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Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families, LIVE webchat about SEN reforms, on Tuesday 13 November at 12:00pm

(142 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 09-Nov-12 22:37:27

You may remember that we were due to have the previous Children's Minister, Sarah Teather, on Mumsnet for a webchat back in September but she was reshuffled just hours beforehand. So we're very pleased that the new Children's Minister, Edward Timpson, will be here for a LIVE webchat on Tuesday 13 November at 12:00pm to discuss the Government?s proposed changes to special educational needs policy.

The Department for Education has been consulting on draft clauses for the Children and Families Bill since September. This is what the DfE says the aims of the bill are:

-Local authorities and local health bodies would be required to plan and commission education, health and care services jointly and publish a clear and transparent 'local offer' of services for children and young people and families.

-A more streamlined assessment process would be put in place, integrating education, health and care services and involving children, young people and their families at its heart.

-A new birth to 25 Education, Health and Care Plan, replacing the current system of Statements and Learning Difficulties Assessments, would reflect the child's or young person's aspirations for the future, as well as their current needs and have a stronger focus on preparing them for adulthood.

-Young people aged 16-25 in further education would have comparable rights to those in schools.

-Families and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan would have the option of a personal budget for their support.

More information is available here.

Prior to entering Parliament, Edward was a family law barrister in Cheshire, specialising in the cases of vulnerable children. He has two adopted brothers and his parents have fostered 87 children over the last 30 years, many of whom Edward grew up with.

Until his ministerial appointment he was Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Adoption & Fostering and Looked After Children & Care Leavers and Vice Chairman for the Runaway & Missing Children group. He is married with three children.

We know that many posters on Mumsnet are deeply involved in the issues highlighted in the draft bill, and that some of you have already responded to related consultations; now's your chance to put your questions and concerns directly to the minister, so please join us live on Tuesday if you can. If you can't make it on the day, please post up your questions in advance here.

Thanks

MNHQ

HotheadPaisan Sun 11-Nov-12 16:35:15

Welcome, glad to have the opportunity to speak with you.

So, the main issues I think are this:

I am concerned existing case law will be discarded and we will have to start new litigation to establish what is and isn't covered, how can this be avoided?

The extension to 25 is good but could be done with existing legislation, why not just do that?

You can't go to SENDT for the health and social care aspects, so why include them? It might just delay things and there will be no redress.

Mediation is no good unless it's completely independent and voluntary and does not add to already lengthy timescales, can it be changed to state that?

There is nothing that penalises LAs financially for flouting the existing laws, how will this change under these proposals?

Some Pathfinders aren't releasing the funds to trial education direct payments, how can they be made to?

The right of parents to request an assessment needs to be explicit, this has got a bit lost, will it be made clear?

What process will SENCOP and any regulations accompanying the proposals go through? If the guidance isn't statutory it will not improve things.

In a nutshell, I think you could achieve the key aims - help to 25 and education direct payments, by extending existing SEN legislation and introducing financial penalties for LAs who flout the law, why not just do this?

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 11-Nov-12 17:19:09

I would like to raise questions relating to the fundamental problems with the current SEN system and ask you how you believe your reforms will address them

1. LA law breaking

The core problem with the current SEN system is the consistent flouting of the law by LAs who, if they bother to justify themselves, do so on resource grounds. Unlawful practice is accepted and endemic. Indeed, one director of education at an LA giving evidence to the HC Select Committee on Education was happy yo assert his Council told parents they didn't have the resources for statements and so were not 'doing statements' any more. Yet, this is entirely unlawful practice.

How will your reforms address this?

2. LA accountability

The current system operates with LAs following self-imposed policies about statementing and provision and informing parents and schools that these policies represent the law. Largely, they do not. For example, there is no legal provision which says a child has to have an IQ below a particular level before they can get a statement or has to have 'significant and complex' needs. Yet this rhetoric is bandied about as if it were fact.

Decision-making lacks accountability at every step in the process. LAs refuse to give specific reasons for refusing statutory assessments or statements and refuse to justify their choices of provision which are largely dictated by their bulk contracts with local SLT etc.

SEN Panels make decisions without independent members on them (most are made up of LA heads or Ed psychs working to LA policies) and most refuse to record their decision-making. Some LAs even refuse to confirm the members of the panel making decisions despite the fact that these decisions concern public funds.

Such decision-making practices and the failure to explain decisions would generally be considered to be judicially reviewable. However, JR is denied parents because of the existence of the SEN Tribunal. This encourages LAs to drag matters out for months. It also condones the operation of blanket policies which fetter discretion and are unlawful e.g. the 'we don't do statements' line trotted out to Parliament.

How are your reforms going to make LAs more accountable?

3. Poor quality SEN provision

Much of the provision 'thrown' at children within the SEN system (particularly children with ASD) is generic rather than child specific. This means there is a 'SEN industry' of so-called experts pumping out interventions cheaply (on the basis of black contracts) and sometimes when they have not even met the child. Such interventions are generally not evidenced based nor are they capable of objective measurement. This entirely removes accountability and deprives the child of any real chance of objectively measurable progress.

How will your reforms make health professionals and LAs more accountable for the provision they spend our money on?

4. Direct payments

Pathfinder authorities are supposed to be trialling DPs for SEN in accordance with the terms of the Pilot Order. They are not. Instead, they deny they are under any obligation to respond to requests for DPs for SEN and assert that they can pick and choose whether they follow the law in this area.

If LAs are prepared to unlawfully just refuse to entertain requests on the pilots for these important orders, what hope to we have that LAs will take these applications seriously if they are applied more generally?

Further, won't the existence of 'block contracts' always allow LAs to 'get out of jail free' and refuse to agree direct payments for SEN as the cost of employing a private SLT will inevitably be higher than the cost attributed to the block contract?

TheTimeTravellersWife Sun 11-Nov-12 17:50:40

I am a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs, who has a Statement of SEN. She is currently attending our local village mainstream primary, with a significant level of support, which we only obtained after taking the Local Education Authority to the SENDIST Tribunal.

What will happen in the case of children who already have Statements of SEN? Will they have to go through the Statutory Assessment process again? This would be unnecessarily costly for the LA and stressful for parents. Ideally, their Statements will be seamlessly converted to EHC Plans, without the need for re-assessment.

The Tribunal should be able to take into account unreasonable behaviour by LA during the process of the appeal. In my own case, the LA wilfully ignored the professional advice obtained during the Statutory Assessment; which is the reason why we needed to appeal. We wrote to the LA during the appeal, with a copy of the working document, and they refused to negotiate with us. This is totally unreasonable behaviour. The Statement was unlawful, as it did not specify and quantify provision, as required by the Code of Practice.

However, there are no effective sanctions available when LAs behave in this manner, other than for parents to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. The Tribunal agreed that my daughter required the level of support that was recommended by the professional reports and ordered the LA to amend her Statement accordingly. We suffered stress and expense solely due to the unreasonable attitude of the LA. The Draft SEN Bill proposes compulsory mediation, whilst the Green Paper acknowledged that mediation to date has not worked. Compulsory mediation will prove a failure and simply add to an extension of the overall time-scales involved and parental frustration.

The assessment process should be independent from the Local Education Authority or from the Health Authority, who sadly, will both be influenced by their budgetary constraints.

The Draft Bill does nothing to resolve the inherent conflict of interest between the LA both assessing and being responsible for providing special educational provision. In 2006, the House of Commons Select Committee recommended that ‘the link must be broken between assessment and funding of provision’, having concluded that ‘there is an inbuilt conflict of interest in that it is the duty of the local authority both to assess the needs of the child and to arrange provision to meet those needs, and all within a limited resource.’

It is not unknown for LAs to issue unlawful Statements, that fail to specify and quantify provision, as required by the Code of Practice, as at present there are no sanctions or penalties if they act in this way. The only redress that parents have is an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. LAs have at their disposal well staffed legal departments and ready access to education solicitors, LA Educational Psychologists and others. Parents do not; they either have to represent themselves or obtain legal advice, which is expensive, as are independent expert reports.

An appeal to SEND takes on average 6/7 months, and during that time LA know that they will save money by issuing Statements that do not properly support the child with SEN.

The system is stacked against parents, in favour of the Local Authority. This has to change. But the Draft SEN Bill does nothing to improve the position of parents.

The SEND Tribunal should be able to make an award of costs against a LA that has acted unreasonably - issuing an unlawful Statement is clearly unreasonable!

The threat of having an award of costs made against them by the SEND Tribunal would be far more effective in reaching agreement before Tribunal than the proposal for compulsory mediation.

At the moment no one is responsible for ensuring that LAs meet their legal obligations towards children with SEN. By default the task falls on parents and those organisations in the voluntary sector who advise and support them. When parents challenge LAs it is on an individual basis.

The SEND Annual report reveals enormous differences between the number of appeals lodged per LA; the reasons behind this need investigating. Some LAs habitual flout the current laws on SEN and hence, the higher number of appeals made to SEND. More importantly, the children of parents who either are unaware of the possibility of challenge, or who do not have the resources to challenge decisions, are disadvantaged if they live in LA that persistently and deliberate flout the law and with unlawful local policies on assessment and provision for special needs.

The SEND Tribunal have no power to compel an LA to change its SEN policy and practice in carrying out its duties, despite having heard repeated evidence on the same issue with the same Authority e.g. on speech and language therapy provision. This is an inefficient use of Tribunal expertise and resources as well as those of the LA.

The Government needs to take action against authorities which have "unwritten policies" applied through custom and practice which nevertheless result in unlawful Statements being issued, otherwise these practices will continue with the new EHCP. Central government need to provide information and training re: the local authorities’ role, so that they can all know their responsibilities, and put into practice what is needed. Financial sanctions should be introduced for local authorities that do not comply with the SEN Statutory Framework.

There needs to be a better method of ensuring that the provision set out in the Statement/EHCP is provided. At the moment, the only method is by going to Judicial Review, which with proposed cuts to legal aid, is likely to be beyond the ability of the majority of parents to do.

I raised the point about retain the need to specify and quantify provision in the new EHC Plan with the previous Minister, Sarah Teather:

"There needs to be a legal requirement for the EHC Plan to specify and quantify the provision to be made, across education, health and care. The plan has to be legally enforceable, it is is not, then it will not be worth the paper it is written on and parents and children will find themselves in a worse situation than they are now.

Sarah Teather MPs replied:

"The new plan will be legally enforceable in the same way as statement. What we are aiming to do is to add to the protections children and families get and not take away from them."

But the Draft SEN Bill wording for how an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan must describe special educational provision has replaced the current duty to specify with the watered down requirement it to “set out”.

“Setting out’ is not the same as ‘specifying’, and the change of wording may be seen as an intentional difference by the Tribunal and the courts, potentially allowing special educational provision to be described in terms so vague that it will enable LAs to avoid their current legal duty to arrange/secure a specific amount and type of help for the child.

The meaning of ‘specifying’ has been interpreted by thirty years of case law and is fundamental to the child’s entitlement to the provision called for by their SEN.

Leading on from this, without the duty to specify and quantify provision in the EHC Plan, LAs will be not be able to provide a cost for the special educational provision the child needs. So how will LAs calculate the amount needed to be paid in direct payments to parents/children for these services?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I very much look forward to reading your response to the important points that I have raised.

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 11-Nov-12 18:28:48

To Edward Timpson

I like some of the SEN changes, although please keep in place the parental right to request a statutory assessment - that was crucial, as everyone was fobbing me off so I needed that legal right on behalf of my autistic son.

But may i make a more general point about autism education? Until we actually get an effective system of educating autistic children in place, it's all just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

My autistic boy would still be non-verbal and punching me in the face, had I left him in the state autism education - the outdated, ineffective, patronising "TEACCH" system. Or sometimes they say they are using "eclectic" methods - which appears to translate as "we use a bit of everything, except ABA".

We haven't had a proper INDEPENDENT review of autism education for years - would you commission one and ask them to look at ABA - as used in great schools such as Treehouse, Jigsaw, Treetops and Rainbow? It is the only educational methodology which has proved effective in research.

Yet for some reason, the LAs all hate ABA - even though it has got my child talking and curbed his aggression.

I fear that all we are really "educating" our autistic children for in this country is institutionalisation in later life, when they get too big to control. And how are we going to afford that institutionalisation - when the current large numbers of autistic children progress through to adulthood?

And ABA isn't just for severely autistic kids (like my boy) but can also work well for higher functioning kids - for instance, I believe ABA training for LSAs in mainstream education could be a way more cost-effective AND effective of ensuring autistic children can succeed in the mainstream classroom.

Thanks!

AgnesDiPesto Sun 11-Nov-12 19:52:38

Can you answer what the first four posters said please?

I have a 5 year old child with moderate autism and severe language delay thriving in a mainstream school with private ABA support (after being disastrously failed by the usual dire LA offering for 2 years at nursery). I absolutely agree the way forward is to bring more specialist staff and approaches such as ABA into mainstream schools from private providers. The monopoly of LA and NHS staff has not served children with SN well. Early Intensive Behavioural Interventions (EIBI) which are ABA based are the standard treatment for autism from age 1 in other countries - if there was an effective cancer drug out there which other countries used routinely and was denied to UK citizens by the government there would be an outcry. It is unforgivable that our children are being denied an approach like ABA with such solid evidence base in favour of approaches with no evidence or research to show they are effective in mainstream.

If you do nothing else then when LA / NHS providers talk to you ask them for their evidence base and research. Make them prove they can deliver good outcomes, don't take their word for it that a LSA or speech therapist can do a 1 day course and know how to teach a child with autism.

I am another parent in a Pathfinder who has been refused direct payments (for speech therapy) even though it has been recognised the NHS speech therapists are unable to provide what the tribunal wrote into the statement 2 years ago. Apparently my LA believes it has a power not a duty to offer direct payments as a Pathfinder. I understand under the Pathfinder about 5 young adults have received personal budgets (which are cheaper than the previous out of area provision they would have been given) and a very small group of 5 year olds have been assessed using the single plan but it was decided none of them should be offered the chance of a personal budget. This does not seem like £150,000 of Pathfinder money well spent to me.

I also echo the law breaking - not one professional during statutory assessment recommended mainstream nursery for my son and we did not want him to stay there as he was struggling badly. The LA's own EP gave a recommendation my son either continue the ABA programme we had started privately or 'as a minimum' be given a place at the local special school nursery. The LA wrote a statement for 15 hours in mainstream nursery knowing this would fail him and against all the evidence it had received. It took 12 months, a third of my son's life, to get to tribunal to get this obvious abuse of process overturned. LAs use the process to delay paying for children they know will be expensive as long as possible. And there are no sanctions for doing this. The LA knew they would not have to pay any money back for the lost time. I had to remortgage my house to pay for ABA training and give up my career to home educate him. Instead of paying tax I sat at home on Carers Allowance.

Three additional questions:

1. Is it true that Staffordshire Council has 'transferred' its LSA's for disabled children to a private company? Won't this sort of block contract impinge on choice / direct payments / personal budgets? Not all LSAs are provided by the LA - for eg my son's 1:1 support is an ABA specialist from a private not for profit company (as ordered by Tribunal), but presumably if all this is privatised I would be forced to accept the minimum wage untrained LSA the company with the LA block contract wants to provide? As many parents want direct payments to opt out of the shoddy provision LAs & NHS provide, privatisation seems a direct conflict with the policy of more choice. We don't want to be tied into block contracts.

2. Why is legal aid to be limited to only 3 firms, to compulsory telephone advice and why is it on the parent's financial means - not the disabled child's? Surely parents have enough costs to cope with? Research shows early good quality legal advice avoids costs later on. If every parent in dispute with the LA had access to a lawyer then most cases would be sorted out through negotiation without any need for mediation or tribunal; only the cases with genuine expert disputes would go to tribunal. Judges could also use case management powers to stop obvious LA abuse of the process eg defending cases when the evidence does not support the placement they have named and awarding costs as sanctions for blatant abuse.

Brian Lamb advised the SEN tribunal process was now far too complex and dependent on expert reports for children not to have access to legal aid. I am a lawyer and I still had to go to an education specialist to deal with the avalanche of tactics the LA threw at me to stop my son getting ABA at tribunal. It is unreasonable to expect parents to be Erin Brockovich on top of being a carer. It is actually impossible to get a residential placement without an educational psych report recommending a waking day curriculum, children whose parents can't afford this report won't be able to get to the school they need. LAs are increasingly using pubic funds to buy in specialist SEN lawyers, how is it fair one side has unlimited access to lawyers paid for by the public purse and the child has no such right? Isn't this a breach of the rules of natural justice and the human right to an education?

3. Why do you think that mainstream nursery is the right provision for disabled 2 year olds? I am all for expanding entitlement to childcare - but LAs are going to use this as a default way of delivering SN provision to 2 year old children with high level needs. Any child with autism who has merited a diagnosis by age 2 is very unlikely to be able to gain from mainstream nursery - they would be better served by specialist EIBI programmes. Again a policy with no evidence or research to support it. Our children are not guinea pigs, many would find nursery at 2 extremely distressing and frightening. Many will be self harming, have no sense of danger and be 'unreachable' to the untrained staff looking after them.

HotheadPaisan Sun 11-Nov-12 23:10:36

What is the proposed legislative timescale now the pathfinders have been extended to Sept 2014?

MrsjREwing Sun 11-Nov-12 23:32:06

Hello, thankyou for coming to the Webchat.

Please do respond to me, as a rare condition, our cases are often ignored.

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Hypermobility type is a double curse to have. Firstly there is no NHS centre of excellence. Secondly a very high proportion of EDS children have their childhood blighted, family life crushed and their health destroyed by the very high disproportionate false accusations of FII or Munchousens by proxy on their parents. After the state wastes a small fortune, not once has an EDS parent been found guilty. It was at a recent EDS conference that the full extent became clear off the large numbers of EDS families having this added strain in theie lives. If anything EDS people don't complain enough, imagine dislocating joints daily, blacking out, having the runs, tummy pain, headaches to name a few symptoms day in day out? having to carry on and not being treated, not believed, unless your parents pay to go private or you are especially lucky with your GP.

I know William Hague amongst others is being lobbied by constituants to improve overall EDS care.

I know a question about child protection regarding EDS will be discussed in the House of commons in the near future.

I have to pay Professor Grahame £300 to look at each of my children. It is £240 for them to see Dr Ninnis. £150 to get them a table tilt test for PoTS. I haven't even looked into gastro care yet. My 14yo is due to EDS humiliated as she is bowel incontenant dedpite seeing several peads during her childhood. I can't afford the private EDS physio or EDS specialist psychologists for the anxiety and depression EDS physical symptoms cause. NHS GP's, peads, Chams, physio's are ignorant of the condition and can cause harm or neglect to care for EDS children

I am a lone parent, very disabled with EDS myself, I can't afford this private care.

Prof Grahame at St John's and St Elizabeth's or UCL, and Dr Ninnis at St Mary's are who these children should be seeing, they ars not able to get children NHS care.

This is a very disabling condition, it is an invisable condition.

I plead you look into this condition, it is not going to cost much as there are so few.

Sadly EDS people's voices are often not heard, I will be surprised if you notice this and will be shocked if you help!

MrsjREwing Sun 11-Nov-12 23:57:45

I just want to add Minister that EDS parents are very concerned about asking for health plans or Health statements of educational needs as it can bring Social Services to their door and queries of FII on parents as EDS people look normal, apart from the wheelchair the Coronation Street character appears "normal" she has EDS in the show and in reallife. Please do listen to the concerns that will be brought up in the house regarding the disgracefull way child protection has become warped and harmfull towards EDS families instead of helping.

BoffinMum Mon 12-Nov-12 08:26:02

Hello Edward,

One thing that strikes me about SEN provision in England is that Local Authorities seem to mislead and obfuscate regularly about how budgets are allocated, how children have been accommodated, and what the legislation obliges them to do. I brought several choice examples to Sarah's attention during the recent consultation, because they seemed to represent a common issue parents have when navigating the SEN system, that of honesty and transparency. I am wondering if there is anything hard hitting that can be done to discipline LAs and other providers, and give parents and children proper recourse when they have been misinformed and mistreated by public authorities?

TheTimeTravellersWife Mon 12-Nov-12 10:34:16

Firstly, my apologies if I am only allowed one question, but I do have a number of concerns.

Removal of Scrutiny by the public and by Parliament of the drafts of the Code of Practice.

The draft provisions omits the current requirement that the Secretary of State publishes a draft of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice and consults on it, and then lays the result before both Houses for positive resolution.

It is clearly most undemocratic for the Government to remove public and Parliamentary the scrutiny of the detailed regulations.

As so many clauses in the draft Bill refer to the as yet unpublished regulations, I am sure that you will agree that it is essential that these are laid before Parliament and open to scrutiny by Parliament and the public, in order to ensure that the details of the reforms are correct.

The “Devil is in the detail” and these details must be right. At the moment, the Government have asked people for their views on the draft Bill which is effectively asking them to comment on something when they do not know and will have no say on its final form, as much of the detail of the crucial day-to-day operation of the reforms will be in the Regulations (SEN Code of Practice)

As it currently stands, it appears that it is the Government’s intention to merely “rubber stamp” these through parliament.

I would very much welcome the Ministers assurance that this is not the case and confirmation that the revised Code of Practice will be considered in Parliament, and if not, an explanation of why not.

Thank you once again for taking the time to read my concerns.

alison222 Mon 12-Nov-12 13:56:53

I am the parent of a child with SEN who has a statement.
We have fought hard to get this statement drawn up to comply with the current legislation and quantified and specified so that it was clear what provision was due to my son.
I am currently trying to get the LEA to acknowledge that they are are again flouting the law as the current school are refusing to provide all the help as written into the statement sending me instead letters detailing "blanket provision" for children with autism.

I accept that as it stands the current legislation is not working, but have some grave reservation about the proposed new bill.

First and foremost it seems to remove all parental rights to request assessment, to have their views taken into account and to generally be involved in the whole process. The way that it is currently written gives more power to the LEA to "think" that things are appropriate without giving any justification for their position and therefore cannot be held accountable.

The current draft legislation does not seem to properly unify health and education as these plans are only available for children with SEN's and also that they only refer to educational matters, so that it is not clear how any issues with health provision will be resolved. Additionally, it is unclear to me how the distinction between health and educational provision will be made as the two are often inseparably intertwined and I can foresee the LEA saying it is the responsibility of health and vice versa and no satisfactory provision being make at all.

You said in the education committee meeting last week that you did not want to impose minimum standard on the LEA's when they "set out" their provision This will surely lead to a postcode lottery. I am also concerned that you did not want to impose enforceability to actually provide what is in the local offer and that there will be no time-scales as there currently are in all stages of the care plan process.

I am very concerned that you intend to downgrade the status of the replacement for the SENCOP and that you do not intend to run a consultation regarding its contents and see it as a document that can easily be changed. To a parent navigating the current system this rings alarm bells about its enforceability and legal status, and I worry that you have plans to dilute the legislation at a later date quietly and without any recourse.

Now that you have read my concerns, my question to you is how you are going to resolve them, and those of all the other people who have asked questions before me, without diluting the rights of the children and parents and without allowing the LEA's to be more able to "ignore" the legislation as they see fit, given the dilution in duties in the proposed legislation

JIAR Mon 12-Nov-12 14:32:35

Mencap have also put a survey up asking for the response of parents of children with SEN to the reforms. It's a good chance to feed your thoughts in so they can use it to inform their work and pass on to government. It can be accessed via this page: http://www.mencap.org.uk/campaigns/what-we-campaign-about/children-and-young-people

JIAR Mon 12-Nov-12 14:33:21

Sorry, this page is better! http://www.mencap.org.uk/campaigns/what-we-campaign-about/children-and-young-people/sen-clauses-children-and-families-bill

1701tribbles Mon 12-Nov-12 16:48:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Iceflower Mon 12-Nov-12 18:13:38

Welcome, Mr Timpson. A lot of the questions I wanted to ask have already been asked smile. However I would like to know if you will impose a minimum timescale for the issue of the new EHC plan.

I would also like to know what will happen to statemented children reaching the age of 16, given that the new school leaving age will be 17 this academic year. Will their statements continue to 17, and will they be given an EHC plan up to 25 years?

1701tribbles Mon 12-Nov-12 18:15:25

Mr Timpson,

My 17 year old son has special needs and requires support from a variety of different services on a regular basis.

It is a daily battle for us to make it to all these appointments, some of which are a long way away, while still doing ‘normal’ things like going shopping and spending time together as a family, as well as going out to work.

Scope is running a campaign to support families like ours, by making sure the services we need are closer to home. You have talked about the ‘local offer’, but will you go beyond this to require councils to provide these services locally?

PassionateMum Mon 12-Nov-12 18:22:09

My question is simple. Why won't he be straight? This is still an education only system being proposed. No stronger legal duty on social care or health to take part in the assessment process or make provision. Not what we were promised! It even takes away rights we already have. Just read the proposed provisions - if he can't do that read IPSEA's analysis. Do not mislead us any longer. Life is already complicated enough!!!!

carocaro Mon 12-Nov-12 20:01:24

Dyslexia is not recognised as a special need when it comes to needing a scribe and/or reader suring SATS and exams (primary & secondary), you have to have 'phonological processing problems' to get a reader and/or a scribe' but some dyslexia is not to do with phonological processing, but other traits associated with dyslexia which make doing exams in the same time and same way as everyone else much much harder and very unfair. Therefore you never get to the true core of a child's measure as their ability is trapped under the issues they are faced with. If they had the scribe/reader to do the exam and more time, results would be much better and show the child's true abilities, leading to better reults, higher self confidence and self esteem and more likelyhood to go into further education with the right support.

80% of the prison population are said to be dyslexic/have dyslexia issues, imagine what that figure could be is intervention, support and help were given in early years provision? Money in early years = a lot less on prisons in later life. Of course all dyslexics don't end up on prison but I hope this illustrates the point.

Getting support in schools for dyslexic students is so hit and miss, dependent upon each LEA, so my question is, why is there not a robust, comprehensive plan which tackles the dyslexia issue in early years education?

And please don't tell me there is one because I have called the Department for Education and they tell me there is not one at present and that the Sir Jim Rose reccomendations are now obsolete as they were carried under the previous administration. In fact, no one could give me any clue as to whether that was to be one.

carocaro Mon 12-Nov-12 20:06:40

Search 'dyslexia' on the DoE website and you get very old results, one a video about a buddy reading system and the other from 2009, the rest of from 1999, 2002 - it is 2012!

HecatePropylaea Mon 12-Nov-12 20:08:43

What I want is an assurance that needs will be met.

what's this guff I've been hearing about "best endeavours"? Can you confirm categorically that this is an unfounded rumour and that it is NOT true that authorities will only have to use their "best endeavours", which, you know (even if you won't admit it!), will lead to them not meeting need and saying, well, we used our "best endeavours". Can you confirm clearly that "best endeavours" will not appear in the legislation and authorities will be required to actually MEET need, not just tell a parent that they really tried their best but it just wasn't possible.

I once had a discussion during a statement review where I ended up saying that it was no different to my son breaking his leg and going to the hospital with his bone poking out of his leg and being told oh, we don't have anyone to put a cast on your leg, therefore it isn't broken.

It is a statement of NEED. Needs should be put in there. But they're not. Because then they'd have to meet them. Instead you get wishy washy language that doesn't pin them down.

And as a second question. Or comment. Or just something for you to think about. Do you have any idea how much we save the government and country? If all of us who are carers said ok, you know what, we're done. We're fed up of this. You are now going to care for our children - and our adult children! (and our parents, grandparents etc!) you know the country couldn't afford it, don't you? you need us. You (government you, not you you) rely on the fact that we're not going to turn around and tell you to deal with it. You couldn't cope if we did that. And I think we deserve a lot more respect, consideration and acknowledgement than we've ever had to date. We save you a fortune and we do a damned good job. Day in. Day out. With bog all help. That's worth something.

LineRunner Mon 12-Nov-12 20:31:26

Dear Edward,

If Mumsnet users were able to get together and support you on one big idea, that could actually happen, what would it be?

Delalakis Mon 12-Nov-12 22:31:32

I question why there is any need for a new Bill at all. Why not simply amend the Education Act 1996? The draft Bill is the result of the Green Paper, but since the draft abandons the Green Paper proposals for a properly unified EHC Plan - because it has abandoned any pretence that the social care and health elements will be either appealable or enforceable - it seems to be largely pointless. The new Bill is dangerous because it omits or changes valuable provisions in the Education Act, particularly with regard to the right to request statutory assessment, the duty to detail and specify provision, the retention of statements when a decision to cease to maintain is being challenged, and the need for Parliamentary scrutiny of the Code of Practice. These are all matters which will harm disabled children and will simply lead to voluminous and extensive litigation. Therefore it makes much more sense simply to add into the existing litigation points such as the extension of provision to age 25 and leave the rest alone.

LottieJenkins Mon 12-Nov-12 22:34:31

Hi Edward. I struggled to get amendments to my sons statements. LEA's dont like altering them. My son is profoundly deaf and uses Total Communication. I wanted his home school language on his statement to reflect this and say English/BSL. I was told the LEA would consider it. Luckily they did amend it to what i had asked for. Parents shouldnt have to struggle to get amendments!!!

Reading the eloquent & articulate questions and summaries above I feel guilty for posting my concerns, but if you get time please consider the following.

My DS has been supported on school action since end of Reception (England) for literacy, numeracy and behaviour. He is now in Yr 3 and is assessed at 1B - 2C for literacy and Maths. He has received support for behaviour and social situations. However what I find most frustrating as a parent (and taxpayer) is that no-one seems interested in finding out what the real problem is. They try to treat the end result but clearly as we all know different issues will require different treatment. Please can you ensure that the "birth to 25 Education, Health and Care Plan" will allow parents a much greater say. My attempts so far for referral to community paedeatrician have been delayed as greater emphasis was put on feedback from school. Now clearly schools have a vested interest (like LAs) in not using external resource (due to budget).

Another matter is that my son is very late summer born and would have benefitted enormously from being in the year below the academic year that I was forced to send him in if he remained in the state system. There is much evidence that shows that many summer born children particularly boys are behind their peer group and diagnosed as special needs. Why not do the sensible thing and let these children defer a year if their parents believe that to be best? It would probably mean that less support would be required for this group and the resources can be better focussed. As things currently stand my son is working with children nearly a year older than him, requires pretty much 1:1 support in most lessons, yet he is bright and able. The impact on confidence is dreadful to watch. This issue was raised last year about the high numbers of summer born children being diagnosed with special needs - under the current state system many do require high levels of intervention yet simple measures to deal with this have not been taken. Shocking when government resource is scarce and needs to be managed efficiently.

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 06:59:36

Good point very confused, often mainstream inclusion is equated with 'doing what everyone else does as everyone else does it', this is an impossible thing to ask of many children with SEND.

Eliza22 Tue 13-Nov-12 08:22:28

I need reassurance, Mr Timpson.

I fought hard and long for my son's Statement. It took years, despite a diagnosis aged 4 and a lot of support from professionals. We were told he did not meet the criteria. In short, he wasn't "bad enough". Years later, having pushed for the "unnecessary" Statement, it has made the difference in getting into a mainstream primary setting, which was excellent for kids with autism. He's now in mainstream secondary with SEN Attachment (unit) which again, is exactly what he has needed. Places for this school were very tight. HE WOULD NOT HAVE GAINED A PLACE, WITHOUT HIS STATMENT. I consider that we have been extremely lucky.

I should add that one primary school setting we visited, made it very clear that they would find it difficult to "deal" with my son's needs, referring to him as being one of "these difficult placements". My son has high functioning ASD.

I am reluctant to let the Statement go. What can you say to me to convince me that a blanket plan for all will cover my individual son's needs?

BoffinMum Tue 13-Nov-12 08:59:54

I am reading through other people's questions on this thread and the anxiety and distress parents suffer over these issues is palpable. Is there anything that can be done to reduce the personal impact of necessarily cumbersome bureaucracy on families with disabled children? Currently having disabled children means a double whammy of misfortune - massive personal responsibility combined with the need to enter the SEN war zone and battle on a daily basis, often paying out a lot if money in order to be able to battle. This can't be right in a civilised society, can it?

The whole system is corrupt, what happened to EDCM etc ??

My son has been left at home for over 3 year with no services thats needed while the LEA chose to disregard his issues/disabilities. His statement has been sent to 5 neighboroing LA's with no luck, no one can meet his needs. Limbo !!

To clarify the matter DS has a well known syndrome as well as a few other disabilities that profs seem to steer clear of, quite severe in his needs, can be 2:1 never mind 1:1, he has been statemented from 2 year old and has attended special school since then, until his stress and anxiety that school caused him meant he could no longer face it. Stress and anxiety caused by issues he has declared and been told.....it's not!!!

So where do you go when the whole system is failing??

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 10:24:45

Bureaucracy can be essential safeguards. its breaking rules not rules themselves causes problems. Blatant ignoring or down playing needs. We won ten times cost of LA provision at tribunal a massive margin of error for a 3 year old. How can a LA be so far out without competence being questioned. Short term gamekeeping just leads higher costs later.

Queenmarigold Tue 13-Nov-12 10:28:00

I totally agree with all that has been said on here - and look forward to the answers.

The other issue I would like to see discussed is the issue of disability living allowance.
- It is currently not enough, I have had to take a pay cut of £15K so I can take care of my child and I need that money to pay for sp. equipment and educational provisions
- It is being Cut like other benefits - to what? This is so very scary it is threatening our home

HecatePropylaea Tue 13-Nov-12 10:49:07

Yes. money is an issue.

When you consider that for each and every person WE care for, we save the country thousands of pounds per month (and in some cases, per week). THOUSANDS. - you would think that we would be supported a little bit better.

I would like to see them cope if they had to care for every disabled person in the country because their current family carers refused to do so any more.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:00:16

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all? I think this is absoutley crazy, what will come of these children?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This bill should not be passed it protects the Local Authorties not our children!

Our children will NOT befefit from this bill.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:03:46

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:04:28

Sorry didn't mean to post twice!!

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:20:02

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

Coukd you tell me please personal budgets will work?

Will it be: 'This is what the child needs, and this is what it costs us, so lets offer 2/3 of that to parents to deliver it themselves'?

Or will it be 'Lets only recruit professionals who are likely to underplay or completely miss the needs of the children so they don't cost us much when the parents ask for the personal budgets'?

And what form of appeal will there be if an LA refuses?

Finally, why have you named the local offer 'offer'?. I prefer the term delivery as it gives me a glimmer of hope that some families might actually be able to get access to it.

And for a second question, if allowed, can you tell me why the system enabled my LA to use taxpayers money to put up a barrister against my appeal for my son to have ABA provision despite my being able to demonstrate not only that it was cost effective over his lifetime, but cheaper in the current financial year?

FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 11:26:20

Hi Ed- this is a question from UK disability charity Scope

Over the past few weeks, significant numbers of users on Mumsnet, Gransnet and other parenting communities have contacted their MPs in support Scope’s ‘Keep us Close’ campaign for local services for disabled families.

As other posters have mentioned, you have spoken about the need for a ‘local offer’. Many would like to know if you will commit to go beyond this by requiring councils to provide services for disabled families locally?

JeanBillie Tue 13-Nov-12 11:28:37

Would you ever consider a Nadine Dorries-style approach to getting your message out to a wider audience?

insanityscratching Tue 13-Nov-12 11:39:38

Presently parents have the option of complaining to the LGO when LA's fail to meet their statutory duty. My experience has been that the LGO seemingly don't understand the legislation that the LEA's seemingly flout without hesitation and therefore parents have no real course of redress whilst waiting upwards of five months to get to SENDt. Are there any plans to review the efficacy of the LGO?

Sorry, posted too soon:

can you tell me why the system enabled my LA to use taxpayers money to put up a barrister against my appeal for my son to have ABA provision despite my being able to demonstrate not only that it was cost effective over his lifetime, but cheaper in the current financial year?

What protection do parents have from the stress these kind of tactics and wastage of taxpayers money, and does the new legislation hold LAs to account for such expenditure that appears to be about keeping money in-house rather than spent on the needs of the child?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 11:51:49

Testing

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 11:57:47

Hi everyone Edward Timpson the Children and Families Minister here. It's great to get the opportunity to chat with you all today and learn more about your views on special educational needs and our planned reforms. I know many of you will have already made your voice heard through the development of the Green Paper and the consultation, but as the new Minister I am keen to listen to what you have to say. I will do my best to answer as many of the points raised as fast as my fingers can type, but any points we don't manage to cover , we will follow up afterwards.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:02:34

Eliza22

I need reassurance, Mr Timpson.

I fought hard and long for my son's Statement. It took years, despite a diagnosis aged 4 and a lot of support from professionals. We were told he did not meet the criteria. In short, he wasn't "bad enough". Years later, having pushed for the "unnecessary" Statement, it has made the difference in getting into a mainstream primary setting, which was excellent for kids with autism. He's now in mainstream secondary with SEN Attachment (unit) which again, is exactly what he has needed. Places for this school were very tight. HE WOULD NOT HAVE GAINED A PLACE, WITHOUT HIS STATMENT. I consider that we have been extremely lucky.

I should add that one primary school setting we visited, made it very clear that they would find it difficult to "deal" with my son's needs, referring to him as being one of "these difficult placements". My son has high functioning ASD.

I am reluctant to let the Statement go. What can you say to me to convince me that a blanket plan for all will cover my individual son's needs?

Thanks for your question Eliza. To reassure you our reforms intend to continue the current definition of SEN, but to ensure a much smoother transition from primary to secondary and then onto education post 16, we are introducing a single Education Health and Care Plan that can run from age 0 - 25, helping someone in your son's position get a more seamless plan that brings all the services he needs closer together both in terms of joint commissioning and delivery.

kaz1119 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:04:09

Dear Edward,

I have a child with a complex and severe disability and my child has recently been statemented. As you might be well aware, a statement does need to specify and quantify provision. My child’s statement does not. We are going to tribunal over our LA’s refusal to issue a statement that is in line with current legislation. We cannot afford legal representation. However, our LA will attend the tribunal with a tax payer funded legal team. My disabled child on the other hand has no access to legal representation.

How will the changes to the current ensure that:
a)LA will no longer be able to use delaying tactics in order to prevent children with SEN to access the provision they need in order to make progress?
b)How will you ensure that the disable child has access to legal representation when faced with an LA that is clearly not meeting its statutory duty in meeting the child’s needs.

Oh, and will I be able to access ABA under the 'local offer'?

Thank you.

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 12:05:06

Who owns the creation and implementation of the plan? What legal redress if there if any part of the plan is not implemented?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:08:13

HotheadPaisan

Welcome, glad to have the opportunity to speak with you.

So, the main issues I think are this:

I am concerned existing case law will be discarded and we will have to start new litigation to establish what is and isn't covered, how can this be avoided?

The extension to 25 is good but could be done with existing legislation, why not just do that?

You can't go to SENDT for the health and social care aspects, so why include them? It might just delay things and there will be no redress.

Mediation is no good unless it's completely independent and voluntary and does not add to already lengthy timescales, can it be changed to state that?

There is nothing that penalises LAs financially for flouting the existing laws, how will this change under these proposals?

Some Pathfinders aren't releasing the funds to trial education direct payments, how can they be made to?

The right of parents to request an assessment needs to be explicit, this has got a bit lost, will it be made clear?

What process will SENCOP and any regulations accompanying the proposals go through? If the guidance isn't statutory it will not improve things.

In a nutshell, I think you could achieve the key aims - help to 25 and education direct payments, by extending existing SEN legislation and introducing financial penalties for LAs who flout the law, why not just do this?

Some good questions. To make it absolutely clear to all Mumsnet users the protections that parents have under the current system will be carried forward into the new system. That includes the right to request an assessment as well including new rights, such as the right to request a specific school in your EHCPlan. These rights will also be extended from 0 - 25. As I said at the Select Committee last week, if we need to make this clearer in the draft legislation we will do so.

The legislation will also bring further improvements and benefits, including the joint commissioning of services and the development with parents and young people of a local offer that sets out what services are available in the local area, how to access them and how to make a complaint.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:09:48

JeanBillie

Would you ever consider a Nadine Dorries-style approach to getting your message out to a wider audience?

My fear of snakes would I suspect preclude me from taking a similar approach!

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:12:46

HotheadPaisan

What is the proposed legislative timescale now the pathfinders have been extended to Sept 2014?

Happy to clarify. It's still our intention to introduce legislation early in the new year. The extension of the pathfinders is to both continue to learn from them and help shape the regulations and code of practice to come as well as help those areas outside of pathfinders prepare for the new system. I have been encouraged by some of the innovative work going on in the pathfinders.

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 12:15:35

Will children get free legal representation to go to SENDT?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:15:52

kaz1119

Dear Edward,

I have a child with a complex and severe disability and my child has recently been statemented. As you might be well aware, a statement does need to specify and quantify provision. My child?s statement does not. We are going to tribunal over our LA?s refusal to issue a statement that is in line with current legislation. We cannot afford legal representation. However, our LA will attend the tribunal with a tax payer funded legal team. My disabled child on the other hand has no access to legal representation.

How will the changes to the current ensure that:
a)LA will no longer be able to use delaying tactics in order to prevent children with SEN to access the provision they need in order to make progress?
b)How will you ensure that the disable child has access to legal representation when faced with an LA that is clearly not meeting its statutory duty in meeting the child?s needs.

Oh, and will I be able to access ABA under the 'local offer'?

Thank you.

Thanks for those points. We want to change the whole system so that parents and young people are fully involved right from the start so that cases like yours are far less common but where necessary parents will still have access to the tribunal and it is being extended to post 16 too. Current access to legal aid will remain.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:16:19

Will you add home programmes like aba to types of education parents can request of right.

so what happens when theres conflict abd the child is slipping through the net, where do you turn?

Statemented child from 2 year old, severe!!

See previous Q.

and not abd blush

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:19:51

FrancesMumsnet

Hi Ed- this is a question from UK disability charity Scope

Over the past few weeks, significant numbers of users on Mumsnet, Gransnet and other parenting communities have contacted their MPs in support Scope?s ?Keep us Close? campaign for local services for disabled families.

As other posters have mentioned, you have spoken about the need for a ?local offer?. Many would like to know if you will commit to go beyond this by requiring councils to provide services for disabled families locally?

Hello Scope - good to hear from you. We want parents and young people to be involved in the development of their local offer so that they can best and most easily identify local needs and the services required to meet them. We don't think a national presciption is the best approach, but we are looking closely at how pathfinders are co-ordinating their local offers so they are as transparent and robust as possible.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:21:11

Current access to legal aid is on parents income and you have to be very low income qualify. An EP report and attendance at tribunal is £2500. How can parents who have given up work to care afford this. base legal aid on Childs means

kaz1119 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:24:23

Thank you for answering.

You said that Current access to legal aid will remain..

however, we are above the income threshold for legal aid but too poor to afford legal representation. I think this applies to a lot of families. so clearly, children like my child will remain without access to legal help.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:24:31

Iceflower

Welcome, Mr Timpson. A lot of the questions I wanted to ask have already been asked smile. However I would like to know if you will impose a minimum timescale for the issue of the new EHC plan.

I would also like to know what will happen to statemented children reaching the age of 16, given that the new school leaving age will be 17 this academic year. Will their statements continue to 17, and will they be given an EHC plan up to 25 years?

On timescales, we are looking at this and will be using the code of practice and regulations to set out how we intend to do this. Unlike the current system where at 16 you move into a different system, EHC Plans will flow from 0 - 25 rather than the current staement stopping at 16 and then moving on to an LDA. this has to be better.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:25:37

EdwardTimpsonMP

StarlightMcKenzie

Coukd you tell me please personal budgets will work?

Will it be: 'This is what the child needs, and this is what it costs us, so lets offer 2/3 of that to parents to deliver it themselves'?

Or will it be 'Lets only recruit professionals who are likely to underplay or completely miss the needs of the children so they don't cost us much when the parents ask for the personal budgets'?

And what form of appeal will there be if an LA refuses?

Finally, why have you named the local offer 'offer'?. I prefer the term delivery as it gives me a glimmer of hope that some families might actually be able to get access to it.

Sorry about that!

On personal budgets, local authorities will need to be sure that the needs identified in the Education Health and Care Plan can be met, and so will need to ensure that there is sufficient money in the budget to do so - and provide support to parents in using their personal budget. So local authorities will not be able to use personal budgets to side step their legal responsibilities.

would love to know what was said to be deleted wink

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:27:17

devientenigma

would love to know what was said to be deleted wink

Nothing - I pressed 'post message' by mistake before writing anything!

insanityscratching Tue 13-Nov-12 12:29:08

Our son's tribunal cost us around £20,000 as we were forced to use an educational law solicitor and a barrister as the LA completely disregarded the law. Only when we had a date for Judicial Review because of irrationality did the LA place our son in the only school able to meet his needs. Still the LA would not agree parts two and three of the statement eventually pulling out two days before Tribunal with the statement word for word as we had wanted six months previously.The costs incurred by us were entirely pointless and were due to incompetence and timewasting on the behalf of the LA whilst my son fell to pieces and was without a school place. The LA no doubt incurred equal costs that were in effect wasted revenues as we secured the provision we wanted without going to JR or SENDt. How do you suggest that the new legislation will make it more difficult for the LA's to evade their statutory duty when you consider drawing health and care into the mix too?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:29:48

kaz1119

Thank you for answering.

You said that Current access to legal aid will remain..

however, we are above the income threshold for legal aid but too poor to afford legal representation. I think this applies to a lot of families. so clearly, children like my child will remain without access to legal help.

As I said in an earlier post, we want to change the system so that parents and young people are involved right from the start, helping shape their plan and local offer. This is to move away from the battles that parents tell us they all too often face now. By taking away the confrontational nature of current system, the need for redress should fall, but we are introducing mediation by an independent mediator to help resolve as many cases as possible to avoid the need for a tribunal. In the West Midlands for example 4 out of 5 cases were resolved at mediation. The courts service will pay for the administrative costs of the tribunal and the system is designed so that legal representation isn't a prerequisite to a fair hearing.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:31:44

Yes kaz there are lawyers on here who have had to go into debt to hire sen lawyers as the LA has made the case so complex. Brian lamb said this years ago but report buried

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:32:32

I wonder if I could press you on your pathfinder authorities who are, nationwide, largely refusing to trial SEN direct payments in accordance with the law. What are you doing about this? It has been brought to the DoE and Ms Teather's attention

coff33pot Tue 13-Nov-12 12:33:13

My child was abused, misunderstood, confined because that was what they prefered to do. He had a full statement of 25 hrs not being implemented and there was nothing I could do about it. I emailed Mr Gove telling him this schools method of running (ofsted outstanding?) and that it was an academy. Told him Cornwall lacks in services and understanding and could he help the children of this school as mine was not the only child suffering.

Got a standard reply template to contact LGO. I pulled my son out of school as I had no choice and it would have cost £8000 to take an academy to tribunal I would not get legal aid either as self employed.

Out of all this reform business what we want as parents is the schools to take responsibility for their actions and actually implement a statement. Which we are told is a legally binding document?

How is this reform going to guarantee that our children are going to be provided for? How is this reform going to guarantee that if parents receive direct payments and send proffessionals to school that the schools will accept it.

Parents and their children need to see something lock tight Mr Timpson because the stress breaks families.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:33:48

did the children subject to mediation get 100% needs met or did parents feel obligated to compromise

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:34:53

TheTimeTravellersWife

I am a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs, who has a Statement of SEN. She is currently attending our local village mainstream primary, with a significant level of support, which we only obtained after taking the Local Education Authority to the SENDIST Tribunal.

What will happen in the case of children who already have Statements of SEN? Will they have to go through the Statutory Assessment process again? This would be unnecessarily costly for the LA and stressful for parents. Ideally, their Statements will be seamlessly converted to EHC Plans, without the need for re-assessment.

The Tribunal should be able to take into account unreasonable behaviour by LA during the process of the appeal. In my own case, the LA wilfully ignored the professional advice obtained during the Statutory Assessment; which is the reason why we needed to appeal. We wrote to the LA during the appeal, with a copy of the working document, and they refused to negotiate with us. This is totally unreasonable behaviour. The Statement was unlawful, as it did not specify and quantify provision, as required by the Code of Practice.

However, there are no effective sanctions available when LAs behave in this manner, other than for parents to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. The Tribunal agreed that my daughter required the level of support that was recommended by the professional reports and ordered the LA to amend her Statement accordingly. We suffered stress and expense solely due to the unreasonable attitude of the LA. The Draft SEN Bill proposes compulsory mediation, whilst the Green Paper acknowledged that mediation to date has not worked. Compulsory mediation will prove a failure and simply add to an extension of the overall time-scales involved and parental frustration.

The assessment process should be independent from the Local Education Authority or from the Health Authority, who sadly, will both be influenced by their budgetary constraints.

The Draft Bill does nothing to resolve the inherent conflict of interest between the LA both assessing and being responsible for providing special educational provision. In 2006, the House of Commons Select Committee recommended that ?the link must be broken between assessment and funding of provision?, having concluded that ?there is an inbuilt conflict of interest in that it is the duty of the local authority both to assess the needs of the child and to arrange provision to meet those needs, and all within a limited resource.?

It is not unknown for LAs to issue unlawful Statements, that fail to specify and quantify provision, as required by the Code of Practice, as at present there are no sanctions or penalties if they act in this way. The only redress that parents have is an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. LAs have at their disposal well staffed legal departments and ready access to education solicitors, LA Educational Psychologists and others. Parents do not; they either have to represent themselves or obtain legal advice, which is expensive, as are independent expert reports.

An appeal to SEND takes on average 6/7 months, and during that time LA know that they will save money by issuing Statements that do not properly support the child with SEN.

The system is stacked against parents, in favour of the Local Authority. This has to change. But the Draft SEN Bill does nothing to improve the position of parents.

The SEND Tribunal should be able to make an award of costs against a LA that has acted unreasonably - issuing an unlawful Statement is clearly unreasonable!

The threat of having an award of costs made against them by the SEND Tribunal would be far more effective in reaching agreement before Tribunal than the proposal for compulsory mediation.

At the moment no one is responsible for ensuring that LAs meet their legal obligations towards children with SEN. By default the task falls on parents and those organisations in the voluntary sector who advise and support them. When parents challenge LAs it is on an individual basis.

The SEND Annual report reveals enormous differences between the number of appeals lodged per LA; the reasons behind this need investigating. Some LAs habitual flout the current laws on SEN and hence, the higher number of appeals made to SEND. More importantly, the children of parents who either are unaware of the possibility of challenge, or who do not have the resources to challenge decisions, are disadvantaged if they live in LA that persistently and deliberate flout the law and with unlawful local policies on assessment and provision for special needs.

The SEND Tribunal have no power to compel an LA to change its SEN policy and practice in carrying out its duties, despite having heard repeated evidence on the same issue with the same Authority e.g. on speech and language therapy provision. This is an inefficient use of Tribunal expertise and resources as well as those of the LA.

The Government needs to take action against authorities which have "unwritten policies" applied through custom and practice which nevertheless result in unlawful Statements being issued, otherwise these practices will continue with the new EHCP. Central government need to provide information and training re: the local authorities? role, so that they can all know their responsibilities, and put into practice what is needed. Financial sanctions should be introduced for local authorities that do not comply with the SEN Statutory Framework.

There needs to be a better method of ensuring that the provision set out in the Statement/EHCP is provided. At the moment, the only method is by going to Judicial Review, which with proposed cuts to legal aid, is likely to be beyond the ability of the majority of parents to do.

I raised the point about retain the need to specify and quantify provision in the new EHC Plan with the previous Minister, Sarah Teather:

"There needs to be a legal requirement for the EHC Plan to specify and quantify the provision to be made, across education, health and care. The plan has to be legally enforceable, it is is not, then it will not be worth the paper it is written on and parents and children will find themselves in a worse situation than they are now.

Sarah Teather MPs replied:

"The new plan will be legally enforceable in the same way as statement. What we are aiming to do is to add to the protections children and families get and not take away from them."

But the Draft SEN Bill wording for how an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan must describe special educational provision has replaced the current duty to specify with the watered down requirement it to ?set out?.

?Setting out? is not the same as ?specifying?, and the change of wording may be seen as an intentional difference by the Tribunal and the courts, potentially allowing special educational provision to be described in terms so vague that it will enable LAs to avoid their current legal duty to arrange/secure a specific amount and type of help for the child.

The meaning of ?specifying? has been interpreted by thirty years of case law and is fundamental to the child?s entitlement to the provision called for by their SEN.

Leading on from this, without the duty to specify and quantify provision in the EHC Plan, LAs will be not be able to provide a cost for the special educational provision the child needs. So how will LAs calculate the amount needed to be paid in direct payments to parents/children for these services?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I very much look forward to reading your response to the important points that I have raised.

Thanks for a thoughtful post. On the question of those children currently statemented, they will lose none of their services deemed appropriate within their current statement when moving to an EHCPlan. I want to make the transition from one system to the other as simple and straightforward for parents as possible and am considering how best to do this without causing too much pressure on the system as a whole.

On the 'set out' 'specify' point, the intention is not to change the duties or rights under the current system going forward and I have said I am happy to go back and endure the legislation is clear ion this point.

Thank you Edward.

'So local authorities will not be able to use personal budgets to side step their legal responsibilities.'

The current lack of accountability and reckless flouting of the law is why the system doesn't work at the moment, and the regulatory bodies are toothless, unable and often unqualified to ensure the laws are uphead which perpetuates it. Given that they side step their legal responsibilities already, how will this new system be regulated to ensure they no longer can?

Hayleybailey Tue 13-Nov-12 12:36:59

Edward,

What experience do you have of children with special educational needs and disabilities?! How can you know what impact your reforms will have if you don't?

Hayley

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:37:14

" By taking away the confrontational nature of current system, the need for redress should fall, but we are introducing mediation ..."

Isn't the problem that we pretend (and so do Tribunals) that this is an inquisitorial system when actually we need to be more honest: the SEN process is a de facto adversarial one.

So, let's allow legal aid, put witnesses on oath and make LAs explain in writing the decisions they take about provision. Let them be judicially reviewable for those decisions and let them be subject to costs orders for prevarication.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:37:47

Confrontation comes from aggressive gamekeeping not the current rules. You have to stop LA pretending children are less disabled than they are and schools are equipped to deal high level sen when they are not.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:38:05

MrsjREwing

Hello, thankyou for coming to the Webchat.

Please do respond to me, as a rare condition, our cases are often ignored.

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) Hypermobility type is a double curse to have. Firstly there is no NHS centre of excellence. Secondly a very high proportion of EDS children have their childhood blighted, family life crushed and their health destroyed by the very high disproportionate false accusations of FII or Munchousens by proxy on their parents. After the state wastes a small fortune, not once has an EDS parent been found guilty. It was at a recent EDS conference that the full extent became clear off the large numbers of EDS families having this added strain in theie lives. If anything EDS people don't complain enough, imagine dislocating joints daily, blacking out, having the runs, tummy pain, headaches to name a few symptoms day in day out? having to carry on and not being treated, not believed, unless your parents pay to go private or you are especially lucky with your GP.

I know William Hague amongst others is being lobbied by constituants to improve overall EDS care.

I know a question about child protection regarding EDS will be discussed in the House of commons in the near future.

I have to pay Professor Grahame £300 to look at each of my children. It is £240 for them to see Dr Ninnis. £150 to get them a table tilt test for PoTS. I haven't even looked into gastro care yet. My 14yo is due to EDS humiliated as she is bowel incontenant dedpite seeing several peads during her childhood. I can't afford the private EDS physio or EDS specialist psychologists for the anxiety and depression EDS physical symptoms cause. NHS GP's, peads, Chams, physio's are ignorant of the condition and can cause harm or neglect to care for EDS children

I am a lone parent, very disabled with EDS myself, I can't afford this private care.

Prof Grahame at St John's and St Elizabeth's or UCL, and Dr Ninnis at St Mary's are who these children should be seeing, they ars not able to get children NHS care.

This is a very disabling condition, it is an invisable condition.

I plead you look into this condition, it is not going to cost much as there are so few.

Sadly EDS people's voices are often not heard, I will be surprised if you notice this and will be shocked if you help!

Thanks for sharing this with me and I am sorry to read of your struggles. I will of course raise this with the Department of Health on the back of your post

I see you were quick with that comment, but not my others hmm

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:40:09

Gatekeep!

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:40:10

coff33pot

My child was abused, misunderstood, confined because that was what they prefered to do. He had a full statement of 25 hrs not being implemented and there was nothing I could do about it. I emailed Mr Gove telling him this schools method of running (ofsted outstanding?) and that it was an academy. Told him Cornwall lacks in services and understanding and could he help the children of this school as mine was not the only child suffering.

Got a standard reply template to contact LGO. I pulled my son out of school as I had no choice and it would have cost £8000 to take an academy to tribunal I would not get legal aid either as self employed.

Out of all this reform business what we want as parents is the schools to take responsibility for their actions and actually implement a statement. Which we are told is a legally binding document?

How is this reform going to guarantee that our children are going to be provided for? How is this reform going to guarantee that if parents receive direct payments and send proffessionals to school that the schools will accept it.

Parents and their children need to see something lock tight Mr Timpson because the stress breaks families.

Thank you for your post - I am very sorry for the stress you and other parents with similar stories have been through. The draft provision puts clear duties on local authorities to ensure that the EHC Plan is implemented and on schools to work with local authorities to do so. We are testing through the pathfinders practical issues around the operation of personal budget, including other professionals coming into schools.

MrsjREwing Tue 13-Nov-12 12:40:39

I am so so gratefull, thank you.

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 12:42:19

Mr Timpson, many people here have asked what sanctions will be enforced against LAs that flout the laws regarding SEN provision. I have failed to read an answer from you on that specific point. I'd be really interested to hear what you have to say.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:42:47

straweberryjelly

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ?quantify? or ?specify? provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents? rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

I know how nervous many parents are about the changes we are bringing forward and it is only right that they question what it will mean in practice for them and their family. To re-emphasise it is not our intention to dilute the rights that parents and young people have under the current system. In fact, with the extension of the exisiting rights to 0 - 25 and the inclusion of joint commissioning and a duty on health, education and social care services to co-operate, I believe parents will be in a stronger system as a result of the reforms.

'So, let's allow legal aid, put witnesses on oath and make LAs explain in writing the decisions they take about provision. Let them be judicially reviewable for those decisions and let them be subject to costs orders for prevarication.'

Yes. I'd like to see this too. And I would expect it to drastically reduce costs, and ensure an effective system and an effective education once it had bedded down, not to mention bring about huge savings in adult services when the children that have been recipients of such an accountable and transparant effective system become adults.

Would you consider these suggestions?

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 12:45:04

Without accountability and penalties, nothing will change.

I'm not nervous about change, I am anxious that an opportunity has been lost.

It looks to me like all we are doing is changing the paint on a crumbling structure.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:46:25

Snorbs

Mr Timpson, many people here have asked what sanctions will be enforced against LAs that flout the laws regarding SEN provision. I have failed to read an answer from you on that specific point. I'd be really interested to hear what you have to say.

Routes of redress to hold LAs to account include the tribunal system, which we are extending, Ofsted inspections, the Local Government Ombudsman, other local accountability structures and, in some instances where a LA acts unreasonably or breaks the law, the Secretary of State.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:46:37

But the LA is both assessor and funder. They just write plans and statements to resources not needs that's the conflict and the bill will not change that

so what happens when the health profs and education conflict and allow a severely disabled child to remain at home 24/7 with no services?

That does not put parents in a strong position!

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:47:49

devientenigma

The whole system is corrupt, what happened to EDCM etc ??

My son has been left at home for over 3 year with no services thats needed while the LEA chose to disregard his issues/disabilities. His statement has been sent to 5 neighboroing LA's with no luck, no one can meet his needs. Limbo !!

To clarify the matter DS has a well known syndrome as well as a few other that profs seem to steer clear of, quite severe in his needs, can be 2:1 never mind 1:1, he has been statemented from 2 year old and has attended special school since then, until his stress and anxiety that school caused him meant he could no longer face it. Stress and anxiety caused by issues he has declared and been told.....it's not!!!

So where do you go when the whole system is failing??

I'm sorry to read about your son's experiences. This is precisely why we want to change the system - to give parents and young people a greater voice in the services they receive and the development of services locally, and also the routes of redress I outlined in my previous post.

'Routes of redress to hold LAs to account include the tribunal system, which we are extending, Ofsted inspections, the Local Government Ombudsman, other local accountability structures and, in some instances where a LA acts unreasonably or breaks the law, the Secretary of State.'

But this is the root of the current problems, - that these organisations are both toothless and themselves appear to not understand the law they are supposed to be defending. THIS is what needs changing, - not the local offer.

Get these above organisations to do what they are supposed to do, and the rest will follow.

coff33pot Tue 13-Nov-12 12:50:03

Mr Timson my LA has been great (yes I know its a rarity!) they have gone above and beyond for my son. It was the school itself. So either the LA needs more clout with academies or someone somewhere needs to impose fines or consequences on schools too.

By the time we go along the fight path our children are leaving to go to the next school. Their education still in tatters and trust gone.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:50:04

I have spent over two thousand pounds challenging the LGO for its unlawful practices in consistently refusing to apply the law on failing to arrange the provision in a child's statement. I had to threaten to take them to judicial review. My son was without provision for 6 months in clear breach of the Education Act and its case law.

This meant nothing to the LGO who had to be forced by threat of judicial review to look at this case again. 18 months later, the Ombudsman withdrew it's decision but we are still waiting for them to make their minds up.

If the Ombudsman won't enforce the law and LAs and their witnesses lie to Tribunals (and they do constantly) where is the redress??

Thanks for the reply.

That comes down to assessment and the profs are all in conflict with each other about his needs, plus he lacks accountability, lacks motivation etc etc and doesn't look good on paper as well as costing a lot of money..........so much easier to stay in conflict, hence we get nowhere!

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 12:50:13

As I understand it the tribunal system has no powers whatsoever to impose sanctions on LAs for their failures. I don't think Ofsted has either.

But please enlighten me about how well this accountability system works: how many times has the Secretary of State sanctioned LAs for their failure to follow the law regarding statementing and/or provision of SEN services? I'd guess at "zero".

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:51:02

What use are sanctions after the event when child missed boat. penalties for under provision would deter and change behaviour. My sons statement went through two panels and was only 10% of needs tribunal found. 90% shortfall my son will never get that time back.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:51:57

Given that these routes of redress are currently failing children as I and others have posted on here, is there nothing you propose to do to actually force LEAS to comply with the law without imposing such stressful processes on parents?

LEA's are responsible for assessing, providing and budgeting for SEN's and they look at their own complaints. How can this be impartial?

My opinion of OFSTED is that as long as you have paperwork to hand to show the bits you want to and that you can talk a good talk for a couple of hours you can pull the wool over an inspectors eyes.

I note that you did not actually want to commit to even saying that there will be a duty on LEA's to actually provide what is in their "local offer".

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:52:15

Could you please answer:

1. Why your pathfinder authorities continue to break the law on SEN DPs?

2. Why it is acceptable for Directors of Education to give evidence to a Select Committee saying 'we don't do statements': how will your reforms change that?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:52:27

Hayleybailey

Edward,

What experience do you have of children with special educational needs and disabilities?! How can you know what impact your reforms will have if you don't?

Hayley

Hi Hayley - as you may know I grew up in a family who fostered 87 children, some of whom had special educational needs. I remember one weekend a month spending most of the weekend dancing to Shakin Stevens with a down syndrome teenager we gave respite care to who was a big fan! But what it taught me was the need to have as much ambition for a child with additional needs. Since becoming Minister I have, like today, taken as much time as possible to meet with parents, service users and others with a vested interest in us getting these reforms right.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 12:53:13

Give us legal aid for educational negligence if so sure sanctions not needed.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:53:22

Perhaps you would like to meet a group of mumsnetters??

What will be done to ensure LAs meet their obligations under the new system? Very little is currently done.

My son also has down syndrome and obviously not as lucky as your fostered teenager!

An excellent idea inappropriately. Edward, would you be prepared to meet a group of us?

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 12:55:37

Agnes, if there were sanctions that regulatory bodies were willing and able to impose, it would mean that LAs would be a lot more careful about following the law. As it is they can ignore the law as much as they want and know that they'll get away with it.

But Mr Timpson has confirmed that the current system of regulation is not going to change in any meaningful way, therefore the LAs can happily continue ignoring their statutory duties with impunity.

Be afraid, be very afraid grin

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:56:25

coff33pot

Mr Timson my LA has been great (yes I know its a rarity!) they have gone above and beyond for my son. It was the school itself. So either the LA needs more clout with academies or someone somewhere needs to impose fines or consequences on schools too.

By the time we go along the fight path our children are leaving to go to the next school. Their education still in tatters and trust gone.

It's right that where LAs are stepping up to the plate, as has happened in your experience, we recognise that and encourage other LAs to learn from their success.When it comes to academies, we recognise the increasing role they have to pl;ay in the education of our children and that is why we have included them in the legislation so there is no doubt as to what their legal responsibilities are.

Unfortunately could not be one you could meet as my son won't leave the house or car, has down syndrome among other medical, neurological and physical issues but is NOT a priority !!

Didn't a recent investigation into the LGO demonstrate they were pretty poor at their job?

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 13-Nov-12 12:57:41

I haven't time to read the thread yet, but my question is this :

Where does this new provision leave children that are currently on SA+, and have been from Nursery age, that have been repratey refused assessment on the basis that they haven't got an up to date EP report, which the LA's are limiting access to?

My DD has been on SA+ for 11 years now. She is currently in Y10. She has not seen the EP since Y6, and that visit took me 4 years to get. My LA has been repeatedly proven in court to have ILLEGAL 'blanket policies' on statutory assessment. In my case, I have been told that the only way to get my DD assessed by an EP is to pay privately. I can't. I'm a disabled lone parent and 3 of my 4 children have disabilities.

My DS2 has been illegally taken off first SA+, then SA, without consultation, despite the fact that he is not progressing.

Both my DD and my DS2 have multiple disabilities, global development delay, physical disabilities and learning difficulties. Yet I can't get them assessed due to being unable to pay for a private EP report, or to take the LA to court for their refusal to assess.

What protections are going to be put in place to ensure that children like my DD and my DS2 will have the continued support without which they would be unable to access the curriculum. As my DS2 currently is. He is 9yo, and working at a 5-6yo level.

Where is THEIR protection in this legislation?

But now there's no doubt, but there are no sanctions for meeting that obligation, how are you going to change this?

That's it really.

Change the rules all you want, but if LA's are used to ignoring them and flouting them without redress then the current changes make NO difference to anything.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 12:58:41

Yes - see HC Select Committee on Communities and Local Government report. An independent auditor was appointed.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 13:00:11

AgnesDiPesto

But the LA is both assessor and funder. They just write plans and statements to resources not needs that's the conflict and the bill will not change that

This why we want to involve parents much earlier in the process and we are looking through the pathfinders how the right level of support can be provided. The cost of conflict in the system means it is the LA's interests to work closely with parents (as set out in the draft clauses) and we are seeing the direct benefits of that happening in the pathfinders.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 13:00:19

There are a group of us pulling together our thoughts on this: would you like to meet us Mr Timpson? It's a serious invitation.

In many ways I don't actually care what the rules are, I just want whatever they are to be stuck to.

If I had known the regulatory bodies were going to join the LAs in unlawful practices I would have given up work to educate my ds long ago instead of trying to navigate a system of illusion.

peasabovesticks Tue 13-Nov-12 13:01:11

Hi Edward,

I've no question as such but I wanted to say that some years ago our paths crossed professionally and that I remember you to be a really unassuming, decent person. Well done on your appointment to Minister. It reminds me there are some nice Tories after all!

HanSolo Tue 13-Nov-12 13:01:59

Do you mean "a teenager with Downs Syndrome"??? hmm

What chance have children with disabilities and LTmedical conditions have if the people who are making decisions for them see them as disabled first, individual second?

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 13:02:04

Conflict saves them costs - delaying provision by forcing parents to Tribunal can waste a year of a child's life and save a year of costs. Lying about the level of provisional needed can equally save costs.

Conflict benefits the LA not the parents, many of whom simply give up.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 13:03:00

Agnes's point still stands. If the assessment process is not independent of the budgets to provide the help needed, how can a childs needs be truly identified and the parents be satisfied that the contracted health officials are not being told to "not quantify anything" so that the LEA can use this to prevaricate when writing statements

hear her, inappropriate

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 13:04:07

Sadly my hour is up. I'm sorry I wasn't able to reply to more posts but I can categorically state that my words per minute count has improved in the 60 minutes allotted. I need to go on a refresher typing course! Thanks to all those who have contributed and I will reflect on all your points, queries, concerns and offers to meet so that the dialogue can continue. Thanks and goodbye! Edward

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 13:06:53

If as in my case your child costs £50000 per year and the LA has allocated £5000 then it is in LA interests to use tribunal as delaying tactic. Why has Dev child been without education for 3 years because he costs too much. Bottom line la staff don't think our children deserve what they would pay for a cancer patient in a heartbeat

Snorbs Tue 13-Nov-12 13:07:09

Doesn't the Titanic look nicer now the deck-chairs have been rearranged?

hmm

Edward, having meetings about meetings about meetings, including involving parents in those to reslove conflict etc. just gives the illusion of intervention without just getting stuck in with the child. It keeps the LA personnel in a job and avoids paying out.

I went to a Team Around the Child meeting once and the level of support promised was amazing.

Someone promised to 'refer' my son, someone else was going to 'observe' him, someone else 'montior' him, someone else was going to 'open a file', another was going to 'cooridnate', and yet another person was 'raise awareness' and yet another was going to 'liaise'.

None of these were outcome based, and all we needed was someone appropriate trained to deliver provision directly to my son, at a fraction of a cost of all the above nonsense. When we asked for this, we got a barrister against us. I'm afraid i can't see anything in what you propose to change this.

A 'local offer' is about as useful as 'opening a file' unless you are focussing on outcomes, evaluation of effectiveness, transparancy about eligability criteria etc.

Thank you Edward. Impressed with your typing speed actually smile.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 13:10:58

grin at snorbs and the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Sadly I think she has a very good point.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 13:12:07

However, I'm glad that you came to talk Mr Timpson and assume that you will look at later comments posted here and those that you ran out of time to answer and take them all on board.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 13-Nov-12 13:12:09

Thanks - I'd be interested in hearing about your thoughts on your pathfinders' practices in refusing SEN DPs at some point.

Another case of LAs picking and choosing which laws they abide by - yet your Dept is aware of this and should openly admonish such unlawful practice.

Equally, it should openly admonish a Director of Education who quite happily gives evidence to Parliament confirming his LA's unlawful practices.

And thank you Frances.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 13:16:46

LGO can't look at anything can go to tribunal so anything right appeal out of jurisdiction. Tribunals can order wasted costs but never do but because they can LGO can't overrule judge. Besides hard to argue appeal should never been brought if tribunal heard it and not said that. Are gaps in regulation. No way getting back costs while wait for tribunal except suing and no legal aid and massive cost risk to sue. I shall send my evidence law breaking to Sec of State then.great questions everyone!

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 13:28:31

Thank you Edward for taking the time to read my post.

Thank you Edward for taking the time to read my post.

I would have to strongly disagree from what I have seen of the bill it simply wants to take away the parents rights that way the LA can get away with not giving statutory assessments that's what I have read and many others are reading the same.

So for those who have a statement they will remain in place and the current provision in part 3 will still be relevant and be legally enforceable even when the EHC plan comes in??????

With regards to mediation why should parents be forced into mediation?

Those parents who don’t want to or cannot attend mediation will receive penalties that doesn’t sound like a fair or better system to me.

What about the current time scales the new bill does not require the LA to comply with timescales for instance the LA currently have to reply to a parents request to assess within six weeks-the new bill does not????

For our children that means they simply have to suffer on while the LA decide if they require a statement , if there is enough money in the budget etc.

Prehaps if you and the dept of health refer to the IPSEA website it raises some very valid and important points...will you look at these????

www.ipsea.org.uk/AssetLibrary/News/IPSEA%20summary%20of%20draft%20SEN%20provisions.pdf

Thank you

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 13-Nov-12 13:28:47

[Hmm] I note no answer to how provision will be ensured for children on SA or SA+ that aren't making progress but are unable to get statutory assessment fue to illegal blanket policies and gatekeeping.

Not goung to help those parents that can't afford to fund private EP reports or to take the LA to court.

I see this as a way of denying a huge raft of children with quite complex, multiple and severe SN's, that should have a statement but don't, from getting the support they need.

I feels cared for what is coming for my children.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 13-Nov-12 13:29:21

That should read : I feel SCARED for what is coming for my children.

HecatePropylaea Tue 13-Nov-12 13:30:37

I feel like we weren't really assured of anything.

Queenmarigold Tue 13-Nov-12 13:48:55

'Involving parents early' cropped up a lot didn't it.

Like parents aren't involved - I clearly remember being at the birth.

I just feel like it's more of the same c**p, just dressed up differently - no money, no funding, all the fight on the parent, all the pressure of working, making ends meet plus fighting for your kid at the same time.

He may have had 87 foster siblings, but he's got no idea really. sad
and [scared].

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 13:49:00

Me neither! It's still a worry.

There is an online petition on MN petition notice board against these changes for everyone to sign who doesn't want this to be passed.

Happy to PM the link if you get stuck.

I have signed!

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 13:58:17

You would have thought the fact that his parents did such a good thing in helping foster LAC children he would get this stuff!

It's absoulte joke which is why the likes of IPSEA, SOS SEN, SEN legal are raising the questions that are on our mind because this new bill will affect our children and not in a positive way.

Eliza22 Tue 13-Nov-12 14:16:38

I have to say that Mr Timpson, being my MP, helped me to push for something which benefitted my son greatly, after I was met with a brick wall on seemingly, all sides. Face to face, I found him interested, concerned and determined to help. And he did. But his Govt took it it away again. Cut backs.

What he is proposing to give us now has elements of "excellent" about it but I fear the reality will mean a harder battle for parents to get what they need. We will find ourselves in a position of justifying our requests to "assessor a" who feel that we don't need this, that or whatever (as funds are tight and there's always some other poor soul, worse off).

As I said in my question to Mr Timpson, I was told emphatically that my son DID NOT NEED 1:1. He DID NOT NEED a Statement. He WAS NOT BAD ENOUGH to require Social Services input (so that we could access Direct Payments). We were told by the Educational Psychologist that he was "doing very well and hes a bright lad" .... this assessment from a man who had signed his name to reports HAVING NEVER ACTUALLY MET MY SON!

We now have all of the above. I was often close to tears/losing it but always gathered my evidence and presented my appeal in a calm and informed way. Do I want to do it again? Oh God NO!!

God forbid, we have to go back to this shambles...

We've cut our financial aid to India? Good. Because we're in a right bloody mess HERE.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 14:36:16

Eliza22

I couldn't agree more that was what I wanted to get across we constantly have to fight to get our children assessed or the right provision and prove ourselves and children again and again to so called professionals and the bloody LA.

I'm sick of it too.

lukesrock Tue 13-Nov-12 14:58:18

I too would like Ehlers danlos syndrome taken seriously, my 8 year old son suffers from this awful rare condition and we as a family have been reported by my sons school to social services and interigated like criminals with regard to FII, thankfully all unfounded but the stress this places on a family already struggling to cope with a disabled child is not acceptable, I know many familys going through this, we have had to pay privatley to see proffessor grahame and have paid for many other private things for our son, there is no support out there and our children are suffering, please please help these families, this condition needs to be taken seriously

I'm sorry but that was just not good enough.

'we want to involve parents earlier in the process'.... 'it will reduce conflict'

well fuck that for a game of soldiers.
starlight that's exactly the way it works, Team Around The Child - if I had one hour of practical, evidence based measurable therapeutic intervention for every hour spent co-ordinating, liaising, updating files, monitoring, that would be doing something.

dietstartstmoz Wed 14-Nov-12 07:33:23

I missed this webchat, but am not impressed reading through it. The entire system needs an overhaul. Team around the child meetings don't achieve much, LA are having their budgets cut and are already cutting back on provision, including post 16 provision and transport post 16. Getting a specialist college placement post 16 is a huge longwinded task, and as for a local offer-what if your local college is not able to meet your childs needs. My son has HFA and I know from living and working locally numerous examples of 16/17 yr olds with HFA who either leave or are exited from their course as the college cannot support their needs.
Agree with other who said their needs to be much more provision locally and a wider range of provision available, not just the same old crap rehashed under another title

amy15447 Wed 14-Nov-12 08:46:16

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amy15447 Wed 14-Nov-12 08:47:33

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