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Out of county secondary school

(7 Posts)
threetoone Fri 14-Mar-14 17:47:29

I could really use some advice please. My DD1 is nine, year five at local ms primary. She has dx of hfa and has a statement.

Since year four I've been looking at secondary schools because around that time I realised our local ms secondary school wouldn't suit her.

To be brief, I found a school about 15 miles from us, state special school, small class size, ticks all our boxes. I wrote to my LA about five months ago with my views on the school and asking that they get the wheels in motion to secure her a place. They were initially dismissive, saying to contact them in Sept 2014. Went back saying no, need to get going, agreed to discuss at annual review, feb 2014.

Anyway paperwork went to panel this week and LA have said, we will consult with other county and the school and sending Dd's papers to them. Great. But they are also going to consult with one of the special schools in our county (about 3.5 miles away). This is one of the schools I specifically said I didn't want. When I asked why they were consulting with this school they said because the panel told them to and have to look at similar schools in the area. Imo the school isnt similar and wouldn't be the right fit for dd.

Has anyone had experience of this. If they offered the school in my county I will turn it down and have already explained the reasons why it isn't suitable. The caseworker saidthey have to think about transport too (and and obviously the associated cost for them) In fact even the ep was talking about transport costs when we discussed at annual review.

threetoone Fri 14-Mar-14 17:49:25

Sorry posted too soon. Should I be positive they are consulting with other LA? Should I reiterate to them at this stage that local school isn't an option for us.

Thanks

cansu Fri 14-Mar-14 18:12:42

O K you need to start to consider what is it that makes the LA preferred choice inadequate. You dont have a right to the best school, just one that meets her needs so you need to make a list of why it would not meet her needs. If necessary go back for another visit so you can make this list. Look at their results, Ofsted etc and then look at the info for the otehr school and make a list of how this school does meet her needs. Personally I would also visit an expensive independent specialist school and list how this would meet her needs as well. This may help to focus the LA minds. They will do all they can to avoid paying the transport costs. Be ready for a fight. You may need some legal advice to be prepared for tribunal.

ouryve Fri 14-Mar-14 18:46:43

I found it very helpful to visit the schools that the LA might suggest for DS1. It meant that I was able to ask some pointed questions about what they would do if a child with his profile was a pupil at the school to ensure that he was taught to his ability (some special schools work in conjunction with local mainstream secondary schools to ensure that more academically able pupils can take GCSEs). It also gave me the opportunity to ask how many children with this sort of profile they get through the school, check out the general environment and atmosphere of the school, look for any drawbacks (eg in DS1's case, one school had many pupils with significant physical disabilities who had carefully adjusted chairs left in the corridors and who might be vulnerable if he flew into a rage over something and they were in his way).

Another school had a specific autism class, but DS1 wouldn't have been in it as he was too able, so would have been in a general class with less good staffing ratios than he currently had in his mainstream primary. What I saw of those classes was far from the quiet, purposeful environment he needs.

The more you know, the more you can stand up for what your DD's needs are.

AgnesDiPesto Fri 14-Mar-14 19:52:35

They will name the nearest suitable school as that will be least cost. It is up to you to prove yours is the nearest suitable (and the In Area one is not suitable). LAs have been forced due to budget cuts to adopt policies of no out of area placements. You need to go and see their choice and revisit yours. Look at staff ratios, which class, peer group, outcomes, what SLT, OT avail etc etc.

Also ask about costs (in writing as formal data request) as really that's what it will end up being about. How much is transport to each. Is there a taxi already going for where you live. Is there a place on the taxi your dd can have. What are the costs of the two placements (the in area school will have a min £10000 cost as they can't say their schools are no cost anymore). Ask the in area school whether they will be asking LA for any top up above £10k for your dd, it's poss the school may agree it's not suitable.

Finally if you don't feel confident about showing their school can't meet need and only yours can you can consider negotiating eg by agreeing you will transport her yourself to your choice and they may then name it on parental preference. You might even be able to negotiate an allowance if your school is less than theirs+taxi. But first you need to be clear what the comparison costs are.

threetoone Fri 14-Mar-14 19:53:00

Thanks cansu and ouryve for your replies.

Cansu, yes will go back and ask some more questions and compile a more comprehensive list of why it isnt suitable. Pleased you mentioned the indi scho, that is exactly what I did, I said if you cant secure a place I have seen x private school and I would be willing to consider that as an alternative as thought this may focus them my first choice which would be £££ cheaper for them. And I know they don't have to provide the best but the indi I mentioned is also out of country but the LA fund children there. I know of at least two from our current school in the last couple of years. My option will much more economical for them. Do you think transport is that much of a sticking point for them?

Ouryve, thanks for the pointers. Will look at school again with that in mind. I'm thinking I'll do that straight away and write to the LA so they are clear where we are coming from.

It so hard not to get worked up about this, I've viewed lots of schools and what I'm asking for is actually very reasonable in terms of cost.

Thank you again.

threetoone Fri 14-Mar-14 20:15:21

Anges sorry just seen your post, missed it whilst typing. That's great info, thanks. Will ask about costs also. I said to dh last night if they were prepared to
name school we would be prepared to say we'd sort out transport ourselves.

The thing is if we get in we will probably move to the area but aren't going to mention this.

Agnes is a formal data request a freedom of information request?

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