Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

Draft SEN legislation - worrying!

(318 Posts)
AgnesDiPesto Tue 02-Oct-12 20:22:18

SOSSEN views on draft legislation here

If you have views you can submit them to Ambitious About Autism by 11 October here although probably other routes too.

SOSSEN urging everyone to complain to their MP about removing parental rights.

dev9aug Tue 02-Oct-12 20:42:05

It is pretty shocking stuff. I will write to my MP and would ask everyone I know to send a letter to their local MP's as well. I don't mean to sound lazy but before I attempt a letter, is there a template for a draft letter to the MP's which we could all use. (no need to reinvent the wheel and all that)

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 02-Oct-12 20:42:44

Thanks Agnes. I think I feel a letter to my MP coming on.

bochead Tue 02-Oct-12 20:47:33

Could Mumsnet make this one of their campaigns.

Reduced parental rights + harsh penalties against those parents who do dare complain/stand up for their child = disaster for so many children. Especially given that those with average cognitive ability will have reduced access to services under the new system (CP, Asd/AS, ADHD, deaf, blind,dyslexics & dyspraxics) to name but a few groups who will suffer.

This is scary. Is it only England where this is going to be imposed or will Scotland, Wales and Ireland also be included (predicts swift mass exodus of familes from England if this is to be the case).

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 02-Oct-12 20:49:58

My very autistic DS2 has average IQ, but couldn't manage a day at school without support. sad

babiki Tue 02-Oct-12 20:56:17

This is awful..especially the removal of appeals and the mandatory mediation service...
Can you explain what does it mean that it's paper, it means it goes to parliament for approval still?

HotheadPaisan Tue 02-Oct-12 21:10:41

Everyone who reads this needs to report the thread and ask for MN to make this into a campaign. We could partner or act as a hub for many of the disability orgs responding to the proposed reforms.

What they needed to do was keep the system as in but add DPs, extend to 25, make LAs coordinate on commissioning across education, health and social care and introduce fines/ compensation if lost at Tribunal. This would improve the current system. What is proposed will tie the lawyers up for years whilst kids are not provided for.

Absolutely disgraceful way to treat families an vulnerable children.

Decide a system isn't working based on the huge number of complaints and money wasted on handling them. Find a solution by removing rights to complain.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 02-Oct-12 21:19:47

Sorry there is suggested letter on SOSSEN (known by other charities as 'a bit militant'). I had not realised half this stuff had been slipped into the legislation. No wonder they got rid of Sarah Teather as she would have been contradicting herself. If its true and it goes through I think I shall be chaining myself to Downing Street gates.

I agree Hothead they want to have to fight the same legal fights again but this time as there will be no legal aid parents won't be able to win as they won't be able to afford the big hitter barristers.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 02-Oct-12 21:20:27

No one suggested penalties against parents. A very high percentage of replies to the Green Paper suggested penalties against LAs.

dev9aug Tue 02-Oct-12 21:23:41

Thanks Agnes.

flowwithit Tue 02-Oct-12 21:24:29

I am so upset to read this it's wrong. Life is so difficult if you have ASD or other developmental disorders. I see my ds struggle with school everyday despite him being of average intelligence. He has cried until 11pm last night and I stayed with him and he has been upset again tonight saying he can't cope at school. I have no idea where to turn for help and feel like a rubbish mother. Reading this just makes me feel even more lost!

HotheadPaisan Tue 02-Oct-12 21:27:43

I've reported and asked that MNHQ ask someone from the campaigns team to have a look at this. I also said it would be good if we could get Edward Timpson on in the first instance. I'd urge you all to report and request a campaign on this. Ideally MN would partner or provide a platform for campaigning this issues for one of the many excellent orgs already out there - SOSSEN or IPSEA for example.

bochead Tue 02-Oct-12 22:15:29

Have followed your lead and reported on the basis of - don't ask, don't get.

This is too serious not to have a campaign with as high a profile as possible. I'm not the Millie Tant type, but too many young lives will be completely ruined by this ill considered bill, if it's allowed to go through in it's current format. It effectively removes any kind of accountability at a practical level for LA's & schools.

Have also reported. Letter planned for tomorrow morning.

HotheadPaisan Tue 02-Oct-12 22:42:47

Thanks, the more that post in support of a campaign, the more likely we are to see one.

This is the first substantial response to the draft legislation I've see and it's not encouraging.

Thanks Agnes for posting this.

chocjunkie Tue 02-Oct-12 22:56:48

Thanks for posting this, agnes.

Have reported and emailed MP.


appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 00:42:58

This is utterly disgraceful. Where is the evidence base for this crap?

I will certainly contact my MP (though he is sadly a Tory) and respond to the 'consultation'.

It would be nice to see mumsnet throw their considerable weight behind some campaigning on this - it will have a massive effect on vulnerable about it MN HQ?

Why don't we try and pull people together around this issue? We have talked about campaigning before. We have links and contacts and skills between us.

Let's put our heads together and think of something concrete.

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 00:46:40

You can submit evidence directly to the Select Committee here

I have done this before several times. PM me if you want to help

Iceflower Wed 03-Oct-12 04:35:01

What SOSSEN have said is seriously scary. I have skimmed the draft and hadn't realised the implications; I did pick up on the compulsory mediation bit but it wasn't clear whether the parent could still appeal while going through mediation, or whether a timetable would apply.

The silence from IPSEA, NAS, etc is deafening! I will be bending the ear of my MP.

Agree Mumsnet should start a campaign, and will report my post.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 03-Oct-12 07:17:46

The timetable for the new legislation seems to be:
3 Sept 2012 - Publication of draft 'provisions' for the SEN section of the Children and Families Bill.
7 September 2012 - Call for evidence announced by Education Select Committee (submissions to be sent by midday on 11 October 2012) so that they can conduct pre-legislative scrutiny
January 2013 - Bill to be introduced into the House of Commons;
March 2013 onwards - Final evaluation of the Pathfinders' findings published with these to be fed back into the legislative process;
May 2013 - Bill to be 'carried over' into next Parliamentary session;
Early 2014 - Bill to receive Royal Assent (where it becomes the Children and Families Act)
Late 2014 onwards - implementation of the Act.

AP is right the first step is to put any comments to the select committee by 11 Oct. I need to read it all through and see if SOSSEN's take is correct.I have read some stuff which says this is meant to be a rough draft and there should be more detail in the bill but clearly its important to point out what is missing.

I think a campaign is a great idea and MNHQ will have time to get that sorted by Jan 2013 when the bill comes out & line up the Minister etc - it seems to me that the time to lobby MPs will be Jan 2013 when the Bill is finalised. So that gives us time to get organised!

eatyourveg Wed 03-Oct-12 08:15:53

Does anyone have a link to the actual draft?

I took from the link above that I can't request a SA, school can't either and if there is a disagreement with the LA I am forced to go to mediation but if I disagree with them I get fined.

Someone put me straight please - surely I have misunderstood?

HereBenson Wed 03-Oct-12 08:24:46

I haven't got an MP thanks to the resignation of Louise Mensch.

I've read the draft legislation several times; no mention of who can apply for a statutory assessment so i wonder if that will be in the COP, or regulations? The mediation bit is really worrying; a lot of talk is done before you get to a stand off type situation iyswim?
Can't see anything on penalties for parents- unless someone can point that bit out we need to avoid repeating it.

eatyourveg Wed 03-Oct-12 09:10:16


I think the 'parent penalties' are partly an interpretation of the giving LAs control of the mediation, both in terms of the mediator and who is allowed to attend.

This means that the more you disagree with the LA, the more unpleasant the mediation will be, and the less support you will be allowed.

If ever there were a time for parents and schools to unite it's now.

Should this be placed on the main board?

justaboutiswarm Wed 03-Oct-12 09:48:38

That makes my blood run cold.

lionheart Wed 03-Oct-12 10:15:38

Yes, parents and schools together.

And Teather's replacement to come and answer some questions in a friendly web-chat.

FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 10:16:37


Edward Timpson has agreed to come on for a webchat after party conference, so we're just in the process of firming up dates.

Blimey, - that was quick.

Presumably this will happen on the main board, - and presumably this webchat will highlight these issues to others who are interested in the webchat.

Perhaps a campaign could follow if there is obvious interest.?

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 10:23:40

Great - perhaps we should 'caucus' on our questions guys?

I am hoping to work on a submission to the Select Cttee and will read through proposals properly this weekend.

HereBenson Wed 03-Oct-12 10:27:33

If schools and parents can't request Statutory Assessment, who can? Confused by that.
I would have thought schools will be up in arms, not only because of that aspect, but because of the implication that there won't be provision for children with high IQ. My DS' old school has numerous students with AS who will probably be destined for very high things academically but because of their condition present considerable challenge behaviourally and need support, not just for their own sake, but for everyone else's.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 10:53:22


Thanks for drawing our attention to this one - we will have a look.

Do please keep posting to let us know what you think.


HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 11:16:52

Thanks MNHQ. I will email this thread to SOSSEN to see if they can come and shed more light. I had not got the message that parents would not be able to request an assessment or that there might be penalties. I really need to understand that. Also the mediation should not be used to delay SENDT appeals. It already takes the best part of an academic year to get support in place.

Will also ask IPSEA and Special Needs Jungle to come and comment too so we can get some clarity and decide how we might challenge this.

zzzzz Wed 03-Oct-12 11:26:10

Totally mad!

Previously Psych would have written "at least normal IQ" in an attempt for everyone to aime high for the child, now the self same phrase will mean "requires no help" ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

My ds has at least normal IQ and is severely language disordered. Without 121 support he cannot function at all. How would a school cope! We would be drummed out of town, because his disability would impact the education of every child in his school.

There are no special schools in our area (Devon) for normal IQ up children with neurological rather than physical. Now there will be no support in ms schools.

Where exactly do we go?

If you don't educate the children they will cost you a fortune long term.


lexy444 Wed 03-Oct-12 11:27:06

This is very worrying and not what parents had expected from reading the Green paper...
I have emailed the SOSSEN link to the Council for Disabled children who run the following:

The Making Ourselves Heard participation network
The National Parent Partnership Network
The Special Educational Consortium
The Transition Information Network
We also host the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign.

Surely they should be all over this....????

ouryve Wed 03-Oct-12 11:34:54

On a purely selfish angry mum level, this has made up my mind that DS1 needs to be moved out of mainstream into a specialist placement sooner rather than later. Waiting until secondary school transition is likely to leave him stranded with nowhere suitable to go if this goes ahead.

Off to make some noise. angry

tryingtokeepintune Wed 03-Oct-12 11:52:40

Thanks for the information.

Will write to my MP and have alerted various groups to the new information.

Perhaps I will write to the governors of my dc's schools to ask what they intend to do about it.

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 12:09:10

Lexy - I have had very recent experience with the Council for Disabled Children (which is an umbrella organisation for lots of charities) and I was hugely disappointed with their sympathetic stance to LAs breaking the law.

Perhaps we should draw up a campaign hit list? A few people have PM'd me already to discuss this further.

I have is a very helpful contact at national office at the NAS and I am sure people have other ideas/contacts.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 12:52:45

I cannot find anything on parent penalties but it is very woolly on assessment, certainly doesn't state parents can request an assessment but then it doesn't state they can't.

The big concern for me, in addition to clarity on the above, is the use of 'best endeavours' where previously statements state an LA 'must' provide the contents.

Also the mandatory mediation will almost certainly lead to delays.

This draft needs a lot of work and much more clarity, it needs to be tighter and there needs to be penalties for LAs who deliberately avoid their legal responsibilities.

I am not convinced by this as it stands at all. There will be lots more litigation when the rules are already established and clear, even if not upheld because it is just too hard for individuals to keep going up against institutions.

perceptionreality Wed 03-Oct-12 13:15:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lexy444 Wed 03-Oct-12 13:32:19

Appropriately - very disappointed to hear that re. CDC. They do have a response to the paper on their website, detailing their concerns.

Hothead - totally agree on wording "best endeavours".
Difficult enough to get LA's to specify and quantify provision. At least once you got over that hurdle they were obligated to provide.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 03-Oct-12 14:03:31

I think clarity from SOSSEN eg a webchat would be really helpful - I'm not sure if their take is the worst case scenario or fact.

I can't see any other published responses yet and surprised IPSEA etc not picked it up

Mediation is terrible idea in my view. I have used mediation as a lawyer and there are very few cases where its really needed. Either you can get round a table and sort it out face to face without a mediator because both parties want to negotiate and there is a middle ground. Or there is no room for compromise eg LA said DS very mild and could go to m/s with termly professional visits - we said he was severe and needed autism specific education & fulltime 1:1 - ie so far apart that mediation is pointless, you can't compromise by saying well lets meet the middle and pretend DS is moderate and split the difference because that would not have met his needs given they were actually severe.

Our LA have many blanket policies about using a very extended graduated approach before doing statutory assessment and outright ban on independent placements without tribunal so mediation when there is a policy not to compromise at all would be utterly pointless. I think mediation will make parents feel thats its expected that they compromise but that may not be whats best for the child if for eg they end up with only 60% of what they need because the LA has bargained them down.

Truth is if our LA had negotiated we would have settled for far less ABA than the Tribunal gave us. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would win 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. But the Tribunal decided he did need it and I am really grateful that it was a tribunal who made that decision. I know lots of families in neighbouring LAs which pay for ABA without tribunal where they feel pressured to compromise and end up accepting less than needed / very part time programmes and topping it up themselves. I think that will be the result of mediation. Parents feeling pressured to accept less.

Parents should not be making the decision as to whether 15 hours, 20 hours, 35 hours etc is appropriate on their own without advice. There should be expert input into that decision.

perceptionreality Wed 03-Oct-12 14:37:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 03-Oct-12 14:50:47

Yes ABA is totally absent its not included in the list of provisions when it easily could have been

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 14:59:46

I had a tweet from IPSEA, they will publish their detailed analysis early next week.

alison222 Wed 03-Oct-12 16:09:03

I found this on the NAS website. It says that the committee looking at this need replies by the 11th October. That isn't long for everyone to send in their views.

dev9aug Wed 03-Oct-12 16:29:49

I have also mentioned this on the Yahoo ABA group, there doesn't seem to be a mention of it there either.

perceptionreality Wed 03-Oct-12 16:31:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 16:54:56

I think we will see detailed responses from IPSEA, SNJ, NASEN, NAS and many others over the next week or so, they will have been preparing them for the deadline.

There will be plenty of time to devise a campaign once we can distil information from these sources and hear from Edward Timpson. When the webchat time comes we might want to closely drill into a few areas as well as have the usual approach. We can have a separate thread to write and decide on our questions and make sure they get answered with opportunities for follow up.

The more I think about it, the more this is watering existing things down and introducing uncertainty where there is at least clarity now. The concept of a co-ordinated approach is a good one, and there are some good ideas around education DPs and extending support to 25 and promoting joint commissioning, but the detail is lacking or takes us backwards in education in terms of statutory provision and it's impossible to support on that basis.

perceptionreality Wed 03-Oct-12 17:08:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 17:15:27

My guess is that within the hierarchy of laws this is assumed to not be in conflict but one day there will be a DDA or Equality Act challenge I am sure of it. It's even more likely if some routes are closed here.

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 18:11:52

It is more than watering down - it removes statutory duties and overturns decided caselaw.

Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath for charities to take action. They will make submissions but here is nothing to stop individuals doing this too and select committees do like to hear from 'real people' too.

Also, I would not be sure about there being 'plenty of time'. This stuff will be railroaded through as evidenced by the unseemly despatch of Teather.

The DDA has been replaced by the Equality Act and proposed legislation can be (and should be) reviewed for its compliance with the human rights framework, albeit more specifically the HRA. This is, of course, different to any future legal challenge. I haven't looked at the detail of the provisions but I imagine this would be extremely difficult to achieve.

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 18:13:10

Proving a breach of the Equality Act I mean..

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 18:20:47

Proving a breach of the Equality Act I mean..

alison222 Wed 03-Oct-12 18:26:04

As I said below the Parliamentary committee expect any comments on it by 11th October. That is only next Friday. This is the date by which the charities will have to give their replies too so for any of our views to have any effect on what the charities comment we will have to submit to them in the next day or two.

I was also looking at replying directly to the Parliamentary committee too - the more views the better surely?

alison222 Wed 03-Oct-12 18:26:22

Above even blush - its been a long day

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 18:41:35

Haven't read whole thread yet so not sure if anyone's posted this already, but below is the press release re inviting submissions to the select committee. I don't know if this committee will accept submissions from just anyone - does anyone know this?

Below also contains a link of particular interest:

For further information regarding the specific questions, please refer to the Minister's letter of 3 September:

Education Committee

Select Committee Announcement

6 September 2012
For Immediate Release:



Call for evidence

The Education Committee is conducting pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government's proposed reform of provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

The Government published draft clauses in a Command paper (Cm 8438) on 3 September 2012. At the same time the then Minister of State for Children and Families, Sarah Teather MP, wrote to the Committee, inviting it to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Committee invites written submissions of evidence addressing the following points:


1. Does the draft Bill meet the Government's policy objective to improve provision for disabled children and children with special educational needs?
2. Will the provisions succeed in cutting red tape and delays in giving early specialist support for children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities?
3. What will be the cost?
4. What impact will the draft Bill have on current institutional structures?
5. What transitional arrangements should be put in place in moving from the existing system?
6. What can be learned from the current pilot schemes and how can these lessons be applied to the provisions of the draft Bill?
7. Is there anything missing from the draft Bill?


8. Whether it would be appropriate to move away from "special educational needs" and use the term "learning difficulties and/or disabilities" instead in the new system?
9. How the general duties on local authorities to identify and have responsibility for children and young people in their area who have or may have special educational needs (clauses 3 and 4) work with the specific duties in other provisions (clauses 5 to 11, 16 and 17 to 24)? Are they sufficiently coherent?
10. Should the scope of the integrated provision requirement be extended to all children and young people, including those with special educational needs?
11. Should other types of schools and institutions be included in the duty on schools to admit a child with an education, health and care plan naming the school as the school to be attended by the child?
12. Do the provisions for 19 to 25 year olds provide a suitable balance between rights, protections and flexibility?
13. Do the provisions achieve the aim of integrated planning and assessment across agencies?
14. How could the power given to the Secretary of State to make regulations with regard to the practicalities of the assessment and planning process be best utilised to achieve the aim of integrated support?
15. What impact will the new powers provided for in the clauses have on young people's transition into adult services?
16. Should the provisions in this bill relating to portability of social care support reflect those for adults contained in the Care and Support Bill?
17. How could the provisions in the bill be used to reinforce protections for young people with special educational needs who are in custody or who are leaving custody?

For further information regarding the specific questions, please refer to the Minister's letter of 3 September:

The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines below by noon on 11 October 2012 – earlier submissions would be helpful; the Committee may be unable to accept late submissions due to tight deadlines.

Please note that submissions need not address all the questions but only those areas on which you have evidence to contribute. Where your comments relate to specific draft clauses, please identify the relevant clause clearly in your submission.

Please note
The submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked "Pre-Legislative Scrutiny: SEN". The Committee's strong preference is for submissions in electronic form, although hard copy originals will be accepted. Hard copy submissions should be sent to Caroline McElwee, Committee Assistant, at:

Education Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Each submission should:
be no more than 3,000 words in length;
have numbered paragraphs; and
(if in electronic form) be in Word format or a rich text format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

For Data Protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

Please also note that:

Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.
Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, although not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
The Committee does not normally investigate individual cases.


Committee Membership is as follows:
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair), Conservative, Beverley and Holderness
Neil Carmichael, Conservative, Stroud
Alex Cunningham, Labour, Stockton North
Bill Esterson, Labour, Sefton Central
Pat Glass, Labour, North West Durham
Damian Hinds, Conservative, East Hampshire
Charlotte Leslie, Conservative, Bristol North West
Ian Mearns, Labour, Gateshead
Lisa Nandy, Labour, Wigan
David Ward, Liberal Democrat, Bradford East
Craig Whittaker, Conservative, Calder Valley

Specific Committee Information: / 020 7219 6181

Media Information: Hannah Pearce 020 7219 8430 / 07917 488162

Committee Website:

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 19:01:36

I had an email from SOSSEN, they are hoping to come and post something later.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 19:13:16

I'm a bit confused about SOSSEN press release - Part 1, section 28 (page 25) of the draft legislation does cover Appeals.

28 Appeals
(1) A child’s parent or a young person may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against the matters set out in subsection (2), subject to section 29 (mediation).
(2) The matters are—
(a) a decision of a local authority not to secure an EHC needs assessment
for the child or young person;
(b) a decision of a local authority, following an EHC needs assessment, that
it is not necessary for special educational provision to be made for the
child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan;
(c) where an EHC plan is maintained for the child or young person—
Provisions about children and young people in England with special educational needs
Part 1 —
(i) the child’s or young person’s special educational needs as set
out in the plan;
(ii) the special educational provision set out in the plan;
(iii) the school or other institution named in the plan, or the type of
school or other institution specified in the plan;
(iv) if no school or other institution is named in the plan, that fact;
(d) a decision of a local authority not to secure a re-assessment of the needs
of the child or young person under section 23 following a request to do
(e) a decision of a local authority not to secure the amendment or
replacement of an EHC plan it maintains for the child or young person
following a review or re-assessment under section 23;
(f) a decision of a local authority under section 24 to cease to maintain an
EHC plan for the child or young person.
(3) A child’s parent or a young person may appeal to the First-tier Tribunal under
subsection (2)(c)—
(a) when an EHC plan is first finalised for the child or young person, and
(b) following an amendment or replacement of the plan.

Marions Wed 03-Oct-12 19:30:22

The details in the Draft Legislation issued in September are very worrying, because they appear to considerably reduce parents' rights. The fault is in part in thoroughly bad drafting that completely leaves out such matters as the parent and school right to request an assessment. It is probable that this right will eventually be there but "hidden" in subsequent Regulations or simply implicit.It should be explicit in the Draft. Equally, the potentially highly expensive and enforced Mediation with "independent" mediators appointed by the LAs does not fill parens with confidence of receiving justice.

SOS!SEN will be lobbying the Ministers responsible but there is much to be gained by getting local MPs to know what parents think of the proposals and how much they know they will affect their and their children's rights.

We would urge parents to write to as many MPs as possible and alert them to parents' concerns. Full details of the legislation, our concerns and suggested wording for a letter can be found on our website.

On Saturday 17th November we are holding our 10th Anniversary Conference "Empowering Parents", which will bring together parents and leading figures in the world of SEN to discuss key issues in an open forum. This will present an ideal opportunity for parents to raise concerns over the proposed legislation. Ed Timpson has been invited though as yet has not responded? He would find it enlightening! Full details of the Conference and how to register can be found on on the SOS!SEN website - - news and events.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 19:53:20

Yes, "independent" mediators being arranged by the local authority is a bit of an oxymoron! (Parent Partnership anyone?)

Who pays for the mediators?

Why can;t they be arranged by the parents? SOSSEN would do it perhaps?

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:08:38

It looks like the LA pay but doesn't explicitly say so. From the draft bill:

The local authority must then arrange for mediation between it and the parent
or young person.
(5) The child’s parent or young person must take part in mediation under this
section before making an appeal.
(6) The authority must arrange for the mediation to be conducted by an
independent person.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:09:33

It's like an estate agent arranging 'independent' financial advice for buyers, or letting agent using their own 'independent' surveyors hmm

In order to take part in mediation, do you have to attend a face to face meeting, - or can you do it via email/post etc.? And would it still go ahead in the interest of the child if the parent wasn't able or willing to attend/engage due to circumstance, ability, fear etc. as it would do at a tribunal?

lionheart Wed 03-Oct-12 20:18:27

whispers Isn't there a mumsnet webchat coming up?

Do they REALLY think that parents opt for tribunal without first spending several years attemping dialogue with local authorities first?

You mean the one tomorrow with Justine and Helen?

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:23:32

Star they must've read the threads on here where we say don't bother going to pre-tribunal meetings as it'll just be a stitch-up wink

2tirednot2fight Wed 03-Oct-12 20:23:55

I entered into mediation and the LA breeched every agreement made, what is to stop this no doubt best endeavours will feature. I was told parents were expected to pay half but they did pay the whole cost in the end as the LGO intervened.

TaniaLT Wed 03-Oct-12 20:25:03

Hi all
I'm Tania from Special Needs Jungle. I've been hearing these concerns from SOS!SEN and others for a few weeks now. I have been told by the DfE, however, that parents right will only be strengthened by the bill and no rights will be taken away. Also, all through my time working on Surrey's pathfinder, it has always been stressed that any agency, and this includes parents, can request a statutory assessment.
Additionally SOS!SEN are calling this a white paper, while the DfE say this is a draft bill that will be amended as the results of the pathfinders come through.
Who's right? Well, I think that some things certainly need to be made clearer and I hope to bring an SNJ post in the next week doing just that. I am meeting an SEN barrister tomorrow and will get her view.
I definitely think that what we are experiencing in the pathfinder and what we are hoping to achieve is not particularly reflected in the bill.
There is a consultation on the draft bill, that you can respond to, which closes on 11th October.
If you are in Surrey, we are holding a pathfinder update meeting on 23rd November at which a top DfE official will be speaking, among others. See for details.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:26:02

Actually I think if this bit does get through, the govt would probably hastily change it after realising how much money they're spending on mediation which won't make a blind bit of different.

The draft says that parents would be required to go to mediation but parents can still go ahead and appeal if no agreement is reached.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:27:07


HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 20:31:13

Thanks Tania and Marion, really appreciate you coming over from Twitter to tweet.

I want to respond to the consultation as a parent but will wait for a bit more info to make sure I understand what this draft bill omits/ fails to clarify. We've got another week and I know IPSEA will publish a detailed response early next week too.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 20:32:54

Post even!

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:36:10

The bit that worries me is, as SOS SEN highlight, the wording that the LA must only use their "best endeavour" to arrange provision specified in a statement.

How often do we see on this board a parent asking "how do I make my school comply with statement"? I have been in that situation myself and only got action by writing to the LA and reminding them of their statutory duty. Very worrying - vague wording like this will only give them a green light to exploit a woolly bit of law. Even if parents successfully challenge this it would be at the cost of huge expense and stress.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:36:44

Yes, thank you SOS SEN and SNJ smile

TaniaLT Wed 03-Oct-12 20:37:45

Yes, Jane McConnell at IPSEA is extremely knowledgeable and I will be listening closely to what she has to say.

I'm worried that Best Endev, as well as enabling LA's to get away with continued incompetence, delays, communication breakdowns etc, will give LA's permission to say that they ran out of money, didn't have enough staff/resources/budget/expertise etc etc.

Iceflower Wed 03-Oct-12 20:40:04

HHP, I think that's sensible. I will hold fire too until I've heard from IPSEA.

Veritate Wed 03-Oct-12 20:40:04

I think the reason other charities haven't publicised these things is that the stuff on the SOS SEN website isn't totally accurate. For instance, they're not correct in saying there will be no right of appeal against refusal to assess. It's definitely there in the draft Bill. They're also wrong to say that local authorities won't have any duty to supply what is in the statement. Section 21 says that they will have to provide the educational support in just the same way as they do now. The section about using best endeavours that the SOS website refers to relates to the duties of other bodies like schools and health authorities. On mediation, it says that there will be penalties for failure to co-operate, but there's nothing that says that would be against parents.

I think the main problem is that it's all too vague because the DfE are probably intending to put most of the detail into regulations. That's OK for some things, and in fact it's what happens now in relation to things like time limits for the assessment process. The trouble with this, however, is that it's much easier for the government to slip through a change in regulations in the future than it would be for them to change a statute. Edward Timpson said on the radio that parents and schools will be able to ask for assessment, so I suppose that will be in the regulations, but I agree there's no reason why it can't be in the Act itself.

What really concerns me is that there's nothing in the Bill which makes LAs specify and detail SEN provision in the new EHC plans. That would leave them free to be really woolly which is totally unhelpful to schools and makes them unenforceable. They may again plan to put this in regulations but it's so important that it definitely needs to be in the Act.

Thank you SNJ and SOSSEN!

I want to be clear too. I'm not an expert. I want to understand.

And when I do, I want to stand in my ds' independent school playground handing out templates, in dd's mainstream, and write to the governors, as well as get friends to help.

But I need to be able to give them a clear and correct message/account, and I have to say that right now I'm a bit confused, and not in a good way.

bialystockandbloom Wed 03-Oct-12 20:45:19

there's nothing in the Bill which makes LAs specify and detail SEN provision in the new EHC plans. That would leave them free to be really woolly which is totally unhelpful to schools and makes them unenforceable. They may again plan to put this in regulations but it's so important that it definitely needs to be in the Act.

Yyy absolutely!

Sorry, betraying ignorance, but can anyone confirm - at the moment, is it in the Act itself or only in the SENCOP?

I thought it was case law.

Veritate Wed 03-Oct-12 20:58:07

Just to clarify the "best endeavours" stuff.

Section 21 of the draft Bill says:

A local authority that maintains an EHC Plan for a child or young person MUST SECURE the special educational provision set out in the plan.

Section 39 says:

Special educational provision: functions of governing bodies and others

Using best endeavours to secure special educational provision

This section imposes duties on the appropriate authorities for the following schools and other institutions in England:
(a)mainstream schools;
(b)maintained nursery schools;
(c)16 to 19 Academies;
(d)alternative provision Academies;
(e)institutions within the further education sector;
(f)pupil referral units.

If a registered pupil or a student at a school or other institution has special educational needs, the appropriate authority must, in exercising its functions in relation to the school or other institution, use its best endeavours to secure that the special educational provision called for by the pupilís or studentís special educational needs is made.
The "appropriate authority" for a school or other institution is:-
(a) in the case of a maintained school, maintained nursery school or institution within the further education sector, the governing body;
(b)in the case of an Academy, the proprietor; (c)in the case of a pupil referral unit, the management committee.

SOS SEN is quoting section 39, but as you can see it relates only to schools. For local authorities, it is section 21 which applies, and that is very clear that they have to provide the SEN provision in the EHC plan, which is the equivalent to a statement.

Veritate Wed 03-Oct-12 21:06:36

The stuff about specifying provision is in section 324(3) of the Education Act 1996, but there has also been a lot of case law confirming it and clarifying what is expected.

lionheart Wed 03-Oct-12 21:57:01

Yes (Starlight)--sorry for the delay in posting.

appropriatelyemployed Wed 03-Oct-12 21:59:51

Veritate - I haven't read the paper yet but that is a pretty glaring error from SOS-SEN as it seems to just replicate the best endeavours duty in place on schools already.

Specification - duty arises from Act but further interpreted by case law and set out in SEN COP.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 22:08:23

So, say all the existing provision stays in place and some things are enhanced, would we still see a lot of new litigation testing the new Act or would the existing SEN case law from the Education Act sections continue to be relied on?

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 22:11:00

Also, need the timeframes for mediation and I still can't see anything that penalises the LA for not meeting deadlines or ensuring the provision is put in place.

HotheadPaisan Wed 03-Oct-12 22:13:16

Or, more positively, how do we ensure LA accountability? I bet many in the departments I know would welcome more stringent rules to help ensure they get an adequate budget. Still can't believe schools' SEN budgets aren't ringfenced.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 03-Oct-12 22:34:46

The therapy issue is valid I think - it would seem to be under health provision not SEN provision and therefore all the caselaw on this have to be re tested - as I understand it the previous caselaw refers to Education Act 1996 but this will be a new law which will replace the bits of the Ed Act therefore any caselaw based on Ed Act provisions may not be considered to hold against the new law that replaces it.

I agree SOSSEN seem to have got the appeal bit wrong.

Not read the best endeavours bit yet

perceptionreality Wed 03-Oct-12 23:01:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 04-Oct-12 08:24:20

Does anyone have the link to the report SOS!SEN refer to about DC with average cognitive abilities being refused assessment?

What would happen to DC with average or above cognitive ability who have an existing Statement? Would they be reassessed at or before Review with the potential of not meeting new criteria?

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 08:31:38

I heard that radio programme, and I thought at the time that Melinda Nettleton was wrong about that, because she specifically said that the local authority's duty would be only to use their best endeavours. As Veritate has pointed out, the local authority duty is that they must secure the provision, and it is just schools who are limited to using their best endeavours.

I checked it afterwards with a barrister who is an expert in education law and he confirmed that she was wrong about that. He said that it's an improvement because it means that potentially cases can be brought in the child's name against both schools and local authorities - local authorities because they have an absolute duty, and against schools if you can say they haven't used their best endeavours. He said that often just threatening court action gets the result you need.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 08:50:29

Delalakis - it is not an improvement as there has always been a best endeavours 'duty' on schools, however, it is virtually unenforceable by law which is why statements with their binding and very clear legal duty are so important.

I have looked at section 21 and it does say exactly what Veritate says - a duty to secure the provision. The present duty is to 'arrange'. I'm not sure why there is a change in wording or whether that will make any difference. However, it is not a best endeavours duty.

What's the difference between 'secure' and 'arrange'? <suspicious me>

Does it take some onus off of delivery?

'He said that often just threatening court action gets the result you need'.

Hmm, well he would say that, - being a barrister and all. My experience is the opposite.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 09:22:59

That was my concern Star.

In theory, secure sounds like a firmer commitment but the courts have already explored arrange and defined it, so why change it? I suspect it is not to 'firm up' children's rights.

The courts approach interpretation by applying the ordinary English meaning of the word when there is a lack of clarity and here I think there could be some wriggle room for LAs as it could be interpreted to mean obtain, procure rather than deliver.

Yes, - 'well, we've secured a contract with SALTs - go and pester them!'

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 09:35:38

Precisely! And it maybe that the courts would say, Parliament has changed the wording from arrange to secure for a reasons, Parliament meant us to interpret this differently.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 09:36:31

"'He said that often just threatening court action gets the result you need'.

Hmm, well he would say that, - being a barrister and all. My experience is the opposite."

Well, hardly, seeing that if the threat means that you don't have to go to court it does a barrister out of a fat brief fee. However, if you do have to go to court, I understand that the case would be brought in the child's name and he would be entitled to legal aid, unless he's a lot richer than most children with SEN.

I disagree. The lure of 'threatening' court action but not having to actually go, gets legal firms money from parents who were not considering legal action at all, and brings them into a system where they could be throwing good money after bad.

I have had enough experience of SEN lawyers to know that whilst some are very good/ethical and do care, their agenda is not the same as parents, and there is also a hell of a lot to be gained for them from ambiguity.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 09:45:16

"Yes, - 'well, we've secured a contract with SALTs - go and pester them!' "

It wouldn't work. The duty is to secure the provision, not to secure a contract. If anything, "arrange" could be seen as more dangerous - LAs might have been able to say "We've arranged SALT, it's not our fault if it didn't happen." But as we know the courts haven't interpreted it that way, and there's no reason to believe they would interpret "secure" any differently.

Don't get me wrong, I think there are a lot of problems with this legislation, but I think we need to concentrate on that rather than putting all our energies into concentrating on the total red herring about "best endeavours".

I think we should be focussing on the suggestion that SALT and OT won't count as educational provision and won't be enforceable, and the failure to put into the draft any duty for LAs to specify provision. That would mean that LAs could get away with nonsense like "X would benefit from contact with a specialist dyslexia teacher" which would mean that there would be no duty on LAs to provide any specialist teaching at all.

So what is provision and how is a contract not provision?

LA's always focus on the wooliest definition of provision rather than outcomes. They measure their success by what they put in, not what comes out. And if they have contracted someone else to provide, the haven't they secured provision regardless of whether or not it is actually provided?

I don't think anyone would mind too much about best endeavours occuring anywhere PROVIDED there is timely accountability SOMEWHERE.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 09:52:44

Delalakis - I am afraid your barrister friend is wrong about the best endeavours duty on schools being new. It is not and it is not litigated on as it is near nigh impossible to enforce.

However, as you say, the best endeavours issue in relation to LAs is a red herring as the proposed bill does not reduce the duty on LAs to best endeavours.

It does however change the wording and it would be naiive not to address this. As a lawyer who has been involved in cases to Supreme Court level which frequently turn on the wording of Acts, I would say that, although it may not be a problem, it might be and any changing in the wording needs to be raised.

This means it can be commented on as the Bill passes and clarification can be sought to support the meaning if there is an intention to change it.

Secure might mean more than arrange but it might not. The ordinary English meaning is ambiguous and, in those cases, the courts can look to what was said in Parliament during the passing of the Act.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 09:55:25

"I disagree. The lure of 'threatening' court action but not having to actually go, gets legal firms money from parents who were not considering legal action at all, and brings them into a system where they could be throwing good money after bad."

Yes, but practising barristers aren't part of legal firms. You can make the threat of court action yourself, but if you want a formal solicitor's letter you go to a solicitor's firm. The barrister I was talking to is a practising barrister who therefore isn't allowed to join a solicitor's firm, and he gets no money until someone is actually starting a court action. If the threat works so that court action isn't needed, there's no financial advantage to him.

I quite agree that if a law is ambiguous it makes money for lawyers, but that doesn't mean that what my contact said is wrong. After all, we can all see for ourselves the wording of the Bill. Also, as I have pointed out, if he is wrong, the follow-up is court action which the parents won't have to pay for because their child would get legal aid.

I do hear what you are saying. But the barrister has a belief system that is embedded in legal action. How many people does he come across sorting things out without legal threats? And, do you not think that he benefits from waving in more traffic to his feeding solicitors?

I'm not suggesting that he is out to deliberately force parents to part with cash that they wouldn't otherwise, but it is his bread and butter, what he knows and this will be at least partly influenced by his aspirations for himself.

So, I guess this is one simple question for Edward Timpson?

Why have you changed this word? What do you have against keeping it as 'arrange'?

What I would be very interested to know is whether the new 'plan' means that ABA and other autism treatments and therapies can now be provided by Health, as it is in many other countries.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:03:44

"He said that it's an improvement because it means that potentially cases can be brought in the child's name against both schools and local authorities - local authorities because they have an absolute duty, and against schools if you can say they haven't used their best endeavours."

I am sorry but your contact is wrong. This is not an improvement. The duty on schools is not new and it has always been open to parents to take action gainst schools.

This is because section 317 of the Education Act 1996 has long imposed a duty on schools to use their best endeavours to ensure that for any pupil who has SEN the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for is made.

If you ask any education lawyer, they will tell you that this is not litigated on as it is almost impossible to pin this duty down and it is too easy for the schools to say they 'did their best' and then to factor in cost restraints etc etc.

The duty on the LA has, however, always been absolute and this is why yoou litigate against the LA not schools.

The proposed Bill does not change the status quo in this respect save to change the wording of the LA's duty from 'to arrange' to 'to secure'.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:05:55

Some of us are trying to organise our thoughts on this away from public gaze - I note alot of posters from other bodies have caught wind of this thread which is helpful but they may have their own perspectives.

PM me if you are interested.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:43

"Delalakis - I am afraid your barrister friend is wrong about the best endeavours duty on schools being new. It is not and it is not litigated on as it is near nigh impossible to enforce."

Sorry, I think this is my error. He said it was an improvement basically because the list of schools is extended. The improvement in terms of being able to take more direct action is because the new academies have a clause in their agreements with the DfE which does impose a more direct duty on them.

The fact that section 39 is a repeat of the existing legislation does show again that the whole "best endeavours" point is a red herring. If the fact that the schools had a duty to use best endeavours didn't weaken the LA duty before, then it won't do so now. Yes, if it makes people happier to have "arrange" in the new Act instead of "secure", by all means say so, but I think it is a pity that Ms Nettleton went on the radio and told everyone that the Bill will mean that LAs only have to use their best endeavours when that's not the case. If we all start concentrating on parts of the Act that are not a problem we risk losing sight of the things that definitely are problems, which is probably exactly what Gove would love.

I'd like to help figure this out too AE! I don't have the skills that many do, in this area but don't see why the law shouldn't be clear to parents like me.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:29:35

Thanks. Clearly someone made an error on section 39 but your initial post was also substantially incorrect.

Thanks for your advice but I think those of us who wish to organise can take up the points we feel are important for ourselves. I am a lawyer and very used to finding my way around Acts.

I note you are a new poster. What has brought you here?

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:30:05

Star - I think we will need to do this off-board.

I also think that it is really important that there is substantial input by parents and not run by lawyers, or even charities tbh. As I said before, their agendas are not the same (NAS anyone?).

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:36:57

I absolutely agree. A legal perspective might help you understand the proposed Bill (although if it needs legal interpretation it is not good drafting!) but what parents choose to do or say about it is a matter for them.

I have already had a poor experience with charities so knee-deep in their relationships with Gov departments and pathfinder projects that they have entirely forgotten what they are supposed to be doing.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 10:51:04

Appropriately employed: I'm the mother of a three children, and I joined Mumsnet I guess for all the reasons everyone else does. I came to the SEN thread because one of my children has dyslexia. I've recently gone through the statementing process myself and therefore am particularly interested in developments in SEN including the Green Paper.

So, what brings you here and what is your appropriate employment with regard to education?

'So, what brings you here and what is your appropriate employment with regard to education?'

I guess it is because you don't know this, that you raise alarm bells.

You're welcome here, as are your contributions, but you have to realise that this board has an established community and appearing from nowhere (your posting history suggests you only began today) with forthright opinions is going to raise questions about your agenda.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:59:49

I have been a regular poster here for over 4 years. The posters here have kept me going through all my many battles.

I noticed you were new and this thread was your first post. We have had several new posts on this thread from charities etc.

I have absolutely no appropriate employment with regard to education. Appropriately employed was a name change and a joke from a previous name. Those who know me understand it but we name change for many different reasons so it is probably wise not to explain the history

I am a lawyer by profession but I don't work in education and never have.

TheTimeTravellersWife Thu 04-Oct-12 11:16:29

Sorry, I have come to this thread a little late, but I do agree that we, as individual parents need to make our voices heard.

It is a pity that it is such a very short timescale to respond in, don't they realise that parents of disabled children tend to be rather busy people, very short of time!!

I haven't even managed to read the whole draft bill yet, but it seems to me that any ambiguities will be exploited by the LAs and the NHS to avoid providing the support and services that our children need and we risk years of expensive legal wrangling and making new case law unless this is clarified properly NOW.

There has to be a duty to for the LA to provide the support in the Statement/EHCP - "best endeavours" is just not good enough and provides far too much "wriggle" room to get out of their obligations.

Mediation - it should be the parents choice who the mediator is (I think that the whole compulsory mediation process is bad idea, and will just delay things at best and result in parents losing out at worst), this from someone who was told by the LA that they "would not negotiate with us" and would see as at Tribunal (for a mainstream placement!)
There must be sanctions on LAs who repeatedly flout the law and continue to use unlawful, blanket polices, it is the only way that they will ever be reigned in.

The existing system did not need fundamental change ( and money wasted on Pathfinder projects) what it needed was an effect mechanism to "police" the behaviour of the LAs, which this new system still fails to provide.

whatthewhatthebleep Thu 04-Oct-12 11:16:44

I'm quite confused and trying to follow this as best I can....speculation hurts my head too much...

I need a clearer picture so I know what I'm responding to....

My question is this...if things are being separated from LA and school education responsibilities...does this mean that specialists we deal with for ABA, salt, physio, etc are collectively seen as 'best endeavour' by school/LA agreeing to organise but they won't be responsible for parents will have to take up their battle with NHS to enforce these services are delivered????

Is this the crux? Does it mean that schools take care of education and any barriers to learning are separated from them,... so parents will have to take up a separate battle with the specialists under Health depts?

Am I seeing this right or am I too confused?....perhaps I'm missing the big picture of what this all really means

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 11:18:49

I don't understand that. Everyone has to start somewhere! I'd never heard that Mumsnet regarded itself as an established community where every new joiner has to be treated with suspicion if they have an opinion.

I think the responsibility for delivery of provision will fall to those who deliver it, rather than the LA who commissions it.

I think that is where we are headed, - but who knows............?

Mumsnet isn't, - MNSN IS, not by design, but by the posters who use it.

If you want to change that then that is valid, - come and post and effect change.

The rule isn't to be suspicious of new posters, suspicious arose at the timing and topic by those who had also invested their energies, but who had been doing so for considerable time.

But you can't descend into a community that already exists and start to tell them how to behave. Or at least you can if you want, but you risk challenge.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 11:30:01

There have to be penalties for LAs flouting the law, it's the only way, the exisiting system could work with that.

Delalakis Thu 04-Oct-12 11:30:39

But when did I tell anyone how to behave? As I say, I simply gave my opinion, as many others have. Just because you've been investing your energies here, doesn't mean that others may not have been investing their energies elsewhere. Nor does it mean that established people don't have an agenda.

Course not, - but we all have an understanding or at least a feel for the agenda of the established posters, which is why you were questioned.

Look, this is getting personal, and I never intended that - I was only trying to explain. As I said, you and your contributions are welcome as are anyone's. It's a board with established community but we aren't elite.

Exactly Hot.

To save money on barristers and legal teams, you don't need to introduce compulsory mediation, - you just have to introduce clear accountability and pentalties.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 11:45:07

Star I agree.

You need clearly worded, easily accessible law, very clear duties, penalties for breach of those duties.

If LAs and schools did what they are supposed to do under the existing law, e wouldn't have much of a problem but they don't. They break the law, they lie, they have blanket policies, they use whatever wriggle room they can.

The law must not be changed in a way which makes this worse.

I had a lightbulb moment on the way to collect dd.

I understand the difference between secure and arrange!

It it not to do with DPs

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 12:52:22

Go on then......!

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Oct-12 12:56:23

Yes star thats what I think
'Arrange' means LAs sort out the provision (use own employed outreach staff, block contracts with SALT)
'Secure' means they pay for it but someone else eg parent can arrange it
We have this with our ABA programme we got the statement worded to say LA will fund, not arrange - thank goodness as when we won they tried to send it out to tender (kick it into long grass) even though we were already with the one and only ABA provider around here. We were able to point out they had no duty to 'arrange' the provision only to 'fund' it and we would therefore arrange it ourselves. To be fair they did have rules about contracts above a certain amount being sent out to tender but even so it was ridiculous to apply that to DS. They also have a duty in our statement to 'provide access' to a mainstream school.
See Star you don't need to be a lawyer - you are just as qualified!

HereBenson Thu 04-Oct-12 12:57:46

It's a board with established community but we aren't elite.
Actually it sounds as though you are. Whilst I am glad that those of you with expertise are tackling these issues, none of the major posts on this thread seem to come from 'ordinary parents' and yet they are the ones who need the most defence. I seem to remember that IPSEAs initial response to all this makes just that point- that everything should work for the good of every child, not just those with articulate and knowledgeable parents.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 13:10:46

So key issues:

Clearly worded law - educational provision of an assessment must continue to be provided per the current statutory legislation, would be great if this extended to care and health or wherever SALT and OT fall for example

Timescales for EHCP assessment and mediation, cannot be longer than six months

Clarity on parents being able to request assessment

Clear appeals process including who will cover costs, timescales to be made clear and reduced

Penalties for LAs who do not comply, this will help the good people in the children's disability teams get the budgets they need to deliver the services I know they want to

It's for the Direct Payments AE!

HereBenson Thu 04-Oct-12 13:18:07

Hey. Snubbed.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:19:42

Agnes - that makes sense. There must be some reason for the change of wording and if, in some cases, parents get DPs (fat chance but in theory possible!), they would take over delivery.

And HereBenson - I am not sure I understand your point at all. Who are the 'ordinary parents' you talk of?

We might have gained knowledge through our battles with the system but we ARE ordinary parents too (albeit fortunate enough to have armed ourselves with information) and we are battling still.

We are also discussing this not just for our own sakes but to see how we can use our knowledge to ensure that any system is fair and accessible for ALL.

If this means that we will go through the issues carefully and use our skills to our best advantage, we will do that.

I can't speak for other parents but I can see where things are not accessible or clear and I can look at the implications of this for others.

'everything should work for the good of every child, not just those with articulate and knowledgeable parents'

Isn't that what we are trying to say (or at least I am)? That the law should be understandable to a lay person. An ordinary parent (which I consider myself to be, - I'm not especially knowledgable or articulate but my strength (and downfall) is tenacity) should be able to understand the law and their rights and to KNOW THEY WILL BE UPHELD without having to find resources for legal teams etc.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:21:03

Reading your post again, I find it really nasty and unnecessary actually.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 13:21:51

HereBenson - not intentional, I feel a bit responsible for keeping this on track because I've invited people from Twitter to come and comment and asked MNHQ to take this up. We have a week to get some input into the consultation so we have to try and focus on the key issues.

What does this legislation bring, change or remove to the current situation? Are these things helpful or not? What is still missing?

HereBenson, I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean, especially your last 2 word post.

Sadly I didn't get where I am, and my son where he is through being articulate and knowledgable, but by selling our family home! Lucky to have one to sell, for sure, but then so do heaps of other 'ordinary' parents.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:25:10

Hothead - is your plan to do something about this?

Shall we try and identify specific issues and take an issue each?

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:27:14

Star, still waiting to buy our family home such has been the uncertainty about DS's schooling, where we will live and my employment over the last 4 years! That and having to take large chunk out of our savings to spend on health provision and fighting a crap school and LA.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 13:27:43

Exactly, there is no point having a law that is ignored with no penalty, that does not help anyone.

DS1's statement wasn't great and I gave up on any chance of SALT and OT because I just wanted the hours, which he got. The only reason SALT and OT is tricky is because the commissioning isn't connected, I know the people exist, if this legislation helps with that, that will be great.

Many in LAs want to do the right thing but don't get the budgets, even school SEN budgets are not ringfenced - this is money intended for some of the most vulberable people in society, the least we could do is protect it. But anyway, we have to help the people in LAs get the money they need to implement these plans, I do not want to see it all go on litigation.

I honestly believe that measures put in place to help children with disabilities benefit the whole class, school and society. We need this legislation to be a force for good, not battling on both sides.

'Penalties for LAs who do not comply, this will help the good people in the children's disability teams get the budgets they need to deliver the services I know they want to'

Yes. Heads of SEN will have backing to request and obtain the resources they require to do their jobs legally. Additional resources can come from the current wave of purchasing outside legal support to defend their law-breaking activities.

I would love to do a FOI request to find out how legal firms are chosen and who choses them, and importantly how this spending is scrutinised.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 13:30:41

ae, I will respond as an individual once IPSEA have published their resposne early next week but MNHQ might take this up if we're clear about what we think the issues are and what we want to happen. Time is tight to respond but there will be plenty of lobbying opportunities between drafts and of course Edward Timpson will do an MN webchat at some point so again, I think we need to crystallise the issues and lobby to get a commitment to remove, clarify/ reword and introduce missing sections where necessary.

zzzzz Thu 04-Oct-12 13:31:44

Very ordinary here too, though definitely a long time poster. I am not commenting but reading as I don't know what I think yet. The nature of my Children's difficulties means I am tired and busy and thus slow thinking and ill informed.

New or old input is welcome and food for thought.

Although I don't expect it is strictly necessary to increase resources for SEN. It is more about where the money currently resides (legal teams/arse covering) and where it needs to be (front line services and training).

Agnes 'See Star you don't need to be a lawyer - you are just as qualified!' blush

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:41:11

I think we may have to find a way to organise and draft comments/responses off board given the way this has been sidetracked several times this morning.

I agree Hothead, this needs careful consideration, exchanges of views and sheer grunt work! It may be helpful to plan carefully for the chat with Timpson too.

I haven't posted on this thread so far as I am ill and haven't felt up to wading through it all but have been thinking about it since getting the email from SOSSEN a few days ago. One of the committee MPs is my consituency MP so I want to make a very strong letter to him, will be watching this thread with interest.

'none of the major posts on this thread seem to come from 'ordinary parents' and yet they are the ones who need the most defence.'

Actually, I find this a bit offensive tbh. Are 'ordinary parents' a bit dim then?

No wonder LA's think they can walk all over them.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 13:52:08

Let's just keep on, we're distilling the key points already and can do so further when we see what IPSEA says.

Agree our key points need to form the basis of the webchat with Edward Timpson, I'd like to drill into/ explore/ get a committment on a few key areas and if we frame it well we can.

Wouldn't it be useful to compare what is missing in the draft legislation (mentioned already - right to request sa, time scale for assessment) with here that sits already? So you get an idea of what is still to come (are time scales in Sch27) And what has been omitted or changed?

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:56:42

I am not sure we have distilled anything to be honest - or is it just me? grin

I would be interested to see what IPSEA say but I have to say I am not hanging on their words. I find most of the charities to be such a let down.

I have started the first steps to a JR on the SEN DPs pilot Order but the charities I approached were, largely, appallingly disinterested.

I am afraid I don't have much faith!! In anything or anyone..........

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 13:58:05

nonactuallyintime - I am concerned that if we do that, and we post it here, it will get lost in the flow of posts.

It is a big ask for people to keep abreast of what has been posted.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 14:02:10

I think we have a nucleus of a list of concerns and questions, we can continue to tweak those and then post up as a new thread.

I'd be intererested in hoe mediation is to work and the purpose.

Is the purpose to get the LA and parents to agree provision, or is the purpose to ensure the child gets the provision that meets their needs.

My experience is that parents who start on the tribunal process actually do so asking for considerably less that the child gets even if they do not win the tribunal, by the time they have had a decent job done independently of assessing their child's needs.

Like Agnes, our LA were suggesting mainstream with unspecified TA of up to 20 hours. No OT and no SALT.

DS now receives daily OT and SALT in a Special school.

What on earth would a compromise to that be and how would that be in Ds' interests?

He needs what he needs. I wish he didn't.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 14:12:52

Very well put Star. Perhaps people should keep a note of their excellent points for a future thread!

It is so easy to dismiss parents shouting at once either as the 'sharp elbowed' middle class (and we've had that on here already) or in a 'I can't possibly comment on individual cases' kind of way!

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Oct-12 14:14:45

MNSN is not a normal chat board. For many of us its a lifeline. From time to time we get a flurry of new posters through some media attention and it can be unsettling for those who bare their soul on here. Some of us have been spied upon on here eg by LA staff before a Tribunal. So we are a paranoid bunch. There are a lot of articulate, educated people on here, but I think thats a good thing and hope we use that to help others and its not elite. Even 'clever' parents need a support network. All the long standing posters on here spend a lot of time passing on advice to those who come behind. I can't imagine what it was like to navigate SN world 10 years ago before boards like this. It must have been very isolating.

Even those of us who you feel are not 'ordinary' have had to battle.
I still had to remortgage my house and go to tribunal to get adequate provision. I had to leave my career as a lawyer to be a carer. The nastiness of the LA to me personally pushed me close to a breakdown.
So I am ordinary here.

I can't see how articulate / educated parents sitting quietly by is going to help the less articulate / educated. I spent my career as a lawyer speaking up for those who could not speak up for themselves. Now I speak up for my son, and those like him, who due to severe language difficulties literally do not have a voice. We are not speaking out for our own self importance, we are doing it for the good of every child who needs more support. We want the law to be right for everyone, so others do not to have to go through what we did.

Its a LA myth that the problems with the SN system are due to sharp elbowed educated middle class parents hogging all the resources. LAs deliberately make the system as complex and legalistic as possible so that all but the most determined and affluent parents fail to jump the hurdles put in front of them. Even I had to buy in legal help to get through the process. If people on here can make a difference to those who come behind or find it more challenging we should. LAs like to create divisions between parents and try to make some feel guilty and others hard done by, it suits them for parents to be divided.

Truth is none of us will make much impact on our own. Thats why I started the thread because we are stronger together. Whatever our background, we've all ended up in the same place, so we may as well try and get along.

Sorry that sounds like a sermon and I'm not even religious. blush

SNFather Thu 04-Oct-12 14:16:24

All, This thread has just come to my attention. I would be happy to take any issue and work on this so that submissions can be made to the education committee. Is there general agreement among interested posters that a single submission should be what is being aimed for? Is there an argument that multiple submissions from 'ordinary parents' may carry more weight? i don't knwo how I feel about that myself, I just wanted to raise the issue. For me, at first glimpse, the fundamental things that need clearing up are the absence of a right of appeal from the primary legislation, the question of how the duty to 'secure' is going to be interpreted, and the problems thown up by compulsory mediation, and whether the framework and associated penalties is even handed, especially taking account of the inequality of expertise and bargaining power between the child/parents and the LA. I have not read the legislation yet though, so may be wide of the mark.

As to the derailing of this thread, I rarely come here, and have only posted a few times, but have lurked here for along time, as this board is quite simply the best resource online for parents of children with SEN. I have seen posters, of varying degrees of articulacy (and what a shame it is to even have to point that out) ably and willingly helped by some of the amazing posters here. As a relative bystander, I think that it would be really great if some of the new posters who have arrived would appreciate the time and experience that the main posters on this board devote to helping others. Sadly also, it is unavoidable that, on a puiblic messageboard, some people are going to be reticent about giving out too much informaiton, given the fact that working with LAs often brings about unneccesary and stressful conflict situations. All we all want is a fair SEN system for all children with SEN.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 14:20:17

I have to wade in and say i don't think HereBenson meant anything offensive to anyone here. I read her post as saying that there are thousands of families out there who may not know the first thing about how to secure adequate provision for their child, and who have not been fortunate or well-resourced enough to discover networks such as this board. It's hard to know what you don't know until you realise you don't know it (iykwim!). (Eg I would have no idea whatsoever that ABA existed if it wasn't for someone on this board.) I assumed these were the 'ordinary' families she meant.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 14:22:17

x-posts. Very well put agnes (as usual)

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 14:31:12

"It's a board with established community but we aren't elite"

"Actually it sounds as though you are. Whilst I am glad that those of you with expertise are tackling these issues, none of the major posts on this thread seem to come from 'ordinary parents' and yet they are the ones who need the most defence."

I am not there is anything to misunderstand in that. It seems perfectly clear to me.

We are all 'ordinary parents' but we have been forced into extraordinary situations. Most of us are just trying to use any skills/knowledge we have to help others in the same appalling predicament as we appreciate that the important thing is working together and that there are many out there who do not know what we know.

Although I have to say that even knowing what we know doesn't stop us from getting a kicking from LAs - in fact it can make the drubbing more vitriolic.

Okay, my semi-own agenda question. Where will ABA provision fall in the new plans? LA, Health, Social?

TheTimeTravellersWife Thu 04-Oct-12 14:41:16

I think that its a good idea to start a new thread, gleaning the relevant points from the discussion here.

I also second the view that we are all ordinary parents, but that we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances - it certainly describes me. I would never have imagined that I would have a disabled child and would then have to go to a Tribunal to get her the help she needs - that is the extraordinary part of it for me, that the system works against parents of children with special needs, not with them, and wastes money on employing barristers to defend their position when we dare to question them!

whatthewhatthebleep Thu 04-Oct-12 14:45:24

I'm quite 'new' to MN and found the SN boards absolutely amazing. I thought I knew quite a bit before I got here. I have to say that whenever I have had a new question or needed some advice...this is now my first point of call.

I value every one of the people who come here and give of their experience, information and support.

I want to be of help here too and this green paper and it's contents is very worrying for us all.....we need clarification on how this possible new system will actually be delivered and what benefit to our children it will actually/realistically mean for them.....

who will have the right to apply for services?
What will be the purpose of mediation?...and what will happen if mediation fails in it's purpose? tier in process and what will this be?
How will GIRFEC and Ed Act, CofE and National standards mean within this new process and in being properly applied for SN/SEN children?

if this isn't going to make things simpler, clearer and less time consuming ....if it isn't going to mean that our children receive services and support they need without us jumping through these current hoops of fire.....then we need to stand up and be as strong a voice as is possible....

I can only watch this thread with interest and hope to contribute, if and when I can....

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 15:08:04

Yes, we are all 'ordinary' in the sense that we're just parents, no particular specialist knowledge/expertise other than our own children and what we've learnt through our own battles. But I took the phrase to refer to the nameless 'others' out there who do not even have our knowledge or experience.

I agree, a new thread should be started where we can all post our specific issues and concerns, which could be collated. Needs someone to then translate that into a coherent response though - is this where MN could come in?

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 15:17:23

SNFather - "Is there general agreement among interested posters that a single submission should be what is being aimed for? Is there an argument that multiple submissions from 'ordinary parents' may carry more weight?"

Difficult one! I'd suggest creating and submitting a position statement representing 'parents from MN' (could be signed by all who want to, perhaps).

Your offer to take on the job is very generous! I really hope I don't seem rude, but may I ask if you have background/expertise in this field?

SNFather Thu 04-Oct-12 15:30:21

Oh dear. I hope that I wasn't unclear in my previous post. I am happy to help any group that emerges with anything that might be required in terms of putting something together to submit to the committee, and if there was deemed to be a requirement for any division of labour, I would be happy to look at one discrete issue. I certainly do not consider myself to be adequately qualified or experienced to take on the whole job, nor would I be so arrogant as to swoop into the forum with any offer to do so, and am sorry if I inadvertently gave that impression! And no, I don't think you rude at all - it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

For the record, though, I am an ordinary parent who has had to navigate the SEN system for far too many years, with tribunals, threats of tribunals, LGO complaints, reviews thereof, and all sorts of other delights. I also happen to practise law, although in a field that is completely unconnected to education or public law, so in terms of expert knowledge and experience, mine is certainly no greater than other parents in my position.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 15:34:46

It would be a pleasure to work with you again SNFather!

I think we need to decide if we want to bounce anything in the select committee for next week.

All possible contributors please post aye!

Just mulling things over, but What strikes me is that really, here, we are individuals.

Would it be sensible therefore to put together a MN general stance as guidance and to help formulate thinking and ideas but then respond individually either as well or instead?

Or individual groups even?

Just a thought that hasn't been properly thought through, but with the intention of strengthening the power of our contributions.

But I'm certainly up for involvement in a group effort. It's incredibly important.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 15:44:02

Thank you, perfectly understood smile

It seems clear there will be a few/several core issues which most of us here, and elsewhere within the charity/campaigning sector, will agree on (eg duty to specify provision, independence of mediation services, securing servies etc). I think, therefore, that it won't make a huge amount of difference to submit individual or separate responses. But submitting a single response through this board which we could put our names to would probably mean more people would be respresented (as I think it likely that many of us I won't have time to submit our own).

So I'd vote for a single response.

If there are issues which are not covered by the single response there's nothing to stop anyone submitting their own one too, is there.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 15:46:03

I'd also be happy to draft a position statement based on collated concerns, btw.

zzzzz Thu 04-Oct-12 16:12:26

As always rushed and exhausted.

Can I make suggestion.

What about outlining concerns with a survey like questionnaire so people could highlight areas that concern them/they would like to hear more about or challenge.

So say key areas like

How does mediation work?

How will high IQ disabled children access support in school?


We object to heavily bias mediation proposal.

We object to .....

You get the picture. That way we submit a single response but each signatory has highlighted their concerns.

Rather hard not to answer a question if say 90 out of a hundred people have highlighted it as a concern.

I'd be happy to support a group submission or write my own to my mp, but I am relatively inexperienced in this process so far, and ill at the moment and unable to sit at a computer for more than a few min (I'm planning to apply for SA for the first time once I am better in a few weeks). I would really appreciate the benefit of all the experience here, this seems too important to ignore, but I can't contribute as much to the debate as mamy of you.

SNFather Thu 04-Oct-12 17:01:28

appropriatelytrained - likewise, it will with you. I have commitments tonight, but will take a look tomorrow and at the start of the weekend.

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 17:24:20

Agnes, just read some of this thread and found your post to be really well written as usual and just wanted to say it sounds nothing like a sermon to me but more an honest and representative parental perspective of this board. Can't help with any submissions although I am writing my own as a parent who has encountered similar nastiness from our LA, particularly when i was employed by them and utilising the tribunal process to secure what my child needed.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 17:38:44

For me I want to know about LA accountability, timescales and penalties, there has to be some comeback if procedure isn't followed or provision doesn't materialise or timescales are flouted else what is the point of having any of this as statutory.

Full disclosure for me - my LA followed the statementing process to the letter and bang on timescales and my school implemented the provision immediately. It can be done and has resulted in DS1 not only attending school but starting to thrive after three years of struggling to get him to settle.

Also, I requested the assessment as for various reasons with the support of school, it is essential parents can continue to be able to do this.

I do not want mandatory arbitration to add to the six months+ it already takes to get provision in place, this is an academic year, far too long for kids who are really struggling.

I absolutely do not want the health and care aspects of the EHCPs to lead to delays in the educational provision. It will be great to have a single plan but unless health start using email to communicate it will delay the plan. Also I do not want a dispute in one section to hold up the provision of other sections. Again, we have found social care good and health adequate but it was the education provision DS1 that was a priority. We needed it all but not at the expense of delays in any one area.

I will put my name to anything collective that reflects this as well as other ideas others come up with.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 18:05:42

Just to add - SNFather and I have done something similar before as a group response and it worked well.

I am sure those who wish to identify me can do so nd that I am outed already to those of you who know me - I was, until very recently, a legal advisor to a select committee. I can say that clearly thought out group responses which are personal enough to give a flavour of what happens in practice can really help busy MPs get to grips with key issues.

I am super busy this week but may have more time next.

bochead Thu 04-Oct-12 18:22:25

I'm very worried about the fate of those children with average IQ + disabilities. This effectively ends the universal right of all children to a state education in practical terms.

The wording should be simple enough for an ordinary parent or LA employee to understand. That it isn't means a bonanza payday for laywers, at the expense of funds available to pay for frontline services; and a whole generation lost until the weight of case law establishes the ground rules for local authorities to follow once more.

I agree with delays in one area such as health not being permitted to cause delays across the whole support package. DS waited 4 years for a diagnosis.

The lack of accountability for failures by the various services also concerns me.

I had hoped the existing process would simply be streamlined & simplified so that more parents and LA staff could easily understand it. The only changes needed were improved accountability at every stage & especially for health services. Instead mediation and other measures just seem to be adding additional layers of complexity to an already intimidating process.

Sadly I see increasing numbers of ordinary IQ children disapearing from the system into a world of amateur "home education" as a result of the proposals due to the inevitably slow timescales required to obtain help.

Parents today just cannot afford to let a generation go to waste while case law clarifies the many points raised on this thread.

cornsconkers Thu 04-Oct-12 18:27:18

I'm very worried about what will happen with children with high IQ.
so for example if your dc is in an independent SS out of the area and is therefore costing your LEA £££, can the LEA then find a way to wriggle out of funding?

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 18:55:28

Where is this average IQ info from? The definition of SN or SEN hasn't changed I don't think, although they were asking about changing it.

I also don't understand the references to average cognitive ability throughout this thread? For me , the big changes in the legislation were the introduction of the EHCP, the Local Offer idea, and the loss of specifying who can apply for SA. Review times seem to be annual - reasons for ceasing a plan are disappointingly linked to education - mediation will be compulsory before certain appeals - haven't found any direct reference to penalising parents or to 'types' of need?

zzzzz Thu 04-Oct-12 19:22:32

I think bochead brought it up???? In the first few posts. Not sure, but I do hope it is wrong as it has been worrying me.

We need someone to write a synopsis of what is going on. I just don't have the brain power this week. Cold/headache/no sleep/school issues/.....oh you all get the picture.

ouryve Thu 04-Oct-12 19:28:18

HereBenson - if articulate and knowledgeable parents can't speak up on the behalf of parents, then who can? If articulate and knowledgeable parents are struggling to make sense of the draught - and of the responses by various charities and bodies - then how the hell can less confident, less articulate or less knowledgeable parents have the first clue where to begin to understand what their rights are going to be?

I only don't count myself as knowledgeable as many other parents here because my LA is pretty well behaved and the kids go to a lovely, supportive mainstream school. I'm possibly going to be moving one of the boys to a more specialist placement in the next year or so, and I'm sure that by then I will know enough about SEN law for you to consider me elitist, too.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 19:33:28

I think the cognitive bit came up in the SOSE-SEN document. We need to look at the actual proposed Bill. I will try and do this at the weekend.

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 19:39:10

I seem to remember that the council for disabled children are trying to encourage people to write to their MPs as children without SEN will not be eligible for a plan. My understanding is that unless there are cognitive needs then the child won't be eligible. I will look for the link but am sure CDC wouldnt be raising this if it hadn't checked it out. Children with physical needs but no learning needs will not be eligible for example.

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 19:41:43

Similarly, presumably, EBD statements will not be replaced by a plan if there are no learning needs. Would this not also link into them trying to redefine by using terminology such as learning difficulties or disabilities rather than SEN?

bochead Thu 04-Oct-12 19:54:18

I mentioned IQ in response to the SOS doc in the OP. I'd be really relieved if someone could clarify it as I'll happily admit my attempts at reading/understanding the source doc are just ending in confused befuddlement right now.

I don't comprehend the half of what they are on about, and honestly think that as I'm not daft, then LA employees are likely to struggle in the same way? This is not a good sign, as if they don't understand it how can they be expected to implement the new legislation effectively?

ouryve Thu 04-Oct-12 19:57:28

The high/ordinary IQ thing was mentioned in the SOSSEN report, but I don't think was based on the draught statement, but rather reports form elsewhere. Of course, it concerns me a lot, if this is true, since DS1 is twice exceptional.

2nd half of issue 1:

Even more concerning was a report by a well known Local Authority solicitor (who represents a number of Local Education Authorities) that training is being given to Local Authorities to the effect that they can now refuse the equivalent of a Statutory Assessment for any child who is of average cognitive ability. This would bring the practice of education in to line with the practice of Social Services, who frequently refuse help to disabled children who have an average cognitive ability.
In practice, this would suggest that cognitively able, (i.e. children of average abilities) with disabilities such as dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome, visual impairment and hearing impairment to name but a few, will be excluded from the system. There is nothing in the Green Paper or any statement in the manifestos of either Party in the coalition, to indicate there was an intention to reduce parents’ rights, to the equivalents of Statements of Special Educational Needs for these groups, although in practice, we are informed that is the training now being given to Local Authorities.

justaboutiswarm Thu 04-Oct-12 19:59:07

Herebenson is exactly the kind of odd new snipy post that arouses suspicions.

Dukakis - I think the problem is that this board is watched by LA's, people here have been hounded in RL for posts that they put here anonymously. And there have been odd instances of posters reporting on each other, or new posters arriving with a strange agenda. That's why people are ultra-careful.
Don't be put off. If you are genuine, which to me you sound, welcome.

And if you ARE new, you're probably running for the hills after Justa's post which makes us all sound like mad conspiracy theorists............

Sadly, she speaks the truth however.

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 20:32:43

Blooming hell, are the social rules of this site anywhere for newbies so they aren't seen as having strange agendas or arouse suspision. Seems a bit unfair to me if new folks are judged against unspoken rules they mayn't be aware of. I thought this was a board for people to offload and help each other goodness knows there is enough opportunity to be judged in RL

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 20:40:18

No one was being judged by 'unspoken rules'. If people want to come and say what they want they can do.

But equally, I have the right to respond if I don't like what they say.

That's not an unspoken rule - it's life, anywhere, everywhere. Just because someone has posted for the first time doesn't mean they're beyond reproach.

Herebenson isn't new.

I think it is just sensible social etiquette to get to know a message board before diving in tbh. It isn't a rule.

Even I don't just jump into the other topics on MN without 'getting to know' the scene a bit.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 20:44:51

2tired please don't worry about any hidden rules. It's just that some posters here have had some experiences with this board & RL so can be a bit cautious. But there is no secret code to posting here or if there is I am totally ignorant of it grin and I for one would hate it if new posters were discouraged from seeking advice because of fears of seeming ungenuine. I also think people here are pretty quick at realising who is genuine and who may have a less-than-honest agenda smile

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 20:59:35

Thanks bialystockandbloom for your response.

Yep. Someone on this board decided that I shouldn't be getting higher rate DLA so reported me to the benefits office and to social services, giving my username from here.

HT of new school that Ds was to attend told Governors I had been banned from MN for SN propaganda, and that I had had DLA removed for lying.

When I moved LA, old LA gave new LA my username and new LA told tribunal some things from my posts.

I kid you not, on any of this.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 21:03:23

Bialy - it's also that when some people come here and use their hobnail boots to jump in, you do suspect their motive.

Maybe they have just tumbled off the AIBU board grin

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 21:04:06

As Ouryve says, the bit about children with average cognitive ability comes from the stuff on the SOS SEN website, which in turn seems to come from something Melinda Nettleton has been sending round, and that in turn comes from something that "a well known Local Authority solicitor" has been saying when training local authorities. I have strong suspicions who that solicitor is (a friend of mine had a dreadful time when he was representing the council in her appeal), and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he has been telling local authorities to refuse statutory assessment for children with average cognitive ability, because he knows that will mean more parents appealing which means more work for his firm. I can't see anything at all in the draft which justifies this.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 21:04:35

2tired - you've been around here long enough to know we don't 'pick fights' with people - surely?

I know who that solicitor is too Veritate. It isn't that he's even a very good solicitor. He just knows how to introduce enough ambiguity and circular arguments that everyone wants to slit their wrists before they die of boredom at the nonsensical witterings.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 21:11:54

Thanks Veritate, I didn't see anything to suggest the definitions were changing. No-one has ever IQ tested DS1 anyway and he didn't do any work at school for the first two years for teachers to be able to do a baseline assessment of his levels.

I don't want it all to be so adversarial, it needs to be collaborative and open but the odds are stacked against individuals. There is no redress and no recourse against LAs who simply do not provide. I can't see this legislation changing that unless the coordination and joint commissioning bring significant cost savings which I can't see that they will.

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 21:11:57

I must say I was quite startled at the hostile response to Delalakis for the crime of not knowing the backgrounds of regular posters on here. I understand why people worry but I couldn't see anything in her posts that made her look like a council snooper or indeed someone jumping in with hobnail boots. Yes, she made a mistake on one point but, as people have acknowledged, she was quite right on others. Mumsnet is usually a very welcoming forum and it would be a pity to put new contributors off by treating them as being automatically the enemy.

2tirednot2fight Thu 04-Oct-12 21:19:27

Is that really how legal people would behave, I must be really naive but I find that obscene. I have scoured my inbox for the email that had the CDC link but I can't find it but am sure I havent dreamt it and they were saying the same about cognitive functioning. I suspect there is a lot going on that we aren't being told (maybe I'm not as naive as I think!) in terms of responses to the call for submissions, to be safe, could questions to establish if there is any truth in this not be put to the committee?

Star I am so sorry to hear of your experiences that stinks.

AE yes I guess I should know that.

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 21:20:36

Starlight, in my friend's experience it's not just ambiguity that that solicitor uses. She had him deliberately flouting tribunal rules and orders, putting forward information about costs which turned out to be totally wrong, and coming up with demands that she make her autistic child available for examination by the local authority educational psychologist at the eleventh hour giving one day's notice. He then accused her of being deliberately unco-operative when she reasonably pointed out that her child needed more time if the EP was to have a hope of even persuading her son to come out of his bedroom. Apparently it's none of it uncommon with him. I do hope the tribunal is getting his measure.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 21:21:06

Accurate information and interpretation of that information is key. It will be interesting to hear Edward Timpson's intentions with the draft and subsequent changes but intentions won't help in litigation.

IPSEA and Tania from SNJ's analysis will be interesting. I would also like to hear from those who understand the existing regs and are cross-referencing those with these draft ones. I don't have anything else to add other than all the observations I've made and will just end up repeating myself.

I'm wondering if a google doc might be a good idea, will have a look at that.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 21:21:54

Is that the solicitor from Cambridge?

Yes Veritate, he represented our LA against us. The only sanity-saving feature in out lost tribunal was that had the LA had no solicitor and no witnesses we would still have lost as our appeal was dismissed on the basis that no-one from the LA had recommended what we were at appeal for. Doh hmm

I have been told by my experts that upon hearing who the panel were they woukd have expected nothing else.

But the ordeal was the most twisted and evil and laws were completely fabricated to scare the judge into playing safe.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 21:29:44

Can people access this link and add some text just to test?

Bialy, I don't expect anyone will want to respond to such a direct question.

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 21:32:50

Milton Keynes, though I think he was previously employed directly by Cambridge.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 21:39:15

People can edit the doc!

Well, that's one option, we can build something there.

I know many solicitors laugh at him because his legal arguments are contrived and daft, but he makes up for that by bullying and intimidation.

So the cognitive/iq thing is a red herring put about by a solicitor? confused

hothead - i think regs expected around xmas.

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 21:56:03

It's always great to spread the word that solicitors like that are mostly bluff. In my friend's case, he produced a great long defence quoting case law which at first sight was quite intimidating, till her solicitor pointed out that it is what he churns out every time, much of it was irrelevant, and the tribunal isn't impressed anyway by being told what they already know.

Whilst parents with good solicitors or advisers can stand up to him, unfortunately he probably gets results from people who don't have competent representatives and who simply don't expect those tactics.

mariamma Thu 04-Oct-12 22:03:50

Bluff, bullying, irrelevant nonsense. Sounds familiar...

Does he represent councils when their staff take them to employment tribunals?

Sure, but the problem is the system that allows idiotic bluffing solicitors enough wins to be worth paying.

In a fair and transparent system solicitors like this would stand no chance.

Possibly Maria.

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Oct-12 22:55:32

My LA hired him after we won our tribunal ( a big ABA package for a 3 year old). They haven't spent an extra penny on the under 5's ASD provision which we showed up as being substandard, but they have managed to get £10,000's pa through the council for legal advice.

Veritate Thu 04-Oct-12 22:58:50

I heard he advertises to LAs that he will help them get rid of ABA packages, though he took it off the website when someone complained to their local councillor that they were employing a solicitor who thought it was appropriate to do that when it's the LA's duty to supply the support the child actually needs, not the least they think they can get away with.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:04:03

Veritate - my response was not hostile. I simply asked the poster (who I thought was high-handed and I am entitled to my views) what had brought her to the board.

She had not introduced herself so I did not know whether she was a parent or advocating for a particular charity's position as some appear to have been on this thread.

Her response was to suggest that I was somehow 'appropriately employed' in education which I am not. I explained this politely.

I don't see how posters raking over things that happened hours ago is helping this.

This thread has has many posts by posters I don't recognise advocating agendas or charities promoting their people or telling us to wait for their responses etc. Yet, most of these charities are a complete waste of space. They run to the hills at the thought of even clear cut legal challenges. I spent half an hour on the phone with a senior director of one charity recently who wanted to speak to me so she could advocate for poor LAs' confusion over the pathfinder project.

I will watch how you get on with your submissions.

Maria, I've checked and yes you're right.

HotheadPaisan Thu 04-Oct-12 23:16:48

Will all responses be available to the public to read? I want to read all opinions, I've shared everything I can think of here and will be submitting my thoughts and experiences directly.

I still think it would be useful to try and focus the Edward Timpson webchat on key issues of intention, wording, accountability, timsescales and dependencies.

I hope people share their thoughts and submissions, however badly some LAs have acted some are doing the right thing and will listen and I hope the law-makers do on this too.

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Oct-12 23:17:07

Yes we know him as the ABA Terminator on here.

He still has this on his website from 2011:

Parents are increasingly requesting local authorities to fund home based programmes for children with Statements of Special Educational Needs. Commonly they arise in the early years when the child is not of complusory school age. Parents will argue that the child requires an early intervention approach such as ABA or SONRISE to support their child into full-time schooling.

However, unlike early years providers, home education providers are not subject to any form of statutory regulation. Vast amounts of public money are being spent on providing programmes for children with very little outcomes being seen for the child and little accountability for the quality of provision being provided. We have direct experience of the following:

Home programmes being delivered and supervised by unqualified teaching professionals.Parents leaving their children at home with tutors, unsupervised. Lack of CRB clearance of tutors. Children never integrating into school.Children only attending school on a part-time basis as it is felt they are not ready to go to school.Parents refusing to engage with professional services.Lack of adherence to the National Curriculum.Children failing to generalise skills in other settings, including school.Parents using programmes as a form of childcare.

Baker Small is proposing to petition the Department for Education to require home education providers to be registered with Ofsted and to sign up to a Code of Practice requiring them to meet the same standards as schools and early years providers. This will ensure that home programmes are subject to regular monitoring and are accountable for the support they provide to children. Assessment of programmes should not be based on "parental perception" but clear assessment by professionals. It will also ensure that public funds are used appropriately and that there is proper regulation of providers. This will ensure that parents, children and local authorities can have confidence in the provision being provided.

Odd thing is our LA mainstream ASD nursery package was not good quality, did not have good outcome, was not delivered by qualified teaching staff, my DS was not integrated into school (he sat on his own in the corner and was left out of the Xmas play), he only went part-time, the professional services refused to engage with parents, no skills were learnt so there were none to generalise but even if there had been no-one came into the home anyway, and I used it as a form of childcare (it was a childcare nursery) and god forbid I left my child there with nursery staff who were not qualified teachers unsupervised! Oh and Michael Gove has gone and got rid of the need to adhere to the national curriculum grin

I'm sure you'll do your homework Agnes, but I know quite a bit about this geezer now and his arguments.

One being that tribunals should not put PECS into statements because it is a commercial product hmm, and that ABA Consultants are not EYFS Settings hmm grin

If you're going to tea with him in the near future I'd be happy to share some things.

bialystockandbloom Thu 04-Oct-12 23:31:46

Ah it is indeed the bastard one I thought.

Baker Small is proposing to petition the Department for Education to require home education providers to be registered with Ofsted and to sign up to a Code of Practice requiring them to meet the same standards as schools and early years providers. This will ensure that home programmes are subject to regular monitoring and are accountable for the support they provide to children. Assessment of programmes should not be based on "parental perception" but clear assessment by professionals.

Actually not such a bad idea, as anyone who does ABA can obviously provide clear evidence of progress and support based on solid data! As opposed to the immeasurable, unsubstantiated "eclectic mix" bollocks provision offered by LAs.

Bit of a side issue. But depressing to see that he's cropping up muddying the waters sad

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:32:12

"It will also ensure that public funds are used appropriately and that there is proper regulation of providers."

God if only this t**t applied that logic to the bastards he represents. What a way to make a living.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:33:53

I'm not sure how and why he did get into SOS-SEN's briefing. Who gives a toss what he thinks? I don't give a shit what he's telling LAs - it's not the law. Why waste time on him in a document about major changes to the legal system?

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:34:36

SOS-SEN wasting time I mean. I wonder who did do their document?

perceptionreality Thu 04-Oct-12 23:38:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Because AE, the system is so unaccountable and crap that he gets away with winning where he shouldn't and LA's take his word as red.

He might be telling them lies. But if they believe it, and hire him to deliver it, it could well lead to a favourable outcome for the LA despite the law, as it does now.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:45:42

I can see that Star and agree completely.

It's just not presented like that in the SOS-SEN document so I'm not sure that those comments make any sense in that document or help the case they're tryign to make.

Sorry I'm getting progressively bad-tempered about all this. Just been landed with a limited capability for work assessment for my brother with cerebral palsy who has never been able to work a day in his 46 year life.

People with disabilities just get treated like shit and my lawyer's brain thinks you challenge detrimental changes to the law by reading about the changes properly and not getting lost in stories about nasty lawyers.

That is what a select committee will listen to anyway - fwiw.

Perception, I can't quite believe it myself tbh. It is quite lonely carrying the history of all that has happened in recent years because no-one in rl would believe it. They'd treat me as a bonkers conspiracy theorist with MBP and probably other personality disorders. Thank God for MN.

I went to register dd at the GP in our new LA today. A kind HV introduced herself and promised 'services'. I told her 'I don't mean to be rude, but I'd rather seek out services on my own terms if and when I need them!' She was a bit surprised but okay I think.

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Oct-12 23:51:47

I think more and more LAs are signing him up
Perhaps its that LAs want to believe him.
Star it may come to that - AR battle 2 is just around the corner.

Oh no AE. I hope you get your brother sorted. No wonder you're bad-tempered.

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:56:45

They should write an expose of him - name and shame.

Star, I am with you on the conspiracy theorist stuff. Try making a complaint to anyone after the LA brands you vexatious and then tells the world about it.

We face our second Tribunal this year too - and a JR - and a reconsideration of an 19 month old LGO complaint - and 2 complaints to the ICO and a complaint to the PHSO.

There was an article in the Guardian today about the limited capability for work assessment which was full of the familiar lies we are used to from statementing reports. And I have that joy to face too.

Oh and I'm now stuck in a diversity complaint investigation from former employers.

There are two children in my life somewhere.

Back to work.... all nighter for me tonight,

appropriatelyemployed Thu 04-Oct-12 23:57:50

Complaint is not against me I hasten to add.....

Oh, AE, and you offered to help Claw too!

I'm so desperately worried for her boy.

appropriatelyemployed Fri 05-Oct-12 00:03:07

I know I hadn't appreciate how bad things were. If she can get that EP in asap, she'll be better off - she needs someone on her side.

BackforGood Fri 05-Oct-12 00:03:35

Just marking spot to take time to read tomorrow.

ACE closed today btw.

Veritate Fri 05-Oct-12 00:19:48

AE: SOS-SEN wasting time I mean. I wonder who did do their document?

I think unfortunately they probably took it straight from something sent to them by Melinda Nettleton. Apparently she's been circulating it round a few charities, which would explain why it says the same as she said on the radio last week.

Tut, they really are all in each others pockets.

A charity recommended her to me. I wanted to speak with her before deciding whether I wanted her. Her secretary refused to put me through - ever. I eft messages for her to call but Sec called instead and demanded all my paperwork and a fee BEFORE I'D EVEN SPOKEN TO HER and I needed advice on what paperwork to send anyway. hmm.

When I refused until I'd spoken, I got a message back from her saying she was very sad but unfortunately couldn't take on my case. hmm

Veritate Fri 05-Oct-12 00:43:14

She had not introduced herself so I did not know whether she was a parent or advocating for a particular charity's position as some appear to have been on this thread.

Her response was to suggest that I was somehow 'appropriately employed' in education which I am not. I explained this politely.

I don't see how posters raking over things that happened hours ago is helping this.


At the time I posted my comment on the response to Delalakis (which didn't relate solely to you) it was a current discussion. Having been around here a long time, I'm not aware of any rule that people have to introduce themselves in every discussion group they want to contribute to, and your demand that she do so, and implication that she was some sort of interloper, came over as quite aggressive. Also not sure why you seemed to object so much to what she said, as you did ultimately acknowledge that most of it was correct and valid.

Nor did she suggest that you were "somehow 'appropriately employed' ". She asked the same question you asked about what brought her here, and then asked "what is your appropriate employment with regard to education?". Which is not an unreasonable question for a newbie on a thread about education when you have been writing about the law in relation to education. Nor is it a suggestion, and it certainly isn't offensive.

Sorry, I know you have other problems and I'm genuinely sorry and concerned about them. The whole capability for work assessment stuff stinks, and I could rant for England about it. As I say, my comment didn't relate solely to your response, but there was a bit of a joint attack on someone new just because she was new, and I thought that was unfortunate.

Veritate Fri 05-Oct-12 00:46:38

Starlight, to be fair I doubt that SOS SEN are in Melinda Nettleton's pocket. I think she's just sent that stuff around to other charities and forums (I came across it on a dyslexia forum) and SOS probably assumed if it came from a lawyer it must be right.

perceptionreality Fri 05-Oct-12 00:50:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

It wasn't SOSSEN that recommended her.

perceptionreality Fri 05-Oct-12 01:12:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

appropriatelyemployed Fri 05-Oct-12 01:40:45

Veritate- your posts on this thread are very insightful. Please not let's get side tracked. I disagree completely with what you say. You have the right to say it but I gave the right to my views too.

Your opinion isn't definitive. My response was entirely measured and reasonable and my personal situation has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Can we move on!

appropriatelyemployed Fri 05-Oct-12 01:47:35

Sorry to hear about ACE. I genuinely rated their service.

I find IPSEA very wet and the advice from their advice line is a little patchy and sometimes plain wrong. SOS-SEN are much more ballsy so it is a shame if they failed to check what went out in their name. Nettleton is a DOD-SEN trustee according to her website.

Out of genuine interest rather than hostility, veritate, what is your background? You seem to have a lot of valuable knowledge.

mariamma Fri 05-Oct-12 02:48:32

sad about ACE. Have always found SOSSEN pretty good, haven't had advice from ipsea, as assumed they are a bit too wet. Useful website though.

2tirednot2fight Fri 05-Oct-12 07:20:21

Hope things improve for you soon AE and that you can help Claw.

I think the thing with IPSEA, is that they are good at the high incidence, low-level advice. I.e. how to apply for a SA, what independent reports to get, how to S&Q.

Ask them a low incidence high level question such as how to deal with BakerSmall's latest intimidation strategy, they act all surprised as if just because what he is doing isn't allowed means you don't need to worry about it.

I think that might be what HereBenson means by IPSEA representing the ordinary parent. The ones that have yet to hear about the SENCOP.

TheTimeTravellersWife Fri 05-Oct-12 16:34:07

There is a parliamentary briefing paper on the draft bill which may be useful to read

TheTimeTravellersWife Fri 05-Oct-12 16:37:56

Very sorry to read about the closure of ACE sad I think it was ACE that published an excellent guide, "Getting the Statement Right" which I have used myself, it was very good.

It makes the ConDem Government's "Big Society" agenda look rather sick when groups like this close down....still I bet that there are very few LAs that will be sorry to see it go!

HotheadPaisan Fri 05-Oct-12 16:41:20

That is useful, thanks. Need to write something up and find where I'm submitting it again. I will just set out my concerns and experience as outlined here, hopefully someone will listen somewhere along the way.

norfolkhiboux Sun 07-Oct-12 23:00:40

It is not right to 'suppose' anything. Everything should be clearly detailed or it will lead to the LA's abusing the positon.

If parents do not have the right to request a SA they cannot have the right to Appeal against the LA not doing a SA - think about it !!!!!!!

Veritate Mon 08-Oct-12 16:14:24

I understand the intention is to put the right to request statutory assessment in regulations, in the same way as most of the current time limits are in the regulations and not the Education Act 1996. I agree that it isn't satisfactory because it is much easier to change regulations than to change a statute. However I have heard on the gravevine that following dicussions with IPSEA and others they're already rethinking this.

For what it's worth, the draft requires the LA to consider statutory assessment if it comes to their attention that a child may have SEN. Therefore there is nothing to stop the school or parent being the people to bring it to their attention, though we still need a time limit for them to consider it.

PassionateMum Wed 10-Oct-12 18:38:08

Hi All,

I usually read but don't post often so I apologise if I get things wrong. This thread seems very knowledgable. I am a mum of a lad with complex needs.

I wanted to flag up IPSEA have published a VERY comprehensive view of the proposals this morning. Can now see why it has taken them time. Prefered that they waited to get it right! I will send it to my MP later - she might even read it and learn.

Really worth a read - especially the key messages document which I suspect is the one most of us have the time for. Really concerning stuff. Go to their website and press the orange button near the pictures of the children - SEN changes of something like that.

Have always found them very reliable with their advice for my boy who origianlly did not have a statement - but because of them now does! Agree difficult to get through but never wet. Have always come off the phone fired up. Try in the evenings.

Also been on their parent training yesterday in London. Excellent stuff.

Have not tried SOS-SEN so cannot comment.

2tirednot2fight Sat 13-Oct-12 10:00:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Delalakis Sat 13-Oct-12 13:41:45

Now that the consultation deadline is past, I think we all need to be lobbying MPs to keep this high up their agenda.

Thinking about it further, I'm wondering whether we really need this bill at all? What the Green Paper suggested was a unified education, health and social care plan, but what this bill offers is just a revamped version of provision for education. I can't actually see what the point is of calling the new statements EHC plans when the health and care elements are going to be unenforceable and you can't appeal against them to the tribunal. So really, why don't they just do a short bill making any necessary amendments to the current legislation? That way there would be slightly less risk of them throwing out important provisions and the DfE could save themselves a fortune in terms of reinventing the wheel.

I agree, particularly those who live in the constituencies of the Education Select Committee members. I have emailed my MP this week and received a response, I intend to continue the dialogue.

Veritate Sun 14-Oct-12 11:11:33

Also agreed, and I think Delalakis has a point about whether this bill is necessary at all. Kill the Bill!

norfolkhiboux Thu 18-Oct-12 19:20:25

I have seen IPSEA’s view. SOS!SEN, and HACS are all taking the same view as Melinda Nettleton, that is, these changes are very bad for parents. I also saw on the HACS website that Melinda is speaking at a meeting given by HACS at Harlington Community School on Monday evening (22 October) about these issues. I think I might go along. I hear on the grapevine that it is suggested that whilst the changes might be bad for parents, it will mean lots of work for lawyers, because parents will no longer be able to use the Tribunal so easily

AgnesDiPesto Thu 18-Oct-12 19:22:10

The rumour is there will be no legal aid for lawyers - legal aid will be axed to just a 'helpline' - that is a rumour though!

Veritate Thu 18-Oct-12 21:55:38

Legal aid is due to be cut down drastically to three firms only on a telephone advice line basis, to take effect from next April. Those are the only firms that will be able to do court work under legal aid certificates, for instance judicial reviews, and the number of cases they will be allowed to take on will be drastically reduced. That is partly because they will be limited to work related to SEN and disability - they will no longer be able to do work such as non SEN related school admissions and exclusions. It's a real worry that the emphasis will be on price and not quality, and that the reality is that those responsible for the new system have no idea what the issues are.

There's quite an interesting blog post here -

AgnesDiPesto Thu 18-Oct-12 22:25:01

God thats frightening

'those responsible for the new system have no idea what the issues are.'

My worry is that they do know exactly and it is very deliberate. 1. Cut council budgets for SEN and social care. 2. Change the SEN law. 3. Rip up years of case law so its all obsolete 4. make sure no-one can afford to challenge any of the new law / cuts by hiring a barrister.

The smart lawyers out there will be looking for a test case to show that its a breach of human rights for a disabled child not to be legally represented. Its only a matter of time before the right case comes along.

Its a complete breach of natural justice for councils like mine to be hiring specialist external SEN lawyers to draft refusal to assess letters, let alone represent them at tribunal, using public funds and then deny the parent any legal aid.

norfolkhiboux Tue 23-Oct-12 09:42:50

I went along last night to hear Melinda, very interesting, over 100 people there.
The situation is very concerning and needs to be discussed further. Does anyone know if Melinda is giving any other talks anywhere, as I would really like to hear more.

Veritate Tue 23-Oct-12 09:46:48

I would suggest hearing other people rather than more of the same, so as to get a reasonable balance. The information on IPSEA's website and blog looks pretty useful.

I'm not certain that all lawyers 'advising' on this subject come without their own bias. I think we have to be careful.

TheTimeTravellersWife Tue 23-Oct-12 10:01:32

The Education Select Committee are hearing evidence tomorrow on the draft SEN Bill. It will be broadcast on Parliament TV

If anyone has the time to watch it!

Parents are very under represented there iirc

TheTimeTravellersWife Tue 23-Oct-12 10:26:05

I agree, no one from IPSEA or similar either....doesn't bode well...

Delalakis Tue 23-Oct-12 13:46:50

I agree with Starlight. Given the fairly blatant mistakes made by Melinda Nettleton on this previously (identified earlier in this thread) I would want to go elsewhere for information about this.

HotheadPaisan Tue 23-Oct-12 13:50:32

Can you watch a replay on iPlayer?

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Oct-12 13:59:39

Star - I have worked for a select committee and they have very limited time to take evidence.

The parental under-representation may be because:

(a) those who sort out the witness lists may think the charities speak for the parents (this is in fact what the charities will claim) and so they are including parents by way of charity representation;

(b) the parental evidence will from many disparate sources and may be in wildly different forms. It may say very different things.

I am surprised to see no IPSEA but they will no doubt have been asked if they submitted on time as the committee would doubtless have wanted to hear from them. Whether they then decided to send someone to attend is a different matter.

As I mentioned before, speaking with one voice where possible is key otherwise it is divide and rule and we are just a lot of disgruntled individuals.

If people want to campaign on this, we should organise a one.

I see inappropriately. I guess I was surprised that they majority were from LAs and Education providers rather than receivers.

There were only two charities when I looked

I'm all for campaigning btw, and advocating. I suppose one of the main reasons so much shite is got away with is because it is incredibly difficult to organise this kind of action. I'm not certain I can envisage it.

TheTimeTravellersWife Tue 23-Oct-12 14:27:16

Hothead - I don't think that it is available on iplayer, but you can watch it again on the website at

I find that the problem is that I am so busy being a parent of a child with SN, all the meetings, phone calls, appointments, chasing up of people, research, putting together a case for the support that she needs.....that I have very little time left for anything else!

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Oct-12 14:29:49

I can't remember what the witness list was but it was only a morning's worth of evidence I think (2 hours). The clerks on these bodies are entirely separate from the MPs and usually try hard to get a reasonable spread of evidence.

I think, in terms of campaigning, direct communication between those who want to organise a campaign is a first step. I think it is hard to do that by a thread.

I think very clear and a very few short-term goals could be established which take minimum effort if spread between a group who are prepared to do something - little steps.

That's just my opinion.

bochead Tue 23-Oct-12 15:22:26

I've gone through that IPSEA response I posted a while back over and over again, compared it with other docs etc and come to the conclusion:-

We are in the process of being well and truly shafted

I'm dyslexic & just don't have the sort of careful, legal type brain to do much clever stuff on this. But I am prepared to put my shoulders behind those of you who do have the skills to try and fight this.

Could we set up a google group as a starting point?

google docs allows multiple brains to work on a document simultanteously which coudl be really handy. I've used it in the past to run geographically disparate projects. I'm also quite happy to coach anyone who is not familiar with it.

Being able to take the fruits of your your collective brains and turn them into sensible documents to fire off to tptb seems like a sensible thing to do in order to campaign iykwim.

We did try something once before, but I had to pull out because my DF was diagnosed as terminally ill, the LA removed all tribunal won provision at the annual review, I was reported to the benefits office for fraud, and we were moving house. Yes March 2011 I'm talking about YOU!!!!!

But with the exception of a few little blips, like having a baby, moving house again, negotiating another appeal with a new LA etc. things are hugely improved. However, I still have the motivating anger necessary. I'll need direction though, because at the moment, it all just seems so HUGE a problem that I wouldn't know where to start.

HotheadPaisan Tue 23-Oct-12 15:53:38

Thanks Time, will watch it later.

Two things stand out to me: the proposed changes will mean even more time spent in litigation but the alternative is nothing changes. 0-25 is good, education DPs even better.

And without LA accountability and penalties nothing changes anyway.

Is time better spent arguing for these improvements to be in existing legislation?

My concern is that those with the ear of the DfE will lobby for the whole thing to be dropped for the fear of the system worsening which would be a shame.

Delalakis Tue 23-Oct-12 17:54:41

I think it would be better to improve the existing legislation than to go for this bill, because passing a new Act is fairly pointless since they took out anything useful in terms of enforceable social care provision. If we keep the existing provisions there would be less risk of losing the important current safeguards such as the requirement to specify and detail support, and for the Code of Practice to be properly scrutinised by Parliament before it is issued.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Oct-12 21:22:25

I think it is near nigh impossible to run a campaign through a mumsnet thread!Organising things by committee is tricky, organising things through a website even more so I think.

I think we should organise an email group (there is a yahoo one set up) and just get to work there identifying key objectives.

We can then use google docs or post here to allow those who want to get involved to join us.

I do have experience lobbying. I am a human rights lawyer. I was working for the House of Commons until recently. I am happy to start the ball rolling.

Okay. Need a reminder for the yahoo group. Is it the one the bloke set up?

AgnesDiPesto Tue 23-Oct-12 21:42:08

I know nothing about lobbying, but really want to do this. Just need someone to take charge and tell me how / give me a job to do...AE??? We all constantly have other competing priorities but there must be a way of sharing the work around.

Agnes, haven't you got an especially trying week?

Yes. That's what I need. Someone to tell me what to do, what to research or what to compile.

Ds is safe (for now) and I've taken up a bit of cleaning and baking and we have a family life at last but I'm still so bloody cross about what is happening.

ArthurPewty Tue 23-Oct-12 21:52:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 23-Oct-12 21:54:05

Yes well maybe I will start next week grin. Then again I can channel my inner rage into something constructive.

HotheadPaisan Tue 23-Oct-12 23:00:17
inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Oct-12 23:34:40

Would it be ok to suggest people PM me if interested ( if you haven't already)? I have some ideas but would love to chat them through in an email group or email exchange.

ArthurPewty Wed 24-Oct-12 07:59:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

norfolkhiboux Thu 25-Oct-12 15:01:29

group not a bad idea.
I picked up a spare ticket to the Westminster Briefing on Tuesday, there was an LA Rep from Bromley Pathfinder telling the mainly LA audiance that all parents currently on a statement could not expect a new EHC plan. So not everyone who has a statement now will have an equivallant under the new system. Pretty much what IPSEA and MN are saying. Its not great for parents. lunnch wasn't great , but suppose a freebie.

TheTimeTravellersWife Fri 02-Nov-12 14:00:01

Thought you may like to know that the Education Select Committee are hearing further evidence on Tuesday, 6th November 2012.

Still no representative from IPSEA or similar though.

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 02-Nov-12 17:27:33

Thanks TimeTraveller. I am at the House on Wednesday so, frustratingly, will miss this or I would have popped along.

It is annoying that there is no witness from IPSEA listed yet. Perhaps it is planned for a later session.

I was astonished at the last session that county directors of education were saying things like 'we tell parents we don't have the resources to issue statements'. There was no acknowledgement that this is, of course, entirely unlawful.

But MPs aren't experts and there was no one else there to pick up on it - not even the deputy director of the Council for Disabled Children.

pinkorkid Fri 02-Nov-12 19:37:08

Says it is the final evidence gathering session so looks like no input from ipsea or any further interested parties, unless I've misread it.

Yes, final evidence.

norfolkhiboux Tue 05-Feb-13 16:00:30

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 05-Feb-13 18:05:07

I have posted a link to the new bill under another thread but as this one has been resurrected, I shall post it here.

Is this yet another SEN Legal advert? Sorry if I sound suspicious but it is very strange to drag up a very old thread to flag up Melissa Nettleton's talk

flowwithit Tue 05-Feb-13 19:31:54

This is really bad news! My Ds has average IQ too but what good is that if you can't write or spell well and if you have problems with working memory and organising yourself as well as understanding instructions. If you find it difficult to cope in a busy school because of sensory problems and poor social communication and you then suffer from anxiety and panic attacks! What good is average IQ then? How can they say you don't need support. I will also be sending the template letter to MP.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 05-Feb-13 20:04:14

Sorry, not sure where the average IQ bit is in the bill? Isn't that something circulated earlier on in this discussion.

flowwithit Tue 05-Feb-13 20:19:47

Yes I did read that on earlier posts but I'm now on IPSEA looking at it properly as I didn't have time earlier. Sorry if I have confused anyone by not doing my homework properly smile

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 05-Feb-13 20:25:44

We'll let you off!

norfolkhiboux Wed 06-Feb-13 10:20:31

sorry, just wanted to share the experience that as parents we had a month ago at Tribunal and high light for other mums and dads a usefull talk that may have helped them, will remember that posts are just meant to slag people off and share bad experinces and negative comments.

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