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Very angry about proposed statement - Bastard LA

(42 Posts)
zen1 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:36:49

I've finally received a proposed statement (only 6 weeks later than they should have sent it hmm) and I've never read such a load of wishy-washy crap in my life. In my parental report, I was very clear that I want DS (ASD) to attend the same mainstream school as my other DCs. I gave clear and concise reasons for my decision (with evidence to back this up). DS's best way of learning would be in MS with 1:1 support.

Well, the LA have completely ignored this, named a unit in the opposite direction to where I currently have to take DCs (I don't want him to attend a unit), and have not quantified or specified a single piece of provision he will receive. Lots of sentences begin: 'DS will be supported to meet the following objectives..to develop his play skills, to develop his speech/language, to develop his self-help skills...blah,blah"

There are other sentences beginning "DS will be given the opportunity to..." As I said, nothing is quantified and no actual 'provision' is mentioned. There is lots of talk of "visual support" in the form of signs and symbols which we have never used as DS's understanding is good and he can talk (although he does have language delays). Infact, he ignores symbols.

I am so worried that he will end up somewhere where he is set up to fail from the outset. Obviously, I am going to send back the form saying I disagree with the outlined provision and their choice of school, but what is the best thing I can do to enhance his chances of getting 1:1 in mainstream?

Any advice very gratefully received

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 14:57:31

Mainstream is currently assumed to be every child's right.

Call IPSEA, but all that wishy-washy rubbish might end up as fairly strong ground for saying why his needs can be met in MS. Beware only of things which an ordinary school don't have on-site like 'small group' 'low-sensory' 'specialist teacher'

zen1 Wed 24-Apr-13 15:04:00

Thanks Mareeya - been trying to get through to IPSEA all day. What makes it more annoying is that my other DC's school has already verbally said they would take him.

Don't be angry. This is an unofficial, but nevertheless usual step. Just keep calm and do what you know you need to.

Sorry though.

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 15:14:48

If school are helpful, you could take the wishy-washy statement along to them for an unofficial chat, and ask if there are any bits of it they might struggle to meet.

Then ask LA to remove those bits wink

zen1 Wed 24-Apr-13 16:33:22

I just don't get it. LAs are usually desperate to place people in MS, regardless of their needs. Now I'm asking for MS, they don't want to do it. I'm sure it is down to someone I encountered on the panel last year who told me the LA would not be statementing children who are going to mainstream schools. It was implied that unit places have already had funding allocating to them. Therefore, children who would tick the box of meeting the criteria of a unit place would be sent there, regardless of whether it was in their best interests. All so the LA don't have to pay out extra money for support in the MS classroom.

No. If the school you want is as switched on as you seem to think they'll be demanding the resources they need, which could cost more than a unit placement.

lottieandmia Wed 24-Apr-13 16:52:12

Have you looked at the unit? Are you sure it would be wrig for him? My experience of TAs in mainstream is that they often don't have a clue about autism. Our LEA employed people to work with my dd who weren't qualified for the position even though the statement calls for autism specialist teaching.

If you feel that mainstream with TA is more appropriate for him then you will need to appeal the statement and look at what evidence you have that will help you win your appeal. You will need to show that the unit cannot meet his needs, but a MS placement with TA could.

lottieandmia Wed 24-Apr-13 16:53:15

wrong*

cornydash Wed 24-Apr-13 17:04:36

Don't worry - you can rewrite it yourself and send it back to them.

IPSEA advised me to go through the statement and the professional reports with highlighters. Highlight the bits that need to be in and then back them up by referring to the appropriate report/professional.

You'll need to visit the unit so that you can put your argument together for why the m/s school will meet his needs rather than the unit.

cornydash Wed 24-Apr-13 17:05:17

...but I agree with looking at the unit with an open mind - you might be surprised by it.

zen1 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:27:04

Thanks for the input smile. I haven't visited this specific unit, but have visited other SEN units nearer to where I live (very low expectations of DCs, hence my decision to send to MS). I have not heard good things about the unit they have named, but that is by-the-by as I want him in mainstream anyway. I will visit it though. Another consideration I have is my 2 other DCs are not old enough to travel to school by themselves yet (we take 2 buses), and I do not want to send my 4 year old off in a taxi to a school in the opposite direction.

TBH, the my DC's school is not that 'switched on' with regard to SN/SEN (wish it was, but the head has admitted this and wants to address it), but I feel it is our best option at present. Although DS has ASD, he loves being with other children and trying to make friends and he copies behaviours and models language from other children as well. I just think he will not do well socially in a unit (my evidence for this is that he is chatty and outgoing at his MS pre-school, but is quiet and reserved and not really himself at his specialist pre-school. Infact, he is underachieving there.

zen1 Wed 24-Apr-13 17:28:53

Also, I have already accepted a place at the MS school (don't think the two departments talk to each other so), so don't know how it's all going to work?

lottieandmia Wed 24-Apr-13 20:15:07

Zen - I understand how you feel re: low expectations. What is the Ofsted report like of the unit? Where I live there is a primary school for SEN and when I looked at that I felt it was totally inappropriate for my dd and I knew I would never want her to go there plus the children looked unhappy - lots stimming with no redirection. OTOH, the senior school is lovely and I have decided that it would be a good place for her to go based on my observations of the place, plus the Ofsted report is very good and the children all looked engaged with their learning.

My situation is very different from yours in that at 4, my daughter was incapable of learning in a school setting at all which is why I fought for and won, ABA. After 7 years of ABA she is at a point where she can take instruction in a school setting.

But I guess what I'm trying to say is that specialist provisions can all be different from each other, even when they're close to each other in distance.

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 23:09:34

You could do with minute-by-minue professional observations of your ds at preschool, plus ideally some video footage.

Preschool 1
9.30: head-banging; 9:35 sitting alone; 9:40 ripping a book

Preschool 2
9:30: nicking toy train off peer; 9:35 singing song; 9:40 running with peer

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 23:10:38

I know the behaviours are ok and difference is not that extreme, but you get the gist wink

bjkmummy Thu 25-Apr-13 08:54:58

At my recent tribunal the LA school argued that the LA funded 20 places in the unit at the school regardless if 20 kids were there. Think there were only 14 kids in the unit so they were really keen for him to go there as it was the cheapest option. I would speak to your preferred school as well as fri. April most schools will be expected to fund a certain proportion of the child's statement for their own budget. Shouldn't really influence their decision but may be best sounding them out just to make sure they are happy for him to attend the school. Ultimately you have a very strong case for mainstream but best to check out all options so that you will be I. The best position to argue the school placement

lottieandmia Thu 25-Apr-13 10:57:28

In a MS school, the LEA is responsible for funding a child's statement if the school doesn't have the money - there is case law on this point I believe. So that shouldn't influence the school's position.

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 16:54:43

bjkmummy, your experience sounds very much like our LA - they fund a certain number of unit places regardless, so are keen to have them filled.

Lottie, when I spoke to the MS school Head 2 terms ago he said he had "spare money" when I mentioned about DS going there and also said that they would take him. Don't know whether he realizes all the services that will need to be bought in for DS though.

However, from conversations I have had today, it seems like the only report the LA paid attention to was the one produced by the (LA funded) Ed Psych, which was a totally skewed misrepresentation of DS's abilities based on a five minute observation and the opinion of a member of SN preschool staff 9 days after DS had started there. He normally has transport to and from the SN preschool, but when I have taken him in myself, DS becomes a lot quieter and I feel like I made a dreadful mistake sending him there, especially if this psych report is going to have such a big impact on any future provision. The MS preschool were shocked when I showed it to them at the time and said they didn't recognise DS from that report at all.

It is just a complete mess. If the LA have sent a copy of the Psych report to the MS school, then they could probably argue that his needs are too complex for them, when in fact, that's not the case.

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 17:40:37

When you send your agree/disagree form back, go through the proposed statement and highlight every instance of where it needs to be specified and quantified, and strike-through all references to "have access to", "given the opportunity to" etc. In accompanying letter, remind them of the SENCoP bits re specifying/quantifying.

Also go through all the reports that were done for the statutory assessment (both theirs and yours if you had any), and ensure that every single recommendation made by all professionals has been included in Part 3. If it hasn't, or if it hasn't been specified adequately, list each of these.

Don't worry too much at this point - you're at an early stage. When you send them back the agree/disagree form, they'll either make the changes or not, and if not, then you'll at least be clearer about what your path will be (ie appealing or not).

Most important thing imo at this stage is to start gathering as much evidence as you can that the MS school you want is the best one for him, why it meets his needs above all others. I'd suggest that you stress the importance for him of mixing with nt peers (assuming that that is what you want?). Have you had an indepednent Ed Psych report? Or SALT? Worth lining these up now if not, as they can get booked up, and if it turns out you don't need them, you can always cancel nearer the time.

I think generally, 1-1 supprt in MS is almost always cheaper than SS, but Star might be right, if there are loads of other external services they have to buy in (eg SALT, OT etc) that might complicate things.

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 17:44:15

Oh and btw re accepting the place at the ms school already - once you finalise the statement, you'll be taken out of the normal admissions process. But don't do anything - just keep hold of it for now - it might take months to drag out the statement by which time he may have started at the school already, so you can then use that as an argument against moving him now he's settled wink

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 18:02:17

Thank you bialy, that is very helpful. You are right, one of the key factors for me is that DS is educated alongside NT children, as he really does take his lead from other children and is keen to emulate their behaviour. From my observations, the units in my borough are very much based on the children sitting at work stations and doing such activities as matching cards, which will be of no benefit to DS. Also, most children seem to start on P-scales and never progress much beyond KS1, if that. As I said before - low expectations.

Anyway, I haven't got an independent ed psych report (I was hoping I wouldn't need it) but intend to research one now. All he really needs is a 1:1 to help him stay on task and perhaps explain in a different way what it is he is expected to do. The SALT input he has had so far has made no difference to his language development, and they have always underestimated his capabilities; any language improvement has been mainly down to socialisation I think.

When we met with the LA about ABA, they insisted that it was our £23k against their zero as the place already exists and is funded in their provision.

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 18:04:39

Oh and thank you for clarifying about the admissions process smile

I think often it can be a case of chosing between low expectations and no expectations.

The 'no expectations' can work well or be a disaster depending on the school and how willing they are to work truly with the parents. I think the more specialist a school becomes (and that includes the MS ones) the more likely they are to have low expectations.

(Very very general comment above. Some SS are excellent).

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 18:24:30

It's quite good news if the pre-school disagree already with the LA Ed Psych report - you/they can argue they have a much better, in-depth idea of him and his abilities. Are they backing you up on this, and was their report what you wanted to see? If so, keep referring to that too in your response to the LA.

Are you looking for ABA support in MS school?

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 18:32:52

I think I know what you mean Star. Out of interest, did you get your LA to fund ABA (think I joined MNSN just after your DS started primary, so I wasn't sure)? If we had a SS round here that I truly believed would meet DS's needs, I would have no hesitation in sending him, but there is no such provision.

I've researched the unit a bit more that they want to send DS to and it is ASD specific. The irony is that all the specialists recommended he was not put in the ASD class at the SN pre-school (he was put in general SN class), because they thought it might be detrimental to his emerging social skills {hmm]

No Zen we lost our tribunal as the LA threw more expensive provision at us on the day of the hearing that looked impressive to the judge, plus one of the panel members was a well-known ex-LA EP who was notorious for hating ABA and a Judge who was brought in on a salary to meet demand and didn't recognise the 7 areas of learning that the HT droned on and on about killing valuable time, as being nothing other than the National Curriculum and he thought it was something special this particular school was offering. hmm

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 18:56:13

bialy, I'm not looking for ABA support at school, just 1:1 with a TA to help him access the curriculum. I've read some ABA books and kind of apply little bits at home, but I'm nowhere near a true ABAyer grin

Yes, MS pre-school was very supportive and I have all their SIPS sheets, reports and personal statements to show DS's progress there. His key worker even volunteered to be a tribunal witness if necessary.

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 19:00:33

That's awful Star. You're well out of that LA now though aren't you (though you shouldn't have had to move!)? It's so frustrating when you're dealing with people who aren't as informed as they should be.

Well if we'd won it wouldn't have worked. The sheer arrogance that runs through that LA and all who sail in her is something I am well rid of.

Daft additional issue but I really got cross about their pavements. They kept them in an awful state and then for 'environmental' reasons decided to switch all street lights off from midnight. Just one additional reason to move imo grin

zen1 Thu 25-Apr-13 19:29:53

Shouldn't laugh, but that is actually quite funny - can just imagine people trying to totter home in the pitch black after a night out grin. I grew up in your old LA, so probably a good thing I moved away (not that where I am currently living is much better!)

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 20:11:00

Tbh I suspect they'll back down pretty quickly if presented with clear evidence (eg from his pre-school, and especially a competent indie Ed Psych). It sounds like the usual thing of them just trying it on, seeing if they can get away with the waffly rubbish that, sadly, some parents probably accept if they don't realise what more they could get.

When I was at your stage, I looked at the ACE guide to checking a statement - think they shut down recently so not sure if it's still online but will see if I can find a link. It was really helpful (as was IPSEA - have you looked there?)

bialystockandbloom Thu 25-Apr-13 20:13:42

Ok so I was wrong, they haven't closed! Not sure why I thought they had but anyway - here's the ACE guide for checking statements - really helpful.

lottieandmia Thu 25-Apr-13 20:19:57

zen1 - hmm what you describe at the unit does not sound good. I'll never understand why anyone thinks that children with ASD need to sit at stations doing shape sorters etc if they already have basic skills! And if your son is quite HF then it's very reasonable for you to want him to be around suitable role models, especially at 4. Have you thought about getting an independent Ed Psych to write a report which will more accurately reflect his profile?

The problem is that what should happen is for the LEA to assess a child's needs and then provide something to meet them but what they really do is to look at what they have and then work backwards from that to make the child fit the provision. Because of this you often get LEA EPs writing reports that are in bad faith angry

eatyourveg Thu 25-Apr-13 20:37:50

if you have trouble hanging on to get through to IPSEA they do a call back service now where you book a time slot for them to ring you. see here

MareeyaDolores Thu 25-Apr-13 20:46:38

Sometimes the ed psych has been exposed only to very selected evidence about a dc, because the file is hidden somewhere 'unavailable' while they prepare the report. It has been known for then to be forced to cut a visit short by being summoned back to base early. The report will reflect this nonsense: Garbage in, garbage out.

Now, they ought to refuse to work under such conditions, and carrying on regardless can put their professional registration at risk. Problem is, constantly insisting on everything being done properly isn't popular. And a P45 won't pay the mortgage.

If you present the full evidence to te EP and make it clear you expect a proper, professional job, it's very likely you'll get some improvement on the shoddy advice. The risk is that they have already totally succumbed to the culture of a nasty LA, and instead use the info to stitch your dc up.

Thankfully, this isn't (yet?) the norm.

zen1 Fri 26-Apr-13 13:31:59

Thanks everybody for helpful comments and advicesmile. Bialy, thanks so much for linking to the ACE guide - I shall be going through it with a fine-tooth comb!

I did finally get through to IPSEA just before they closed the line last night and I was very glad I did as they pointed out that it is actually illegal for the LA to have named a school in part 4 of the proposed statement. I've also been on to my local Parent Partnership (which I was a bit wary about approaching as I know they are funded by LA), but they were actually really good and said they are used to the LA dealing out poorly defined provision in part 3 and have offered to get another parent to go through the whole thing with me and help re-write so that all provision is quantifiable and specific. At least now I feel I have a starting point in how to repond constructively (think if I'd have contacted them yesterday, they would have received a letter full of vitriol and expletives angry).

Mareeya, the 'garbage in, garbage out' notion really resonates grin

sweetteamum Fri 26-Apr-13 17:25:11

That's great that Parent partnership are going to get someone else to go over it with you.

When I tried to give pp the benefit of the doubt they said I should highlight anything I wanted taking out/putting in as I know dd best and it wouldn't do any good them seeing part 2.

I just can't get my head round specified and quantified bit as pp told me it looked fine - and it doesn't!

zen1 Fri 26-Apr-13 17:54:12

Sweeteamum, I know that support from P Partnership can be really variable so I wasn't expecting much from them. It's hard when you have to research it all yourself and you're not sure how to approach it.

sweetteamum Fri 26-Apr-13 18:39:59

Keep us updated how you get on. We are both at the same stage. I will be watching your thread with lots of interest smile

zen1 Fri 26-Apr-13 19:56:09

Will do. Good luck with yours smile

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