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Our chosen schools have refused to take DS - what now?(31 Posts)
DS (10) has HFA, and a full 20 hour statement, with a brilliant TA, who has transformed his school experience. He's expected to get all 5s and 6s in his SATs this summer.
Many thanks to the Special Needs Board posters who helped us get the statement - I honestly believe he wouldn't be able to write a word if it wasn't for his TA funded by that statement.
We looked at loads of schools and found one which we thought was just right - very caring SENCO department, medium sized, calm atmosphere, nice simple layout, and located somewhere where DH and I could drop DS off and pick him up for as long as was necessary. We visited and talked to SEN team at length.
We also put our local school as a back-up choice - but reluctantly because although it's a good school it's big and noisy.
I thought this was a simple case of crossing our fingers and hoping for the preferred option.
Local authority have just rung me to say that both schools have looked at his statement and said they won't take him because they can't keep him safe - I think they mean from fights/bullying. Local Authority SEN team are going to go back to our first choice with an offer of increased support to try and get them to change their minds, but asked if we had any other suggestions. Off the top of my head I couldn't think of anything, but I need to make a list of options and get back to them.
I can only think of:
The brand new academy at the other end of the borough - untested and a nightmare commute but aims to have an ASD capability. I guess we need to go and talk to them - stupid of us not to do it earlier. We might get transport help, and the advantage of it being new is that it will be smaller.
Private? but behaviour would still be a problem - more so in fact. WE might be able to come to an arrangement with the local authority whereby we pay the fees and they pay for a TA, or something similar. One option would be to do a 10+ application to an academically strong school to retake year 6 - he's a summer baby and emotionally/behaviourally immature, so this might give him more of a chance to fit in. But we're really late for this.
Special school. I honestly don't think this is an option in our local special schools - he's way ahead of the rest of the class academically in his mainstream primary.
Home ed. I don't think I'm capable of this - I struggle enough with homework supervision, and I really don't want to quit my job.
Any ideas? Thanks in advance, but actually just typing it out has helped me think a lot. We're in South London but anywhere central would be an option.
Bump. Sorry not advice. Shame your first choice didn't voice their concerns at your visit
'Local authority have just rung me to say that both schools have looked at his statement and said they won't take him because they can't keep him safe'
That is code for 'can't stomach funding £10k from their budget as that would be required for 20 hours support'.
Ask the LA to ask the first choice what exactly they would need in order to 'keep him safe'.
If your 'other choice' is an independent secondary with transport, the LA might put up some additional funding to 'persuade' the school you like to accept him.
Hang on, what has happened to 'parents get their first choice mainstream school unless it is incompatible with the efficient education of others?' Well, AND can meet dc's needs, but that assumes that you can put in all the support required to allow them to do that.
It still has to be able to meet needs, BUT I think you could check back with preferred school and ask how much extra support they would need to see added to the Statement of SEN to meet his needs.
It should be no surprise to anyone that what works fine in primary requires an increase in secondary to cope with the much busier environment etc.
If your preferred school would take DC with full time 1 to 1 to cover break and lunch times, would they be happy to take him?
It is SO rare to see LAs offering extra funding, I would jump on that.
Thanks Starlight. My first instinct was "if they can't keep my baby safe I don't want to argue" but I did also suspect that it might be code for "don't wanna take this child because he looks tricky".
LA are already going back with an offer of more money to School 1, but yes I agree that they're more likely to do this if I say "OK, we want you to pay for him to go private then" rather than "OK I'll quit my job and homeschool".
senvent ALL the local mainstream schools in my LA were consulted with and fed back that they couldn't meet ds' needs even with extra resources that were offered. I don't agree at all, but had no stomach to send him where he wasn't wanted.
We had just moved from a different LA where 3 mainstream schools said they could meet his needs easily without the extra resources. I don't agree at all with that either.
Both sets of schools in both LA's had their own agendas when reporting the bollox that they did. Neither of them had anything to do with my ds.
With the second lot it suited us that they said they couldn't meet his needs as though I knew they 'could', I also knew they wouldn't and at that time we were asking for an Indi placement.
The system is just bloody awful.
Not tricky OP, expensive. Once, the LA would give schools the money to be able to meet the needs of children like yours. The money would be for the child.
Now, the LA give the money to the school in advance, and it isn't ring-fenced, so if they play their cards right, they can take the money and refurbish the school library or put in a vegetable garden to attract parents of kids who will do well in their SATS/GCSEs. They can also spend the money on a TA to help coach the level 3's into Level 4 /grade D's to C and climb the league tables. They feel unfairly robbed if they have to use that TA for just ONE child.
OP, I have lost patience with the system and HE now. I'm hoping to return to the school system but it seems to just be getting worse.
It isn't because I have given up, it is because I don't think for my child, all the force in the world could make him get the education he deserves through the education system.
Starlight, I think you are being a bit disingenuous. Our school, for a start, which is brilliant for children with SEN is getting 80K less for provision for students with SEN under the new funding system. We applied for additional funding from the high needs block and got 15K back. We are certainly not funnelling it off into other projects - in fact we are unable to do a number of things for the whole school that we would like to because a significant amount of the whole school budget is spent making sure inclusion really happens.
If the school feel they can't keep your DS safe, maybe it is a real concern. For eg if they can't afford to provide a TA full time from drop off to pick up? Have you spoken to the SENCO?
We talked to the SENCO before making the application, and they didn't mention safeguarding. This latest comment has been relayed at second hand through the LA.
I would go back to the SENCO and talk it through. You'll get a much better idea of what the issues are and also be able to clarify the particular needs of your DS.
It isn't ring fenced goldfish, so you can't say the 80k less must come from the SEN kids.
Are your preferred schools Academies? The number of special school places in the most recent DFE stats has gone up massively without any apparent reason (but most LAs believe it is due to the sen funding changes and high number of schools becoming academies).
Ask the LA what the funding arrangement would be e.g. are they expecting the school to put in the first £6k from delegated funding, because the LA could agree to pay this from contingency fund (if the school is saying it truly doesn't have £6k for your child).
I would look at indep mainstream and ask the LA to pay the fees and the support.
Also ask the LA for a list of indep special schools
What about ABA support funded by LA going in with your child to mainstream (so no call on the school budget and responsibility is with provider to keep him safe not the school?). You could do this via a personal budget or LA could pay ABA direct.
Ask to see a copy of the letters from the LA to the school and the written replies. Maybe go back and see the HTs and find out what the real problem is.
Good point goldfish. Do you think he'd be willing to speak to us though?
Maybe Special School or small-class-indie is what will feel right when you see it.
If mainstream seems right, then I would try to get a really tight statement.
We haven't taken any money from the students with SEN.
And that is why the school no longer has the money for staff / projects for the whole school that the not- inclusive academy down the road has.
The current system stinks. Don't tar all the schools with the same brush. Some of us are on your side.
OP, I would call the school and ask to make an appointment with the SENCO. If I was the SENCO I would definitely meet to see if we could find a way through. If he won't meet then you wouldn't want your DS there anyway!
Very best of luck.
I'm sorry to hear that.
Have a look at independent special schools. There are certain ASD specialist schools that only take kids with HFA, without any learning difficulties. Though, these types of schools are mostly independent.
South London - could go Central London too.
Centre Academy in Battersea is an independent ss
Oh wow. I've looked at so many that I've forgotten names.
I'll give you a list in a moment.
I've just discovered this place which is amazing. www.smallberrygreen.co.uk/
Millbank is also excellent. So much I cried when I visited it.
It ain't easy to get LAs to pay for private schools with small classes - there is a bit of inverted snobbery going on sometimes - but those school can be a good option fro HFA.
And may actually cost them a whole lot less when they do their sums properly
The SENCOs can be pretty switched on, too.
Worth bearing in mind.
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