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Does anyone know my rights in asking for DS to sit functional skills over GCSEs

(23 Posts)
TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 04-Sep-19 16:07:26

Just as the title says, do I have any rights when it comes to DS taking GCSEs? I'd rather he takes functional skills.
I'm getting sod all support from the school and I'm about ready to give up and pull him, then he's going to be getting no education. Home Ed isn't an option.

He's 40% attendance due to a chronic heath condition. We've been refused EHCP as it's medical and not SEN.
He was on a heavily reduced timetable but today he's come home, first day back and he's back on full time with a full panel of GCSEs. I've obviously emailed the HOY and the SENCO to ask for an urgent meeting but I've been going this for years 7/8/9 now and I'm so tired.

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user1498854363 Wed 04-Sep-19 16:13:37

Op, I’m not sure you have any rights about ds choices! He presumably can chose his options himself, you can support, encourage, help advise but they are his choices and options not yours.

Any decent school would offer choices that best meet his needs, are they? Is he starting yr9?
What does ds want?

PlaymobilPirate Wed 04-Sep-19 16:17:23

Depends whether the school deliver FS at all?
If they do then yes, push for it. Much less stressful although there's been a reform over summer so they're harder.

If the school don't deliver FS then I don't think you can demand they do as it's a whole curriculum to plan for and a teacher to put aside just for ds.

NewElthamMum13 Wed 04-Sep-19 16:19:10

Sounds really frustrating. Have you looked into Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS) ? This could include the LA supporting him through a placement at a specialist unit or internet school. May not be what you are after, but worth looking into. EOTAS

Functional Skills are available in maths, English and IT. If school won't put him in for them but you'd like him to have them for confidence - building, he can take them as a private candidate. They b do meet the requirements for intermediate apprenticeships, so that would be one option to pursue. Functional Skills as a private candidate.

I expect you've looked into this already, but are there any 14-16 college programmes in your area that might suit him? Some are direct recruitment ie you apply direct to the college, whilst others are by referral from the school or Local Authority.

Good luck...

justintimberlakesfishwife Wed 04-Sep-19 16:29:06

What was the discussion when he chose his GCSE options? I know you said the school have been completely unsupportive. So did he just go through the same process as all the other kids? It will be difficult for the school to do functional skills if they don't have it set up.

TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 04-Sep-19 16:44:25

He was asked to chose his GCSES as all the others did and we were promised that they would look into how best to work them into a reduced time table for him.

I'm not demanding they do anything specially for him, I'm wondering what provisions are in for children with medical conditions which prevent them from attending school. I'm told there are none.

I'm not well enough to HE him.

It's a shame because they're brilliant with DS2.

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TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 04-Sep-19 16:52:56

@user1498854363 - I'm not asking for rights on DS choices! He is going into year 10, he's incredibly developmentally behind on an emotional and behavioural front, he goes to school and spends time with his friends and does the work put in front of him.
He doesn't even know how far behind he is or how much lower his levels are.
I don't think it will hit home until the work for the GCSEs ramps up and suddenly he can't understand a word of it.
This isn't me being a pushy parent, this is me being absolutely beaten by the system that has sod all regard for the disabled.

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NewElthamMum13 Wed 04-Sep-19 16:57:14

I'm wondering what provisions are in for children with medical conditions which prevent them from attending school. I'm told there are none.

There is a statutory duty on Local Authorities to provide education for such children. The EOTAS link above goes into more detail, but the main thing is :
Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs - This is the statutory guidance for local authorities and departmental advice for others ensuring children with health needs receive education. It applies to all types of school, including Free Schools and Academies.

Some quotes from the guidance:

LAs are responsible for arranging suitable full-time education for permanently excluded pupils, and for other children who – because of illness or other reasons – would not receive suitable education without such provision. This means that where a child cannot attend school because of health problems, and would not otherwise receive a suitable full-time education, the LA is responsible for arranging provision and must have regard to this guidance." (P3)
1. LAs are responsible: for arranging suitable full-time education for children of compulsory school age who, because of illness, would not receive suitable education without such provision. This applies whether or not the child is on the roll of a school and whatever the type of school they attend. It applies to children who are pupils in Academies, Free Schools, special schools and independent schools as well as those in maintained schools." (p6)

NewElthamMum13 Wed 04-Sep-19 17:02:55

Btw OP, I'm not suggesting you home educate him - those links are from a home education site but they're also relevant to your situation.

If you did want to take FS as a private candidate, he could study with an online program. The work he's doing at school in English and maths would support much of it. It shouldn't be necessary though - school or the LA should provide what he needs. I'm just throwing some suggestions out there in case you thought Functional Skills would be a particularly good fit for him.

Drabarni Wed 04-Sep-19 17:04:50

I've found they have to fail once and look like failing again, we are in the same boat.
We have been told that our dc can take Functional after the first fail, but private school.

10brokengreenbottles Wed 04-Sep-19 17:16:14

I doubt school will agree to him sitting functional skills if he has the ability to do GCSE. You would be better to ask for a reduced number of GCSEs focusing on English, Maths, Science and then anything else his health allows him to do, so maybe 1 option instead of however many the school normally does.

Don't de-register, it is harder to get the LA to provide support if you do.

You can get EHCPs for medical needs, especially since his health is meaning he can not access education full time. Even more so if he is emotionally and socially delayed. Did you appeal the refusal? Was it a refusal to assess or issue? When DS is not at school is he receiving an education? New has posted a good starting document.

If you post in the SN section you will get lots of good advice - SN Chat and SN children are the busiest. IPSEA are a good advice line you can ring too, and have info on their website.

TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 04-Sep-19 17:48:28

I am going to try and contact our LEA tomorrow and ask for their advice, our SENCO said he didn't qualify for being educated elsewhere as he's willing to go to school and when he's well he can physically attend. confused

We've had a refusal to asses, he's not failing enough and he's hitting his targets (because they're so low)
I think I just need to calm down, get all the facts from everywhere and go into the school and state my case.
It's so draining that every year he's been at school I've had to fight for even basic support, i thought we'd cracked it with the reduced time table but after today it's clear that we haven't.

It's insulting to him that they think his life limiting, degenerative condition might have miraculously got better over the holidays for him to do full days... to be blunt, he's not going live a long life, I want him to enjoy his study not have to feel he's 'failed' his first big test.

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Stillabitemo Wed 04-Sep-19 18:36:02

I’m so sorry to hear about your sons health condition.

Generally English and Maths are seen as gateway qualifications and are required for more or less most courses going forward. Consequently schools will not be keen at all for students not to take them; schools are also judged on the number of students passing them so there’s very little motivation for them to offer Functional Skills from the get go.

While Functional Skills is an equivalent, it’s not accepted everywhere as that (some uni courses, some unis in general, some apprenticeships etc) and your son is very young to make that limitation - he should give GCSE qualifications a go, he only needs to get a 4 and he’ll have passed. Obviously I don’t know anything about his current capability or attainment though.

You’ll likely have more success with the school by asking them to reduce his timetable to just English and maths, plus maybe a couple of subjects he enjoys. Do they offer any BTEC Level 2 qualifications? These have less exams and he might be able to do assignments on them from home on some occasions where he can’t attend school.

Pythonesque Wed 04-Sep-19 18:37:33

Would studying his choice of subjects - when he is well enough to be at school - but not actually entering the exams for all of them - be a reasonable outcome do you think?

TitsalinaBumSquash Wed 04-Sep-19 19:11:45

Thank you everyone, I will speak to the school about everything you've suggested. He's keen to cook when he leaves school, nothing fancy (his words) but in a nice little cafe somewhere.
He's a bright boy, keen on maths, he loves to read and he loves history, but with 4 hours of intense medication and physio to get through per day he's tired and cannot cope with tons of revision, he doesn't do homework at the moment at all. His attendance fell to 40% last time he was on full days because he spent so much time in hospital. They don't have educational provisions in our locks hospital but do in the specialist unit. He goes to both 50/50.

Thank you all again, I feel a bit calmer now, reduced timetable is a must.

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10brokengreenbottles Wed 04-Sep-19 19:45:32

The SENCO is completely wrong. The LA are responsible for providing education when he isn't well enough for school, whether that's online provision, at home or in hospital. For pupils with long term conditions the 15 days doesn't have to be in one stint. If you google your LA's local offer you may be able to see what they provide for pupils too unwell for school.

You can get EHCPs without being behind, so on its own meeting his targets isn't enough of a reason to say he's not eligible, I have 2 DC who are above average academically but have EHCPs.

Be aware the LA may not tell you the truth, they will probably tell you what they want you to know, not their statutory duty. Follow up phone calls with emails so you have a paper trail as evidence down the line if needed.

Did you appeal the refusal to assess? If not, are you still within time to be able to? All you have to do is prove DS may have SEN and may need an EHCP - given he's not receiving full time education and is socially and emotionally delayed you can evidence that.

Comefromaway Thu 05-Sep-19 10:49:31

I doubt if there is any automatic right to be entered for Functional Skills rather than GCSE's but I do understand your frustration.

At ds's school the SEN department run an Achieve Programme with the Princes Trust. Students still have to take English, Maths, Science & 1 humanities GCSE but then instead of 3 further GCSE's they can opt for literacy, numeracy plus a Btec in Sport, Performing Arts, Health & Social Care or ICT.

feathermucker Thu 05-Sep-19 10:58:53

I'm guessing CF, but not expecting you to answer, don't worry as I understand its very personal.

Have you contacted the charity/charities associated with the degenerative condition and see if they can give you any advice. Does he have a specialist nurse related to his condition who may be able to advocate for him or signpost in the right direction?

I imagine it's very frustrating.

TitsalinaBumSquash Thu 05-Sep-19 16:35:34

Yes it's CF, advanced stages sadly.

Our consultant and CF nurse have all spent hours in meetings with them to no avail. I have emailed the CF Trust today.

I have a TAF meeting booked in and our family link worker is coming with someone from the Fair across team and I have invited someone from SEND IAS to come along too.
We will be pushing for DS only taking 4 GCSES on a reduced timetable.
I would really like them to put something in writing for me so I don't have to do this again at the start of next year, that's the most frustrating thing, I spend so much time making small ground with them all term and then they go and wind it back to square 1 when the new term starts.
So much squabbling between parties, one says he needs an EHCP one says access to be educated off site when he's unwell.
All the time we're getting no closer to a concrete plan that will benefit him in the long run.

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TitsalinaBumSquash Thu 05-Sep-19 16:38:47

@10brokengreenbottles - our LEA helpfully doesn't publish anything about what they offer children who are too sick to attend school, our SENCO is 'looking into it' and has been for several months now but send ias think it's so he doesn't have to fight for an EHCP. confused

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10brokengreenbottles Thu 05-Sep-19 19:32:12

To get things in writing follow up meetings with emails setting out what was discussed. You don't need them to reply, but it gives you a paper trail.

You don't have to but if you want to post or pm your LA I will see if I can find what they offer for medically unwell pupils. They will offer something, they have to by law - some offer education online and others tutoring.

If school are not being supportive you may find they are more likely to agree to a reduced timetable of 5 rather than 4 GCSEs. Do you have the need for a reduced timetable in writing form DS1's medical team?

SENDIASS' support and local knowledge can be brilliant, but be mindful they are not fully independent of the LA and will ultimately toe the party line.

TitsalinaBumSquash Fri 06-Sep-19 07:13:06

It's West Sussex LEA. I'd really appreciate any info you can unearth.
Yes I have full support in writing from both hospital teams.
Thank you.

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10brokengreenbottles Fri 06-Sep-19 10:07:33

The blended learning team are the ones who provide education to those too unwell to attend school. This is the info on West Sussex's local offer.

And this is their website.

Don't be put off by it being part of their PRU group. In many LAs that is the case, but it is separate to those permanently excluded etc.

As well as going down that route for when DS1 is too unwell to go to school if you are still within time you should appeal the refusal to assess, and if you are past the time limit reapply for an EHCNA - check with someone like IPSEA first though because I think you are time barred for so long. His health needs along with his delayed social and emotional development affect his ability to access an appropriate education therefore he should meet the criteria to at least be assessed.

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