Has anyone had any success getting a LEA to fund a private school?

(54 Posts)
LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 16:44:32

Ds (13) is incredibly bright but has sensory issues and some social skills problems, which mean it's very difficult for him to work in a noisy/bright classroom. He's also a bully magnet due to this social skills problems. Moderate to loud noises/bangs are magnified, and he finds them painful and very distressing. He's also possibly dyspraxic. He's pretty much always been privately educated because the class sizes are small.

He's been in his secondary school for over 2 years, and was awarded a bursary when he started as I was forced to give up my job due to ill health. I was told this week that it was awarded in error, and there is no money for the bursary to continue. I have to now either pay the full fees myself, or move him. I do work, but I am unable to work full time and cover the fees, so we're stuck. I can't move him into a state school as he just wouldn't cope. Is there anyway that I can get help from the LEA? I know it's a long shot, and am prepared for the worst. He doesn't have a statement.

Thank you.

ByTheSea Sat 20-Oct-12 16:46:38

DS2-15 is at a private EBD boarding school. It is incredibly expensive but an awesome school and he has made amazing progress. It was a battle to get this for him, but soooo worth it. It is jointly funded by the LEA and Social Services (he has to be section 20 to get the funding sad ).

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 16:49:52

He won't board. There's only 1 other private school around here, they do have an assisted places scheme but I fear we've missed the boat. sad What's a section 20?

ByTheSea Sat 20-Oct-12 16:57:39

It's where he is 'accommodated' as a looked after child but we maintain parental responsiblity and Social Services is obligated to provide services for him. Before this school, we were having an incredibly rough time as he was actually presenting a danger to us.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 17:06:01

sad Sounds very stressful.

My son is well behaved, but it's not in his best interests for him to move schools. He has another paediatrician assessment on Monday, I just don't know what to do though.

ByTheSea Sat 20-Oct-12 17:14:18

Your DS would have to be statemented. Could the current school help him get a statement?

We basically had to prove that no other school could meet his needs. There is a real dearth of state EBD schools around here that will meet the needs of a bright child, as DS2 is also very bright. He is looking at getting a clutch of good GCSEs at his school now, and has already banked a few. When you consider that he missed the entirety of Year 8 (he's been in this school since the start of Year 9), it really is fantastic progress.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 17:22:44

I don't know. There is a learning support lady there, he saw her last year. He was referred to the community paediatrician via the school GP as they were concerned about aspects of his behaviour. The community paediatrician confirmed that he suffers from anxiety, and he was referred to a physio in our old town so that he could be assessed further. The appointment was cancelled by them after we moved house as we were no longer in the area. He has a new appointment with a new paediatrician on Monday so it's all a mess. I've no idea if the school will statement him, I'll ask. It's taken him 2 years to settle down though. His attendance wasn't great last year at all, which is why we moved house (we're closer, it took an hour to get to school, and hour and a half to get home so he was getting a lot of migraines and fatigue). The academic side isn't so much of an issue, it's the size of the classrooms and the noise, as well as the problems with social skills. He's settled where he is and they are use to him. He does stand out like a sore thumb, and has been severely bullied in the past for being 'odd'.

I'm so pleased it's working out for your son. smile

Fluffanstuff Sat 20-Oct-12 19:30:21

Hi ,
To get any LEA Funding your son would have to have a statement and it might take some time. The thing is that he wouldn't get funding for a private school , this is because private schools dont sign up for the same quality assurance as state schools so there fore LEA's are not allowed to fund children that attend them. Most extra support at private schools is paid for out of parents pockets. However a statement would give him access to specialised schools or units within schools. It would also give a state school the money to support him. It wouldnt be a case of going through the school for a statement but rather asking the Pediatrician to reffer you to someone who could take you through that process following diagnosis. Often private schools have little to no training in additional needs and tend not to have a budget to support children. They also have no way of applying for financial support from the LEA so unless your headteacher is willing to fund his support from the school , which very rarely they are , you may want to explore other avenues . Getting a statement can be very beneficial in the long run for instance if your son decided to go to university or further education a statement would allow those establishments to provide him with support.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 20:02:28

smile

The school have specialist support, which is why I moved him there. The classes are smaller (20 pupils) as well, which keeps the noise levels down. He currently gets support from his personal tutor, but it's mainly the class sizes which are the issue.

TheBuskersDog Sat 20-Oct-12 20:27:46

In all honesty I really don't think you stand a chance. In many local authorities it's really difficult to get a statement, even for children who have substantial difficulties. Even if you can get a statement, to get funding for a school that is not an LA school you have to prove that none of their schools can meet the needs identified in the statement, which is really hard to do.

Usually when LAs do fund non state schools they are not mainstream private schools, but specialist residential schools where the fees run into six figures - they are for children with severe SEN.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 20:29:13

Thank you. I'm all out of ideas now. sad

Could you get legal advice? I wonder if posting in legal would help?
I am not sure that they can just say that it's a mistake and withdraw the funding.
Isn't it a form of contract? I am so sorry that you are going through this when he is settled and happy there.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 20:39:38

Private schools can withdraw a bursary at any time, so I'm not sure there's any legal redress. I'm just so annoyed, I gave notice in the first term as I'd lost my job, and was told not to worry.

Charitable foundations? There are some funds around for exceptional circumstances.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 21:55:55

I'll have a look, I doubt it though. sad

joanofarchitrave Sat 20-Oct-12 22:25:58

sad

I think in your case I would try going cap in hand to relatives, and if no luck there would home educate.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 23:03:58

My family can't help, the ex's family won't help. I have to take the ex to court just to get maintenance. I can pay the fees with what I have coming in but it leaves us with £16 a week to live on, pay the bills and travel to school. I'm looking at ways to increase my income but it's tough as I can't work full time (I have MS). I can do alterations and dressmaking, and I'm waiting to see if my other work is finally going to pay. I can't bank on any of this though. This is the 5th school ds has attended and he's been let down by every one of them.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 23:32:26

Sorry to drip feed, but the dyspraxia/sensory issues also cause problems when he walks. He trips over/falls into the road/bumps into people/complains of pain after a few metres so needs to stop. He needs constant supervision when he's outside as he falls into the road, and he's missed school trips because he's unable to walk as far as the other boys. PE is a real nightmare for him as he's in so much pain and he just can't keep up. I did apply for DLA a couple of years ago but they rejected the claim as 'he can actually walk' hmm This can't be right, can it?

This is awful and so unfair. Try for DLA again, have you used the cerebra guide etc?
The problem is that even when/if you do get DLA, it's too risky to bank on it for paying school fees.
Can you apply for DLA too? If it comes to it, are there any Home Ed groups near you?
Sorry to not be much help, I just think that the school has behaved disgracefully.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sat 20-Oct-12 23:47:16

Bastards! I've just found this angry:

"Mobility component

You might get this part of DLA because when using your normal aid you:

can’t walk
can only walk a short distance without severe discomfort
could become very ill if you try to walk"

www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit/eligibility

I also write children's books, it just takes ages (years) to earn anything from them. I have a couple with an agent, she's said she loves them and we're editing them at the moment so fingers crossed. I can save the income from these. There's one more school I can try, it depends on whether they have the funds for a place though. He's an A* student (apart from in PE).

I do agree, I'm disgusted. I feel backed into a corner over this.

Fluffanstuff Sun 21-Oct-12 09:06:38

Makes me really angry to read that your son has been excluded from school trips. I work in education ..special needs to be exact and every single piece of legislation and government guidance would completely rule out what is basically excluding your son from activities. As a 'service' regardless of whether they are LEA or private they have to abide by the law which states they must make reasonable adjustments in order to make their service suitable for your son. Surely even if they asked an extra Teaching assistant , or even yourself to attend the trips with him so he can take things at his own pace that would be reasonable.

Are there any TA'S within his class , perhaps the school could explore the possibility of your son staying in the class for the 'learning' part of the lesson and then allowing him somewhere quiet to get on with his work , perhaps the library or something ?

I know it might seem like a good option at the time but I personally wouldn't suggest home schooling , you mention that your son has some social skills problems. I personally feel , and this is just my opinion , if you have a child who finds it difficult to cope with people home schooling can make it worse in the long run , because although very hard your son will have to deal with all situations in his life , home schooling is another 'difference' to deal with. Even if you do attend a home schooling group the variety in attitudes and cultures and people he will be exposed too will be reduced. Your sons bright , and there's a good chance that he will go onto some further education , or a job . In the workplace there will still be people that don't quite get him and I honestly feel school would be good preparation for a life time of social situations. However , the school should have adequate bullying policies in place and they should act upon them . They should also be providing support to your son in how he should deal with bullying and addressing the issue within the school.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 21-Oct-12 09:14:14

Parents are allowed to request Statutory Assessment (for a Statement of SEN) regardless of whether they are in state or private ed. Visit the IPSEA website.

You should perhaps repost and read the archives on the Special Needs: Children board which not only has more traffic but also has lots of posters with DC who are academically able but who perhaps have social communication problems (as well as sensory hypo/hypersentivity, dyspraxia etc). A number of these posters have achieved statements for their DC although the path can be difficult. You should be aware though that LEAs have moved from refusal to assess to placing a DC in an independent specialist school although it may have taken a long time (18 months plus) and SENDIST tribunal to achieve. The fact that the vast majority of maintained special schools are for DC with severe SEN is actually in your favour as there are no maintained special schools that can provide a similar peer group and meet your child's needs - but only where there is evidence that mainstream cannot meet the needs of the child.

Why does your DS have an appointment with the comm Paed?

lljkk Sun 21-Oct-12 09:41:15

DS1 (no SEN) attended a private school which the LEA sends a lot of SN children to. One of them gets a daily taxi from his door to the school (11 miles away) rather than having to walk 15 minutes to the minibus pickup point. I don't know the history of how he got there, though.

Fluffanstuff Sun 21-Oct-12 10:06:52

As far as I am aware if you request a statement a LEA has to by law , carry out the assessment however they don't necessarily have to grant one. At the moment funding is very very very tight for support services (try and aim for April or march if you do go for one) Thats when the budgets get reviewed and there's normally more money at the beginning of the year . You can get a statement done whether your in state or private but the rules about what measures they have to put in place following that are different.

In terms of the lljkk it may be that the child has SEN such as social problems and that the LEA has no other reasonable setting they could send him to in his borough . Meaning the maintained schools either have no spaces , no units on schools or maintained special schools and it would be deemed that the child would be unable to thrive anywhere other than an independent school. This isn't really the norm and would be unlikely to happen in most boroughs. Children with sen are still entitled to attend private school but often it's still the parents paying out for the fees.

UsingAPsuedonym Sun 21-Oct-12 10:15:06

Is it worth contacting the lea and explaining the situation and asking about which schools could take him and what support they could provide? Just so you know what your other options will be. Some state schools are very well resourced at dealing with special needs.

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