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Invited to meeting with statement writer - what should I expect?

(19 Posts)
mumgoingcrazy Wed 31-Aug-11 10:17:53

There is a section of DD2's statement which is rubbish which I am going to appeal. I contacted the case officer to ask her for appeal/tribunal details and why. She has asked me to come in for a meeting with the statement writer. Is this normal practice? The bit I am disputing is:

DD2 will have access to teaching assistant time for a total of 25 hours per week for individual, paired and small group intervention.

I need the hours to be 32, but with it worded like this it's actually pointless anyway as she isn't getting any dedicated 1:1. DD2's new school has submitted evidence that she needs full time 1:1 and why but the LA have obviously ignored it. The LA regard DD2's needs as severe and complex and this is in her statement, so I'm baffled as to why they aren't giving her any help.

How would you expect this section to be worded so that DD2 actually does have 1:1? and what should I expect from this meeting?

sossen aren't back from summer until next Mon as this is who I have dealt with so far over DD2's statement. DD2 is 4 and starts school next week.

Thank you in advance

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 31-Aug-11 10:33:49

Meetings set back the time and restart the clock. Sometimes this is what you might want, but usually not. IPSEA are back.

But anyway, ask for the purpose of the meeting, ask for an agenda and ask for the 'EXPECTED OUTCOMES' before you agree to a meeting. Ask as politely and reasonably as you can for this. It is only sensible before you waste public money on such meetings, not to mention your own time.

Since you are likely to be in a tribunal situation you'd be better doing things in a written form and they'd be better doing things in non-written form.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 31-Aug-11 10:38:32

DD will receive 32 hours of 1:1 support exclusively for her. This 1:1 will be trained to x standard, and have a minimum of 2 years working with a child with S&L difficulties. The 1:1 will have the skills and knowledge to understand how to support without creating depenency. Whilst it is essential that dd's learning should take place in small and large groups as well as independently, in such situations dd will still be exclusively supported by her 1:1 to participate and the group will be led by someone else.

Something like that. What do you need a meeting for to say that and be told 'no'.? hmm

You will need independent expert witness report and/or attendance at tribunal to support what you say btw.

TheNinjaGooseIsOnAMission Wed 31-Aug-11 10:41:10

they have to show some willing to try to sort this out, as star said, it's part of the process. We've always managed to negotiate at this stage so it depends on your lea. Dd3's statement says, dd3 requires 32 hours 1:1 support with a person qualified xyz. She also has prep time on top of that so works out at 35 hours in total I think.

mumgoingcrazy Wed 31-Aug-11 11:54:30

Thank you thankyou thank you everyone, this is exactly what I needed. Apart from this section we have a tight statement (therapy wise) and mumsnet and sossen have helped me get it, but this is all new territory for me and quite frankly very scary.

starlight - What do you mean re-start the clock? what clock? Also, who would be an independant expert witness? Do you mean a teacher or someone?

Ninja - Thank you, there is hope then! Although I think Surrey have a pretty bad reputation from what I've heard. Thank you for writing what your statement says, good to know its possible to get more than 32 hours.

DD2 has just left a school for SLD and going mainstream and her previous teachers and new teachers all say she needs FT 1:1.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 31-Aug-11 12:01:42

Yes. If you can trust a teacher. But do get them to write it down.

Once you have that, ask if they would be prepared to go to tribunal for it (unlikely, but you never know). If not you would probably have to get an independent EP to conclude the same thing but if he/she also reports that too, you'll be unlikely to need to go to tribunal iyswim.

You might find however, that the EP makes other recommendations that leave you unhappy with the original statement so be prepared for that too.

TheTimeTravellersWife Wed 31-Aug-11 16:06:42

Once we had submitted our appeal, the LA told us that they would not negotiate with us over the contents of the Statement, and we had no further meetings with them.

They did however, having a meeting with the Head Teacher, which we were not invited to. At the meeting with the LA, the HT was pressured into agreeing to be one of their witnesses against us at the Tribunal; no wonder they didn't want us there at the meeting too!

They told us of their decision not to negotiate over the phone, not in writing. With hindsight, I should have emailed them to confirm what they told me.

Agree with Star, get everything you can in writing, at this stage it is all useful evidence. Must take Star's advice myself too!

The proposed meeting may well just be delaying tactics, but it is a fine line between meeting them just to look reasonable and having your time wasted.....

mumgoingcrazy Wed 31-Aug-11 19:46:33

I've been so naive in thinking, or assuming the LA will do right by DD2. Whilst she was at sn school it was all ok, it's all coming to light now. I just can't believe the games we have to play and the hoops we have to jump through. I'm gutted and also really angry that they even think we have time for this. Isn't having a kiddie with sn time consuming enough?

TTTW - what a nasty tactic your LA took, talk about being stabbed in the back.

Starlight - Thank you again, I know from your posts that you know this system inside out so appreciate your advice. How do you find an independant EP?

TheTimeTravellersWife Wed 31-Aug-11 20:35:36

Mumgoingcrazy - it is not naive to expect the LA to do their best for children with SN. Any decent person would expect the same, but in my personal experience, it just doesn't happen that way, at least not in my LA.

Here is a link to finding an independent Ed Psych. You need one with Tribunal experience.

mumgoingcrazy Wed 31-Aug-11 20:52:45

Thank you for this, there is one just around the corner from us in our village, bizarre.

Are they all much of a muchness or is it best to get one recommended?

pinkorkid Wed 31-Aug-11 23:06:45

Not wanting to contradict the other posters who suspect or have experienced such meetings to be delaying tactics but in our experience the meeting with the statement writer was the one straightforward and productive meeting of the whole painful process. We wrote down what we expected to be changed in the statement and gave references to supporting evidence where relevant and on the whole they made the changes we wanted. But to reach the point where they were willing to negotiate properly on the fine details of the statement we had to show in our appeal documents how crap illogical and inadequate their proposed provision was.

As for stopping the clock, I think that only applies if you haven't yet submitted your appeal to sendist. What stage are you at with that op?
It would be a good idea to agree an agenda and what you hope to gain from such a meeting upfront but it may well lead to them agreeing to your proposals without having to go all the way to tribunal.

TheTimeTravellersWife Thu 01-Sep-11 08:12:19

I would have been happy to negotiate with the LA, after the appeal was submitted. They chose to use what I consider to be "heavy handed" tactics, designed to intimidate.

Pinkorkid you are right, the "clock stopping" occurs if you have a meeting to discuss the proposed Statement, before it is finalised, so a meeting after the Statement is finalised should not cause any delay in the appeal. I'm glad that you had a much more positive experience than I had. My LA totally ignored the evidence from the Statutory Assessment. angry

The meeting we had to discuss the proposed Statement was a farce; I quoted the COP word for word, they just said "yes but in Crapshire we do it this way!"

mumgoingcrazy Thu 01-Sep-11 20:08:05

Thank you both.

pinkorkid - I received the final statement last week so I havn't done any appeal papers yet, all I've done is emailed our case officer saying I'm appealing and why, hence the invite to meet the statement writer. It's good to know that it was a worthwhile meeting for you anyway. Surrey has a pretty bad reputation though, so not holding my breath.

Should I wait until after this meeting to put in my appeal papers, or do it before?

I've managed to speak to parents in partnership yesterday and they were pretty rubbish. She more or less told me that the wording was fine and as she knew the school DD2 is going to she said it was excellent and they'll do right by her regardless of the statement. I came away thinking, I bet she works with the LA! ipsea are constantly engaged, so waiting for sossen to come back on Monday I think as they have all our stuff on record already and know Surrey LA well.

yomellamoHelly Thu 01-Sep-11 20:51:40

Not read thread, but we met with the statement writer. Delayed the process five weeks and she completely ignored what we said. Would play hard ball, get FS and submit appeal.

pinkorkid Fri 02-Sep-11 18:53:21

I would definitely advise that you submit your appeal straight away because if you do end up at tribunal the lead up time is around 5 months and you don't want to delay starting that process. You can still agree to meet with the statement writer and if they change the wording to your approval, you can then with draw your appeal at any point. Even if pwp lady is right about the school you are wise to make the statement as waterproof as you can now - the part you have highlighted is too woolly - and as school's budget/staffing may change so may their flexibility about offering extra support without obligation.

Our meetings before submitting the appeal caused endless frustration as we either couldn't get agreement or there would be endless contradictions and retractions. After we submitted the appeal the meetings felt like actual negotiations and on the whole the statement writer could say straight away whether they were prepared to make our suggested changes or not and give reasons. Don't give up on pwp altogether as we found it really useful to have a third party to take minutes at meetings and also had good advice from them re points we had missed from one of the reports that should have been included in ds' statement. Could you ask for a different advisor for future meetings or explain to existing one why you felt her advice wasn't that helpful?

pinkorkid Fri 02-Sep-11 19:20:42

Re the time scale for appeals - you can request they expedite your appeal and they can normally shorten it to some extent (say 3 months rather than 5) although they will ask you to obtain the lea's agreement to this. They do have to allow a certain amount of time to allow each side to submit their arguments to the panel.

Do you have a copy of the sen code of practice and toolkit?

They both stipulate that the statement must be specific eg
sen toolkit section 7 point 30:

"LEAs are required to be specific about provision. Provision should normally be quantified for example in terms of hours and frequency of support" there may be times when flexibility needs to be retained ... but if the provision is not quantified, the detail must still be such that it is clear to parents and professionals what will be delivered and by what mechanism."

So you need to work out how much of your daughter's support needs to be ringfenced one to one individual work with her, how much can be support within a small group, how much within a whole class setting. Also if she needs support during break and lunch times this needs to be specified. If you can quote from existing reports to back up her needs in detail, then they shouldn't (in theory) be able to deny her the support she needs. If anything isn't clear from reports, you also have the right to go back to the person who produced the report directly yourself and request clarification.

mumgoingcrazy Fri 02-Sep-11 20:38:39

yomellamohelly, what is FS? Have asked sendist for forms now and will submit the appeal before the meeting with the statement writer.

pinkorkid, re your quote from the code of practice, the LA have given us 25 hours but even though the wording is very woolly and needs changing they have in theory followed the code of practice havn't they? It's very vague and needs expanding definately, but I'm not sure what I can say to change their minds. I have a feeling it's going to be very much "I want this", they say no and back and forth like this.

pinkorkid Fri 02-Sep-11 22:03:51

The fact that they have offered you the 25 hours at this stage shows they recognise your dd has complex needs - it was also our starting offer for ds. We ultimately decided that ds needed a special school place because he wasn't coping at mainstream secondary. But I know if we had been looking at mainstream I would have wanted to see where the support specifically matched his needs.

You're right that some parts of sencop are vague enough to be open to interpretation but I guess almost like in a court of law you emphasise the parts which support your case. Also I think having evidence from the various reports which supports your arguments is crucial. You have said that the school have submitted helpful evidence. Can you quote from them or if it's not specific enough ask them to advise what they think the proportion of individual/paired/whole class support should be? 25 hours only covers class time so if you think dd needs support with social interraction/physical activity/ behaviour management/keeping safe in playtimes, you will need evidence to back this up.

Sorry if this is all stuff you know/have done already. I can't rememeber if it was sossen or pwp who suggested making copies of the proposed statement and all the evidence, then going through each report with two different coloured highlighters use one to highlight every need and another to highlight the suggested provision to meet that need, then see what's left out or not specified clearly in the statement.

mumgoingcrazy Sun 04-Sep-11 20:47:44

This is all great advice thank you. No this isn't stuff I know already at all, this is all new territory for me. I have taken all your pieces of advice and sent my email to the LA so I'll see what happens.

Thank you all

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