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What help does a school have to give a struggling child?

(9 Posts)
sinpan Thu 13-Sep-07 08:56:34

DS2, starting year 4, came home from school last night with homework that was so far beyond his abilities it was just ridiculous. He has an ILP, his goal for maths when term ended in the Summer was to master 10 times tables and number bonds up to 5. Now he's doing number bonds of a 100. He had no idea how to do the homework although he had developed a strategy - copy someone else's answers in class. He's streamed for maths but it would appear can't keep up with his group.

I'll be seeing the maths teacher, the SENCO and the class teacher as soon as possible. Can anyone tell me what I should expect from the school? What are their obligations towards my son? They've resisted putting him forward for assessment because apparently it would take a long time and they don't reckon his problems are severe enough to get him extra help anyway, even if he were to be diagnosed with learning difficulties.

DS2 made much better progress when he had more 121 maths tuition in year 2 but has been going downhill steadily in year 3. Apparently the school does not have the resources to offer more 121 coaching but as long as he's in a group which is more advanced than he is, his case is pretty hopeless. I've been paying for private tuition which has helped a bit, but I think DS2 is confused by different teaching styles, plus is exhausted at the end of the school day, so we have temporarily stopped.

Are the school obliged to offer some more help to catch up? if they do refer him for an assessment, is that all they have to do?

I got some really good advice form my last post so am hopeful of some more wisdom from people who are more experienced with the system

lojomojo Fri 14-Sep-07 00:34:01

If you are going to go through applying for a statement, DO IT YOURSELF. Try asking Partnership with Parents here for help.
I was told by my friend who works in the AEN dept. of our local council, that it is better for the parents to do it of their own back as the Education Authorities will take their time with a school, but have to move faster with parents.

Niecie Fri 14-Sep-07 00:56:51

As I understand it the school don't have to give any extra help unless a child is statemented. My DS has some special needs and isn't statemented and others on MN have said that being on the SN register won't guarentee him any extra help. Having said that the infants have been doing a programme of ST and OT with him. I just have to see if the juniors will carry it on.

If you haven't got a dx already get your GP to refer you to a paediatrician. They will then refer you to a psych., SALT and OT if necessary. Really it isn't for the teachers to judge whether he has a disorder even if they can see he has difficulties. My DS has been dx'ed with AS but his teachers don't think he has it although they readily admit that they are not experts. Admittedly he is mild but he still has some difficulties and he still needs some help. As Lojomojo says, you need to drive it forward yourself to get something done if your DS is struggling.

There are others on MN who are much more clued up about this stuff than me so I hope somebody comes along soon.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 14-Sep-07 13:21:20


I would agree with Niecie's comments; if no diagnosis is in place your GP can refer you to a developmental paediatrician.

Don't take any guff from the school that, "he is too able to receive any extra help". If I had a pound for every time I've heard or seen that comment it would make me quite wealthy!.

One to one is usually only given in the context of the child having a Statement of special needs. This is a legally binding document which the LEA issues. BTW you can ask the LEA to assess your son even if there is no diagnosis.

I would ask the school to get an Educational pyschologist into observe him in class and don't take no for an answer. In the meantime ask your own GP to refer your son to a developmental paediatrician.

You need to take the bull by the horns here because no-one else is going to do it for you.

You are your son's best - and only - advocate.

sinpan Fri 14-Sep-07 14:27:43

Thanks for the advice everybody, I will ask the school to get a psychologist in and ask the GP for a referral. His maths teacher is the new SENCO so that's a stroke of luck. I know I can ask for a referral myself so that's another option. I've avoided going down this path as I wanted to put my energies into helping and encouraging him myself, rather than beating down doors to get a statement that may not help him anyway. This strategy has worked well for his reading but not at all for his maths, so I think it's time to change tactics.

lojomojo Fri 14-Sep-07 21:55:53

Do not ask the school to refer you to an ed psych, never ask your school to refer your son for ANYTHING, they will either fob you off or be fobbed of them selves, either do it your self or go through your paed.
NEVER GET YOUR SCHOOL TO REFER YOU EVER!!!!! Sorry for shouting but, this is the only way.

gess Fri 14-Sep-07 22:03:59

i doubt you'll get a statement (although as others have said its better you ask for it that the shcool if you do go down this route as you can go to appeal- the school can;t).

LegALLY THEY HAVE TO wqhopps sorry they have to provide your son with a 'suitable' education.

A private report would be something to use as bargining power for extra help. eg school action plus. talk to the SENCO first though.

NotAlert Thu 20-Sep-07 23:29:03

Meet with the SENCo asking how the school plans to meet your DS's needs. Be calm, pleasant, organised and determined - you want details of the support - where, when, how - and how it will be monitored.
If you're not happy with the outcome, write to your Ed Psych team (via local education office if unsure where they are, although info usually available on LA website) asking for their input - copy the letter to the school.
If you're still unhappy you are perfectly within your rights to ask for statutory assessment.

KT12 Sun 23-Sep-07 10:31:07

There are some interesting perceptions floating about on this thread - as as someone who works in the field of SEN here are my thoughts.

First of all, get yourself the 2001 Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs from the DfES. This will explain the graduated response, ie School Action, School Action Plus or in need of a request for Statutory Assessment. The Code is very clear that if a child has been identified with SEN then the school has an obligation to provide support in the first instance. Every authority should have a list of criteria that help schools place children on the Code. The citeria should also be linked to appropriate intervention, which in most cases are special programmes offered either within whole class teaching or within small groups - one to one intervention is extremely rare as it is seen as not being inclusive. Many authorities have delegated SEN funding to schools that should be used at school action. The school can request for further funding if necessary and yes it is true that in some authorities receiving this funding is based on whether the child has a Statement, but every school should have dedicated funding for SEN. Check with the authority SEN Assessment Team if you wish to know how much funding the school has as this info should be transparent.

There is no point in asking for a statutory assessment if the child does not meet criteria - it involves a school having to a huge amount of paperwork for nothing. Most authorities have a panel that decide whether to proceed with assessment or not. If the school are unsure of the criteria the SEN Assessment Team should be able to give you this info.

As for referrals to an Ed Psych - you can ask, but the way it usually works is that the Ed Psych assiged to the school has a time allocation and in a planning meeting with the school prioritise work according to level of need - with statutory work coming first.

As for who should request the Statutory assessment - I suggest the school together with parental support - once the authority has received a request the timelines start irrespective of who made the request. In fact if it is a parental request, the school are then given a timeframe to provide the paperwork. If the school had done the request in the first place it would save a bit of time. The request then goes to a panel who can refuse the request if the child does not meet criteria - if the criteria are met the assessment process takes 18 weeks from start to finish, but does not guaratee that the child will end up with a Statement. In most authorities Statements are not linked to diagnosis but rather to level of need.

Ok to sum up...if a child is identified with a need, the school are obliged to provide appropriate support through an Individual Education Plan or similar from delegated SEN funding - the SENCO is the first port of call and should invite parents in for a meeting to discuss the IEP and provision. If as the parent you are not satisfied - make sure you have the Code of Practice and your authorities criteria of special needs etc to inform you further.

I've babbled on .....hope it makes sense.

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