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School or LA delaying confirming Part 4 - any (urgently needed) advice please?

(15 Posts)
BialystockandBloom Mon 20-Jun-11 15:00:46

Background: We told the LA of the school we were going to name on 14 May. Wrote it on the actual proposed statement on 18 May. The school had 15 days to respond. They didn't. I have spent the last 2 weeks chasing it up with the LA. Our case officer initially promised to chase up the school a week ago, then ignored my emails/calls for the last week. Her two colleagues I cc'd also ignored my emails.

She has finally just rung to tell me that actually her line manager has informed her that, because we made changes to the proposed statement (Final version due this Thursday) the school are legally not obliged to get their response in until 15 days after receipt of the final statement. Which means that the schools may break up for summer before we know where ds is starting Reception in September. So can't plan transition, can't plan our ABA tutors, can't plan LA 1:1 support with the school. Situation with a choice of 3 schools (one private which we'd have to pay a term's fees if we cancel at the last minute) which complicates things even more.

This is obviously just bullshit delaying isn't it angry

Any advice about how I handle this right now to get them to override this?

AFAIC the school may not have known this and they are still over 2 weeks late, so what's their excuse for this? And if our caseworker only just found this out why did she not chase it up before, as a matter of urgency?

And our final statement is due in 3 days time. Fgs what on earth difference does it make if the school respond now or in 18 days time?

I cut her short during the conversation and am due to call her back soon. Any advice greatly appreciated!

pinkorkid Mon 20-Jun-11 16:38:38

Put your concerns re the delays and the impact that their failure to communicate with you and to deal with your requests in a timely manner will have - all very valid points - in writing addressed to her line manager cc the case worker and the school. Then no-oen can claim anyone else failed to pass the request on. You could ask partnership with parents to assist either by chasing on your behalf or by supporting you at a meeting with the line manager to discuss how they can put things right.
The quote here from sen cop doesn't say anything about the statement having to be finalised
"The LEA must serve a copy of the proposed statement or amended statement, or of the existing statement and the amendment notice to the school(s) whom they are consulting," - link here. paragraphs 8:79 and 8:80 of the sen cop.

I'd be inclined to ask the line manager to refer you to the part of sen code of practice which says the statement has to be finalised before the school can be consulted and obliged to respond. It may be there but I haven't found it on a quick scan through.

good luck - let us know how you get on.

drivemecrazy63 Mon 20-Jun-11 16:59:36

it was explained to me that yest the 15 day applied but if you make a change then there is another 15 days lee way as it goes from the date of the one youve changed is it a private ss or lea? if its lea are they waiting having another panel meeting to decide maybe? as all the head teachers of the ss are on the panel

drivemecrazy63 Mon 20-Jun-11 17:06:00

whats anoying mostly and this has happened to me beofre is if if you dont get an answer soon they will be on holiday and you may well get your statement albeit late but wont be able to get hold of anyone agghhh now you no why im called drives angry

BialystockandBloom Mon 20-Jun-11 19:01:42

Thank you both for the replies.

Turns out the school have informally said no anyway (too full) so the 15 day thing is probably academic now anyway.

Also turns out the timeframe I'd been working to (final statement due on 23 June) doesn't now apply as I suggested changes to the draft which apparently means the original schedule doesn't apply. Nice to be kept informed of this. And it was just as well the situation with the school arose and we had to speak as god knows how much longer they would've been sitting on it doing nothing angry

boldbanana Mon 20-Jun-11 20:00:42

It's still up to the LA to name the school - not for the school to agree to him going there. I've never known a school win on a 'too full' line for a child with a Statement, even in a nursery class.

pinkorkid Tue 21-Jun-11 00:24:41

Bialy, I think they may be spinning you a line. When we were arguing against lea sending ds papers to a school very similar to one where his needs were not being met, the case officer told us that we would have the opportunity to appeal against the statement naming this school in part 4 once the school had formally replied - ie after the 15 day period. Partnership with parents told us this was nonsense.

Your right to appeal kicks in on the day your child's statement is finalised and you can ask them to finalise it immediately precisely so you can launch your appeal sooner. They still have to stick to the original schedule whether or not you have suggested changes to the draft. I think there may be some delays allowed if you ask for numerous meetings with lea officers but not just if you request changes to draft. Also one of the grounds for appeal is a failure to name a school in part 4.

It would really be worthwhile getting some advice from sossen or ipsea or pwp. Also worth reading through the sen code of practice - link in earlier post - to check whether the resons they give you for delays are valid.

As bold banana says - too full only applies if there is no way for the school to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your child. Even if the school or class would technically be going over numbers, they cannot refuse your child simply on those grounds. They would have to demonstrate that the child's attendance would have an adverse effect on the other students which could not be mitigated by reasonable adjustments or, giving the example of special school where most of the pupils will be wheelchair users, that there would not be enough physical space to accommodate an additional child in the classroom space available. For what it's worth, the school where my son now has a place was also already over numbers but after we appealed the final statement and outlined our reasons for believing this was an appropriate placement for him, they accepted that this was not enough reason in itself to turn him down.

utah Tue 21-Jun-11 11:03:11

I would say that unless you have named a private or unit then the LEA usually have their own way with placement. If it is indepenent/private then delays happen if you have not confirmed that the school have a place. The LEA then need to see if there is a place and then reasons why it will not be suitable. When i visited the special school my son is going to she implied that she can confirm the school would be right for him but the placement is in the hands of the LEA, the MS school I visited the headteacher was honest and said the school was not suited due to security reasons but if I and/or the LEA name the school then she has no say. The school is already 2 over PAN with SEN for next years reception.

BialystockandBloom Tue 21-Jun-11 14:19:54

Thanks everyone.

We now have the amended statement, at least. Have upped his 1:1 hours from 15 to 25 hour per week which is a start, but still laughably vague/unspecified ("access to", "opportunities to" etc) as well as no mention of required qualifications or expertise of the 1:1. So will be asking to finalise it asap so we can appeal.

They have said they are re-consulting the school and have asked them to confirm a placement (or not) asap. I will email them with the SENCoP wording to help them with this grin

So it is not the case that a LA name a school, but the school can say they can't take him? The case officer has given me the impression that the decision is down to the school, not them.

utah Tue 21-Jun-11 14:48:03

this is from dept of education

The Education Act 1996 paragraph 3 (4) of Schedule 27 provides that an LA must consult the governing body of an LA-maintained school before naming it in a child's statement. If the school is maintained by another authority, the LA must also consult that authority. The LA must consider the views of the school – and the other authority where appropriate – but the final decision remains with the child's home LA, that is to say the LA responsible for drawing up the statement.

Under Section 324 (5) (b) of the Education Act 1996, if a maintained school is specified by an LA in a pupil's statement of special educational needs, the school is under a duty to admit the child. Although the governing body of the school will still be under a duty to admit, it could complain to the Secretary of State that the LA had acted unreasonably and/or failed in a statutory duty in naming the school.

pinkorkid Tue 21-Jun-11 17:43:49

Is the school you want to see named mainstream or special, maintained or private as different rules will apply?

BialystockandBloom Tue 21-Jun-11 21:45:58

pinkorkid it's a mainstream, maintained school.

I've had a good read through of the SENCOP and SEN legislation and think I now understand the procedure confused

pinkorkid Wed 22-Jun-11 17:13:25

If the only objection is that it pushes the school over numbers, note that in the paragraph from sencop below, the examples they give where going over numbers is a valid excuse are in relation to infant classes or where all the children use physical aids. Normally speaking, parental preference for a mainstream school should trump any objection that a child with a statement will put the school over numbers. Also in the case of a mainstream maintained school, tribunals usually consider whether the school as a whole is over numbers not just the individual class or year group number so there should in theory be more flexibility.

"8.85 The LEA should also consider carefully whether the admission of the child to a maintained mainstream school would take the school over the number fixed as the number of intended admissions for the year, which must not be less than the ‘standard number’ or ‘approved admissions number’, in other words, whether the school is already nominally full. Admitting
children over this number might be incompatible with the provision of efficient education or the efficient use of resources. In some schools an additional child in a class would be incompatible with the efficient education of others as there might not be enough physical space, especially if all the children require particular aids that take up a lot of space. LEAs must also comply with the class size legislation in infant classes (see paragraphs 1:33 – 38).
A local education authority shall, before specifying the name of any maintained school in a statement, consult the governing body of the school, and if the school is maintained by another local education authority, that authority.
The LEA must serve a copy of the proposed statement or amended statement, or of the existing statement and the amendment notice to the school(s) whom they are consulting, and if the school is maintained by another local education authority, that authority.
See Schedule 27, Education Act 1996 111 Special Educational Needs – Code of Practice
The LEA should consider these points very carefully in cases where they are not the admissions authority for the school in question: that is, another authority maintains it or it is a voluntary aided or a foundation school."

BialystockandBloom Wed 22-Jun-11 17:38:45

This is an infant class (Reception), and the school is hugely oversubscribed, so it is highly unlikely the LA will name it.

Annoyingly mistimed by a couple of months; if we'd had agreement for a statement in January/Feb instead of April, we would have got a place.

And the delay is down to the LA, as I requested SA last October, in good time, but the address given was wrong, my request didn't reach them, so I had to re-send, by which time the school application deadline was up. But nothing we can do now (except challenge in tribunal).

pinkorkid Wed 22-Jun-11 22:11:40

It makes it less straightforward but not impossible by any means that it's a reception class. For example the issue with a reception class is the ratio of staff to pupils rather than simply the number of children in the class. In my younger children's primary they have one year group where they have 3 teachers to 2 classes simply because 3 parents won their children's places on appeal after the 30 standard places had been allocated - nothing to do with SENs. If you can show that this school will be able to meet your child's needs and that the only barrier to admitting him is that it puts them over numbers, there is a good argument that they should fund the extra staffing. Given the natural drop out rate in schools it is unlikely they would have to continue to fund an extra teacher permanently.
But seeing that they caused unreasonable delay in processing your statement and therefore put you at a disavantage when applying before the deadline you may have grounds to appeal via the normal schools appeal board route as well, but I don't know enough about that. Would it be worth posting on school admissions on the education board as well? There are some posters there who have experience either as parents or as board members.

Do you have evidence to show that the school you prefer is able to meet ds needs in ways that the others can't? It may not be necessary but would obviously help.

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