AIBU to complain to make a complaint?

(30 Posts)
Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 08:53:00

DC is in year 10 and has a SEN. The school have recognised the SEN from the first day of year 7, and have put in place reasonable adjustments for classwork and exams (extra time and typing).
All should be fine, but every year, several teachers forget (usually when setting exams), get reminded, forget again, get reminded and forget again.
Now it is the start of GCSEs and it has happened again with another teacher.
DC does not want to draw attention to the SEN in front of the other teenagers, so will not call the teacher over to speak about it at they start of the test.

Afterwards, every time it happens , I email the teacher concerned and try to tactfully point out that they didn't do what they were supposed to so could they do it next time. They always say ok, then about half of them don't.

DC also writes to each new teacher at the start of each year telling them about the SEN and the adjustments asking for their agreement.

A couple of years ago, I tried asking the learning support dept for help in ensuring the adjustments happen but it made no difference.

I am getting a bit fed up with it. I don't think any teacher does it on purpose, just that they can't be bothered remembering. In the past, some have told me that they got the list from learning support but didn't look at it.

Should I complain to the school that there is a systematic failure here and that the Disability Discrimination Act applies?

tiggytape Wed 02-Nov-16 09:48:08

Yes I think it does need bringing to their attention and it isn't acceptable for reasonable adjustments relation to additional needs to be forgotten or ignored.

It probably needs to be dealt with centrally though rather than you or your DS addressing it with each teacher who forgets. I would approach the Head of Year and SENCo about the latest incident (in writing) and then escalate it if it happens again. When you write, point out that this is a continual pattern not a one-off incident and that you do intend to take the matter further if it seems that your son's needs are continually overlooked.
With GCSEs coming up, you want to feel certain that they have got this covered.

TeenAndTween Wed 02-Nov-16 10:05:45

Is it part of the SEN that makes your DC unwilling to talk with the teachers, or just teenage reluctance of being different?

If the latter then I do think DC should step up and mention it.

Extra time isn't always feasible in class tests so maybe DC could be marked on 80% of the paper?

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 12:00:58

It isn't the SEN that stops DS pointing it out, just a prolonged attempt to never let anyone find out about it. He thinks its his business and the rest of the class don't need to know. He'll speak to a teacher about it, but not with another 30 teenagers all able to listen in. Is that unreasonable of him?

Extra time on class tests has been pre-agreed with the school (led by the learning support recommendations). Typically, when there is not time for DS to finish a test in class time, he comes back at break or lunch and does it then. 25% sounds like a lot but its only 7 minutes on a 30 minute test, so usually there is time in class when the teacher is collecting up the papers etc.

Bluntness100 Wed 02-Nov-16 12:04:25

No it's not unreasonable of your son, kids seldom like to single themselves out as different. I would not complain as such, but I would book an appt with the head and just discuss how to make this easier and right in future.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 12:06:55

I tried asking the head of year combined with the SENCo last year. In the end, we got there.

One teacher was particularly resistant, but even he had started doing it by the Summer term - so only 2/3rds of the year when he continuously forgot. TBH what finally did the trick with him was I started to forward him the emails he'd sent me promising to do it next time, and pointing out that he hadn't done as he said he would. (NB This was after the HoY had also emailed him and he still kept forgetting.)

TBH Its just really irritating to have to keep nagging like this, and also finding ways to point out their failures without making it sound like they've done anything wrong.

I'll email the HOY and ask for help, explaining that although it has only happened once so far this year, I'd prefer to take preventative steps rather than ask for remedies.

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Wed 02-Nov-16 12:16:01

I am a teacher, and whenever I plan a test, I work out how to give the extra-timers their extra time, and I do remember who needs it in what set. So if your DS's teachers aren't doing that, they should be - knowledge of individual needs in a set is certainly something Ofsted would be looking out for.

However, if your DS wants his extra time, the other kids are going to notice he's getting it - so he may just as well speak up about it. I treat it all very matter-of-factly in the classroom - of course, I don't go into details of anyone's SEN, but I might move people around in a test so that extra-timers are sitting together and as little disturbed as possible by others leaving at the start of break, for example. It's just a fact of life that everyone has different needs that need to be managed, and it might save your DS some stress and anxiety if he could become more confident about reminding his teachers of extra time when it arises in class. Even though he shouldn't have to remind them!

As a parent, if it was happening regularly, I would be escalating it beyond the individual teachers and raising it with his form tutor, copying in the head of year and the SENCO.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 12:53:22

The others notice and ask - more about the typing than the extra time. DS just brushes it aside by saying that its because his writing is messy which seems to satisfy them.

I guess what Ds fears would be soemthign like this:-
1. Everyone queues up in the corridor, the teacher opens the door and they see that she has set the room up for a test, putting paper and a turned over question sheet on each desk.
2. They all sit down. DS thinks to himself, that he has paper when he should have a keyboard but the teacher is addressing the class, so he listens.
3. The test is about to start. everyone has their pen out ready. The room is quiet. Ds could put his hand up at this point, but he doesn't want to say it in front of the whole class. He could just get his laptop out but he is afraid the teacher would ask him why he wasn't following the instruction she just gave the whole class.
4. the test begins. He could still put his hand up and maybe now the teacher would come over and speak to him discreetly, but then again he thinks people will still overhear. So, he gets on with it on paper.
5. At the end, he could hang back and point out the teacher's mistake, but he definitely doesn't have the confidence to do that. So, he crosses his fingers that he's done ok.

noblegiraffe Wed 02-Nov-16 13:24:17

He should just get his laptop out - this would act as a reminder to the teacher that he is supposed to use it and as they already know the arrangements it shouldn't be a problem.

Extra time is a bit harder to organise, he should just wait at the end and ask the teacher when it is convenient to come back and finish it off.

Your DS is in Y10 so should be able to do this. Teachers will forget at some point, so instead of you sending reminders all the time, DS should prompt them.

thatsn0tmyname Wed 02-Nov-16 13:30:06

It might depend on the test involved. Our SEN dept provides readers/ scribes/ IT for official tests but not smaller, internal end of topic tests. They cannot keep re-directing TAs for every test in every subject and disrupting the support of others or re-rooming entire classes for computers. If students have alphasmarts and extra time then it's easily done by the class teacher. SEN provision should be flagged up in the teachers planners/ registers so forgetting shouldn't happen.

Blu Wed 02-Nov-16 14:01:03

They are being lax. They can get it sorted, and should - so I would send a fairly assertive e mail to the tutor, copied in to SENCO and Head of Year.

Does he have a planner? When there is anything that is affected by DS's condition, he has a note in his planner, signed by his tutor. There is a blanket one that covers the whole year. If there is a supply teacher, or mis-communication, he can just show the planner to the teacher.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 14:49:33

There's a planner but not like you describe. More just a list of homework reminders.

I've sent an email to the HOY asking for help. There's another two tests/ exams this week and a few next week, so a reminder to the teachers would be timely.

Noblegiraffe - I don't find it easy to find the words to tell the teachers that they've overlooked something, so DS would find it a lot harder. He could get his laptop out, but what if the teacher sees him, still doesn't remember and asks loudly across the classroom why he's not doing what he's doing? That's his fear and that's why he doesn't do it.

Maybe this sounds a bit odd, but I've always assumed that teachers are happy to let him have the extra time and use a laptop, and it only doesn't happen because they forget. There couldn't be an issue with certain teachers that they don't think he should have these adjustments and therefore tend to ignore them, could there?

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 14:51:52

The reason I ask is because some teachers forget once, get reminded and then all is fine. Some take being asked twice before it starts to run smoothly. However, a couple of teachers have needed to be asked again and again and again and yet, they still don't do it.

Joinourclub Wed 02-Nov-16 14:56:43

Will he get extra time in his GCSE exams? This has to be applied for. If he isn't entitled to that, maybe teachers think he shouldn't get it in class either, so that he is better prepared at moving at the pace needed up complete a GCSE paper.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 15:01:14

Yes, he's supposed to get extra time in the GCSEs. As far as i know the Learning Support dept are taking care of the paperwork for this. Maybe I should double-check that too??

They (Learning Support) did tell me though, that the exam boards will not accept the adjustments unless they are his normal way of working. That's one of the reasons that i keep on battling to get the teachers to remember.

It is the Learning Support Dept who recommended these things, not me who suggested them and then tried to convince everyone to accept them.

TeenAndTween Wed 02-Nov-16 15:01:37

I agree with noble . He should just get his laptop out. Seeing it will probably remind the teachers he is allowed to use it. tbh, I think teachers have an awful lot to remember without having to remember laptop use for a 14/15yo who is capable (though reluctant) to remember/remind them himself.

noblegiraffe Wed 02-Nov-16 16:32:26

Anything before Y10 won't count towards evidence for normal way of working, it has to be in the 2 years before the exam. Tbh at my school kids don't bother with extra time etc until Y10 exams and then Y11 mocks and along with processing assessments etc that seems to be enough to qualify.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 16:46:58

I've received an email this afternoon from the HOY telling me that as part of the new GCSE procedure, students in year 10 will have to be re-assessed in terms of extra time and exam dispensations.

Now, I'm nervous! DS is doing some very wordy subjects for GCSE. His writing speed is achingly slow (and he's in pain whilst writing). His typing is still significantly slower than most people can handwrite but its faster than his writing and he doesn't get distracted by the pain.
What if he doesn't get the extra time and allowed to type in the GCSEs?

OnlyEatsToast Wed 02-Nov-16 16:59:50

How about a different approach? Write as suggested by pps above, but rather than asking for changes could you say something along the lines of ..,'concerned this is still happening etc etc and from now on in order for DS to access the additional requirements previously agreed (time/using laptop etc) he will automatically bring out his laptop to complete tests and will continue to complete his test until his additional time has expired. In the event that a teacher queries this, DS will respond that this has previously been agreed and teacher is to refer to xyx (head teacher?) for any clarifications? Would that work?

JoJoSM2 Wed 02-Nov-16 17:35:04

Admittedly, it's very poor of a teacher to need to be reminded over and over again. However, getting the laptop out is for your son to do- are you expecting the teacher to ask him to do it? I think you should also address the issue of him being so embarrassed about having the need and not speaking up - it's not healthy or good for him.

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 20:47:47

JoJo - the embarrassment is huge. It took DS a year to be able to acknowledge that he has a disability without tearing up. Another year to be willing to use a laptop even on a limited basis in school. And another year (last year - year 9) to get used to using it regularly in class.
So, if anyone knows how to get DS to be completely comfortable and open about this, then please tell me.
I never found out why he feels that way, but I suspect it has something to do with bullying (which has not, finally stopped). It made him reluctant to be "different".

Jupiter2Mars Wed 02-Nov-16 20:51:21

typo - the bullying is now over.

voxnihili Wed 02-Nov-16 21:25:15

I'm a teacher and SENCO. I'm the first to admit that I occasionally forget which of the children in my class have specific access arrangements for in class tests. However, the children I teach are always happy to remind me so it is a non-issue. I'm fortunate to work in an environment where no one bats an eyelid about anyone's learning needs.

I wonder if rather than complaining about the fact teachers are forgetting, it would be worth going in to devise a strategy in case it gets forgotten. For example, he could have a small laminated card with his access arrangements written on and could just raise his hand and show the teacher the card (this works really well for a student in my class when she is feeling anxious and needs to leave, but doesn't want to explain in front of everyone).

For external exams, there should be one person in charge of sorting out the access arrangements so it shouldn't be an issue with 'real' exams but it might be worth checking what there arrangements are. I would expect a student using a computer to be in a different room as the keyboard tapping would be very distracting for some.

PberryT Wed 02-Nov-16 21:31:54

I agree with noble, he should just get the laptop out.

Wrt the laptop, in my school as a staff member I would find it really difficult to get hold of a laptop for a one off test. I would have to get it, make sure it turned on, check it was charged etc and if the test is period 5 it would probably have run out of battery from when I picked it up in the morning. Otoh if your ds has one on him that would be far easier. Him getting it out of the bag would remind me enough that he needed it lots extra time. I think you have to rely on your ds being a bit more proactive. Does he use the laptop at other times?

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 03-Nov-16 20:34:19

It's not unusual to be reassessed. In my experience exam boards require an assessment within two years of the exam, so that would fit as he's in Year 10.

It will probably be a words per minute handwriting test, to show that he writes significantly more slowly than others and is therefore disadvantaged.

Is his handwriting difficult to read as well as being slow? The exams are designed to assess knowledge and understanding of a subject and if he can't show that in his writing, adjustments are reasonable.

It is his normal way of working. It has been acknowledged and documented although some staff members have forgotten. For the external exams, he'll probably have to work elsewhere though, so as not to distract others.

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