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LA appears to be turning special schools into assessment centres with transitional places, has this happened in your area?

(25 Posts)
Bremusa Tue 13-Sep-11 16:14:45

I received a statutory consultation booklet yesterday from ds's school, read it through several times. The LA are planning to change 15 special schools in the area to assessment centres with transitional places instead of fixed ones, including ds's school. The maximum length of time (if necessary) being 6 terms, and then moving to 'local' schools (they have been very careful, from what I have read, not to say 'mainstream', which presumably they mean by 'local'). Lots and lots of waffle about 'putting the child at the heart of the process' (bollocks), it's not about cuts, any change in placement will be supported very sensitively, blah blah blah.

I'm absolutely gutted. Ds's school was chosen very carefully after visiting lots of different provisions, he's been there for 3 years and it's perfect for him ( he has ASD with severe learning difficulties) I just cannot imagine how this is going to work, even with the support they say will be in place. It's all about inclusion, but one of the reasons I did not choose mainstream was because his needs are complex, and going to mainstream would mean exclusion for him.

So, has anyone else been through this process? What does a statutory consultation actually mean? I will be writing with my views but will this make any difference? Any advice/ ideas/opinions would be really appreciated.

cornsylk Tue 13-Sep-11 16:20:36

are these all LEA schools that are being used? I wonder where you are.

Bremusa Tue 13-Sep-11 16:32:34

Yes, they are all LA schools. I am in West Yorkshire, it is Kirklees Council.

justaboutstillhere Tue 13-Sep-11 16:41:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

utah Tue 13-Sep-11 16:54:31

One of the huge problem lea's face is as there is so little provision for as/ hfa besd etc they are placed in special schools as mainstream is failing them, the knock on is yearly intakes are reduced, children who should get SS being placed in MS even though they know most will end up in SS. Only 30% of children starting at my sons SS this year were of reception age. The real solution would be create more units /schools to meet the needs of children who are not suitable for MS but to able for MLD/SLD. This is too expensive hence the temporary education placements. It also works in delaying provision/statement and educational service.

cornsylk Tue 13-Sep-11 16:56:42

so they will be looking at transferring children back into mainstream schools? Is that what they mean by local? confused What is on his statement? Maybe IPSEA can help.

AmberLeaf Tue 13-Sep-11 16:58:41

I have noticed this happening more lately [no evidence-purely anecdotal from friends/people I 'know' on other forums]

Im not aware of any official policy as yet, though it may well exist ive just not seen evidence of it. Im in London.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 13-Sep-11 17:20:53

I think they are planning this here too. I think by moving children around in circles they can avoid actually educating them.

DS was at preschool. They did nothing for the first half term as he was 'settling in', nothing for the second half term because it was the run up to christmas, and nothing in the last half term because it was the run up to summer. In the middle there was some waffle about assessing him and getting to know him now he has settled in and the excitement of christmas has passed but it still took months.

Copy and paste above model for Nursery.

Copy and paste above model for Reception.

Presumably, copy and past above model for Year 1 or the first couple of years where a child is being failed to delay a couple of years of decent provision, routine and boundaries, not to mention justification for missing and lack of targets.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 13-Sep-11 17:21:29

And, we all know that the best thing for children with ASD is an unstable placement hmm.

Agnesdipesto Tue 13-Sep-11 22:18:57

A bit further north than you we now have beefed up mainstream schools eg a specialist teacher on site to give advice and support (but often on outreach to neighbouring schools) - all kids in mainstream classes even with high level SN, but some pull-outs. The aim is to reduce specialist placements. Children can come in temporarily from their own m/s school - get some apparently specialist support and then get sent back. Fewer children will get statements as m/s will be deemed to be able to cope with all but the very few children with severe medical needs.

I'm with you Bremusa - my DS was excluded not included in m/s. There is a huge difference between warehousing / babysitting children with SN in m/s and the child actually being able to be included. You need to get local SN groups to contribute to the consultation and kick up a fuss eg where will the children with long term severe needs go? Harass your MP. Or perhaps under Free Schools rules you can even 'take over' your special school and run it yourselves / get a charity to run it.

They have to consult interested parties. Show their plans meet the SEN improvement test (google this and check they have dealt with this in the consultation) - ie what they plan to do is better than what was there before and explain what will happen to children who are 'displaced'. The decision is made by the Council's Executive so you can lobby local councillors. FOI the Council about costs / staffing levels etc etc

Next time your statement is up for review make sure the wording about all the additional stuff a SS provides is written in - often SS statements are vague and as its all on site parents don't worry. So make sure next time everything is itemised eg the 1:1, SALT, OT, therapy pool etc etc so if you have to go to tribunal etc for specialist provision its really clear what a high level of support / specialist input he has had and harder for them to explain how m/s will cope.

saintlyjimjams Tue 13-Sep-11 23:17:08

I would kick up big time. Completely misguided, with poor understanding of the needs and all about money.

You need to tackle it from a legal standpoint. Your son is (like every other child) entitled to a 'suitable' education so you need to gather evidence as to why their proposal will leave your son with an unsuitable education. Write to your MP and councillors. Make it clear to you LEA if they do this you will be seeking an out of borough placement, resi if necessary as they will no longer be able to provide him with his legally entitled suitable education (it doesn't matter if you have no plans to do the above, the point is to make them understand it will potentially cost them a whole lot more than they amount they are trying to save). Ask them how your son will be kept safe. Special schools are usually designed to keep children in, ms are designed to keep non-pupils out, but not to keep children in. Tell them if anything happens to your son you will hold them responsible at both a personal and corporate level. etc etc

Talk to IPSEA and EDCM - they may be able to run a campaign or help with any groups of parents put together.

davidsotherhalf Wed 14-Sep-11 12:25:11

i had problems with this about 18 months ago, we moved county and after fighting for ss placement for my dd (was offered pru and refused as statement says school placement) was given ss place and cost me £150 for uniform, dd was only in school 1 day a week for a month doing drama and music, all at once dd was kicked out of school and we got told it was only an assessment place,the lea and school had forgotten to tell me. there wasn't a school that could meet dd needs, my dd was out of school for a year till she got tutors,

RogerMelly Wed 14-Sep-11 14:46:38

what???????????????????????????????shock how on earth can they do this??

is it an sld/pmld school? how on earth do they expect a child with SLD and autism to be able to attend a 'local school' Bloody hell!@

Agnesdipesto Wed 14-Sep-11 14:53:36

"how on earth do they expect a child with SLD and autism to be able to attend a 'local school' Bloody hell!@"

Our LA expect all m/s schools to do just this and bully them horrendously when they say they can't, so most pretend they can and then just quietly fail the child / cover stuff up.
I was basically told 'its only autism whats your problem'. Thankfully the Tribunal thought differently...

If and when a decision is made you may be able to JR it if for eg a proper consultation was not held (as happened here when a unit was closed recently). Its vital the parents of the children who are actually affected do something as its very hard for interested bystanders to achieve anything if they are not personally affected.

RogerMelly Wed 14-Sep-11 15:09:38

I thought this government and the oprevious governments vowed not to close sld/pmld schools and acknowledge children in these schools could not cope with mainstream??? I am not sure this is fair on either our children with special needs or the children at the local school who would have to put up with constant screaming, spitting, hitting etc. Our local school would be ill equiped to even have my child for a morning, let alone forever

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 14-Sep-11 17:05:32

I'm worried something similar is on the cards in my LA (Croydon)

Just got DS2's statement, no mention of 1-to-1,TEACH, SALT, OT, PT or placement in a specialist school (all recommended by Paed, SALT, Ed Psych)

Statement just says "suitable for mainstream placement" with some vague waffle about PECS (which DS refuses to engage with) SALT, OT, PT "will be provided by relevant authorities"

So, in effect, a non-statement.

We are meeting LA on Monday, prior to appealing statement. The lazy bastards want us to write the statement for them

DS is currently in a Special school (mainly high-moderate AS)but LA has refused to name it on his statement.

Oh,and several other parents have had the exact same thing happen...

r3dh3d Wed 14-Sep-11 17:45:01


No, we're not getting this afaik (I'm a governor at a SN school so I'd probably have heard if it was happening locally.)

A statutory consultation doesn't mean much ime. And the decision should be taken by the school governing body, not the LEA (though as the LEA decides what pupils to send there on what terms there's maybe not much the GB can do). But I think you'd do best trying to persuade the GB to have an open meeting to which the parents are invited to discuss the pros and cons. It's very easy to tell yourself that parents are ill-informed and don't understand the issues if you are looking at a pile of letters. Quite a different thing to face a room full of unhappy and worried people. Do you know any of the parent governors?

Bremusa Wed 14-Sep-11 21:30:09

There are quite a number of meetings going on, all views, either verbal or written, to be submitted by mid October. I will be attending the one at ds's school next week to get more of an idea of what's going on. The decisions are being made by Kirklees Council.

The booklet just doesn't make any sense to me as there is a paragraph that states 'children with a statement - there will be inclusion provision for your child in your local school, unless it is agreed with you that a special school place would be the best type of school for your child', but through-out it is also saying that fixed places are being replaced with transitional ones. Another paragraph - 'We propose to increase the provision for children with the most severe and complex autism in order to ensure that the increasing severe and complex ASD needs can be better met locally', in other words they are making more transitional places available in special schools to assess children, and pushing them into mainstream.

I don't know any of the parent governors, or even really many of the actual parents, his school is about 8 miles away, most of the children in his class are not local to the school and I'm hoping some, or all of them will be there next Tuesday.

It's his safety as well as his education I'm worried about. He's so vulnerable, he's in the best place possible and I don't want that to change. Thanks for all the replies btw smile

utah Wed 14-Sep-11 21:37:07

Just having a scan now as if it is successful you know it will be replicated

saintlyjimjams Thu 15-Sep-11 09:08:58

Actually Roger has a good point - there was a white paper published recently wasn't there - which said parents should be able to chose special schools - would be worth waving that one in their face (maybe they're trying to get rid of them before they no longer can iyswim)

RogerMelly Thu 15-Sep-11 09:38:16

bremusa, have you spoken to your sons school about what their take is on it? surely those with the special school statements cannot be in transitional places?

I imagine it is all a big con to save money though

RogerMelly Thu 15-Sep-11 09:38:43

and jimjams, Roger always has a good point wink grin

utah Thu 15-Sep-11 09:42:34

All I know is that my son does would not fit any of their neat boxes.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 15-Sep-11 12:55:20

If it is on your statement, it can be taken away, within the year at an annual review.

r3dh3d Thu 15-Sep-11 18:23:55

OK well from reading it, it looks to me as if Kirklees currently have a higher % of special school placements than average, and they think the green paper means they will lose budget to cover statemented kids with mild/moderate needs, because they will no longer be eligible for statements. So they are trying to put something in that will allow them to process these kids into mainstream, with support, before they lose their statements, otherwise the whole population will hit mainstream in a couple of years like a bomb.

My gut feel is that any child with severe needs, of whatever type, will still have a fair degree of legal protection under the new system and as such will actually be more expensive to maintain in mainstream than leave where they are. They're leaving the SLD/PMLD kids in special schools, and they are moving the more complex ASD cases in with them. The thing to ask them, I think, is where they are planning to draw the line - and the MUST know, because they will have a good idea of headcount to have got the proposals this far.

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