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Help sought re procedure/tactics changing from mainstream to Special School(24 Posts)
Hi, I would be most grateful for any advice/experiences. DS is 9 with ASD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, visual processing disorder. He is at a mainstream school with a statement but making no progress academically and with behavioural problems (I don't find him too bad at home). Finally his paperwork is with a free school for autistic children (via local authority referral). The trouble is I don't want him to go there. I have chosen 2 other schools I would be happy with (needless to say they are non-maintained and independent). So should I jump up and down now and say I don't want that school? Or is it best to let them decide whether to assess and offer a place because presumably that will trigger the 20 week period and so at least I can get the tribunal ball rolling if it must come to that?
If they just want to offer a different school, they don't necessarily have to go back to the beginning of the assessment process. I think all they have to do is produce a draft amended EHCP and consult you on it, before finalising in 8 weeks. If they do decide to reassess, the period for doing that and amending the EHCP would deb 14 weeks.
But I guess if you want your child moved quickly and are sure they won't agree to your school, then you might be better off pushing them to make some sort of amendment to trigger a right of appeal. However, be aware that once they finalise the amended EHCP it takes immediate effect, so you will either have to send your child to the school named in the EHCP, pay for the school you prefer, or, possibly, home educate till the tribunal can decide.
Thanks very much for that info. So if I'm understanding that correctly best to let them assess/offer if they're going to and then consult because trying to force things along might have the effect of finding ourselves without a school whilst I argue with the LA which one it should be? It also seems a real catch-22 that how are you supposed to argue your child must go to a particular school if the LA won't allow that school to assess so you have to proceed on the basis that they would offer a place if they were allowed to assess (which surely is risky).
I fear that letting them go along at their own pace doesn't necessarily prevent you from being in that position. At some point they are going to finalise the plan and if it names the school you don't want you'll still have that limbo period while you wait for the tribunal to decide.
LAs don't have the right to say that independent schools mustn't assess a child. A few schools say they will only take referrals via the LA, but that's their choice, it's not the law.
I would start by asking the two independent schools you prefer to assess him. As mega says, there's nothing to stop them doing this. Until you know that they can meet needs and would offer a place they are not really options.
Then you can start to build your case with the LA why your choice of school X or Y is able to meet his needs while their choice of school Z can't.
It sounds like they agree he needs a specialist provision, but you would have to prove the school they have chosen can't meet his needs, I think, not just that you would prefer a different school.
Ugh, why does it have to be so hard. I have told the LA which schools I want and they would only 'note them on record'. I've asked the 2 schools to assess but they won't without an LA referral so I'm kind of stuck really. I don't feel the school [presumably up for grabs] will meet his needs because in reality most of the children there are integrated into the neighbouring mainstream secondary; DS is really struggling and half perhaps most of the time not managing to either go in or stay in the classroom at his current mainstream so I really want small classes of ASD kids with no mainstream element. The up for grabs school also says its pupils are ASD/ADHD but that they do not deal with any learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and visual processing disorder (so presumably unable to help DS with his learning difficulties). Perhaps best for me to go back to the LA and again try and persuade them to approach my 2 chosen schools (who have looked at DS's papers and said they can meet needs but I know from sorry experience that doesn't necessarily mean they will actually want him when they see him). Sorry, long post!
LA MUST at least consult with your preferred school
I assume current school is saying they cannot meet needs?
You could write formally
Dear Sir or Madam,
Request for a change of the school named on Statement.
I am writing as the parent of the above child, who has a Statement of Special Educational Needs and attends x school
I am writing to request a change of the school named on my child’s Statement. At present his Statement names x School. I would like this changed to X school.
I believe that x School is no longer able to meet his needs because
I believe X school (your preference) is able to meet his needs because
I am also attaching.......any evidence that backs up your request such as reports or info from school etc
My preference would be X school to be named on Ds's statement as a matter of urgency and I would ask that the LA work with me and support this decision.
Also most SS offer 'taster days', some free of charge. School assess and either make an offer of placement or not, how they will meet needs and how much it will cost.
Thanks that is really helpful. I will do that. Is there a piece of legislation that I can wave under their noses which is the authority for saying that they must consult with my preferred schools?
Current school would say he is green with purple polka dots if it would help them get rid of him.
It sounds like the free school may say they can't meet his needs if they don't support the LDs that your DS has.
Your best port of call might be request emergency review of statement, then ask for amendments, then you have right to appeal.
This might be helpful
Thanks for all that - I need to digest it all. If we had an emergency review of the statement in October can I call another one or should I concentrate on getting the LA to finalise that one?! (Main thrust of emergency review was he is now officially diagnosed as autistic and both school and I want him to leave).
Did you ask for amendments to statement after emergency review? Did they write and refuse to make them? If they refuse you can appeal.
In the Annual Review paperwork which the Senco sent off after the meeting under 10. Statement Changes Part 4 – changes to my school is
'Mum feels that a Specialist Placement (not a Unit attached to a mainstream school) would be appropriate for Robert; preferably an all through Primary to Secondary setting, so that he would not have to change school again.
School also feels that a Specialist placement would be appropriate '
No official reply from LA beyond a letter saying they accept he needs specialist provision and they're working on it.
I'm guessing it was horribly naïve of me to leave it so wishy washy in the statement changes but at that stage I hadn't seen all the schools I wanted to.
Hopefully writing to them as you suggest above will formalise the change of school request?
Hmm it's a tricky one, as they haven't refused amendments, they have sent his papers to a special school that you don't want. But still haven't actually amended his statement.
I'm trying to think of quickest route. If they amend and you don't agree with amendments, you can appeal.
So yes formalising your request for your preference is a good idea.
SENSOS is a brill helpline for parents. They may have some better ideas.
oops realise I have managed to de-anonymise DS! yes, I'll try SENSOS (as I think somebody on a different thread said they seem to be really busy at the moment). But formal letter plus nagging emails can't hurt. Again thanks so much for your advice. Oh and another query, if we get left with no school can you force the LA to provide a tutor?
You can report your post and ask for it to be deleted!
SENSOS are always busy, you just have to keep trying and trying! Their advice is invaluable and they have a solicitor on hand to answer more complicated issues.
Home tuition maybe if you can prove he cannot attend as school cannot meet his needs.
For example my ds was in MS and struggling, school sent him home and said he couldn't go back. So ds was without an education, they did offer HT....eventually! However, in the meantime agreed to name my ss school preference.
Slightly different, as our LA were not saying another school could meet needs.
You will probably be faced with a we have a school who can meet needs argument
I haven't read all the previous posts so will reply to your initial message.
As a parent, you have the right to say to the LA which school you would like your child to go to, but they don't have to agree. At the end of the day, it all comes down to budget. If the school you want is more expensive than the one they are suggesting you will have to demonstrate that the school they are suggesting cannot meet your child's needs. You may find it difficult if the schools is an ASD specific school unless it is geared up for say MLD when your son is High Functioning.
I would already start to try and make a comparison of cost between the three including the cost of transport and therapies such as OT and Speech and Language. This will give you an idea of what kind of battle you face. If it's a small difference then you have a better chance but the more the difference, usually the more the LA will fight back. It also depends on the LA you are up against, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent are amongst the worst.
At this stage, I would definitely get in touch with SOSSEN.org.uk who can provide you with a good idea of how to play it. I would already be gathering evidence and getting myself a couple of large lever arch files and putting all old reports, statements, documentation relating to your son in date order as it will all come in handy (most recent reports at the front).
Other things to do are always email LAs, avoid phoning them or answering calls from them, because, if this does end up in Tribunal, you have no proof of what was said on a phone call but you have a paper trail with emails. Also if you are called into meetings you can record them for your benefit (as long as the meeting is only about your child) but beforehand ask for an agenda, who is attending, what is the expected outcome from the meeting etc. Make notes during the meeting and after the meeting read through your notes whilst listening to what was said, then send them minutes/notes of the meeting, what was agreed by whom by email, this then becomes part of your evidence paperwork. As the discussion will just be about your child you are legally able to record the conversation without telling them if you so choose. I have told them in the past and they tend to clam up. Best of luck :-)
*sorry previous message should have said I have told them I am recording and they have clammed up so now I covertly record everything and don't tell them. If you ask and they say you cannot record the meeting then say the meeting will not go ahead. By law you can record in the same way as you can record meetings with social services.
thanks, I have seatbelts on for a rocky ride although I have to admit what daunts me the most is the prospect of attempting home schooling!
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