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Saw a note about DS that I was not meant to see - long, sorry

(25 Posts)
confusedofengland Fri 04-Dec-15 17:24:48

DS2 is 4.7 & in Reception class at the village infant school. He has speech & language delay/disorder, is hypermobile & has social communication difficulties. It has not actually been said but I feel he is being monitored for autism. He is not violent at all & does not have meltdowns, stims or aversion to change in routine. He is instead rather passive, although if he doesn't want to do something, nothing at all can make him do it & he does have favourite things that he always wants to do. He has a 1-1 TA for the whole time he as at school (full-time), funded by the LEA.

He has a brother in Year 2 at the school who does very well in everything he tries & is a general favourite with pupils, teachers & office staff. He also has a little brother (21 months) who is at home with me full-time & who appears to be NT (so far).

DS only has his funded hours until the end of next term, so the school is doing an EHCP & applying to keep these hours permanently, otherwise they will drop to about 9 hours per week, funded by the school. So there are lots of assessments & meetings going on & a negative spin is put on everything as if he is seen to be doing well, his hours will be reduced (or so it was explained to me). An educational psychologist is coming in on Tuesday to observe him & we are having a meeting about it afterwards.

We have a home-school book for him, which the school were supposed to write about his day in & I am to write any information such as didn't sleep well etc, as he doesn't always tell me things when he gets home. This has not happened - it's only been written in about 4 times this term & when I wrote the results of a recent hearing test in there, it clearly was not read as a couple of days later I had a phone call from the SENCO asking me if he'd had a hearing test recently (history of glue ear) hmm I had a meeting with his class teacher this morning to request that his home-school book be used daily, among other things.

Academically, he seems to be doing fairly well - he is able to write his name over somebody else's writing, iyswim, & can now draw a person with facial features, arms & legs. We went to the OT/physio this morning & she said that he'd made more progress than they expected him to since they saw him in August. He is also coming along nicely in letter recognition & counting. He is at the lower end of the class & probably always will be, but at least he seems to be making progress smile

Anyway, today, when I was in his classroom after an event to fetch his things, I spotted his home-school book on the teacher's desk, so I went to pick it up. Underneath it was a long (2/3 of an A4 page) about him from his TA, so I read it blush. I realise this was morally wrong, but I couldn't help myself blush. Anyway, the note was saying that DS absolutely refused to participate in his individual activity this morning & would not do anything asked of him. It stated that he had failed to complete an individual activity at all this week. The whole tone focussed very much on refusal & failure sad, which was very upsetting to read. It also begs the question of what they are experiencing with DS & writing about him that they are not telling us. This kind of thing was not mentioned at all when I saw the class teacher this morning & never has been. Until today, we have gone for nearly a fortnight with no communication whatsoever from the school (apart from the SENCO ringing me to ask about his hearing test & tell me he had wax in his ears hmm).

The thing is, what do I do from here? DH is adamant that I should go to the headteacher on Monday morning, tell her what I saw & say that we want copies of everything written about him. I say we should wait until our meeting on Tuesday & I also feel ashamed that I read something not intended for me to read.

This whole SEN thing is so tricky, the tone of that note upset me hugely & made me feel like they don't want him there, although they always seem lovely to him & to me as well confused sad

Well done if you've read all this, I feel totally lost & gutted!

Flanks Fri 04-Dec-15 17:38:53

Nothing morally wrong with you seeing the note, do not worry about that. It pertains to your child. You are entitled to see any and all documentation, informal or otherwise, written by a professional about your child.

It is worth you contacting the school to say that you saw the note when collecting your child's book and it concerns you. Can they see you after school / at start of the day, to talk about it because it has made you feel uncomfortable and that you feel they are not being completely honest with you about their concerns.

It isn't uncommon of course for a school to hold fire. If a school blabbed every concern to a parent the moment it appeared then every parent would be insanely distressed and the school would be increasing problems instead of supporting.

In this case it is perhaps unfortunate and clearly unintended that it happened this way, for all we know they may have been planning to contact you with an update very soon and these notes are being collected so that they have a fuller picture of the situation. Considering they seem to have been talking to you honestly about trying to support his needs I would say this is fairly likely, and so purely for your own worry levels it is worth letting them know you saw the note so that you can relax again!

EatSleepTeachRepeat Fri 04-Dec-15 17:57:51

It is so difficult when trying for an assessment for funding - as a teacher I dread it, because the best thing you can do for a child is describe their worst qualities.

We have to keep a record of any and all negative behaviour because it all "helps" to get the correct funding and support.

Its a necessary evil!

I do agree though that they should be communicating a lot more with you - they certainly shouldn't be surprising you with this sort of information and they definitely shouldn't be keeping it from you. I'd arrange to meet Monday to discuss the note - but be prepared to read/hear much worse about him because of the assessment.

zzzzz Fri 04-Dec-15 19:18:52

My child's disability is not his "worst quality"confused. I think this is a HUGE part of the problem.
There is no shame in the fact he could not engage with an individual activity (well not for HIM anyway). What observations had they made to inform support with the task? What plan had they put in place?
How was that going?

1:1 is not babysitting, the teacher should be using her TA to overcome this. To be frank THAT is the argument for having that support.

School can fund 15 hours within their budget and can apply for more if they can demonstrate need.

Funding is NOT the parents problem. Education IS.

Does he have an iep?
Are the targets SMART (acronym)?

zzzzz Fri 04-Dec-15 19:20:56

It is FAR more difficult for a parent to watch their child failed at school than applying for funding AND it is your teachers job to do so.

IonaNE Fri 04-Dec-15 20:42:09

OP, put in a subject access request to the school or the LA for all documentation about your son. You have a right to see everything that has been written about him.

Everydayaschoolday Sat 05-Dec-15 01:51:47

I agree with EatTeachSleepRepeat. I'm a parent (not a teacher) of a child who has CP (Statemented in mainstream primary school with a 1:1 full time TA). Our HCP's (Paed, physio, OT, SaLT) all explained that the reports they would be writing for the LEA would sound quite negative - they would have to highlight and explain all the areas of difficulty DD2 experienced. It wouldn't be lies, but it would be all the difficulties that she has. The school did this as well. It was upsetting to read them because they were blunt, because we knew it was true and because we're usually very positive about DD2's ability (we tend to focus on the positive rather than negative). We have a lovely school and DD2 is fully integrated into school life. Those (seemingly) harsh reports helped us get to where we are today, as she probably would have to be in a Special School if she didn't have her full time 1:1. I'd ask for a meeting with your SENCO and just be honest that you saw the report, so they know where your concerns stem from, and ask for a discussion on what's happening. Hope it works out for you OP.

EatSleepTeachRepeat Sat 05-Dec-15 07:06:17

Exactly Everyday - trust me, I hate writing them because to me my pupils make fantastic progress and have 99% good qualities so having to nit pick and record all negative behaviour seems alien - usually we focus on positive behaviour!

You cannot "demonstrate a need" for additional support by saying "Little Johnny is a superstar and tries really hard" you have to say "Little Johnny struggles in an environment where he has no support and here are X amount of examples when this has happened, Little Johnny exhibits behaviours x, y and z and here are examples of the times he has done so and Little Johnny's behaviour/access to education is improved by having X, Y and Z in place"

It isn't nice but as I said, its a necessary evil which in the long run will, hopefully, provide your child with the support they need.

But you definitely need to confront about the note - the school need to be honest with you about how your own child is behaving in school otherwise these reports will come as even more of a shock. Personally I'd go straight to the head and tell them that you want an honest picture of your child: If you feel you're being fobbed off then chase the access request.

zzzzz Sat 05-Dec-15 07:41:55

Some very old attitudes and ways of thinking.
Those (seemingly) harsh reports helped us get to where we are today, as she probably would have to be in a Special School if she didn't have her full time 1:1.
Special school is not some dark and horrible place to be avoided at all costs. Special school provides support and focused teaching to those children who can't manage in a slightly modified ms environment.
having to nit pick and record all negative behaviour
put simply the behaviour that is negatively impacting the child's education should already be known and being addressed. It isn't negative to say a child with for example autism "loses control in noisy environments and needs constant support not to hurt himself or others at PE" and more than it is negative to say a child that is blind "loses independence in noisy open spaces and need constant support not to hurt himself or others at PE".

What would be weird and seems to be happening in this case is to say "no he's fine his blindness doesn't impact his PE at all" and then later find out that is because he hides in the toilets.

Parents are more than aware of what their child's disability involves, and have filled out versions of the forms you are filling out many many times. It's only going to come as a surprise if you have been misrepresenting what is doing on at school.

zzzzz Sat 05-Dec-15 07:44:57

It's this idea that actually stings
to me my pupils make fantastic progress and have 99% good qualities
because it implies the areas where they fail to progress because of their disability are disappointing and that the disabled related qualities are "bad"

Everydayaschoolday Sat 05-Dec-15 08:50:31

zzzzz you are right in that Special School is not some dark and horrible place. But I never said it was. I go once a month to join a local support group there, and the school is an absolute joy to be in, they are so friendly and the atmosphere is so welcoming and inclusive.

However, it would not best meet the educational needs of my DD2 for a number of reasons, as agreed with the school, Ed Psy, SENCO and OT. Just because it's not best for DD2, does not mean its not best for everyone, and does not mean that they do not provide a fantastic educational environment for lots of kids.

I am sorry if my comment hurt your feelings, that was not the intention. I can understand how that sentence could be misinterpreted, and I apologise for that. I cannot speak for others' circumstances, which is why I always refer to my DD and our circumstances. I'm disappointed you find my views old fashioned; I think I'm quite positive, pragmatic, co-operative and forward looking. But I'd bore you to tears if I spent my post writing why I think so. I do recognise that I think you disagree with me, and that's OK - we probably are tackling different issues (ours is a neurological & physical disability) and we have probably had different experiences of support and engagement. Your opinion is as valid as mine, and I'm sure you have your opinion for a reason as I do, and I'm not dismissing it at all. EatSleepTeachRepeat's comments just resonated with our circumstances, which is why I commented.

zzzzz Sat 05-Dec-15 09:33:13

You didn't hurt my feelings everyday confused of course we are all talking from our own experience. Please don't apologies it is unnecessary. brew I have two children with disabilities and others without but I'm not sure if that does impact my view, perhaps.

My opinion is that it is always hard to see the hurdles your child has to overcome listed in black and white. It is MUCH harder though, to see them unrecognised and unsupported. Further to that it shouldn't be any more or less difficult to see behavioural difficulties listed than physical and yet the attitude does remain and is pervasive that there is some shame to be attached to those difficulties. They are, in short, perceived as "negative" comments about the child.

So for example (I won't use Little Johny because it has overtones)

BOB does not engage with literacy, refuses to sit and read and has ripped three books this week and bitten his TA.

is no more an indictment of BOB than

BOB can't get to the library, and can't reach the books if we do lift his chair up the stairs, has dropped and damaged numerous books this week and rolled his chair over a TAs foot.

Everydayaschoolday Sat 05-Dec-15 09:46:45

OK, I understand. But if it wasn't documented that my BOB couldn't sit on a stool or bench as they provided insufficient support, then we would never have gotten an adapted SN chair to support her needs in the canteen and IT suite.

But I think you're saying that the fact that my BOB can't sit on those seats that all the other kids can sit on, is not in itself a negative comment about our child. And you're right, it's not a negative comment about our child, but it was an area of difficulty that had to be addressed. To get it addressed, it had to be written down in a report and you are absolutely correct: that was very hard to see. I don't really think we're disagreeing here.

There is absolutely no shame in any of our children's disabilities, whether they are behavioural or physical.

zzzzz Sat 05-Dec-15 09:54:39

Yes you've understood my post.
smile

zzzzz Sat 05-Dec-15 09:55:43

That reads slightly weirdly, what I meant was "yes that's what I meant".

Ineedmorepatience Sat 05-Dec-15 10:04:30

I am coming to this late but to me it is showing how the system is set up so that children have to shown to be failing before proper support is put into place!

I have been in the system for a long time and that has not changed or improved. If anything it has got worse as money has got tighter and LA's are leaning harder on schools!

One of the many reasons we have stepped away from a system that wants my child to fail and reach rock bottom before it helps her!

Good luck OP I hope that your LA continue to fund your Ds via an EHCP and if they try to wriggle out if it please appeal!

Dipankrispaneven Sat 05-Dec-15 16:16:50

I wouldn't go and see the head and demand copies of documents. Instead, if it's a maintained mainstream school, you should simply write making a formal request for copies of all your child's education records under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005. This entitles you to copy records within 15 school days, and is therefore better than making a subject access request as suggested upthread, as that allows 40 days.

However, if the school is an academy, free school or independent school you can only get the records by making a request under the Data Protection Act, i.e. a subject access request.

Don't feel ashamed that you saw the TA's report, you were and are absolutely entitled to see it. The school should never be writing secret reports about your child that you aren't allowed to see.

vjg13 Sat 05-Dec-15 21:16:13

My daughter is 17 and at a special school. The first school (ofsted outstanding, very high achieving mainstream) she attended had a home school diary which we wrote in as did the class teacher, they also had a diary which they kept at school. I was devastated when they sent the 'wrong' diary home as it differed so widely from the other.

I hope you are able to have a full and frank discussion at your meeting with the school on Tuesday and see if they see your son staying there and making progress.

confusedofengland Sat 05-Dec-15 22:36:31

Lots of replies & lots to think about, thank you. I will see if I can talk to somebody on Monday, although I am very nervous about admitting I saw the note!

In terms of how he is doing at school, I know he finds it tough to join in in the classroom, I have seen this on the few times I've been in. However, we can see that he is making great progress - academically, he is actually writing (tracing), which the physio didn't think he'd be able to do until towards the end of the year, he can read 8 words plus most of the alphabet & his numbers are also improving. Socially, he is always talking about other DC & they about him & when we hang around the playground after school he tries to join in. His communication is better - he can now tell me what he got stickers for & what he had for lunch! He is also so eager to learn - he comes home asking to do words & sounds & writing & reading & he sits for half an hour or more doing it. So it appears to me that he is making progress & I am happy with that side of things, for now. I will be curious to see what the educational psychologist says - kind of dreading that because I know they'll have to emphasise the negative again.

I totally see what people are saying about needing to emphasise his weak points to keep funding. I just find it so hard to hear/read. He is so loveable & he tries so hard, I just want other people to love him as much as I do, because I know that everything will always be a struggle for him sad I will admit to being a worrier by nature, too blush

confusedofengland Tue 08-Dec-15 17:59:21

Well, we had a meeting today with teacher, ta, senco & educational psychologist. It was ok, but overall the senco seemed to be very defensive & not open to listening to our suggestions or how we see DS.

So, for example, due to the incident in my OP, DH said that we didn't feel we were getting enough communication from school. The senco just kept waving a sheet with some guidelines around & saying to me 'Did you get this?' Which I replied that we did, but that's not what we meant. We were talking more about going nearly 2 weeks without any kind of communication from the school about what DS has been doing, how we can help him etc.

Also, when I said that DS finds it difficult to write on a whiteboard because the pen slips about, so could they try other things, they didn't listen. They just kept saying it was good practice.

They were also incredibly reluctant to admit any progress had been made at all. I'd said how great it was that he can write his name over somebody else's writing (& there are numerous examples in his book bag) & the senco just said he shouldn't be doing that yet - but he is & he wants to, so what's the harm in saying yes that's great?!

They had also set some targets for him last time & spent about half the meeting going on about how he hadn't made much progress on the social one, but were going to finish the meeting without even discussing the others, which he'd made considerable progress in. I actually had to ask senco to talk about that. The ed psych did say DS had made progress.

At one point senco was also saying that she 'doesn't think he's ready for learning' & that he's at the level of a 16-month old (this was before I asked her to explain what progress he'd made towards his goals'). It honestly felt like they don't want him there sad Can they refuse to keep him if they don't think he's making progress?

DH is going to write a letter later stating that we very much need a lot more communication from the school, so hopefully that will help.

I knew this meeting was going to be tough, but I wasn't prepared to feel like they are so against him & us. I don't know what to do or how to feel. sad

vjg13 Tue 08-Dec-15 18:26:20

To be honest it does very much sound as if the school are unwilling/unable to meet his needs. How far through the process is his EHC plan? Make sure you get a copy of the EP's report from today.

vjg13 Tue 08-Dec-15 18:28:43

They won't 'refuse to keep him' but could at some point suggest to you that his needs may be better met elsewhere.

confusedofengland Tue 08-Dec-15 19:23:24

The educational psychologist is not doing a report today, just a letter to the LEA to say that he feels that DS needs a lot of support.

Dipankrispaneven Sun 13-Dec-15 14:35:01

This does still read to me as if they are doing their best to get your ds more support in school, rather than that they don't want him. They will be perfectly well aware that, at primary level, children have to have severe difficulties for the LA to accept that a mainstream school can't meet his needs. I suspect if they were defensive they may have been worrying that you would talk your child out of getting any extra support.

GnomePhone Sun 13-Dec-15 14:51:03

Yes, I think if a school is 'admitting' that no progress is being made, that could indicate that they are working towards getting extra help / funds, which may be a positive thing, (although it seems very negative).

It would be more worrying if they were denying any problems, as that would probably mean that they weren't intending to do very much about them.

Having said that it doesn't rule out the theory that they might feel that your DS would be better off at another school, but it could just be that they are having to present a negative picture in order to get him support where he is.

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