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All you teachers out there - Whats your experience of IEPs?

(21 Posts)
oliviaaah Thu 09-Jun-11 11:52:29

My DS aged 7 in Y2 is currently undergoing assessment for ASD. I am pleased with what the school are doing for him already. He's in a small group to practice social interaction, and he's also in a remedial group for handwriting. I had a meeting with his class teacher and the SENCO recently to give them an update on the assessment at CAHMS (he's having the ADOS test next week) and we agreed on an IEP in that meeting. Trouble is, having lurked on MN a lot and trawled the internet, I know that the IEP we agreed on is way too woolly and not SMART. I didn't call them on it at the time as we were getting to the end of the time available and I have trouble being assertive didn't want to rock the boat as I am genuinely pleased with how things are going so far.

So my question is are IEPs a really useful tool or are they what any good teacher would do anyway and actually just another hoop that you have to jump through?

Marne Thu 09-Jun-11 12:11:00

I'm not a teacher (sorry) but dd2 has IEP's and i find them pretty useless, the SENCO always seems to be a month late filling them out, most of the targgets are too easy (things she can already do) and i think it tends to get pushed to one side and forgotton about until theres a meeting, review or outreach visit.

IndigoBell Thu 09-Jun-11 12:12:08

I'm not a teacher - but I'm fairly sure most IEPs are just paperwork and a box ticking exercise.

It is the provision you should care about not the IEP or the wording of it......

If you're happy with the interventions and provision your son is getting, then don't worry if the IEP is wooly. If you're not happy, then getting the IEP rewritten is one tool you can use to try and improve the provision......

niminypiminy Thu 09-Jun-11 12:34:35

I'm not a teacher either, but, fwiw... My son't school has actually abandoned IEPs altogether. Parltly this is because 45% of pupils are on the SEN register (so teachers would be writing them for half the class) and because writing a good one takes a huge amount of time and effort that could frankly be better spent on the intervention. So they talk with parents (if they can get them to come into school, but that's another story) about the interventions and support they are giving the child, and monitor that, rather than writing an IEP.

oliviaaah Thu 09-Jun-11 12:50:46

Thanks for your replies Marne, Indigo and Niminy. My instinct is pretty much along the lines of what all of you are saying. Its the actual stuff that actually happens that matters, not what its called or what is said. It's very important to me to have a good relationship with the school and I am pleased with how things are going so far. If we go as far as applying for a statement then as Indigo says, we will have ticked the IEP box. Still interested to hear from teachers as well, but I guess you're all hard at work at the coalface just now...

moosemama Thu 09-Jun-11 13:55:38

I have learned recently the true value of IEPs.

We are currently applying for SA and our problem is that the things we want via the statement haven't been sufficiently covered in ds's IEPs, so unless this is addressed before the application, our particular LEA will simply bat the application straight back and tell us to come back when the school has tried some IEP based strategies. angry

Basically, the IEPs he's had have mainly addressed handwriting and organisational skills, etc but we are applying for a statement on the basis of his autism, rather than a learning difficulty. The LEA will expect to see that his school have tried some intervention around his social and communication issues, particularly the ones that are preventing him from effectively accessing the curriculum.

I haven't worried about his IEPs too much, other than to make sure they are as a SMART as they can be and address genuine problems, but it seems this has now come back to bite me on the backside.

Yes, you do need to 'tick the IEP box' in terms of paperwork, but if the IEPs aren't relevant/appropriate to your dc's issues, it seems it still won't help a statement application.

I would say though, that as long as there are meaningful interventions and provision that aren't included on the IEP and these are clearly documented with meaningful records it shouldn't be as much of a problem. In our case though, the school had spectacularly failed to keep adequate records of the things they have tried with ds, as well as the fact that if you looked at his IEPs you wouldn't guess that he has autism at all from the content.

We are now in the position of having to have frequent IEP reviews and turn over several IEPs in a short space of time to try and bridge the gap before we apply and this is holding up the application, when everything else is ready to go. I was sceptical at first, but have been made aware of specific cases where exactly the same thing has happened in our LEA. angry

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-Jun-11 14:01:24


Not a teacher either but have have much experience of receiving IEPs.

IEP's alternative acronym on here is Individual Empty Promise.

I returned my DS's last IEP back unsigned after speaking to them as it was wrong. I will sit in on the next IEP meeting next week for my DS so I am waiting to see what this is going to be like (bunfight emoticon).

What has been said to you, if anything, with regards to applying for a Statement?. TBH I would apply for one of these now from the LEA as these are legally binding. You can do the application yourself, I would not wait for his school to do it. Also you can appeal if the LEA say no, the school cannot.

It is also important that you apply for this asap as Junior school is a different ballgame entirely from Infants and the pressures increase the further up through the school system. The support your son is currently receiving may not necessarily continue in Juniors.

Good luck with regards to the ADOS next week.

You are your child's best - and only - advocate here. Do not forget that.

oliviaaah Thu 09-Jun-11 22:04:07

Thanks so much for your salutary post Moosemama, plenty of food for thought there. You're a bit further down the road than me and it really helps to get a perspective. Thing is, DS is doing quite well academically at the moment, and its only (ha! ONLY) his social skills that I'm really worried about. But as Attila says, as he goes up through the school, the pressures mount, and who knows whether he'll cope or not...

moosemama Fri 10-Jun-11 10:46:30

My ds was fine in infants, but went into freefall when he went into year 3 and nearly had a breakdown, even though he's at a primary and they don't make a big thing of the transition to juniors. It was heartbreaking to see him change from a happy confident child into an anxious, stressed shadow of his former self, over the course of just a few weeks. sad

The things that bothered him were a greater need to be self-organised, remember things on his own and work undirected for periods of time, having several teachers rather than just his class teacher and a TA, peer group relationships changed a lot and the others in his class seemed to mature quite a bit over the summer holidays, leaving him obviously behind them socially.

He had his assessment in January this year (ADOS) at age 8.5, following intervention from the Ed Psych and ASD Inclusion Team and was diagnosed with Aspergers.

He came out of infants top of his year across the board, but has made zero progress since, so he was a level 3 at the end of year 2 and he's still a level 3 (now in year 4, just about to go into year 5).

Academically things have changed a lot since infants, maths and literacy have become more complex and require transfer of skills from one lesson to the next etc. Literacy is also requiring a greater level of comprehension of what is 'unwritten', so abstract and lateral thinking is coming into play and ds is really struggling with that. He is still pretty much top in mental maths, but barely writes anything during maths lessons, as he panics at multi-level problems and can't get started. As a result his self-esteem has plummetted (sp?) and he's given up trying.

Juniors is definitely a completely different ball game socially, my ds has one really good friend who is an angel and has stuck by him through thick and thin, if it wasn't for him, I don't think ds would still be in school.

That said, now the other boys are also interested in computer games (ds's specialist subject wink) he has more in common with them socially and seems to be doing a little better and mixing more. Of course this is also post intervention and following a lot of hard work on his social skills. He is still markedly delayed socially compared to his peers and gets upset very easily, which again marks him out as different, but for the most part the children in his class are very tolerant and supportive of him, despite not actually knowing he has AS. Actually, his outward bound residential was a positive turning point for him socially, as not only did he find it empowering to try doing some things he was afraid of, it gave him longer with his peer group and enabled him to find common ground with some of them.

In my experience, he seems to go in peaks and troughs of coping and not coping, pretty much depending on how regular the school routine is and what's going on in the playground.

utah Fri 10-Jun-11 19:31:38

the only thing i would be aware of is the IEPs are your evidence if you want to get a statement, which you may need to try and implement before secondary school or the green paper.

flyingmum Sat 11-Jun-11 21:03:10

I am a teacher and mother of DS with SEN.
Writing IEPs is hard. We don't have IEP writer which is a computer programme which does them for you but many schools do. I try to make my IEPs indivdiual and personal but realistically given the amount of paperwork I have to do and the realistic view that the things need to be achieved then it is more than likely that pupils in the same year group on the same reading programme for example would have the same reading target. IEP targets should be small steps and should be achievable given normal attendance, and a pupil's willingness to go along with their teaching and the parents willingness to support.
I was actually just thinking earlier in the bath how I want to involve the students more in their IEPs which is how my son's school does it. He knows all his targets and they are looked at regularly. The trouble is in a big school, often with students with poor organisation who often don't want to look 'different' carting more bits of paper about that they can lose is hard. Most SEN teachers do think about IEPs and take them seriously but they are bloody hard to write and very time consuming. Some parents, I find, don't send them back probablly because it is yet more paperwork in amongst a shower of paperwork but then again, as we have some parents that don't send back their parent forms for the Annual Review or indeed turn up for the annual reviews. This is really saddening especially given the hours of work that I put in coordinating and writing the review documents. But hey ho!

MrsShrekTheThird Sat 11-Jun-11 21:15:42

as far as I know IEPs are being phased out soon in our authority, in favour of the planning circle (which most of us are doing already as well anyway) fwiw I'm an asd specialist teacher and my DS1 has had 7yrs of IEPs.
I kicked up a fuss about ds1's last one as it was complete bullshit very vague, didn't specify his starting point or his levels in any shape or form and basically was a copy of one from yr2 - and this was year 5. It got rewritten but there has been no particular comment on it since hmm and no review.

Yes do it for the paper-trail and recording aspects, but ensure that they are clear about what your child's targets are and where they anticipate supporting him and how, who with etc. Ammunition for later support or statement applications, basically as everyone else has said. Any decent teacher will be setting individual learning objectives for each member of their class, and in bite-sized bits for those with SEN anyway. And most of do this every week or two, as oliviaaah says in the OP. Thing is, the only way to measure it for a child with SEN when you're on the 'parent' side of the fence, is to get IEPs and support plans but I'm possibly a demanding parent wink

Ben10isthespawnofthedevil Sun 12-Jun-11 07:53:35

Just reading through this. DS's school don't do IEPs as 45% on SEN register as above. We get a termly target sheet with what they are expected to do in reading, writing and maths and any extra interventions are put at the bottom. I have now asked twice for an IEP but this has been rejected as the SENCO can't support IEPs as too many - c 150. My requests for IEPs have been documented as I provide agendas and minutes for every meeting.

If I were to go for SA, will the fact that I have requested IEPs and the school just does not do them be OK or will the LEA reject this and force us to work further to provide evidence that the school are intervening successfully.

Social skills and (depending on the EP assessment) actual progress compared to tested ability not being sufficient would be what I would like to get statemented for. THe school cannot run social skills groups as no room apparently as rooms are used for play therapy, guided reading, guided maths, EAL etc etc. No friendship stop in the playground, no circle of friends etc etc.

IndigoBell Sun 12-Jun-11 08:31:18

IEPs are not compulsory. The school just has to be able to show what they've done to help your son. So if your termly target sheet has extra interventions on it, that'll be fine.......

They have to prove that they have done everything they could reasonably be expected to do, and they can't do anything else without more funding.....

Ben10isthespawnofthedevil Sun 12-Jun-11 09:39:44

Mmm, thanks IB.

Not sure that they are doing everything that they could be expected that they could do but apart from locking the SENCO in a cupboard until she agrees to agree with me, not much else I can do at the mo grin grin

oliviaaah Sun 12-Jun-11 21:09:29

Moose, surely poor handwriting and poor organisational skills are allowed to figure in the profile of a child on the spectrum (as well as, of course, many NT children), and so cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to an application for a statement. I'm now starting to worry that I will have to ask for interventions with a view to getting a statement rather than with a view to helping the child.

skewiff Sun 12-Jun-11 21:55:46

Well, my son is only at nursery.

But I've found his IEP's to be quite helpful so far. They started off as not that good at all. But the longer he has been there the staff have obviously got to know his needs better and the IEPs have become much more relevant.

I don't think the IEP necessarily changes the way they treat my son - although I think it has focussed them and given them aims (which is I suppose is its purpose).

As a parent it has given me confidence that they are doing their best for him (as I don't get to see what they are doing day to day). I know they may not be fulfilling what they've written 100% or even 50 % maybe. But if what I am reading is an accurate assessment of my son's needs then it gives me confidence.

moosemama Mon 13-Jun-11 14:19:49

Oliviaaah, you're right, but we are going for a statement based on ds's social, communication and emotional issues in the main and they didn't figure anywhere on any of his previous statements, other than the last two that made reference to him filling in his feelings scale on a daily basis.

Of course you go for interventions that will help your ds now, but keeping one eye on the future and the statement it would be as well to include some targets in relation to social and communication skills etc as well as more practical ones along the way.

I have just got home from ds's IEP review and the targets this time relate to:

1. Using his feelings scale and an emotional barometer and choosing appropriate action from that (ie take a break, count to ten etc)
2. Use of a prompt card for being organised and ready to start at the beginning of a lesson (obviously this could be used for an nt child that needed some help with self-organisation as well)
3. Making use of the traffic light system (which the whole class is supposed to use already) to ask for assistance in class when he doesn't understand, rather than just sitting there and not working or panicking and becoming anxious and distressed.

His old IEP covered:

1. Appropriate use of capital letters, full stops and spacing.
2. Handwriting.
3. Writing the date and WALT at the top of his work.
4. Listening patiently when adults and peers are speaking in class.

So organisation skills are still coming into the new IEP, but the slant is towards him needing verbal prompts and reminders to get and stay on task. If he doesn't achieve his target on this, it will show that written instructions alone, without teacher/ta prompts, are not enough. The next IEP will then include that to demonstrate that he needs 1-2-1 support with getting and staying on task.

He had a lesson observation this morning and the outcome of that was, that on 'a good day/lesson' such as this morning's (ie one he is interested in and motivated by) he needed 10 prompts to stay on task, as opposed to the control child, who only needed prompting once in the whole half-hour session. The observation then provides more evidence that he needs verbal reminders as a back-up to the written prompt card he's had all year, but doesn't use effectively.

IndigoBell Mon 13-Jun-11 14:26:33

MooseMama - what a good observation they did! I've never heard of one like that..........

moosemama Mon 13-Jun-11 14:34:30

It was the lead Inclusion teacher from the ASD team - she's amazing! Even better is that she's going to do 6 observations in all of ds, across lots of different subjects and teachersm between now and the SA request going in - so hopefully lots more ammunition to come.

I was quite shocked and little sad to discovered this morning that ds is the ASD team's priority pupil at the moment, so his needs are getting prioritised at the team meetings etc and in terms of support. Its great from his/our point of view that he's got all that support and so many people fighting for him, but also sad to think that he needs it all in the first place, iyswim. I suppose I tend to tell myself there are probably lots of children who are much worse than ds and his needs are mild compared to many - so - a bit of a wake up call to remind me to pull my head out of the sand.

moosemama Mon 13-Jun-11 14:35:07

'teachers' not 'teachersm' confused

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