Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

Meeting with Ministers: your questions

(57 Posts)
Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 27-Mar-13 17:32:32

I have been invited to a meeting with ministers in relation to SEN matters and I am keen to share your questions with them.

Additionally, I am involved in a proposal for research on the Equality Act and SEN law which will touch on the Children and Families Bill. It will involve as much investigation with families as we can manage so please do let me know if you have areas which you feel strongly about.

2006hildy Wed 27-Mar-13 17:38:52

Have you ever thought of making a programme on the postcode lottery of Special Educational Needs provision. The provision is different from county to county. Even if it only ends up as a news clip.
I know this because I live in the Beds, Bucks and Herts border. Our NHS provision was with Bucks and Education with Herts and found we had to move our son’s GP to Herts so that all departments could communicate effectively.
I have a diagnosed Autistic son who went to the same preschool as John and Sally Bercow's son. Now that they are at school John Bercow reports his son has everything he needs being in Bucks.
However, it is a very different story for our son. I will be taking our LEA to tribunal for Refusal To Assess for Statutory Assessment in July. I already feel like I have been badly treated -people not giving me vital information, using semantics in a negative way twisting things, just being really slippery etc etc.
It's so unfair that John Bercow's clothing allowance is larger than our total annual Household Income so we can't afford to represent with a lawyer, at our Tribunal.
I want my son to have an education and not live on benefits for the rest of his life probably in a one bedroom bedsit. It is a lifelong disorder. Who will look after him once his parents have gone and he is still very vulnerable fully grown man? He is at the mercy of the opportunities and care available to him. In general, adults with special needs lack support and understanding in society at all levels.

By not assessing him they have written him off at the age of 3 the first time they refused a Statutory Assessment and not giving him the chance of an Education. He just has a developmental disorder. It was bad enough receiving the diagnosis the date of which I shall never forget like a birthday.
The LEA say he is getting all the help he requires but without a proper assessment how do they know he has got the most effective targeted help for his complex needs. It’s as though the have just stuck a plaster over his problems. If he is getting the right help, how come he is doing inadequately at school, well below the National Curriculum? It is known as a hidden disability, how can the just dish out standard strategies of help?
He has delayed expressive language, in effect, the inability to communicate effectively. There is nothing wrong with his intelligence he can still learn. We should not discount their often one tracked brains as it may produce genius. There are several famous people whom they think had Autism.
Fighting educational bureaucracy is exhausting why would I do it for the shear hell of it? I am sick of it and feel its hard enough being a mum to a special educational needs child, never mind battling the system as well. The Autism debate in the House of Commons on 19/11/12 4.30pm highlighted the fact, it is pretty much par for the course that there is no coherent nationwide approach.
I met a mum through a support group who has her statement now for her son, who is helping me with mine but has been left so bitter with the whole non service she is willing to help.
So I have written this essay in to you, in the hope it will help others too.

zzzzz Wed 27-Mar-13 17:50:26

My ds is 8, he is severely language disordered, home educated because of lack of adequate provision. He has in his eight years been assessed repeatedly, but there is no therapy support at the end of the assessment.
What is the point of spending thousands of pounds on assessment (and yes over the years it probably is thousands) with no remedial action taken? Who is keeping track of the outcome of assessment.

I should be clear, in some areas my sons language is more limited than a 2 year old, what happens if your issues are more subtle I can't imagine!

Badvoc Wed 27-Mar-13 17:55:33

Zzzzz is spot on.
What's the point of all the assessments and dx when there is little/patchy provision once dx is made?
My son got a dx of severe dyslexia in 2011.
We - stupidly - assumed that he would then get the help he needed.
He has had no specialist interventions or 1-1 as recommended in the EP report.
So, as i said, what's the point?

2tirednot2fight Wed 27-Mar-13 18:00:44

Good luck with that IE. I am sure you will touch on the delays and ineffective QA process involving the LGO given your own experiences, in terms of disability discrimination, my experiences suggest that even the most basic rights of children with disabilities are ignored and the notion that there is a bias of inclusion is simply not born out in reality, including children is not an add on for schools when they feel like doing so but should be an integral belief that practices are built upon.

I can't see the bill making any significant changes, even direct payments have turned out to be little more than an empty promise with strings attached to make them unworkable.

bochead Wed 27-Mar-13 18:38:36

can you pm me your email?

I typed up a list of questions at the weekend to ask Brian Lamb in relation to my own LEA. However I'm not too well at the minute and am sure that your lawyers brain could make them far more pertinent and piercing than I ever could.

Mostly I want to know what accountability will be put in place - at every level from the individual classroom, to academies, & LA's to access to assessments and therapies. The current system is corrupt to the core.

Direct payments are no use at all if you don't meet the unpublished criteria to access the darn things. All that will happen is that the children of the great and good with mild issues will get everything on a plate while more severe cases will get dumped in PRU's & left to rot at ever younger ages. (reception NOT being considered too young!). That's just how nepotism, the old school tie and living in the right catchment are etc works.

I'm concerned about the semantics wrt 'local offer'. If we are to focus on outcomes then I don't give a monkey's what is on 'offer'.

What I want to know is what support I can get to meet our family and my son's specific needs.

Here they are better than many, and they can 'offer' a very minimal service giving us a couple of hours a month of a special trained worker to spend some time with my disabled child so I can spend some time with my other children.

What we NEED, is for someone to spend some time with my children so that I can spend some 1:1 time with my ds and actually use the huge amount of training I have sourced in order to make a difference to his life chances, but are prevented from doing so due to having two smaller children.

But also, the word 'offer' doesn't mean anyone gets anything. A LA can offer a service in a rural location, during school hours for children miles away with parents who can't drive and publish that 'offer' and congratulate themselves on it, but what on earth good is that? How do they know that the 'offer' is a)relevant, b)needed, c)accessible and d)going to effect outcomes for their population.?

Why are tribunal panels so frigging biased and incompetent?
Why is the LGO more incompetent/biased with SN issues than with other issues?
Why are there no consequences for LAs who don't even read the parental case for tribunal until the day of the tribunal?
Why don't LA's publish or even record the cost of tribunal and preparation in terms of staff time and legal advice?
Why are LA's allowed to refuse to disclose the 'lessons learned' information under a freedom of information request wrt tribunals. Surely if things were transparent and this information was available, parents would understand whether or not they had a case saving themselves and the LA considerable amounts of money, not to mention the tax payer.

MummytoMog Wed 27-Mar-13 19:42:46

Make sure you have everything written down and give the officials at the meeting a copy of your questions. Follow up the meeting with a letter explaining exactly what you felt the minister agreed to look into/do. Copy it into everyone who was there. If you feel like he wasn't being helpful, put that in a letter and send it, copying it to the opposition spokesman for the policy area. If you really want the right people there, send an indicative line of questioning to his office a week before the meeting, and they can ensure he's briefed properly and supported by the policy officials.

eggandcress Wed 27-Mar-13 19:57:00

Will you only be talking about education? We are struggling with our social services/children with disabilities team in an ill-making/stress inducing way.
Will this type of service come under the local offer?

Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 27-Mar-13 20:07:11

Great - thanks guys.

The meeting has been arranged by a law firm and there will a group of parents meeting with ministers including Timpson to relate our experiences. Transparency and accountability are two key themes I think as processes which are transparent and over which there is accountability are much more likely to be fair and consistent.

The measurability of outcomes is also key. I don't want to battle for more hours or more provision and find it does no good and no one is interested in measuring its effectiveness. There's too much ineffective provision out there because NHS agencies don't want to work with children directly and pump out the same immeasurable guff all the time.

Boc - have PM'd you.

The only possible reason for LA's refusing to disclose information about panel decisions, tribunal lessons and similar information is to deny children their entitlement, otherwise what would be the harm in having that information in the public domain?

Just because an LA sought legal advice, doesn't mean requests for the advice given should be refused on the sole basis of it being legal advice iyswim.

miseryismyname Wed 27-Mar-13 20:36:58

There is a loophole around permanent exclusion that I feel needs to be addressed.
Schools can permanently exclude a child with a statement and then withdraw it within 3 weeks if another school is named on the sm. In the meantime the child and family have to go through extreme stress and anxiety and there is no way of appealing this decision. O.k, the exclusion is withdrawn and not on the child's record but the school can do this to the child and have no consequences. I think this can encourage some schools to exclude with no fear of reprisal even if they act unfairly. In our case I now have paperwork that shows the school had been planning this for several weeks beforehand and when the LA advised them of possible discrimination said that they had 'all bases covered'. Unless parents can afford a solicitor there is nothing that can be done about this injustice.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 27-Mar-13 20:57:52

Accountability yes.

Recognising the gaps in complaint / appeal processes eg school are not accountable to anyone except DFE but any complaint would sit on DFE desk for very long time. Tribunals only able to award wasted legal and expert costs eg for last minute evidence but not awarding backdated costs e.g. if parent has paid out for education or LA have no defence. Can Judges do more active case management at early stage and throw out LA cases where no evidence. LGO cannot look at cases which have been to SEND - if tribunal doesn't award costs then LGO can't overrule that or say appeal should not have been defended. Only way to get backcosts is negligence for which no legal aid so in practice no redress for LAs acting badly even if LA deliberately put in a cheap package they knew was not meeting need.

Legal advice and expert fees at tribunal. Become essential to have advice eg it is impossible now to get residential provision without an expert saying there is a need for residential and if LA won't let their own expert say that then parents are forced to pay. LAs getting legal costs funded by public purse including barristers etc while parents cannot get legal aid unless on minimum income - legal aid should be in name of child. benefits of lawyers being involved early eg quick settlements, mediations etc Complete inequality of arms. Potential breach rules of natural justice. LAs exploit parents being unrepresented to overcomplicate cases and bamboozle parents.

Mediation - concern about how parents can agree to an education package at mediation when they are not experts - how can they know if a compromise package will meet need? Law says SEN must be met the whole concept of bargaining this out without legal or expert advice is very dodgy as a child could easily end up with an inadequate package as a parent would not nec know it was inadequate - at Tribunal there is in theory an expert panel overseeing the package is sufficient - at mediation there is no safeguard

Pathfinders - well they are mostly a joke - where has the money gone and has much of anything been tested. Will Pathfinders have to publish full reports of all their pilots not just highlights.

Direct payments who has actually tested them and given there is no appetite for DP among teachers, Heads, teacher unions, LAs etc then how are they going to give parents the choice they promised. Also how does this fit with commissioning duties on LA and NHS? Implies NHS will commission itself so no added choice or scrutiny.

School funding changes - huge fallout from this eg parents of high needs children being dissuaded from even applying to schools, schools saying can't meet need from own resources but child is below statement level so LA won't get involved, children having their 1:1 hours chopped from 20 to 2 so the school does not have to pay £6000 towards the statement, schools telling parents there is no sen funding anymore, no statements anymore etc etc - But as many of these children have no statement there is no legal redress or complaint route.

Early education / intervention - thinking about moving away from a school model (trying to fit children into an existing model of education) and setting up a model that fits childrens needs as in other countries. Most 2-3 year old children with ASD do not benefit from nursery education until they have gained basic skills in 1:1. Often children will be 4,5 or 6 before they can benefit from mainstream and then only after intensive work on behaviour, language, learning to learn skills etc. Look at a model where a child accesses mainstream education once they have demonstrated a level of skills to succeed there. So looking at providing early education instead through perhaps a more medical model of treatment centres and home therapy. Again I agree why diagnose autism at 2 if you have no services until school age (in our case mainstream nursery was not a service we wanted / that added any value but actually caused alot of distress). Why use mainstream nurseries as main place to provide early intervention when for some groups no evidence this is effective and often very distressing for everyone.

Can parents pool the early years budget eg take SLT, portage, free nursery place, 1:1 LSA cost, childcare 1:1, respite etc and roll that into a budget which could be spent on home (private) therapy if parents chose to home educate as a valid alternative to mainstream nursery

Minimum level of education eg 15 hours a week as per ASD guidelines 2002 - this was not supposed to be 15 hours of nursery care but 15 hours of specialist input

Evidence based practice / assessing outcomes / what works - look at block contracts eg NHS SLT and make them prove outcomes (ours does not even collect any data on children with autism to see if they make a difference or not yet still get a block contract)

Carers - why are they paid less than a teenager on JSA? Pay a living wage. Why is care not considered 'work' for various benefits. What about help with mortgages, home repairs, pensions, car etc. for those who will be lifelong carers. Early help to keep carers in work - what would this require eg specialist placements, SEN transport, specialist childcare etc which would need to be set up rapidly to stop parents losing their jobs. Current system is not quick or responsive enough to stop carers losing their jobs

What about support for siblings eg holiday schemes, soundproofing bedrooms - more flexibility - so respite budget can be spent creatively within the family not just for the disabled child eg it is often easier to place the sibling in a holiday activity than the disabled child.

Inappropriate use of child protection threats when SEN officers and parents disagree to discredit parents.

School exclusions esp unofficial exclusions and dodgy 'managed moves'

Getting rid of 'graduated approach' - the reverse should be offered - rapid intensive help. Support can be scaled down once progress is established and find point at which rate of progress drops - that is right level of intervention - graduated approach stores up huge costs for society later on as delays right help

ABA / other proven home programmes to be a viable option on same level as indep school, free school etc in the Bill - at moment still have to prove no school in area can meet need before get ed otherwise placement and fail many times

ABA in mainstream schools eg ABA units / small classes within schools with opportunities to access mainstream

Round year provision eg 48 week programmes, summer programmes.

Also provision that is more than school week e.g. 35 hour programmes. Support in the home - disability does not stop at school gate - parents need help to deal with behaviour, language, sleep, diet etc etc at home - expectation outreach into home. So most statements should be written with more than just school hours / school support

Compulsory requirement to seek parent feedback on all services which is published

A website where parents can report poor SEN services or professionals can whistle blow similar to that for adult social care (CQC?).

zzzzz Wed 27-Mar-13 21:05:32

Why is it so difficult to find out what support is available?

Inappropriatelyemployed Wed 27-Mar-13 22:31:14

Thanks Agnes - amazingly thorough as usual .

mymatemax Wed 27-Mar-13 22:45:37

We are in Suffolk & fortunate enough to have a choice of wonderful small villag primaries, however SEN provision in MS schools is entirely dependant on the headteacher at the time, there must be greater consistency in schools.

There is also no ASD specific provision within our county for children who do not meet the criterea for mod/severe learnng difficulties BUT they are not adequately catered for in MS schools either.
My son has mild physical disabilities, very low academic ability, autism but has a very good level of understanding and awareness.
So we have no option but to send him to the school that he sort of fits in to best where he is going to feel the least like a square peg in a roun whole rather than sending him to a school that really will suit his needs.

The number of out of county placements (many boarding),asd children with exclusions from ms school or placed in PRU really should tell the government that more specialist schools are neededs, surely one per county is not alot to ask for.

MareeyaDolores Thu 28-Mar-13 01:35:36

*Inappropriate use of child protection threats when SEN officers and parents disagree to discredit parents.

School exclusions esp unofficial exclusions and dodgy 'managed moves'*

This is the worst bit, I think. The misapplication of existing laws and practices is what gives LEAs a really bad name amongst SEN parents. And it's not rare. I know several local families in RL who've been exposed to this, families where I am 100% certain that the suggestions of "safeguarding concerns" were wrong. Referral after referral, each one so misguided that it is very hard to believe it wasn't a deliberate, malicious tactic to try to bully fuss-making families. And in our area, the normal threshold for a full safeguarding assessment is very high indeed, so this is not just a safety-first culture.

MareeyaDolores Thu 28-Mar-13 01:40:04

And yy accountability, yy (useful ones) outcome measures, yy flexibility, yy publish everything, yy problems with the £6k of school-held SEN funding.

MareeyaDolores Thu 28-Mar-13 01:53:09

outcome measures camhs and based camhs research into in child neurodisability, helping paediatric physios and OTs develop robust outcome measures like their adult colleagues and apply what we know already

MareeyaDolores Thu 28-Mar-13 01:55:49

sorry, a bit garbled, but those are various links about evidence based practice, and current accepted wisdom re outcomes data.

The NHS can already do this lot quite well for a range of physical issues in adults and it needs to start doing for children with disabilities ASAP.

MareeyaDolores Thu 28-Mar-13 02:01:16

The current sorry mess is expensive, wasteful, ineffective, inhumane and damaging to society as a whole. We don't have enough SEN spending, but, tbh, we could still do much better even with much less, if the current knowledge was properly applied and integrated.

And with some well-targetted research, each year, provision could improve a little more, outcomes could improve a lot more, and possibly the overall cost would be a little less. With the usual caveat that savings from childhood interventions can take some years to show up.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 28-Mar-13 03:04:47

What is going to happen to the support that DC's currently on SA or SA+ receive when everything changes, and SA & SA+ no longer exist?

If the schools are having to fund more for DC's with statements, it stands to reason that the place they will find the money to do this is the money that is currently used to support those DC's on SA+.

There are often DC's with multiple disabilities, SN's and SEN's still on SA+ because their LA refuses to assess for a statement, and the parents have no support to appeal that decision.

How is it that certain areas in certain LA's can get away with having no Parent Partnership officer for FOUR YEARS ("we can't attract anyone to the post"), yet the other side if town has a PP officer, yet we aren't allowed to be supported by them because our DC attend a school in the other half of town.

Legally, the LA has a duty to provide a Parent Partnership officer. How can you explain an area without one for 4 years?

OneInEight Thu 28-Mar-13 06:01:44

Why do head-teachers have to permanently exclude before the LA moves into action - been told this by no less than three head-teachers.

What is the point of a child being seen by an educational psychologist and then them taking three months to write the report by which time said child has been permanently excluded.

Why can school not access support for autistic children before a diagnosis when the need is clearly there. Don't get me started on the inefficiencies of the NHS in terms of diagnosis.

Why when autism affects 1 in 100 children is there such little understanding of appropriate strategies by teachers.

It may be that this minister learns a lot from you, but don't be surprised if he acts unsurprised.

I met a bunch of them and they all looked pretty unshocked at the stories and nodded along at the suggestions of the LGO being toothless. They've heard it before.

OhYeaBaby Thu 28-Mar-13 10:35:04

don't want to hijack, but I am just about to name change as I also may have an opportunity to raise this on tele

Don't talk about wanting more funds but about wanting reallocation of current funds to get more effective outcomes.

I would take half the cost of my ds' provision and do it myself if ever that was an option. I can't work anyway because my full-time job has been policing the ineffective provision to make sure at least some of it happens.

Parent-school partnerships need to be equal, not all on schools terms. Parents need to be given the RESPONSIBILITY for engaging with the educational provision for their child.

Early intervention, in the form of proper evidence based treatment, costs now but saves far more later. In US and Canada ABA is funded as a matter of course.

But if it was mainstream it wouldn't necessarily even cost more than current provision.

frizzcat Thu 28-Mar-13 12:54:57

Hi IE - apologies if I'm recovering points already made - but having a rush day, plus on iPhone so there will be mistakes:

Under-qualified SENCO's - there doesn't appear to be any legal requirement for them to complete training in special needs and their varying degrees once they are doing the role. My SENCO is unaware of procedure, the different conditions and their implications within SN. The junior school have yet to recommend a strategy in supporting my ds. It's like well he has a statement - job done! IMHO the statement is the foundation to build on not a baby-sitting token. I have the same hopes aspirations for my ds as any other parent and he should have the same opportunities, should he choose to take them.

Child care
Seeing as the gov are so keen for dm's to go back to work, I'm pleasantly fucking astounded to see no mention of sn children. I've looked at holiday clubs for ds, some have been openly hostile others have said that on top of the extortionate fee I have to pay for 121 support on top. Even though ds does not have a full time statement!.

Dx process
I spend all of my meetings with professionals going through my ds profile, none of them seem capable of reading up and so ds has minimal assessment time. Once you get your dx that's it - off you trot, no advice on therapies, no therapy just a big rubber stamp and NEXT!!

Thank god for MNSN - without it I'd have known nothing

bochead Sat 30-Mar-13 11:04:32

*Inappropriate use of child protection threats when SEN officers and parents disagree to discredit parents.

School exclusions esp unofficial exclusions and dodgy 'managed moves'*

This wastes so much money, destroys whole families and ruins lives & it's wrong on so many levels but seems to be almost "standard practice". It's so far removed from the proclaimed ethos of putting the welfare of the child first that it's completely grotesque, and just plain wicked.

Inappropriatelyemployed Sat 30-Mar-13 11:25:40

Reallocation of funds to measurable provision is an important point but that is child dependent as not one size fits all and ABA is no panacea to every child's needs. The evidence in relation to its success has specific parameters and doesn't surpass Kanner's work in terms of emergence outcomes.

From what I have seen of it, replacing my son's current provision with an ABA therapist fixed on teaching 'compliance' or food blob skills etc through a TA would not necessarily be helpful and would not reflect any understanding of his needs or the neurological etiology of autism as a developmental disorder.

But that is my son and not other people's children and I know it has been very effective for the very young, for non-verbal children and those with intellectual impairments.

I suppose my point is that transparency and accountability mean that we need to get rid of all dogmas not replace one with another although I am sure there are multitudes of not very good ABA therapists out there with expensive food blob plans etc who will happily take £1000 a month from the state for something a child could learn him/herself given time. Or forcing children on to dull Headsprout packages because 'the evidence says it works'.

We need to get away from one size fits all an d work out what an individual child needs. This is what the law requires and it is when the parents pursue this and want something different that we get the terrible excesses of the system with child protection plans, vexatious bans, etc

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 14:50:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bochead Sat 30-Mar-13 16:39:59

Where are these clear current guidelines for CP processes published - I sure as heck can't find em.

I found the ones on exclusion and found that like the SenCop they are ignored more often than followed by many schools. Too often a statement is filed in a school drawer and forgotten/ignored even in small primaries.

There are no effective penalties for even blatant systemic abuse, and families have no means of getting fair treatment as the odds are so stacked against them at every single stage of the process. The tribunal system is NOT fair as often you need a good legal team, expert reports, witnesses etc. Even if you have the thousands of pounds needed the average parent doesn't know how to access the quality teams needed to secure a win. The private sector contains a LOT of snake oil sales men and unregulated cowboys.

Parents should not have to remortgage their homes, lose their careers, relocate to different parts of the country etc just to get their children a basic education, yet time and time again I hear that they are forced to make disproportionate sacrifices.

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 17:14:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

'Or if the risk is there because of a lack of available provision this does not meet the threshold for a cp plan'

Perhaps not, but it does appear to meet the threshold for threats of CP if the parent doesn't stop asking for services.

BackforGood Sat 30-Mar-13 18:04:51

Hugely concerned about the lack of provision available in my LA - children who clearly have a need for specialist provision, parents requesting it, all professionals supporting it, but nowhere near enough places to meet demand.
Same with lack of EPs
Same with lack of staff to process Statutory Assessment - I know of many, many cases where the children still don't have Statements a year after the request went in.
With Gvmnt breaking up LAs (30% of schools in our LA now acadamies and not therefore having any of their funding going to support services such as Ed Psychs and Autism Team, etc) - how can this appalling situation do anything but get even worse ?

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 18:05:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bochead Sat 30-Mar-13 18:39:50

LA has over 500 diagnosed ASD kids

5 ASD Outreach staff (mix of specialist TA's and teachers)
2 EP's

30 Secondary SS places
30 Unit Secondary places
60 ASD unit primary places

In addition there are an undisclosed number of Aspie/dysraxic/SPD/social communication disorder/dual diagnosis ASD/ADHD kids + of course all those stuck in the diagnostic pipeline. These children need similar professional expertise

The average PGCE student gets one afternoon's lecture on SN's and a 2000 word essay

These sorts of figures are not unusual, and should leave no one in any sort of doubt as to why adequate provision often seems so hard to obtain.

LA's in this position resort to a funnel approach to rationing provision whereby only the children of the best resourced parents and the chair throwers get within sniffing distance of adequate provision. The silly thing is that the Tribunal process becomes part of that funnel and costs the LA huge sums in legal fees etc every year. These funds are then unavailable to use for employing any more hands on therapists or expert teaching staff.

Throw in just one or two ineffective staff members at any stage of the whole shebang from TA's right up to local strategists + the whole "caring carrot" culture and it's easy to start to understand why the whole thing is such a mess.

Nothing I've seen to date demonstrates to me that the new style "local offer" will be able to combat this kind of pressure.

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 18:56:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 19:06:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

'I cannot see how a section 47 investigation could be launched, the strategy meeting or discussion which instigates the process would have to identify concerns not requests for services.'

No it can't. But social workers and other professionals can use throw-away comments implying that they have concerns of FII and the power to raise it to section 47 if you don't do all that is asked without questioning.

This has happened to me twice, and both times during the run up to a SENDIST tribunal.

If I'm honest, social workers have disappeared as fast as they appeared after making some frankly ridiculous demands presumably to tick a box that showed intervention and justification for their wasted time. Must wear socks on rainy days (tick the box that the parent has received intervention about appropriate clothing perhaps) and parents must not leave unopened post in their porch (to ensure they aren't ignoring bills perhaps - though I'm making a guess).

zzzzz Sat 30-Mar-13 19:55:51

Socks and post!! shock

Yes, and a threat that they were going to make a surprise visit in the next couple of weeks to check that I was complying.

They never did come back though.

2tirednot2fight Sat 30-Mar-13 20:21:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Sat 30-Mar-13 20:27:46

Why were no socks and unopened post deemed to be so crucial? hmm

This sounds scarily barking. Ds regularly goes out without socks and I only open mail once in a blue moon.

It didn't start out as an investigation (not the first one). It started out as a concern by the EP that our boiler wasn't working as we'd offered to put the oven on when she visited. Her concerns were that we were prioritising funds for independent experts over heating. So what? We were.

When they made their surprise visit I complained about their assumptions, judgemental attitude and complete lack of awareness wrt ASD. They threw their weight about and told me things that were untrue and insisted that wearing sandals in the rain in August was inappropriate and insisted that if I couldn't see that then they might have to raise their concerns further. They also insisted from the title of my dh's job that he was chosing to work longer hours than necessary and recommended that he supported me more by not going to work in any of the school holidays.

I asked for a carers assessment. They came around and did some wierd assessment. DS was ill and asleep so they made a judgement that as they had seen him sleeping he has no problems at night. When they'd passed the deadline for the carers assessment report, they denied that that was what they were doing and accused me of not asking for one in the first place.

They told me that heating the kitchen with an oven was dangerous and that i could not see that also was concerning them and they were going to take it to their manager and probably 'take things further'.

They insisted that ds should be in the surestart preschool that I had removed him on the basis that they regularly left him in the same nappy all day and encouraged his stimming. I was a volunteer at the breastfeeding cafe in the room next door and saw him flapping and ringing a bell in the playground for 25 minutes with no-one intervening. He looked like a leper. It was recorded in his communication book as him having enjoyed the musical instruments that day.

When I refused to return him to that setting (all my reasons were written down to the preschool) then they insisted that that would have been my respite so I obvsiously didn't need it that badly, and then they again threatened that they could raise it to CP for not allowing ds to go there to develop his social skills.

The thing is, they kept SAYING CP.

But it never was. I know that because amazingly in all the chaos that prevailed at that time I had a relationship with a very sensible HV (not mine, just one that I had got to know) who on my behalf phoned around to figure out what was going on and was able to tell me that there was no section 47 or even concerns.

But until that HV had done that I believed that we were borderline from what everyone was saying.

The EP never told me she was going to or did get SS involved.

AgnesDiPesto Sat 30-Mar-13 20:58:47

You have to have a tribunal process, even with all its flaws. As long as s

AgnesDiPesto Sat 30-Mar-13 21:32:26

Oops off to type on something that works!

bochead Sat 30-Mar-13 21:33:24

Oh I agree you need a tribunal process.

Without it my own child would still be making animal noises under the corner table all day, apart from his frequent all out escape attempts. Thanks to Tribunal he's learning, communicating, making friends etc. I'm ever so grateful.

I just posted the figures above to highlight the odds of any one child with what is a well known disability getting an appropriate educational setting. Seriously with one OT per 500 children running around an entire LA's schools, how many are really going to stand a chance of getting an appropriate level of her expert input? You need to take time away from her direct work with children to allow for meeting attendance, travel between sites, report writing etc, etc.

AgnesDiPesto Sat 30-Mar-13 22:31:54

ok so fat fingers and phones don't mix and ds messed up my computer keyboard and just spent half hour taking spacebar apart not entirely successfully

just trying to say having at least some children getting gold standard provision via tribunal is important. Otherwise all provision would be watered down and be no examples of what is possible out there. I am pretty sure most of the autism professionals in my LA do not even know what good provision looks like. If we lost those good examples everyone would suffer.

Just the idea of being taken to tribunal acts as a bit of a brake - without it LAs would not use money saved to raise standards, it would be a race to the bottom

MareeyaDolores Sun 31-Mar-13 21:58:14

IA, I agree with you about ABA. As it's currently marketed, commercially available provision is often an expert-heavy, somewhat dogmatic, largely 1-1 discipline specialising in rigid programmes for (mainly) young children with autism. What it should be is the universal availability of a far more 'scientific' mentality. Where aims are thought-out, targets are SMART, and staff giving extra help all consider and evaluate whether their strategies have worked, after every input.

A universally disseminated set of effective teaching skills: association (pairing), systematic reinforcement, shaping, chaining etc. Where all 'difficult behaviours' are looked at to establish the underlying cause, the environment is adjusted if necessary, and the consequences are carefully considered and planned.

Lots of people call this 'good teaching'; it's not new, it's not special, but it's sadly rare sad

MareeyaDolores Sun 31-Mar-13 22:04:38
MareeyaDolores Sun 31-Mar-13 22:09:39

Surgical training for US army docs

What Mareeya said.

ABA is supposed to be about practicing, measuring the effectiveness, garnering feedback from the student and refining to ensure efficient and cooperative progress. I know it isn't anything like that as it is currently practiced in many instances which makes me extremely angry at times, but you can't throw out the approach because of bad practice.

I think you have misunderstood the food thing. No-one is making any money out of presenting foods. A Masters student worked with just 4 families for whom food acceptance was a significant problem and wrote up her findings. No-one has sold this as an approach and the families were carefully chosen to be those for whom food acceptance was affecting their lives to a detrimental degree. It was just a study. It was and impressive and surprising outcome which is why it was brought up on here.

And to defend Headsprout, it is as dull or otherwise as a pencil. How it is used is what is significant.

bochead Sun 31-Mar-13 22:56:46

Mareeya articulated my philosophy wonderfully.

It comes back to that old wives saying "there's nought so rare as common sense!".

Having spent years in commercial industry working on all sorts of projects I still find it very hard to understand the cultural resistance to SMART targets within education for example. I'm overjoyed that the concept of measurable outcomes is finally entering the cultural arena of SN education. "Loving the child" is not enough if he's likely to grow into a 6 foot 5 hulk that insists on masturbating on public transport - we have to TEACH him effectively too!

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