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.

Fluffanstuff Sun 21-Oct-12 10:28:19

I agree ... every LEA has different systems their probably the only ones that can make it clear. Best of luck.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 10:35:39

Fluff The trip was a Geography trip to London docklands, and they basically walked around this area of London. He was told that he could take his scooter, but they decided that it would have been unwise. The last Geography trip they went on was to the peak district, and he ended up walking back to the coach halfway through the day as he was in too much pain to continue. They did start off accommodating his needs, but it's tapered off. I was about to make an appointment with his personal tutor. There are no TA's, any issues that arise are sorted out by his tutor. I don't think they will wait 18 months for the fees, they want this terms before Christmas or for me to move him. I'm so angry. I do agree about home educating, he needs to be around people and have the appropriate support.

Keep The school GP referred him last year to the community paediatrician where we used to live. She said that she didn't think he had aspergers, and referred him to a physio/OT for assessment. Unfortunately, by the time the appointment came through we'd moved (it took months), and they wouldn't see him as we were out of the area. I had to go to the new GP, who referred us to a new paediatrician.

IIjkk There is no other school which is small enough. It's not perfect, but he is getting support from his personal tutor and they all know him, so are more tolerant of his differences. He really can't cope with noise, he gets a headache and becomes very distressed as it's painful. It would be incredibly unfair to put him in this situation as he will cry, making the other children laugh at him.

Using I'll give them a call. There's a few charities that I've found online, so will look into these further first.

joanofarchitrave Sun 21-Oct-12 11:20:08

I'd agree that home education would not be anyone's first choice for your son, but in the circumstances I would put it above a school that is wrong for him. I personally think bullying does far more damage to a person's character and social skills than time on their own. When you go into a workplace you do so as an adult - quite different.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 11:24:28

My plan is to try and get the fees for his current school, if not I'll try the other private school if they have funding, if not I'll home ed. I work from home anyway, so if I'm ever in the position where I can return him I will. I've found a couple of charities that I can approach in the meantime.

It's going to have to get easier at some point, hasn't it? sad

joanofarchitrave Sun 21-Oct-12 11:51:58

I think it's got easier already - you've got a plan smile

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 11:58:14

I've been working on one since I found out. If there's a problem, you try and solve it. I'm trying to pick up some extra work, I don't think I can earn 7K between now and Christmas though. I'm very angry at the school about this though, they shouldn't put any family in this position.

joanofarchitrave Sun 21-Oct-12 12:12:55

Is there anyone else at the school who would offer lifts? You could pay back in other ways maybe - babysitting? That would be one bit of the costs out.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 12:21:37

The bus is £14 a week for both of us, so it's not overly expensive to get him there now. There's only 1 boy who lives here, it's a very small school. Ds doesn't know him though and he uses public transport.

joanofarchitrave Sun 21-Oct-12 12:28:25

It's quite expensive if you have £16 a week after the fees are paid... Does the boy use the same bus? Could they go together - they would soon get to know each other?

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 12:31:21

It would cost ds £14 a week to use the bus alone. He gets quite anxious, and falls into the road quite a bit so he rarely goes out alone. He really does need DLA, but he was refused as he 'can walk' (even though he finds walking very painful).

joanofarchitrave Sun 21-Oct-12 12:51:00

That's crap re the DLA - I would agree that having another go on that is worth it - bastards. Anyone would think they really don't want to award it...

I see re the transport. Really hope the school change their stance.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 12:55:35

He can't fasten tight buttons and has only just been able to use a knife. He can't always open bottle tops as they are usually on too tight. The kettle is too heavy, as is his school bag (so I carry it to and from school but he still gets a sore back). Walking is the most problem though as it's so painful.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 21-Oct-12 13:25:49

IS DS on school action or action +, does he have an IEP? The LEA will assume that all mainstream schools are able to meet the needs of DC without a statement. They will pass you on to Admissions - without a statement the same rules apply as to everyone else.

It is not the norm for LEAs to fund DC in independent specialist schools and the extent to which this happens will depend upon the extent of maintained settings there are in each borough and the needs of the individual child (and how long and hard you are prepared to fight). However LEAs do fund DC to attend in specific circumstances.

I think time may be your worse enemy as DS is already in year 9 and you would need to gather evidence quickly - which unfortunately may mean paying for independent assessments and reports (eg EP, SALT, OT, Developmental Paed etc).

Fluffanstuff Sun 21-Oct-12 13:31:43

He really should get DLA , I know a girl that got it because of severe asthma !! She was able to walk .
Don't get me wrong I don't advocate that your child should stay somewhere where he is getting severely bullied , and yes there is a difference between being an adult and a child , but our attitudes as adults are shaped by our experiences as children. If we are not exposed to situations and taught how to cope with them as children , we won't know how to as an adult either.

I do agree that bullying can be extremely harmful in many ways , what is the schools stance on this side of things ? I feel if you decide to home school perhaps investigating local charities or groups for people in similar situations , or an activity that requires some socialisation ( I don't know what your sons interests are) For instance I know in my area the local swimming pool has a session on a Friday night for young people with SEN. Run by understanding staff and a chance for them all to enjoy some company in a non judgemental environment (the rest of the pool is closed) Perhaps a couple of things like that over the week would prove a good 'in-between' I know a young chap who went , he sounds to have similar difficulties , was really shy etc. went for a few weeks met a couple of lads his own age and got along with them now they do other things together like a trip to the cinema and one of the mums goes and sits in the row behind.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 21-Oct-12 13:32:40

With regard to the DLA there is a guide to filling in the form (dont know the web address but it is published by Cerebra) specifically designed for parents of DC with neurological disorders that has been useful to others who were initially refused for the same reason (often with no or pre-diagnosis).

Fluffanstuff Sun 21-Oct-12 13:57:08

Also just had a thought , I'm not 100% but would the citizen advice bureau be able to help with anything in terms of money / sorting benefits etc. I know their level of crappyness tends to depend on which area your in but sometimes they come good ........ on increddibly rare occasions lol .... like christmas ...... or the sighting of a flying pig ................. or even rarer a head thats good at dealing with special needs.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 14:27:16

He did have an IEP when he started as he really, really struggles with PE/writing/getting up the stairs. I've heard nothing from them, and it seems to have dripped off as he's no longer allowed to use the computer to complete his homework and is no longer sitting at the front of the class for all of his lessons. The bullying at his current school could be avoided if he was let out earlier to go to his next lesson, I think most of it is because he's caught up in the traffic and he's the perfect height for elbows (he's small). I've read on here about a CEREBRA guide or something?

The CAB is a plan. smile

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 21-Oct-12 14:47:00

Cerebra guide try this.

IEPs should be reviewed ideally each term but at least twice a year. Does your school have a SENCO? Regardless of what plans you may have for the future from what you have said the school do not seem to be doing all that they can to meet his needs. IEPs are not supposed to just fade away - SMART targets are supposed to be set to measure progress. Organise a meeting asap.

OT appointments can take a long time but it is not necessary to be referred to Comm Paed - GP can refer directly. My GP tried to fob me off - wanted CP to decide whether to refer to OT - but referral pathway is clear.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sun 21-Oct-12 14:50:24

If DS has considerable problems with writing he should not only be provided with a laptop but taught to touch type, allowed to use recording devices, record information in different ways etc. There should also be provision made for examinations - use of scribe etc.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 14:54:49

Thank you. They do have a 'learning support' lady, ds has met her once. He has no provisions for exams, he's very bright so works very quickly but it does make his hands sore. The more I think about it, the more I can see that they are not meeting his needs. Academically he's underperforming (whilst achieving A/A*). confused

Iceflower Sun 21-Oct-12 16:24:49

Hello LadyMary, for what it's worth, this is what I would do:

1. Go to your GP and ask for:
- a referral for a psychological assessment by CAHMS.
- a referral to an Occupational Therapist
Be prepared to give your reasons why you think ds needs the assessments.

2. Apply for a statutory assessment and get the support of the school. If the LA agrees, your ds will be assessed by an Educational Psychologist.

3. Apply for dla. Your ds should qualify for the Care component, and perhaps the Mobility albet not the High Rate. DLA is awarded based on needs, and professional diagnoses are not required though helpful.

4. Look at state schools in your area and see what support they offer.

Good luck.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 16:50:43

I've no idea of the system here, but will ask the paediatrician tomorrow if he can refer ds to an OT and a physio (for the feet). Ds deniesthat he's anxious, he also denies that he has problems with social skills as he can't see it.

If I want ds assesses by an educational psychologist I have to pay for it unless he's at a state school. Our catchment one is dire (so are most of the ones here, they are the worst performing schools in the UK).

Stress!! Thank you smile

Iceflower Sun 21-Oct-12 16:59:24

If the LA agrees to a statutory assessment, they will appoint an EP to assess your ds; you will not have to pay.

It may also be that in your LA, you may be able to self refer to the LA Educational Psychology Service - look in up on on your LA website.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 17:01:19

Oh, that would be very helpful. What would an EP look for though? The school know he's really bright, the last paediatrician ruled out Aspergers/ASD.

Iceflower Sun 21-Oct-12 17:38:49

Look at your LA's website for details of your Educational Psychology service. This link may be helpful (found from a quick google).

www.leics.gov.uk/index/education/going_to_school/edu_psychology_service/edu_psychology_guide.htm#contents

It is worth stating though that EPs aren't able to dx ASD. They will look at a child's strengths and weaknesses and recommend strategies. An EP report is an integral part of a statutory assessment and will play a major part in deciding a school placement.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Sun 21-Oct-12 17:43:54

smile Thank you. I really didn't think that they would take my word for it, and I know it's going to take a while. I've done my sums, and if he is awarded the DLA he'll be able to stay. I'll use the link above and hope for the best. I can see it needing an appeal though so it may not be done by Christmas. I've just picked up a little more work so that will help in the meantime.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Mon 22-Oct-12 11:49:38

The paeds has referred him for physio and to see and OT. She said he has very poor muscle tone in his feet and hands, and that it's probable that he's borderline Aspergers but she wasn't sure as there was some evidence to suggest that he was, but he sat and spoke to her and communicated well. He has to go back in 6 months to see if anything's changed. She told me to apply for DLA again.

Hulaflame Mon 12-Nov-12 09:15:31

Try St Annes College Grammar School in the North West - their fees are much less than other independents and they have very small classes and teachers who are trained in dyslexia and dyspraxia.

goralka Mon 12-Nov-12 09:20:59

have you heard of buttle.org LadyMary?

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