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Do I have to know about and consent to LA visits (run up to tribunal)

(33 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 09:27:50

DS2 attends school in a different LA to my home LA. I am appealing refusal to assess.

I have just been told that a relatively senior person within the home LA (was due to be a witness at DS1's tribunal) visited DS2 in school, spoke to him and teachers and observed him in class. She has apparently given a copy of her recommendations to the head/senco. Another person from the home LA is due to go in next week. I have emailed for confirmation as the head nobbled DH at drop-off and he thinks it was an EP but can't be sure.

I have had no communication from the LA and no communication from the school until today.

Does school LA/home LA make a difference in terms of whether employees of a neighbouring LA have the same rights of access?

Do I have to be informed?

Do I have to consent?

TIA

StarlightMcKingsThree Thu 13-Mar-14 09:34:47

They have no right, but you wouldn't win an argument about it.

The best thing you can do is write to the school and say that you do not give consent for anyone to observe your child for the purposes of statement provision, nor assess without written notice of at least a week and an invitation for you to attend.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 09:41:33

Do LAs send in an EP to defend refusal to assess? Is this not admitting that the child needs assessment.

I know that DS1 only had assessments to build a defence case but that was an appeal of statement. This is even more insane. If tribunal ordered assessment would they have to send the EP in again?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 09:44:35

Thanks star. I included a similar statement in my email to the head. I fully intend to give consent but they have to ask nicely grin

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 11:57:04

It is an EP - a week after LA response due but 2 days before they have to file a case progression checklist. So they have already decided their response before the EP assessment but want to make it appear to tribunal that they are doing all they can. IPSEA reckon the majority of cases go all the way to tribunal now. First suggestion was an Indi EP report - at this stage ffs.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 12:01:16

I have never appealed a refusal before so am on new ground here.

Has anybody else's DC been seen by LA EP following refusal to assess/appeal?

Is this 'normal' practice?

bjkmummy Thu 13-Mar-14 12:04:49

I didn't think it was 'normal' practice but the LA seem to be playing so dirty these days that all usual rules seem to have been thrown out of the window. My LA due to serve case progression list today - nothing come in the post yet so in expecting a visit later. Must must remember to serve mine later by email. It's all done just need to hit the send button but I'm going to leave it until after school later.

StarlightMcKingsThree Thu 13-Mar-14 12:07:42

It's not normal.

In your email ask if anyone is scheduled to come in and tell the school that this person MUST contact you a week before they are due.

When the person contact you, ask in writing what is the purpose of their visit and your consent will be dependent on their reply.

The truth is: to find evidence against, but they might be stupid enough to say instead 'to assess whether needs a statement'.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 12:19:20

Bjk - let us know what the LA one looks like as DS1 never had one.

Star - I have the name of the EP so intend to email directly and ask.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 13:34:54

I have received an email from the EP. I could do with some advice so if anyone is willing to have a look please PM me

thanks in advance.

StarlightMcKingsThree Thu 13-Mar-14 13:51:25

Keep I generally prefer to stick to the board, but if it is especially sensitive you can PM me.

If you need to buy more time, you can email back saying 'I'm terribly sorry, but at that short notice I couldn't possibly make it. Please advise of some alternative dates and I will do my best to confirm with you as soon as possible'.

If it is suggested you don't need to be there, you respond that in your opinion it is in your child's best interest that you are, and you do not give consent otherwise.

That is reasonable and would look so to a tribunal.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 14:28:17

There is a confidentiality clause on the email but to paraphrase rather than quote its contents:

The EP has been asked by the Local Authority to undertake an assessment of DS2's special educational needs to provide advice in relation to the additional needs he may have and the type of provision and support he may require as a result of these. She understands this request is related to an appeal submission for refusal to assess. The special needs officer at the LA has informed her that she has written to me and your DH today seeking permission to undertake the assessment and so in the meantime (given the busyness of her diary and the timescale that we are working to) she has pencilled in the date of 24th March to ensure DS2 receives this assessment. However she will not be undertaking this visit until my permission is given.

If I am able to give permission she would undertake an observation and assessment as well as meet with me and DH following her visit to ascertain all relevant information regarding DS2’s early life, progress and current needs as well as finding out our views and wishes. As she have not yet been involved with DS2 and does not have access to any information regarding him currently she has not planned the particular assessments she may undertake. It would be usual for her to observe in class, work individually with the child (seeking their view using questioning, exploring their emotional recognition, literacy and needs such as self esteem level etc), she would then complete some individual assessment this may involve dynamic assessment and therefore looking at how adult mediation may support their potential to learn as well as possibly some standardised assessments if appropriate. In DS2's case she believes he has been seen previously by an EP and therefore it may not be necessary to undertake further assessments or these may be useful to ascertain progress. She would like to liaise with the previous EP if that is acceptable to me also.

Her advice is likely to be used during the tribunal process to support the LA in making informed decisions regarding DS2’s needs and support. It is likely that I would be called as witness for the LA if the appeal continues.

I hope that helps and I look forward to meeting you if you grant your permission.

Just a reminder, this is a tribunal for refusal to assess.

StarlightMcKingsThree Thu 13-Mar-14 14:30:29

confidentiality clause? wtf?

I suppose it could possibly be there to protect your child but in that case you may use it in their interest iyswim.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 13-Mar-14 14:32:58

Can't make the date she has pencilled in anyway as DS2 is being visited by ASD specialist teacher and DH and I have already arranged a meeting with her.

StarlightMcKingsThree Thu 13-Mar-14 14:39:37

ffs have read it now.

I would ask the EP, how what she is doing now, differs from what she would do if she were undertaking an SA as in your opinion this is exactly the process she would engage in if she were doing a SA.

Ask her directly, if the refusal to assess therefore was simply a LA delaying or stalling tactic as when she concludes that your child does in fact need an assessment, and eventually very likely a statement too, your child will have then gone several weeks without the support he requires and therefore save the LA those weeks of resources.

ouryve Thu 13-Mar-14 14:43:54

This seems a bit ass backwards. They appear to be sticking to their guns regarding not assessing your DS, yet they're sensing an ed psych in to assess him.

It sounds like a standard EP assessment, so embrace it, but at your convenience and with your involvement. This could be positive from your POV.

post Thu 13-Mar-14 14:44:42

I'm going out so can't write a long bit just now, but will come back. I'd advise getting contact details for all professionals who are going to assess, and contacting them personally to ask for a copy of whatever they write.

I say this as we've recently had experience of more than one report being 'buried' by the lea when they supported our case rather than theirs, and it was only because we'd got wise to this that we managed to submit a crucial report ourselves one hour before our last deadline.

Playing dirty doesn't come close.

ouryve Thu 13-Mar-14 14:45:49

Sending. Sensing is a tactic that BJKMummy's LA would probably use. SA by divining rods and crystal ball.

ouryve Thu 13-Mar-14 14:46:48

And post's point is a good one.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Fri 14-Mar-14 11:01:34

DS2 has already had over 10 assessments by 5 different external experts including EP, SALT and OT and has had classroom observations by 11 different individuals over the years as several have gone on maternity leave. He doesn't need another EP assessment, prior to statutory assessment, when the LA have already decided to defend the refusal and the deadline to respond has passed.

Besides which he attends a school in a neighbouring LA and so the home LA EP has no business assessing him unless it is for SA. Even if I consented in the vague belief that it might actually help him, the school has a track record for ignoring recommendations given by another LA even when they are in writing and the head has agreed to fund provision.

I want to refuse consent. I understand that the tribunal will accept that the LA has the right to gather evidence to defend itself and I would consent to the LA staff member who has previously observed him to visit again if she felt it necessary as this would be non-obtrusive. EP assessment of the child and interview with the parents for the purpose of collecting evidence feels so wrong.

Why can't I refuse on the basis that it is clearly not in his best interests?

If I don't consent, there will not be enough time for the LA to meet the final evidence deadline (esp with Easter hols). But if the LA get a tribunal order allowing them to assess, they will also have to request that the report is accepted as late evidence and so I won't even see it until the day of the hearing.

WWYD??

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Fri 14-Mar-14 11:06:48

Oh, I also received a letter from the LA this morning wanting to change the date of the hearing. I have emailed and asked 'why?' but have received an out of office reply. Guess what? The caseworker is out of the office until the day the LA intend to file the request for changes with Tribunal. I have forwarded it on.

StarlightMcKingsThree Fri 14-Mar-14 11:32:28

Agree to a change of date only if it is brought forward. I think you need to book a call with IPSEA tbh. Sometimes they can just word things in a way that gives you you control back.

The whole thing is a complete waste of resources. It could be though that they intend to concede unless they can find a way around it, and will do so at last minute, and then take full length of time to do SA. I think if that happens by that point you can ask the tribunal to insist that the process is sped up as they have the information the need and have wasted enough time whilst your child has gone without provision.

You may even get them on maladministration if you want to later.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Fri 14-Mar-14 13:38:55

Just spoken to the children's legal centre. I don't have to consent to a change of date. It's up to the LA if they request a change with Tribunal. They also agree that I have good grounds for refusing EP assessment for two reasons in law - child should not be over-assessed and the late request for EP assessments means that they are likely to request permission to submit late evidence. This should not be permitted because I am a poor parent with no legal representation and access to the resources of the LA. I am unable to respond to late evidence on the day (especially when the author is an expert witness for the opposition) and this places me at distinct disadvantage.

If anyone knows any legal precedents or the relevant bits of the SENCOP (or the best way to find them) then please let me know.

bjkmummy Fri 14-Mar-14 14:07:00

Don't know about legal precedents but the argument they have given you seems a fair and valid one and one which I may end up using myself during this process.

MariaNotChristmas Sat 15-Mar-14 16:47:50

Dear ShinyNewEP

Ds has been accessing lots of professional input lately, and I attach copies of it all, since as you mention, you haven't been involved up till now.

As you know we have a difference of opinion with Stinkyshire as to whether full statutory assessment is required, and we are awaiting Tribunal's input in deciding whether this process should commence. It would be very helpful if you could liase directly with professionals A, B and C. for dc's benefit, and in his best interests. We attach contact details.

Thank you for your kind offer to come to school next week. We understand you are able to visit, speak to staff, observe him in class, meet with us, and you may undertake some informal 1-1 assessment with further, quite comprehensive direct assessments.

Given the short notice, your unfamiliarity with his case, the 11 previous assessments, the fact his school has a different EP, and our hope that the SA process will start shortly, we don't think the benefit to ds is sufficient to outweigh the obvious disadvantages. We'd be grateful if you could defer your planned assessment for a term or two.

Kisses 'n' hugs
NotOnYerNelly

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