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Academies and SN?

(14 Posts)
CardyMow Sat 22-Oct-11 01:45:44

DD's school has just sent a letter home saying that they are 'starting the consultation period' for becoming an Academy Consortium with 2 other schools in our town (that are not as well performing as this one). But the letter also says that all the Senior Management and Governing Body were in unanimous agreemant that this is the best thing for the school.

However - if these three schools become an Academy Consortium, there will no longer be ANY Secondary schools in our town that aren't Academies, as there is already an Academy Consortium made up of 3 other schools, plus a sole Academy. Since these other schools have necome Academies, there have been many many more 'managed moves' of SEN dc to the PRU. Even SN dc without behavioural difficulties.

I am concerned that if every Secondary in the town becomes an Academy, it will become practically impossible to get a Secondary school placement for a dc with sn (say, asd and ld's, like my DD) in a mainstream school, and as there is not enough places in special schools - WTF would we do? Would our dc be left without an education, or in PRU's despite good behaviour just because of their SN?

Am panicking slightly now, as everything I can find on Google points to the fact that Academies are not legally bound by the SEN rules that apply in maintained schools. And My DD would be one of the first to suffer, being on SA+, rather than a full statement.

<<Wibbles lots, as the letter seems to make it the consultation period a formality, as if it is a done deal already>>

IndigoBell Sat 22-Oct-11 07:09:26

You are googling wrong.

Academies are bound by the exact same laws regaerding SEN as maintained schools.

It is very unfortunate that the academies you know are managing out students with SEN, but they are not doing it because they are academies, they are doing it because they are awful.

Maintained schools also manage out kids and send them to PRUs.

The most important thing in a school is the HT, not whether or not it's an academy. It is the HTs leadership which makes a school inclusive or not. No one else's - and certainly not the law.

The second most important person is the SENCO.

So choose the school with the best HT and SENCO and don't worry about its financial status.

Honestly and truly the law applies to academies as well.

IndigoBell Sat 22-Oct-11 07:16:59

DFE site about academies

Academies are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as if they were maintained schools.

bee169 Sat 22-Oct-11 08:00:38

I totally agree with Indigo- Academies are bound by law to accommodate SEN children as LA schools. They will get funding from the council called notional SEN which is restricted funding for SEN students only. Many of the original Academies were established because the schools they were built on were failing their students. As a result Academies were set up with well resourced SEN/Inclusion depts. If the academies in your area are pushing out SEN students this is because of rubbish management.

CardyMow Sat 22-Oct-11 08:59:08

Yes, but DD is already attending the school - so it is not as if it is a case of 'choosing' a school - I did that purposely because this school was offering more SN help, but on the letter it states that the school will 'have more power to exclude disruptive pupils'. While DD isn't disruptive behaviourally - she DOES take up a disproportionate amount of each teacher's time due to her SN and the fact that the school seems to have got rid of at least half their LSA's this year.

It's more concerning because DD is already there - and if her school starts trying to 'push out' dc with SN - especially those that will bring their exam results down (DD will be hard pushed to get a 'C' in Maths GCSE no matter how much help she is given, and is probably the same in most subjects), then there will be no school that is NOT an Academy to send her to.

Considering that her first two years (Y7 and Y8) at the school were excellent, and then this year she has been left WITHOUT an English teacher at all for the first half term - I would say that the SEN Dept. is not acting in the same way as they were before. Wouldn't you be worried. My DD is in Y9 currently. I have a thread Here about the lack of English teaching.

The school was categorically NOT like this before this academic year. So there seems to have been a change of ethos at the school already, hence my wibbles.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 22-Oct-11 19:52:00

All schools are facing huge financial cuts, which is why TAs are being lost. Most schools are being forced to become academies just to keep on an even financial keel despite some not being ideologically in agreement with the principle. There is a monetary incentive to become an academy, with more money the sooner they change. It is a done deal, I'm sure, but the ethos shouldn't change if the management team remains the same, and hopefully no more TAs will be lost.

AgnesDiPesto Sat 22-Oct-11 20:23:12

Academies are supposed to follow the same rules. But if they don't there is no-one to complain to other than Michael Gove / DFE. The Ombudsman cannot look at Academies. The DFE is soon going to have such a massive backlog of complaints to deal with there is no chance of this being a route which leads to any accountability.
this barrister who specialises in SEN law has started this blog / webiste about the SEN issues and academies.

CardyMow Sun 23-Oct-11 00:07:33

Can you not complain to the LEA then? Or The Ombudsman? shock. That is exactly why I am very concerned about Academy status. The school have already left my SN DD without an English teacher for half a term - If I was unable to make them accauntable for something like this, how the hell could I ensure my DD gets an education? Especially when there is going to be NO choice whatsoever in my town, if all 7 secondaries are Academies. And how will that affect the LEA with provision of things like EP's, and TA's / LSA's? The budgets for TA's & LSA's has already been cut to what I feel is BELOW a workable level - but at least you have ways to appeal that at the moment. (Am trying to get my DD's LSA reinstated)

<<Wibbles some more>>

I need a bunch of really good questions to ask at the meeting in November about provision of SEN help for dc that are on SA / SA+ if the school gains Academy status. Anyone got any brilliantly worded questions for me?

CardyMow Sun 23-Oct-11 00:08:07

Accountable. Sorry for awful spelling, am bf'ing DS3.

daireen Sun 23-Oct-11 00:27:29

This is exactly the same were I live, and despite assurances at the parents meeting that they would not change to an academy if parents and/or teachers were against it, they changed DD's school and all of the other local secondaries are changing as well.

As well as the issues raised above, academy's can choose to buy in, or give up, additional services. So the local Autism Support Service run by the LEA which was brilliant and has been dumped. At the moment they are 'considering' a replacement, but even if they do decide to fund this, they will probably go for the cheapest option.

So you might want to ask them what services they intend to pay for and how they will assess the quality of them.

CardyMow Sun 23-Oct-11 00:47:17

Erm, I've just read something online that says that Academies do not legally have to provide Free School Meals - is this true? Because my DD gets FSM's. <<Need to google this some more>>

IndigoBell Sun 23-Oct-11 07:50:53

No, this is absolutely not true.

No school has to provide a hot dinner, FSM can be a packed lunch that school gives you, but once again the law is the same for academies.

coff33pot Sun 23-Oct-11 13:48:27

DS is in infants and his school has just become an Academy in Sept. They are still operating the same way as they did before the change. His statement is still going through and he has had his 1 to 1 funded by them for 25hrs. They are also looking to meet with me to see if there are other services that can help DS between us. So far .....nothing seems to have changed.

jandymaccomesback Sun 23-Oct-11 21:25:15

Early academies were able to bypass the SEN rules, but more recent ones have to abide by the same ones as everyone else. IPSEA have information on this.

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