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Does DS's statement need to be reviewed as he is on a reduced timetable?

(8 Posts)
pannetone Thu 19-Nov-15 18:07:25

because my LA are saying it does... DS has only had a statement since April - at which point he had just returned to school having been out of school with anxiety (he has HFA) for over a year. From April to July he did mornings only and the idea was to build up to full days in Sep this year when he started Y9. But after a tricky first month back with rather sporadic attendance - and needing to leave at lunchtime some days when he became overwhelmed- we talked to his doctor at CAMHS and the school. It was agreed he would do 2 full days and the other 3 til lunch - and work at home those afternoons. This is working well - he is now making it in each day although he finds the full days a challenge.

Now the LA are saying DS is not 'officially' on a reduced hours timetable. This matters because they are using it as a reason not to provide transport home for him on the days he leaves at lunchtime. (He goes in a cab with another boy in the mormings and after school on his 2 full days.) This is causing a problem because currently my (elderly) in laws have to collect him for 3 lunchtimes and this impacts on their day. I can't collect because an extra hour round trip is too much when I am already driving DD to and from her special school - which takes nearly 2 hours out of my day.

Do I get the statement reviewed? Will the LA kick up a huge fuss that DS is not in school full-time? I am pretty fed up - ideally I'd want DS to be doing full days, but he can't manage it and regular but reduced hours with him going in each day are better than us pushing him to go full time and then lurch from crisis to crisis, with him saying he can't manage school at all.

GruntledOne Thu 19-Nov-15 19:54:14

What you need is an EHC Plan that officially recognises the reduced hours and also provides for him to have tuition at home when he isn't in school. The LA can't in law countenance part time education unless there is medical backing for it, because you have a duty to ensure he receives full time education and they have to enforce that.

Incidentally, why are you transporting DD? Isn't she entitled to school transport?

Nigel1 Thu 19-Nov-15 20:03:13

Looking at the account above he is in effect been signed off school by a CAMHS consultant. Is the local authority suggesting that the CAMHS consultant is signing off simply to your bidding? Unlikely.

Clearly he is on an official reduced hours timetable as he's been signed off by the CAMHS consultant. There is no evidence to the contrary that that is not necessary or appropriate. Because of that they should accept that the number of hours that the child can attend school has been reduced on medical grounds.

I suspect that the real argument in this instance is the cost of the additional taxi fares to get him home. do not accept any answer other than they are responsible for getting him home in a prompt manner.

If your school day ends at the times stated then it is the responsibility of the authority to transport him back home. If the authority were able to extend the school day to later so he could journey home with the other child that would clearly be a considerable saving to them. Of course it wouldn't do his mental health much good.

I would suggest saying to the LA, you can conduct an interim annual review if you wish but since the expectation is that he will get better and be able to attend school full-time at some time in the foreseeable future you're not clear what benefit this interim annual review will have. However if you are to have an interim annual review then we would want to look at the transport issues which are clearly a bone of contention.

If you get as far as that please come back to me and I will give you the relevant legal references.

I hope that is helpful.

pannetone Fri 20-Nov-15 13:06:36

Thanks Gruntled and Nigel for your advice once again.

I spoke to DS's caseworker at the LA this morning - communication before has been with the tranport section. The caseworker said that even if there was a review and reduced hours were agreed DS would still not be entitled to transport because it could only be provided at the 'published' start and end times of school. I said that was incorrect as LA had to provide transport to 'facilitate' DS's attendance, albeit on a reduced timetable.

My query now is that the caseworker expects the school to call the review and get evidence from CAMHs and then the caseworker will take the reduced hours scenario to be considered by panel - is this right? Only then can it go back to transport for them to consider if it is 'exceptional circumstances'. Can the transport issues be part of the review?

The caseworker also says the school should also be getting on with transferring DS's statement to an EHCP but I thought this had to be initiated by the LA. I'm already aware my LA aren't following the 'rules' on the transfer from statements to EHCPs - we are in the process of DD's changeover and all existing reports have been used rather than any re-assessment - not that I consented to it. And the LA has just done a 'cut and paste' job on the wording which we are trying to get amended.

blaeberry Fri 20-Nov-15 16:01:04

I would say your ds needs to have his statement reviewed/transitioned to EHCP not because he isn't on an official part time timetable but because the school is not meeting his needs to enable him to attend school full time. What is it about school that make it difficult to attend at the moment? Does he need more support? A quiet space he can go to? It sounds like he could do with having his needs reassessed.

pannetone Fri 20-Nov-15 18:20:36

blaeberry I am happy about the support the school is giving DS - he has regular mentoring sessions, he can go to the learning support room or SENCO's office between or during lessons if he needs - he has a time out card. There is a weekly group for those on the spectrum which he goes to. He has lunch away from the school canteen. He is in small classes of 12-15. He is academically able so doesn't need learning support in lessons and wouldn't want a support assistant with him anyway.

However, he still finds being in school challenging on a social and sensory basis. He often has high levels of anxiety because of this. He has been under CAMHS for about 5 years, has had 2 'courses' of CBT which he was said to be too anxious to engage with, and has been on medication for anxiety for about 18 months, with the medication regularly reviewed. So we seem to have gone as far as we can with psychological and medical support.

To me it seems that a reduced hours timetable for him is realistic and reasonable. He is studying all the academic subjects, apart from a MFL. (He doesn't do Art, Drama and PE). This time last year DS was doing internet school which was only 2 hours tuition a day. Although DS finds school challenging he is benefits from having actual (rather than online) classmates and teachers, and now has a wider curriculum - including practical activities such as science experiments.

Am I going to be fighting a battle with the LA because this school - and probably any school - can't meet his needs to enable him to attend full time?

And Gruntled I am transporting DD (Y6) to her special school because she would not agree to go in a taxi - she has HFA, anxiety and selective mutism. The LA do pay me mileage. Even then I am saving the LA a considerable sum because it is 50 miles overall each day and they would need to provide a cab plus escort.

blaeberry Fri 20-Nov-15 19:19:56

If a school that could enable him to attend full time was an independent residential special school further away then I am sure the LA would suddenly be delighted in supporting your ds having a part time time table instead! Sorry, I didn't mean to criticise your decision that part time was best but just wanted to check he wasn't having to attend part time because he wasn't receiving the support he should be. It sounds like a lovely school. Part time would seem a reasonable adjustment for you ds and as such I would consider he should be entitled to transport but I'm afraid I don't know a legal basis for this.

pannetone Fri 20-Nov-15 23:00:22

Maybe I should find a specialist residential school to suggest to the LA blaeberry! In reality I'm confident that DS's school is the best 'fit' we're going to get. And one of its great advantages is they have been very flexible regarding DS's timetable and hours once it became apparent that despite their support DS can't manage full time.

The 'full time' education thing is a bit of a sore point because when DS was off school as medically unfit because of anxiety, it took the LA 6 months to put in place home tuition.They insisted (against statutory guidance) that DS had to be signed off by a consultant - and it took months to get a CAMHS appointment. Then DS got 3 hours tuition a week. Even though it was one-to-one tuition it was hardly full time!

Thank you for the 'reasonable adjustment' argument. I have experience of arguing for this! (older DS2, won disability discrimination case against his school because of lack of RAs). I may put it to the LA that they are discriminating against DS because his need to do reduced hours relates to his disability.

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