think of it as a means of getting a repeat of year 1 - there are other ways you could push for that, but do think of it as something really useful that will document your twins needs and provide money for support they need above the amount the school is able to supply.

Have a browse through the IPSEA news as well to see if your LEA has ever had its knuckles rapped for poor practice. Helps you know what you're up against.

Candlewax Fri 18-Apr-08 09:04:17

Can I just give my own personal experience of working with SENCO and getting a proposed Statement. My ds's SENCO told me that if I was to go ahead and ask for a statutory assessment which, if I was lucky would lead to a Statement, then my son would receive nothing more that what the school was already providing.hmm She said that parents think that having Statements opens doors and it does not and in view of "Every child matters" there would be no way on earth that he would get a Statement anyway.

Well she is wrong on all counts. We are at the proposed Statement stage. The LEA have not bothered to get SaLT or OT assessments done even though their own assessors recommend it. They have not bothered to carry out a Dyslexia test even though their own LEA home tutors recommend it. So I am having all of these carried out independently.

This means that the proposed Statement we have received is a pile of poop. I have sent back the 15 day parental letter to say "No" to having a meeting with them and "No" to making any written representations. There is no need for me to do that, no legal obligation on my part at all. And, quite frankly, who wants to waste time "negotiating" a proposed Statement that is clearly inadequate. The LEA have had chance to carry out all the assessments they deem necessary, I am not going to allow them to carry out anymore as my ds has had enough, they had their chance. I am just biding my time until the Statement is finalised and then I shall put in an appeal to SENDIST. By the way, the LEA did describe my ds's needs as "severe and complex" too.

The LEA have also worded their Statement that my ds would go straight back into mainstream at the school he has currently had a breakdown at and with a SENCO that is not at all clued up on what she is doing. How can I even possibly think of sending my child back to a school where I am told that he would receive no more than what they were already providing. I think not.....

Candlewax Fri 18-Apr-08 09:11:09

Just for info too - the SEN Code of Practice has now changed and section 7.12 states that parents CAN appeal to SENDIST should the request put in by a school be refused.

I still personally would put it in as a parent as some schools are not keen to support parents. Also when gathering evidence, the school has to put in what they have and have not tried anyway.

Also, keep every single piece of paper on your children. I did and I am so glad I did. I was able to quote and photocopy documents to send to the LEA which showed that there had been a problem for my ds since Infant school.

jajas Fri 18-Apr-08 12:32:50

Thanks again everyone for all your advice. Can I ask how many of you have resorted to outside help in the end? Paying for independant assessments and tutoring in the long run?

Initially I was keen for them to be held back a year but now that they are nicely settled within their year group I would much prefer that they get extra help within that year group.

I can see that I have an awful lot of swotting up to do before I throw myself into this somewhat protracted process.

jajas Fri 18-Apr-08 17:40:22

smile for evening folk

yurt1 Fri 18-Apr-08 18:51:29

It depends what you mean really. We didn't pay for anything for the statement, but we have paid for an awful lot over the years in terms of help for ds1 (thousands and thousands). Some of that was paying for what I call 'basic services' that the state should have provided. Other were extras that it would have been nice to have had supplied by the State, others luxuries.

One recommendation I would make is to meet your statementing officer asap- things became a lot easier/smoother once we'd met face to face. I think we became real people (on both sides).

jajas Mon 21-Apr-08 10:05:18

Thanks again everyone.

I've just spoken to the head at the school and she has told me that it will take 4 - 5 YEARS to get any kind of statement in place! Tell me she is having me on? I have the distinct feeling that she doesn't want to play ball and I cannot work out why. She keeps saying that they will get extra help from the TA in class but the paediatrician clearly didn't think that this was anything like enough. Arghhh! I've posted my letters to the EP, special needs dept and to our previous Consultant Paediatrician at the hospital looking for some further advice.

jajas Mon 21-Apr-08 19:19:42

.

yurt1 Mon 21-Apr-08 19:28:08

She is having you on.

Contact the IPSEA helpline. They will talk you though the process - they've done it many times before (although bear in mind it will take them a few days to get back to you).

yurt1 Mon 21-Apr-08 19:28:08

She is having you on.

Contact the IPSEA helpline. They will talk you though the process - they've done it many times before (although bear in mind it will take them a few days to get back to you).

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