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Oh FFS. 'Amended statement'

(14 Posts)
amistillsexy Mon 09-Feb-15 17:21:21

So, DS is 11, moving up to high school in Sept. The school we've requested isn't our nearest, which is 2.6 miles away- the one we want is 3.4 miles in the opposite direction, which of course means that we have an issue with transport.

So, they've sent an 'amended' statement, naming the school we requested, but saying that we 'have agreed to meet any transport costs'. We agreed to pay for a bus pass, but a few weeks ago, they asked us to sign a form saying we will meet transport costs, and we queried what they meant.
Our letters and emails were all about what would happen if he needed an escort on the bus. They said they expected Independent Travel support to continue...and the Independent Travel lady said she could provide an escort if he needs one, but will we be expected to pay for the escort's wages? No-one will say. The most the statementing officer would say is that he would 'look into it'.
I rang the bus company who said that if I put in my request when the forms go online in May, and I put in a covering letter to say he has SEN, they'll make sure he has his own seat (which they do on these buses, apparently), and if the LA say he needs it, they can put extra staff on. They seemed to think it was all very easy.
If anyone has any experience of what happens in practice, that would be great. At the moment, I'm thinking so long as he gets to that school, we can argue the toss later if necessary, rather than have the LA name the nearer school, as they were threatening to do if we didn't sign their form.

The main problem now is, the new statement seems to have been written about a different child! When he got his first statement, about 5 years ago, it was a generic 'this kid has ASD' one, and I went in and talked it through with the officer and got it changed. Since then, the HT's annual report has been a pretty accurate description of him and his needs, apart from when they got a new SENCO, who knew nothing about him, so I went in and wrote it with her.

This year, however, we got a well-written HT's report, which described him well, and which we discussed at hid annual review meeting in December. We have just today received an amended Statement of SEN, written by the statementing officer, and neither part two nor part three sound like DS at all. He's made him sound much less able than he really is, given him huge difficulties in understanding language (he loves conversing with adults and regularly achieves a reading comprehension level of 5b or 5a in tests), and said nothing about the dysgraphia which we spent most of the meeting discussing and which is his most pressing need. Part three suggests, amongst other things, 'A broad and balanced curriculum which promotes early learning skills'. He operates at a level 5 in maths, a level 5 in reading, and a level 3/4 in writing (always higher if he uses a word processing tool which means he doesn't have to handwrite). I'm not sure which 'early learning skills' he's lacking!

I just don't know where this man's got all this from! It's nothing like DS, and paints a picture of a child with very different needs to his. The only saving grace is that it names the school I asked for (where the SENCO seems great), albeit with the caveat that we have to pay for travel.

I'm in two minds- the officer who wrote this is not a man I get on with, and unfortunately, I am also involved with him in a 'delicate' situation at work (I work with children with SEN), where we have disagreed with a decision he has made about one of our students. I really don't want to have more dealings with him than is necessary. I am confident that the new SENCO will make her own assessments anyway, and will 'get it right' for DS, so in a way, the Statement is just a means to an end. Should I battle on and get it changed now, or let it go and then get it re-written to suit him better next year, when the LA won't be in the AR meeting, and will simply type out what the school give them?

Sorry this has been so long. I really appreciate any advice anyone has to give.

Ineedmorepatience Mon 09-Feb-15 18:27:04

I wouldnt leave it if I were you! I would want that statement as tight as possible before your Ds moves to secondary!! It is not as simple as a new senco getting it right, there will be loads of kids with SEN and budgets are being squeezed all the time!!

I know what its like being involved through work and personally though, it is very hard sad

amistillsexy Mon 09-Feb-15 20:22:57

Thanks, Ineed. The strange thing is, he's got 32.5 hours' worth of support. He's had that since Yr2 when he first got his statement.

The irony is that he doesn't need any support at all when things are going well, and the work is presented in the right way for him. If the support is good, he doesn't need it, but if it's not good, or if the work is presented in the 'wrong' way, then it won't matter what you do, he won't engage, and he'll try to control the situation in his own way.

So, in a way, it makes no difference what they write on the statement, since it's the situation he is in, and the way the adults are able to manage it, and the way they speak to him, that will determine how well he does.

The chances of this going right with 10 different teachers and multiple support assistants are negligible anyway....sad,

I just don't know how to get the Statement tighter since he presents in different ways with different people on different days. The personalities he is surrounded by are crucial, but there's no way of knowing how he will respond to anyone until they are working with him.

The covering letter says if I disagree with the statement, I need to take it to tribunal, but must go to mediation first. I knew this was coming in, but I'm shocked that it's given as the first step. What happened to 'give me a ring and we can have a meeting to resolve it'? angry

senvet Mon 09-Feb-15 21:04:17

I agree - get the statement as tight as you can, with the full range of her different responses if possible.

Getting SEN right in secondary with cover staff and sometime two teachers per subject - not at all easy in my experience.

We have a willing SENCo but not all the staff listen or if they do, not all understand what they are being told.
Good Luck

Ineedmorepatience Mon 09-Feb-15 21:18:19

I understand, we have been to tribunal to try to get Dd3 a statement and people have asked me what a statement for her would look like!!

Its very hard to answer that because as you say the outcome of their day is only based on the knowledge, attitude and understanding of the 30 or so staff that she is in regular contact with, not to mention the supply staff and any others she meets in corridors etc!!

For us it isnt working without a statement, I would go with your 32 hrs initially and you can always get them to back off when you know how it is going to be!

Dont rely on the school SEN team to get it right, they promised us the moon on a stick but have delivered very little!!

AgnesDiPesto Mon 09-Feb-15 21:59:55

You need to challenge the transport and I would say having proper NC levels is crucial for a teacher to understand the needs of the child! It sounds a bad cut and paste job - maybe it is genuinely the wrong version!

Look at this and this on transport. If the cost difference of two schools is minimal you should get your choice and transport paid. Don't accept paying for transport until have given you costs of both placements including transport.

MeirAyaAlibi Tue 10-Feb-15 12:23:08

Get your dh, or DS gran or someone else to email 'on your behalf' regarding the 'admin error' that has meant your son has somehow 'been sent out the wrong statement' and roll the transport thing into that.

If 'learning to travel independently' is an educational objective, it can go in part 2 & part 3 and you bypass the whole distance nonsense. Also nicely bypasses it if NearSchool is unsuitable, or declines him.

am wondering if they've got unbelievably confused- does this statement by any chance actually fit your 'work' dc- has he got your ds's?

amistillsexy Tue 10-Feb-15 21:03:12

grin meir that is a very good thought, and I wouldn't put it past them! But no, funnily enough, my 'work' DC's annual review is, co-incidentally, this week, and since I wrote the report for that myself, it's utterly accurate and full of detail.

The one I've got for DS is utterly negative. It focusses on behaviours that haven't been seen for 3 years, since the support began to really work, and ignores the great behaviour that has replaced them. It is pretty generic, and has phrases in it that I crossed off his first ever statement, which are obviously put into any statement for any kid with ASD, but which aren't in any way suitable for DS (who is very 'untypical', if such a thing is possible!).
It really does look like a very bad cut n paste, but what I don't understand is why? When there was a perfectly workable document that everyone agreed accurately reflected DS, why would an overworked and stressed LA officer add to his workload by rewriting the document?

I think my first port of call needs to be his current school-I need to talk to his teacher and see if she thinks any of it accurately portrays him. I suppose it is just possible that he is behaving in a completely different way at school to how he is at home, and for some reason they've decided to play it down whenever we've had a meeting with them!

Unfortunately, the paying for transport thing is not negotiable. We've looked all through their policies, and because the nearer school is 'suitable', they won't budge. We'd have to pay for a bus pass in either case, due to distances, anyway. And, to be honest, I'm 98% sure he'll be fine on the bus he'll travel on. I see the kids getting off it every day, and they always seem very calm, and polite/sensible...as opposed to the kids getting off the bus from NearSchool- practically rioting and pushing, shoving, swearing, kicking each other and leaping in front of traffic. A total contrast.
It's a good idea for it to be put into his Statement that he needs to continue with Independent travel training, though, and if that's in, the cost of the training can't be passed onto us.

I'm off to look at your links, Agnes. Thanks to all for your replies. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond flowers

amistillsexy Tue 10-Feb-15 21:17:29

Oh my goodness, Agnes- I wish I'd found those links earlier! The argument about transport is such A pain. The Dudley case fits ours very well.
The argument we've had with them is around what constitutes 'costs'. We have asked them to clarify what we are agreeing to, but we have not had clarity. In the end, we didn't sign the form, we sent it back with a hand-written caveat stating that we would buy a bus pass, but would also expect the LA to provide the additional support he needs, for as long as necessary. This has been ignored in the latest documentation, and we have gone back to the phrase 'parents will pay the cost of transport'. We still have no idea what those costs are likely to be.

I think I might also need to get IPSEA on the case. Is that necessary, do people think?

wasuup2014 Tue 10-Feb-15 23:31:11

You have been given great advice already - the only other thing I can think of is there any case law in regard to stress free transport? I think there was/is.

amistillsexy Wed 11-Feb-15 09:24:20

Yes, wasuup, one of agnes' links gives that case law. Trouble is, I don't know how ds will respond to any transport arrangements until he tries it, and I can't travel the buses myself, so I can only judge on what I've seen, which is bound to come across as subjective, at best!
My main issue is with the total change in what is written in part 2 of the statement. It's nothing like the head teachers report that we were sent out for his annual review, and which we all discussed at the AR meeting. Why would he change things so radically?

senvet Wed 11-Feb-15 10:01:57

ami it is the question we all so often find ourselves asking: "cock-up or conspiracy?"
Either way, just correct it and politely point our that something has gone wrong and you, being the kind person you are, have sorted it for them.

Make sure you track where you have lifted the paragraphs from eg 'EP para 23' so they can see that it is based on expert reports not just plucked from the air.

Good Luck

amistillsexy Wed 11-Feb-15 23:16:20

Thanks senvet. I'm onto it now. Because we don't have anything else to do, do we? [sigh]

I remember a friend of mine telling me she dedicated a full day a week just to sorting out 'stuff' about her disabled son (he's older than mine-this was when we were just starting out on this 'journey'). I thought she was exaggerating....sad

senvet Thu 12-Feb-15 00:57:19

I wonder if more austerity will lead to more parents being able to write themselves decent statements and plans? There has to be a silver lining somewhere...

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