Our SN area is not a substitute for expert advice. While many Mumsnetters have a specialist knowledge of special needs, if they post here they are posting as members, not experts. There are, however, lots of organisations that can help - some suggestions are listed here. If you've come across an organisation that you've found helpful, please tell us. Go to Special needs chat, Parents with disabilities, SN teens, SN legal, SN education, SN recommendations.

Battles with SENCO

(17 Posts)

Hi everyone.

Just needed advice about my 8 year old dyslexic boy. I've had terrible battles with the school and I ended up having to pay privately for his diagnosis.

What's the bare minimum I can expect the school to do for him? Our SENCO is very combative and not very helpful. Which is a good dyslexic foundation/charity to get advice from?

His report says he has superior intelligence and with appropriate support there's no reason why he can't do well at school. At the moment he's started year 4 barely able to read or write.

I've found a local dyslexic tutor who will tutor him once a week (will up it depending on available dosh as it's not cheap).

Any advice will be much appreciated!

Apparently he's on School Action Plus and they've promised to do Toe by Toe with him for 10 minutes a day. He's lost in the classroom and has been told off for not listening when he couldn't understand what the teacher was saying and couldn't read the whiteboard! He's a lovely boy with a brilliant sense of humour but finding the school day incredibly difficult. I'm terrified that he'll give up and become the class joker to disguise the fact he can't read. I'm in London by the way.

claw2 Fri 13-Sep-13 10:36:38

Well in theory school should follow recommendations made by experts. School should deal with any difficulties they identify too.

In reality they don't HAVE to do anything and can pick and choose what recommendations to follow or not.

Maybe a starting point would be to ask for a SMART IEP and ask to be including in the writing of this. Where concerns and difficulties are written, what help will be given, how progress will be monitored and targets.

Spinkle Fri 13-Sep-13 12:29:29

He should already have an IEP if he is SA+ it should have SMART targets on it.

If not, SENCOP is not being followed.

From what I know of Dyslexia in schools, get the tuition and as much as you can afford.

Badvoc Fri 13-Sep-13 12:33:56

Check out the tinsley house support thread.
Good luck x

zumbaleena Fri 13-Sep-13 13:33:16

Can u try to pm toweila on this forum?

nennypops Fri 13-Sep-13 20:59:02

Check whether you've got a local branch of the Dyslexia Association in your area. If so, they may well offer a helpline and some have "Befrienders" whose role is to help mediate with schools, help write letters, help prepare for tribunals etc.

Handywoman Fri 13-Sep-13 21:37:51

I have a 10yo Dyslexic dd and am also veteran of the dismissive/combative SENCO. I ended up complaining to the school governors about her.

What seems to have made the difference is getting a really fantastic Ed Psych report written second time round. The first diagnostic report was done by Dyslexia Action aged 7. It was very technical and suggested a few books at the end. On the basis of this report I repeatedly asked for (and was denied) an IEP, got openly and repeatedly blamed by the SENCO for my daughter's maths difficulties (hence the complaint) and dd merely got put in the bottom group for everything despite her verbal IQ being in the top 3% (and consequently her self esteem going thru the floor). We were then advised (not by school) to have another Ed Psych report written in Y5 in preparation for extra time for SATS, and to take to secondary school...... This time I took some good advice and chose a good, local, Ed Psych who I had on recommendation. The diagnosis was the same but gave a much more individualised profile and spelt out in plain English the discrepancies between the different parts of my dd's cognitive profile. It also assessed my daughter's self esteem. This second report spelled out in plain English that my dd should and will achieve well if given the right help. This report gave simple recommendations such as enlarging her maths work sheets from A4 to A3 size. Low and behold these things are now happening and after three years of asking and being told no, we have now been offered an IEP!!!!!! I really don't know how the SENCO keeps a straight face in all of this. It's laughable really, except it ain't funny when it's your kid's education.

IME schools think they know what Dyslexia is (they maybe had one afternoon's lecture on it when they did their PGCE) but they don't. They need the help spelled out for them in simple language. I am not saying you can magic a brilliant Ed Psych out of thin air, just wanted to share what has worked for me. Good luck xxxx

TOWIELA Fri 13-Sep-13 22:09:13

What report do you already have for him? An EP report? If so, does it state how severe the dyslexia is? In layman's terms, EPs often use terms for dyslexia such as "mild", "moderate" and "severe" (more detailed reports will go on and say DC's percentile scoring) Do not mistake the term "moderate" to mean "medium" (as I did with my son). It does not. It means "nearly-severe". In fact, "moderate" means that it is so severe that it should be ringing huge alarm bells with all involved with DC". Two years after my DS's original "moderate" dx, his went to "severe" - so severe that the esteemed EP who set up the framework for "dyslexia friendly schools" (Dr LP) strongly recommended that my child was not placed in a "dyslexia friendly school" but in a school specifically for dyslexic children. So I recommend that you totally get to grips with your DS's dx and exactly where he is ie how far behind, who severe the dyslexia is, what percentile he's on.

Toe by Toe is very good but they should be doing far far more than just that for SA+. If possible, try to do some of the Toe by Toe sessions yourself with your child. As I home ed'ed my son, I did a session every day. It was a huge eye opener to me to see exactly how severe his problems were - not just dyslexia but other issues such as working memory issues and severe anxiety around literacy tasks showed up with our daily Toe by Toe sessions. I had regular sessions of Toe by Toe where my DS hurled the book at me or across the room (or both) and broke down into floods of tears. It highlighted to me just how difficult literacy tasks were for him. I had to give lengthy detailed evidence in Tribunal to a judge about these Toe by Toe sessions. I hate that poxy red book

For a charity, I strongly recommend Dyslexia Action. They gave my DS his original dx and were very good and thorough. After them, I got two EP reports for two Tribunals to get DS into an indie dyslexia school (Dr LP and BP).

With your local tutor - what methods/techniques are they using? Does the tutor provide you with progress/information/help at home? When my DS was home ed'ed, my DS indie dyslexic tutors became my "new best friends" and, ultimately, their evidence was the final nail in the coffin that persuaded a judge that my DS's dyslexia was so severe that he needed to be in a indie ss.

What qualifications does the local dyslexic tutor have? I had a big dust up at Tribunal with my LA who stated that children with dyslexia/literacy problems don't need to be taught by a teacher with dyslexia qualifications - a TA would suffice. In fact, my local authority (which you've perhaps guessed from my nickname, is Essex County Council) went onto say at Tribunal that dyslexia as a condition does not exist but is a speech and language disorder hmm

My experts, and more importantly, fortunately the Judge, disagreed. The Judge ruled that my severely dyslexic child needed to be taught by properly qualified teachers with post-graduate training in teaching dyslexic children.

Watch out for other problems such as anxiety over literacy. Being a class joker is a coping mechanism to hide literacy problems (as a fellow severe dyslexic, it was one I used myself back in the dark ages when I was at school). But anxiety and low self-esteem is a huge problem for dyslexic children.

After a 18 month legal fight with Essex County Council - which included 12 months home education - my son is now at a indie ss for dyslexic children. Two weeks in and I'm starting to see, for the first time in years, the little boy I once knew before a mainstream aggressive school ground him down into a former shadow of himself. We still have a very very long way to go with his dyslexia and other problems, but he's finally on his way.

Good luck. LA tend to brush off dyslexic children as a minor problem - but it's not it's a huge issue.

manishkmehta Fri 13-Sep-13 23:18:12

What's the bare minimum I can expect the school to do for him?

Education act 1996 section 317 (1) (a)

This is key and I would write to the school and tell them about this duty.

If you inform them of this duty and they don't assist your child then if you appeal to tribunal you can put your letter in the bundle and then ask the school why they disregarded this piece of legislation.

The duty is clear and imho this is a very powerful part of the education act 1996. You just need to use it in a way that helps you should you ever need to go to tribunal in the future.

Thanks Manish Mehta
WWW.SEN4U.COM

hoxtonbabe Sat 14-Sep-13 09:35:41

Gosh I loathe teachers, and SENCOs especially.

I was always under the assumption that SA+ meant the child was getting a little bit of external help also so if your child is not receiving some external help (SENCOP 5:54) so if your DS is only receiving 10mins help with the teacher the he should be on SA, Im not sure why schools do this, they always seem to throw all kids on SA+ even when the child isnt getting any external support?!?

As for telling your DS off, this is the exact cruel nonsense I am going through and as a result taking my DS school to tribunal under a Disability Discrimination. With Dyslexics, this may be a bit harder to fight as that is not usually seen as a disability, but there was a case with a dyslexic policeman (i think) that won his DD case, my EP told me about it some time ago, but will have to fish out the email if anyone wants details on it.

I would be looking at Stat assessment if things are as bad as you say. I don't think the changes have come in yet, so best to do it now.

Badvoc Sat 14-Sep-13 10:33:28

You can do most of what DA do at home with your ds and it won't cost you ££££
I think apples and pears by sound foundations is the best spelling and punctuation teaching programme on the market for dyslexic kids...and believe me, I've tried em all! smile
Also, do check out engagingeyes.co.uk for simple computer exercises that will help your sons eyes work together (most dyslexics have issues with tracking and convergence)
You can also look at supplements for your son - omega 3 oils are of particular benefit.
As to what you can expect your sons school to do...ime absolutely nothing.
Sorry sad

Thanks so much everyone.

I'm in bed with a horrible bug so will have a proper read through once I arise from my death bed.

cansu Tue 17-Sep-13 21:52:17

Hoxton I know lots of people on here have had difficulties with their children's schools but to say you loathe teachers and sencos is a bit ridiculous and a massive generalisation. I am as you might guess a parent of two children with sen, a veteran of two tribunals, have run an ABa programme at home and yes am also a teacher. I work bloody hard and believe I do my best for children with sen.

WetAugust Tue 17-Sep-13 22:21:55

Gosh I loathe teachers, and SENCOs especially.

Oh dear Hoxton.

I once expressed the same sentiments on here and it all kicked off big time!

And I didn't use the word 'loathe'. I just wrote "I hate teachers".

grin

hoxtonbabe Wed 18-Sep-13 02:14:15

well I do, not sure what else to say?!?

In 5 years ( ds been statemented for 10, but was not as bad in early days) and now coming up to FOUR tribunals I am yet to come across a teacher or SENCO that has had the child best interest, now I know there are some good ones out there as I have read stories on here and i came across one at DS unit in the good old days, but I've not once met another parent that l have spoken to at seminars, friends/family of children with sen or suspected sen or just general mummy chat in playground/ street that have had a positive experience with the SENCO/ class teacher at their child's school, its always a constant fight..maybe its a London thing?!?

Call it ridiculous, nasty or whatever you wish, it is what I have experienced and the stories i hear from parents over and over...with the amount of BS I have had to encounter from both my DS schools and my nephews school which has been solely down to the school and not the LA, its a wonder I've not ended up in holloway yet.

kafkesque Wed 18-Sep-13 09:41:05

Hoxton you are not the only one.

What I have done with all this negative energy is to make them work harder. Lots of emails, questions, things they could do for DS not that they take any notice sometimes. Meetings.

My HT has mentioned that I sometimes use my questions as weapons against them to keep my sanity - I will not end up in Holloway LOL.

You go girl don't let them grind you down. That's why I have started up the thread - How do you make the professionals work hard for you?

There are ways and then there are ways!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now