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F**cking school! Another mum who's been utterly fobbed off! So angry! What now?

(26 Posts)
letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 09:19:40

Firstly, I apologise if the tone of this post is somewhat 'mum gone crazy', but I'm afraid I need to vent before I go any further.....

I have a 7 year old DD who has always had certain autistic traits, but school haven't really agreed and so far, have told me that academically, she's ok and more importantly, socially was doing ok too. For a long time, I thought it was just me being a neurotic mother, constantly suspecting that she had autism or possibly ADD, when most people were disagreeing, saying she was just a little quirkly etc.

For 3 years I have been going into the school, asking the same questions to different teachers... "is she doing ok? Do you have any concerns?" and the answer I always got was "yes she's doing fine. No concerns". I had parents evening last night and was abruptly told that no, she's not fine, she's massively behind academically and had I ever thought about getting her assessed for autism?!!! angry angry FFS! This was the same teacher I spoke to just 2 months a go, at the last parents evening and I again, asked if she was ok and did she see any autistic traits and the answer I got was "no, she's overall doing really well" WTF?! So in 2 months everything has apparently changed! Well that's just bollocks isn't it? And if their concerns were so great, ie she's managed to fall behind by a year in the matter of a few months, why on earth wasn't I notified before last night?! When I told her I was frustrated because I had asked so many times if they thought she needed assessing and was told no, she looked gone out, like we'd never had that conversation. So so angry!

I asked her what the next move was and she said "we need to make her understand the tasks that she's been given" Make her?!! If she has trouble with her understanding, which she does, then how on earth do you just make somebody understand?! I asked if they could send some extra work home to catch up and she looked a little confused and said "oh I suppose we could". There were no suggestions of what could be done to help her. None. I was making suggestions and I got very woolly responses. I remember when she first started and I was concerned, I had been researching and read something about social stories. I wasn't told about them by the school at any point. I asked them about them and if they thought they would help my DD and again, I got "oh yeah, we could do that I suppose". When I went back to talk to them about it and asked if they'd helped, they said that they'd been way too busy and as yet, haven't done them with her. That just fizzled out.

Back to last night, I asked her what would happen if she did get a diagnosis, with regards to help, funding etc and she said "nothing". That was it. Nothing. So I asked what would be the point in getting one if you're telling me that there has been this big shake up of the system and that funding wouldn't be available unless she was severe and she said, there wouldn't really be a point. So again, I asked her what is the next step and she said to maybe get the school nurse to look at her. How on earth is this going to help?! So she'll observe her and then say yes, she's showing autistic symptoms, even though she's not a specialist and so probably can't say one way other the other and even if she could, apparently it wouldn't help her anyway, so what on earth am I supposed to do?! Just watch her fall further and further behind?!

When she first started at the school, I had a meeting with the head who had recently taken on the role as SENCO, as the last one had abruptly left and he told me that as things stand, DD isn't a concern to them, but if things were to change, then they'd have money in the pot, so to speak, to fund her help, if necessary.............does this not still stand then? These were his words, but I am now being told that regardless of a statement, or a diagnosis, she would not be entitled to any funding.

Sorry for the length. I really could go on, but I think it's best I don't.

Please, can somebody help me? I really don't know what to do. I am about to arrange a meeting with the head/SENCO and have written out a long list of questions and complaints. I have decided to make an official complaint to ofsted about how they've handled this.

I fear we're completely alone.

Would greatly appreciate any advice. Feel like I'm going insane!

Thanks

claw2 Wed 05-Mar-14 09:37:49

1. I would follow up the conversation you had with the teacher in writing, along the lines of thank you for seeing me at parents evening, where you raised the following concerns, list the concerns school raised. Could you please clarify what support will be put in place and will this support be written into an IEP so we can monitor progress etc. Kind of thing.

2. Arrange a meeting with SENCO/HT. Take the letter clarifying the teachers concerns with you. Ask the same as above.

3. Make an appointment with your GP. Take the letter with you. Take a list of your concerns. Ask for a referral to a Paed.

Bilberry Wed 05-Mar-14 09:48:43

Oh dear! What a bunch of chocolate teapots! Firstly, take a deep breath and breath... This is going to be a long fight and you need to approach it with calm determination.

Write down everything you were told last night and date it. This is the start of your evidence gathering paper trail. Make an appointment with the HT/SENCO, write notes of what is said at this meeting and email them a copy asking for confirmation that ths was agreed. You dd should be getting help if she is falling behind regardless of diagnosis. It might also be worthwhile applying for a statement. As a first step this might seem over the top but the clock is ticking.

Make an appointment with your GP and ask for a referral to get the ball rolling with a dx.

letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 10:40:19

Thank you

I have made an appointment for friday morning to meet with the HT/SENCO. It's probably best I couldn't get to meet with him sooner, as this gives me longer to gather information to come back at him with and also, to calm down. If I saw him today, I think I would be very emotional and that's just not going to get us anywhere.

I actually went to my GP a couple of weeks a go to discuss a referral and she said that she needed to speak to DD first, which I didn't think was the case. I didn't take her because I don't want her being bombarded by questions and being made to feel different. She's already starting to notice that she's a little different I think and also, I did actually hear that it was necessary for your DC to attend the appointment, in order to be referred. Maybe it just depends on which GP you see. She herself, actually told me that I would probably find a diagnosis unhelpful, as she wouldn't get the funds as she would have done a few years a go.

Bilberry, that's a great tip about sending an email listing the plan of action which was agreed by both of us and asking them to confirm it. I fully expect that he will come back and say that he didn't say there was money in the pot, should she need it, which will severely piss me off, but it wasn't a meeting which was minuted or anything. It was just me and my ex, him and the TA. It was very informal, but it was initially considered an IEP meeting. This is where I'm confused. So who actually get's an IEP then? DD's teacher told me last night that if DD couldn't speak, for example, then she'd get the help, but because she can communicate, she won't. This sounds like bollocks to me, but at the time, I was just so shocked and angry at what I was hearing, I kind of went numb, so I didn't really know what to say. It was only when I drove home that I broke down and I realised just how much irrevocable damage could have been done.

The thing is, putting all the social stuff aside, DD does much better work at home, with just a little push, than she does at school. I was reading some of her work and it had the most ridiculous comments. I get the impression that they're just given the work and expected to do it, with no help. The comments were written in a way an adult would understand, not a 7 year old. They were obviously meant to be read by DD, but she wouldn't have understood and that's not because of her issues, that's because she's 7!

I just remembered, at the last parents evening 2 months a go, I asked about her social skills etc and the teacher said this "I have several children in this class alone who I believe have problems and your DD is definitely not one of them. She's just a little behind with her numeracy and sometimes finds it hard to control her emotions, but not so much that it concerns me" 2 months later "She's like a year 1, not a year 2. She's showing lots of autistic traits" angry So just a slight change then.

moosemama Wed 05-Mar-14 12:42:25

You have every right to be furious, this school have fundamentally and inexcusably failed in their responsibility towards your dd. They sound worse than hopeless.

You are going to have to take charge and drive the process of getting her assessed and supported and just ignore anyone who tells you she won't get x, y or z or there's no funding and plough on.

Re your GP. Ours saw dh and I alone first, then invited ds to another appointment 'for a quick health check' where she observed his behaviour and how he responded to her etc, but didn't ask him any difficult questions or let him know why he was really there. He was roughly the same age as your dd at the time. Be firm and insist on a referral whether or not your GP thinks it's a good idea or bangs on about funding - he isn't a specialist and will most probably know very little about ASD, definitely not enough to make an assessment of whether your dd has it or not. You are entitled to request a referral to see a specialist based on concerns that you hold yourself and now you have concerns of other so-called professionals to back that up.

With the school Claw and Bilberry have already given excellent advice. Document everything, confirm every conversation, meeting and phone-call by either email or letter and ask for written responses. Even if they don't do it, that will be evidence later on of the school's unwillingness to work with you. You need to create a paper trail detailing everything that happens.

As Bilberry said, any child who is falling behind should have an IEP and/or additional support and specific targets, regardless of SEN and a school that fails to do that is failing in their responsibilities.

The school is not in a position to decide whether or not your dd would get a statement/funding. They didn't even manage to notice her difficulties, so how on earth they think they're qualified to judge how much support she would be entitled to is baffling. It's the Local Authority that decides whether or not a child gets to be assessed for a Statement and the school will just be asked for some input into the reports.

It would be a good idea to contact your Local Authority to ask about the process for applying for Statutory Assessment for a Statement of SEN.

One problem you may come up against is that, if the school have failed to do anything to support your dd thus far, the LA may tell them to go back and try everything that should have been doing and see how that goes, before reapplying for a statement if it doesn't help. The school will know that, hence them saying she won't get funding. You will have to push the school hard to get them to put support in place for her and evidence every step of the way.

Your alternative is to look around for a new school for her. Are there any locally that have a better reputation for supporting children with SEN?

Bilberry Wed 05-Mar-14 12:45:51

Whatever else is said at your meeting, I suspect you dd will have 'changed' again by Friday confused! That is why getting things in writing is so important but also why they will try to avoid doing so! Don't dwell on the 'pot of money'; these things change all the time. Instead, concentrate on getting them to identifying you dd needs and ensure these are met. Leave them to figure out the funding! It might also be helpful to ask for a copy of her school records - you are entitled get these ( though you may be asked for a £10 fee).

Ilisten2thesoundofdrums Wed 05-Mar-14 13:30:41

I would go back to the GP with a list of your concerns, and if you can get them a list of concerns from the school. Whilst there may not be additional funding if it turns out that your DD is on the autistic spectrum, with a DX the school will have to put measures in place to support this out of the funding they already have initially. They should do it without a DX but somtimes it can be the stick to prod them with that is needed.
You are correct that seeing the school nurse may be of little use.
And as everyone else has said document everything. You may need the paper trail. - do you have anything from the previous meetings at school where you voiced your concerns?

You need to establish what it is about the way work is presented that she doesn't undertand and get the teachers to devise ways around this - after all they are supposed to do this anyway as children have different learning styles.

moosemama Wed 05-Mar-14 14:03:28

Just had a thought. Use the word differentiation in your meeting to let them know you are aware that they have to present work to your dd in a way that doesn't discriminate her due to differences in her understanding or abilities.

claw2 Wed 05-Mar-14 14:05:30

"I actually went to my GP a couple of weeks a go to discuss a referral and she said that she needed to speak to DD first, which I didn't think was the case"

Not sure what speaking to your dd will achieve. GP's are not specialists in ASD (if this is what you suspect). ASD isn't called a 'hidden' disorder for nothing, especially in girls. Paed's are not specialists in ASD (usually), however a paed is a step in the right direction to someone who does specialise in ASD and who can investigate further if needed.

You could take your dd to GP, but insist that any speaking about your dd isn't done in front of her or that she isn't bombarded with questions.

I asked my GP for a referral to an eye specialist, she did not insist on speaking with ds first or looking in his eyes. She left it to the experts.

I asked my GP for a referral for a continence assessment, she did not insist on speaking to my ds first. She left it to the experts.

Because they are sensitive subjects and my ds doesn't want to talk or be questioned about it. Even if he was questioned by GP, my GP would be none the wiser!

"She herself, actually told me that I would probably find a diagnosis unhelpful, as she wouldn't get the funds as she would have done a few years a go"

Your GP is talking crap. How do they know whether a diagnosis would be unhelpful, if they don't even know what the diagnosis (if any) actually is! (GP doesnt give diagnosis) Your GP has no idea of what your dd's needs actually are, hence why you want the referral! As for funding, without knowing what your dd's needs are, how can they possibly comment on what provision is available (GP also isn't an education specialist)

As others have said funding isn't your problem or your GP's. Identifying needs is and the only way to do that is a referral to a specialist.

claw2 Wed 05-Mar-14 14:24:35

"IEP meeting. This is where I'm confused. So who actually get's an IEP then? DD's teacher told me last night that if DD couldn't speak, for example, then she'd get the help, but because she can communicate, she won't. This sounds like bollocks to me"

It is! Its not about being able to speak. Its about being able to communicate effectively and being able to understand effectively

"we need to make her understand the tasks that she's been given"

Yes they certainly do, how else will she learn! this is exactly why she needs an IEP, so they know how to. Who, when, how and how often and how they will know if your dd has understood effectively

letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 14:28:56

Thanks so much everyone. I've found your advice really helpful.

moose, actually I did look round a few schools before we settled on this one and believe it or not, this one was, at the time, the best. I had a meeting with the HT of the nearest school after this one and I expressed that there was a possibility that DD may have SN of some description, as pre school had raised concerns and do they have a lot of DC's with SN etc. His response, I'll never forget it was "We have one boy with ADHD, but he's on medication and is pretty much out of it. We have one deaf girl and one boy with Autism, who has one to one from the TA, but he won't amount to much" Honestly. I kid you not. I was appalled, as you can imagine. Actually, that school had a really good reputation, but evidently not when it comes to SN. When I had a meeting with the HT at her current school, he was very reassuring that it's a inclusion friendly school and that they do everything in their power to help every child individual needs and then of course there was the we have money put away for your DD, should she need it, comment. So it was all sounding good.

I just came back from the school, asking for a copy of their SEN policy and surprise surprise, it wasn't that easy. I was told that it's currently being tweaked by the HT and school governors, due to the new government legislation coming in in september. Perfect timing or what! I asked for a copy of their latest policy anyway and they didn't have it to hand and weren't sure which policy was the latest. Brilliant! Just got a call saying that they've finally got their hands on it and are sending it home with my DD this afternoon. Not really sure how useful it will be, given the fact that it's being 'tweaked', but I feel like I need as much information possible to arm myself with. It can't all have changed.

Bilberry, I too suspect that things will have miraculously 'changed' by friday too. I kind of wish I could have caught him off guard, so he didn't have the chance to plan a way of trying to fob me off. Unfortunately, now he's been made aware of the nature of our meeting by the receptionist, so I'm sure he'll be having a chat with DD's teacher to make sure that they're both seen to be on 'the same page'.

moosemama Wed 05-Mar-14 14:44:46

flowers and a brew for you - bit early for wine it really is the pits when they mess you around like this. Ds1's secondary is playing silly games at the moment and I am trying to stifle the feeling that I'm on some sort of horrible carousel and back where we started.

It might be worth checking out some schools you wouldn't necessarily expect to be good. Often schools with lower results are the best at supporting SENs and their results actually reflect a higher SEN intake and therefore more experience. Unfortunately, the only way to tell is to visit each one.

letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 14:46:31

Cross posted.

Thanks claw and moose

letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 16:40:37

moose, me and my DP are actually considering moving for work reasons, but initially we were concerned about moving DD from this school as she seemed to have settled in fairly well. Now though, I'm wondering whether it would actually be the best thing for all of us.

I have just received a copy of their latest SEN policy. shock and angry sums up how I feel after reading it.

Apparently, the school's aim is to:

Identify pupils with SEN as early as possible and make sure their needs are met

To provide all the children with a broad and balanced curriculum that is differentiated to the needs and ability of the individual

To ensure that all pupils make effective progress and realise their full potential

Be responsible for ensuring funding is in place to support this policy

To offer a range of teaching strategies to meet their needs

To provide in-class support either individually or in a small group with specialist teachers and/or learning support assistants.

hmm Fabulous! They've clearly stuck to all that!

And my favourite section of all.......... Early Identification :

We feel it is vital that pupils with SEN are identified at an early stage. Every teacher in this school is responsible for identifying pupils with SEN.

Speechless.

moosemama Wed 05-Mar-14 17:06:38

Based on that policy - which has been in place for the duration of your dd's time as a pupil at the school to date - you have grounds for a complaint to the Governors regarding policies not being followed.

If I were you though, I would concentrate my energies on getting her assessed and supported at the moment, as schools can often close ranks once they receive a complaint through formal procedures. It stinks - but it's the truth.

letdownandhangingaround Wed 05-Mar-14 17:29:34

But moose, how can they get away with that? I was definitely going to complain. Do you really recommend that I don't?

moosemama Wed 05-Mar-14 17:41:00

I can't tell you what to do, if you really feel you should complain then of course you should but, for me, that would be a distraction from using my energies to get the help my ds needs, which ultimately has to be my priority. From personal experience - at my ds's school - that's enough of an uphill battle for me.

I know it seems wrong - and it is, because in an ideal world they would be called to task for their failures towards your dd. It stinks, it really does but, based on the attitude of the school so far, there's a very real possibility that you will get messed around with the complaint and fighting that will just take your energy away from fighting for your dd.

It does depend on the composition of the Governing Body though. Our school has the GB sewn up with the HT, high ranking teachers and church reps. Parent governors have very little influence or power (I have a friend who is a PG there and is appalled at what goes on) so I know it wouldn't be worth wasting my energy on them. Your school Governors might not be as bad though.

fightinginjustice Wed 05-Mar-14 19:23:40

Funny that the policy was being 'tweaked' when you requested it. When I requested policies I was told that the printer was down so they couldn't supply copies and to come back another day hmm. Then, when they finally did supply them, they were all dated 2009 which probably explains why they failed to comply with the 2010 Equality Act! Following my request they now have a rule that no policies can be released to parents unless the Head has given permission first hmm.

With regard to complaining I agree with Moose - hold fire on that at the moment. It will just give them an excuse to further delay helping your dd as they will be too busy investigating your complaint. As they seem pretty incompetent already I doubt your complaint will be treated appropriately either. When I dared to make a complaint the Deputy Head threw a fit about it in a review meeting. When I persisted with the complaint as I was aware of several illegal things going on the Chair of Governors refused to discuss the issue and threatened legal action against me if I mentioned it to anyone else. They clearly had lots to hide......

Keep at it and definitely keep a trail of evidence in writing, e-mails etc. I found it very useful when the school and LA tried to deny and cover up things that had happened..

fightinginjustice Wed 05-Mar-14 19:35:10

Oh and I was informed that our school was as 'inclusive as you could get' and that children with SEN were queuing to get in there. As there were illegal exclusions, discrimination, safeguarding issues and staff that shouted at a distressed child with ASD it's not quite what it appears to be.

It's only when I challenged them that they turned nasty.Before that they always appeared to be doing the right things but obviously appearances can be deceptive. If I were you I would start looking around as you might find a nice school that does want to help your dd.

claw2 Wed 05-Mar-14 20:26:16

"I too suspect that things will have miraculously 'changed' by friday too"

This is exactly why you need to write to the teacher you had the conversation with stating what was said. ALWAYS follow up everything in writing.

In my experience complaining and backing school into a corner, just makes school cover their tracks even more and become defensive, if they are that way inclined. One thing I have learnt, when asking for support, always give them a way out or a chance to put things right to beginning with.

Clarify conversation, request what you want, in writing. At least that way, you have 'evidence' if you do need to complain.

letdownandhangingaround Thu 06-Mar-14 09:25:00

Thanks again everyone.

I have had a long think and have decided to hold fire, with regards to making an official complaint. Having said that, I will definitely be making it very clear, just how unhappy I am with how they've not dealt with this. Well, they've not dealt with it at all have they!

Starting to get quite nervous, because I really don't want to get emotional and just end up blubbing my through the entire meeting. Also, my ex(DD's dad) wants to come, but he's very hot headed and he's absolutely furious about all this. I think he just wants to come to give them a bollocking tbh and that's really not going to help anyone. It's not that I don't want to do exactly the same, but I like to think I have a bit of tact, whereas my ex doesn't seem to have any when he's worked up about something. I think if I really pushed the fact that I wanted to go on my own, he'd probably reluctantly agree, but I feel uncomfortable with that. He is her dad after all, but then obviously the most important thing here is that we get the outcome we want for DD.

When I was taking DD in to school this morning, I was finding it really hard to be friendly with the teachers. I can feel my blood boiling and so I'm just keeping my distance until I've had this meeting.

Balaboosta Thu 06-Mar-14 17:07:26

A few things. Firstly, I am do sorry you are having these problems. Secondly, my DS WAS referred for assessment by my gp. He took the attitude that if I was concerned, he trusted me on that and just made the referral with no fuss. I loved him for that and appreciate that I was just plain lucky at that point! It was then a year to get the actual dx.
And thirdly, this may sound counter-intuitive but IMO it is not necessarily the "job" of the school to diagnose special needs. No nursery or school staff ever raised red flags about my boy. It was all down to me, my instincts and the lovely supportive gp. So what I am saying is back off the school a bit, give them a break, and focus on the other channels that are available - ie. the medical services and your local authority. It is these agencies which actually do the diagnosis. Then, with diagnosis in place, you have to work with the school and the local authority to get a statement. This gets funded by the local authority and then you take THAT back to the school and the school uses this to pay for help.
Sorry if that sounds long, but the main thing is to take this into your own hands and work WITH the school.

Balaboosta Thu 06-Mar-14 17:08:40

Sorry should have said was referred by the gp for diagnosis WITHOUT being seen by him (the gp) at all.

letdownandhangingaround Fri 07-Mar-14 10:01:01

Thanks, Balaboosta. I appreciate what you're saying and I agree that it's not the job of the school to diagnose special needs, but it is their job to raise concerns as early as possible and they haven't. It's in their policy, which I mentioned, that early identification is crucial. So whereas in the meeting, I will be focusing on what can be done now, I think I have every right to be severely pissed off. I think I might see another GP and hope that they'll just refer her without needing to see her. I really want to avoid that if I can.

Ok, so I have the meeting this afternoon, so could really do with last minute tips.

I have a list of questions, which currently is too long, so I'm going to try and condense them. I have highlighted the points on their SEN policy, which I feel need raising. Can anybody think of anything else?

fightinginjustice Fri 07-Mar-14 10:38:11

Well the first question is why, after 3 years of telling you everything is fine she's now considered to be massively behind? That doesn't happen overnight. Make sure that this point is included in the minutes as it will evidence their failure to comply with their own SEN policy.

The next question will be what are they doing to address this? What help will your dd get? Keep referring to their policy as it details what support will be provided. If they say that they can't provide any assistance then you need to ask why as it contravenes their policy. Again,make sure that this is all documented in the minutes. Our school had a habit of issuing minutes which left out anything that put them in a bad light.

Don't let them fob you off with vague plans to wait and see how things go. They need to be implementing strategies now to help as she has had years of non-provision already. Good luck.

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