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Legalities of getting statment honoured

(15 Posts)
skewiff Fri 30-Nov-12 21:16:41

DS has had a statement since nursery. He has mild CP.

The statement has never really been updated and he is now in Year One. We had a statement review meeting in the spring/summer 2012 - but the statement officer didn't come and nothing was changed on the statement (when I spoke to the statement officer she said this was fine - but I knew it wasn't). The statement still reads as if DS is 3 1/2.

On the statement it says that DS should get some small group and one to one help. The statement is a level D which I believe is 20 hours.

The school has never offered any help, saying that it would separate DS from his peers. I did not fight them as DS is v good with reading and writing. The effect of the CP is all physical and mainly affects his left hand.

As this year has gone on I've seen more and more that DS does need some one to one assistance. The breaking point was when the teacher said yesterday that she could not check DS's hand splint was on correctly during the day (meaning every day) as she was too busy.

What do I do now? We need to fight for some one to one assistance for DS - but I'm worried that I've got no leg to stand on because the statement is not up to date and because the amount of one to one on the statement is unspecified.

Thank you.

Veritate Fri 30-Nov-12 21:24:51

It's not great that it's unspecified, and I suspect your problem will be that they will probably claim that he is getting some one to one and you have no way of proving it one way or another.

If you haven't got an annual review coming up I'd suggest that you ask for a review meeting because of your concerns. You can flag up at the meeting how out of date the statement is and suggest that it should be updated. If they agree to amend, you can push for a more specific form of words and, if they don't agree, you can appeal. If they refuse to amend, you can appeal anyway.

skewiff Fri 30-Nov-12 21:47:51

Thank you Veritate,

The main reason that I did not push to get it specified in the first place was that DS was only 3 when it was written and I had no idea what and where he would need assistance in school - I have no older children.

I will ask for a review meeting now. And I'll push for the statement to be updated.

Who do you appeal to?

mysleighscalldtrev Sat 01-Dec-12 08:56:20

Statements must have the help specified and quantified - but many don't - ours included, and we are fighting this, amongst other things at the moment. We have a Band D - which we have been told by our LA - reluctantly - was for 30 hrs 1-1, not that we ever had that - ever. The LA, in our experience is not be trusted, but initially you do just this as you think that they must be trying to do the best for your child.

Veritate Sat 01-Dec-12 11:46:48

Skewiff, you appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Lots of information about it on the Ipsea and SOS!SEN websites.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 01-Dec-12 12:26:12

You cannot just lodge an appeal at any time. You only have two months from the issue of a final statement or an amended final statement (following an annual review) to appeal.

drowninginlaundry Sat 01-Dec-12 18:18:21

Part III of the statement must specify and quantify the provision to meet the needs specified in Part II. It is unlawful of the Local Authority to use funding bands (e.g. 'Band D') in Part III as it will be a breach of Section 324(2) and (3) of Education Act 1996 where it states - well, the above. That Part III must be specified and quantified for the child's needs.

The annual review process is set out in the SEN Code of Practice, chapter 9 (i think, working from memory here). If this is followed (and SEN COP must be) the statement of SEN should be kept in line with the child's needs. Everyone involved with the child's education and supporting the child should produce a report and his/her school should, as a result of the discussion in the annual review, produce a report. There are timelines set in the COP for these. So that's the second breach of statutory duties by your local authority there.

You can call an interim review of the statement, although there is no statutory right for the local authority to do it.

Or, you can request your local authority to put in place the provision that is in the statement, even if it is an unlawful blanket provision (Band D). Write to the officer responsible for your DS. By law the local authority must deliver the provision in Part III, if they have not updated it that is their mistake. You should tell them that you will be starting proceedings for a Judicial Review if the special educational provision for [DS] as specified in Part III of his statement of SEN is not in place without further delay. If you can afford a letter from a solicitor, that usually does it. Note that Judicial Review proceedings would be launched in the name of your child, and he would be eligible for legal aid. You can point that out to your LA as they often think that fear of legal expenses puts parents off from seeking legal advice for their case.

They may try to send you an Amendment Notice after your request, then you can appeal to SENDIST if you are not happy with the changes.

Email the case officer at the LEA. Usually you will get back something like: 'we can assure you that [DS] has had access to strategies and interventions available at the school'. or some other horseshit.

Unfortunately with this lot you'll get absolutely nowhere by being nice. Last week I sent an email to the head of Children's Services asking if she is either a) lying or b) incompetent (as in, either you don't understand the legal framework within which you are operating, or you are deliberately deceitful - which one is it?). Still waiting for a reply..

perceptionreality Sat 01-Dec-12 20:59:12

You will need to find a way to get them to renew the statement so that you can appeal it - if I were you I would seek advice from a solicitor. They may be leaving it lapsed on purpose so that you cannot appeal.

Leave behind any notion that the LEA will try to do the best for your son - they won't. They are concerned with budget primarily. However, as a parent it is possible to successfully fight for what your child needs so don't be afraid to go for it.

skewiff Sat 01-Dec-12 21:52:19

OK - well as I said, the initial review was written when DS was 3.5 yrs. It says on the statement (I think) that it has to be reviewed annually (would this be correct?).

We had a statement review meeting with the school in about April 2012. The meeting was woolly and a waste of time. There was no officer there to note any of the changes. The SENCO did this, but didn't write much down and the original statement was sent back to me as the renewed one. We had no reports from any professionals.

I phoned the statement officer to ask if there had been a mistake and she said that there were no significant changes to be made, and I shouldn't worry. I trusted her ... She said that she had been away which was why she wasn't at the meeting (I had expected her to be there, but the whole thing being new to us wasn't sure how it all worked). Next time should I ring her in the days leading up to the meeting to check she'll be there? If she wasn't there should I write down all changes to the statement instead?

Shall I ring her and ask for a early statement review in light of the old one not being amended? Or should I wait till April?

We are having difficulties with school and I don't want to alert her to this as she might be less willing to arrange a review if she thinks its going to help us fight the school.

I may be being paranoid, but it feels to me as though they all stick together.

StarlightMcKenzie Sat 01-Dec-12 21:56:12

You need to 'open' the statement.

You can do this by adding a Dx, requesting a change to school, bringing up an unmet need or waiting for the annual review.

Bramblesinafield Sat 01-Dec-12 21:59:13

It might be worth phoning to discuss it. Ime the panel are very much on the side of the children and families and want schools to pursue what they should be doing. Statement targets can be re written at the review meeting. You could suggest that someone from the authority attends at the next one, it also might be worth getting your paediatrician or whoever supports with cp to help.

I'm not impressed that there was no one there to help your son given that there are 20 hours in the statement.

The statement is a legal document. Please take advice - if a solicitor is too costly, then ipsea - do you have a local parent partnership?

skewiff Sun 02-Dec-12 21:44:07

I will ring IPSEA and parent partnership tomorrow. Also will try to speak to SEN statement officer. Do you think she will be on our side or the schools? Previously I have always felt as though she is fobbing us off . It was her that totally discouraged me from quantifying the hours of one to one and also updating the statement. She has always said that its up to the school to decide what to offer the child and that parents should not interfere!

If she is still like this can I ask for a change of officer? Is it worth doing this?

I will pay for a solicitor - but should this be done at a later date, after changing the statement? Or now?

Starlight - is the fact that DS now has a hand splint (which he did not have before and so is not mentioned in the statement) and this needs tightening throughout the day an unmet need do you think?

Nigel1 Mon 03-Dec-12 08:50:44

Skewiff - It is highly unlikely that the LA officer is on your side. She is defending the LAs money.
I would think its highly likely that she is fobbing you off. That way you are not going to appeal and end up costing the LA more money.
The LA has a legal duty to specify the amount of support. If they have not done so then that is normally for a reason. Saves them money.
The SSEN is, in effect a contract between you and the LA not the school. The school implement the LAs SSEN. It is down to the LA to draft a SSEN that is specific detailed and quantified. The SSEN as currently issued does not appear to be so.
A change of officer is unlikely to help much as they all do the same training.
There are other people out there other than solicitors who are a lot cheaper and just as effective.
You can only change the SSEN at an AR or if there is an emergency. When is the next AR?

skewiff Mon 03-Dec-12 21:56:16

Ok Thank you Nigel1. The next AR is beginning of March. I'll wait until then. I spoke to La officer today and purposefully didn't tell her too much so that we can bring the statement as much up to date as possible without her or the school wanting to prevent us for money saving reasons.

I spoke to parent partnership today and they're going to talk to me this week and then come to school with me. They were shocked at the school's behaviour and attitude so far and feel that school has v little understanding of DS's condition. Which is exactly how I feel too.

I've never dealt with parent partnership before as I've always thought they'd be on the side of the LA too. But talking to them today they said they'll try and get some 1 to 1 support sorted ...

Veritate Mon 03-Dec-12 22:01:54

I think you do need to push for a review - presumably the next annual review won't happen till next Spring, but you could try pushing for an earlier one on the basis that the statement is out of date and DS isn't making progress. If they agree to amend the statement, well and good - it probably still won't be adequate but it would allow you to appeal to the tribunal. If they don't agree to amend, you will have a right to appeal against that, and in the appeal you can challenge the entire statement. But it will be essential that you get reports from experts who are used to tribunal appeals so that there is evidence of precisely what should be in parts 2 and 3 of the statement. SOS SEN can probably suggest good experts.

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