Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.
To tribunal or not ??(21 Posts)
I'm also in a totally bamboozled state of confusion.
So.......we have a finalised (5th Jan 17) EHCP - I applied for it in November 2015. Section B is specific mainly due to me trawling all reports after I received the first draft and adding in a further 14 pages of relevant description's about my sons difficulties.
Section F is woolly and wordy - programme's for "developing the use and accurate interpretation of non-verbal communication" and "a programme delivered weekly either individually or in a small group to develop inferential comprehension, real world knowledge, predicting future events, consider emotional outcomes of events" to give just 2 examples.
There is no clear information on who is qualified enough to deliver this (they have listed a TA fairly frequently) how many hours a week they would do it? how many sessions are small group? How many are individual ? Outcomes are for 12 months which isn't long enough. The whole plan is like this. I sent an email November 16 outlining the lack of clarity to which I was given an amended plan but still no proper answers.
I went to SOS SEN drop in last week. Travelled 2.5 hours to get there and came out so disheartened I cried all the way home. The lady said I had a weak case due to me not seeking clarification from the EP when I received her reports on exactly what her recommendations involved and that now it is too late (because im somehow meant to know to do this?) She said I should not carry on to tribunal as what am I appealing ? She said the Judge cannot order the LA to put in clear recommendations when they haven't been written or suggested as such by the EP in her reports ! She also said my document I'd compiled was laid out wrong and the Judge wouldn't understand it - I stayed up till gone midnight on numerous occasions to write that bloody form not knowing what the heck I was doing so for her to say that was the nail in my emotionally unstable coffin.
So my question really after all that writing is this
I have a mediation certificate and have until 30th March to lodge my documents.
Should I still appeal ? One half of me says yes as although I have the plan it isn't detailed enough and realistically the way it's written any staff member could deliver the provision.........I also don't want him to remain where he is so wouldn't a new school (not that I have found a new school) need to know exactly what they are dealing with in terms of provision ?
Or do I not as how will I win if what I am asking for isn't even written anywhere and in fact I don't even no what I am asking for as I'm not a professional !!? Should I just be happy I have the EHCP and jog on ?
Oh and the EP who wrote the report has retired.
AND my son is currently in Year 10 so I have no time to waste !
Any help or advice is greatly received
Oh how disheartening! The SOS SEN person doesn't sound terribly sympathetic - you've done so well to get to this point! It's frustrating to be let down by professional reports?!
My DS is at primary and we are in the EHC assessment phase so I don't have much practical experience to share, but I suppose your next course of action depends on the school.
Have you met with them about what they will put in place? If they are going to be helpful it is less important what is in the EHCP, than if they are going to do the bare minimum. What does the SENCO think? How much time do you have to test them out before your appeal time expires?
Maybe it would be worth getting a second opinion from the IPSEA phone line about your chances at appeal?
If there is no point appealing then at least you can target your effort somewhere more useful. If it were me and the appeal wasn't likely to work, I would get in touch with the local EP service and ask to meet someone. I'd explain the problem with the plan, the EP retiring and ask for someone to do some extra notes for the school to work from. It wouldn't be in the EHCP, but if the school are willing it would hopefully get the right support in place. I might also go back to the LA and ask them to re-issue a plan to include the specifics - as their EP wasn't specific enough - remember they should maybe have noticed this!?
If you want a new (specialist?) school you may shoot yourself in the foot with very specific requirements for provision. A school that could meet his needs very well could easily say they do not specifically offer x, y and z and refuse a place on those grounds.
For example, I run a specific type of provision which requires EHCP to access. If EHCP arrives saying pupil MUST have 1:1 I will not say we can meet that need and would refuse on those grounds- we are not staffed on a 1:1 ratio and do not offer 1:1. However, a pupil suited to my provision would not need 1:1, as they might have done in MS, as so much of their need would be met by the environment and very specialist staff.
Also I might receive an EHCP which states the pupil must have x intervention, and if we don't use that I will say we can't meet the need. It may be that the interventions we do use would meet the pupils needs just as well, but I will not agree to introducing a whole new thing with all the associated staff training and resource issues because of one EHCP.
If you want a specialist school you would be better off with an EHCP which allows so flexibility in terms of provision so your DC can be easily accepted by the setting you want.
No advice I'm afraid but masses of empathy.
We are in assessment stage after winning tribunal last November.
Applied last February.
When I saw ep report I asked the la a few times quite clearly who is responsible for making the information specific.
It worries me that I will get stuck like you because I'll have nothing to appeal because I have no information to appeal against.
Have a look at section 9 of send cop though. It makes it very clear the information should be specific. I'm sure you can work the wording in a way to show the la didn't follow their statutory duty and that will give you a grounds for appeal.
To be fair, if you filled in the appeal forms wrongly the SOS SEN person wouldn't be doing you any favours by telling you they were fine.
So far as appealing is concerned, it's true to say that you won't get any amendments to section F without evidence to back you up. Can you get an independent ed psych report?
Outside of my experience, but that all sounds very stressful. Although the EP for DS1 refused to observe him(!) so the EP "report" consists of 2 lines, saying he'd given advice to the SENCo about amending the paperwork. What are the LA saying about placement? Is his current school named on the EHCP?
You can still appeal and will be able to get further evidence to submit to the tribunal. You'll need to get private assessments done which will unfortunately cost you but hopefully you can then show the specific advice given in these and tribunal will listen. In our case our school EP report was very wooly and despite asking the EP at the time to specify and quantify provision she would not saying it was up to the panel to decide the provision...clearly an unofficial policy in place then that she had been told not to specify and quantify then, so then of course the panel will not put specific provision in place as it isn't recommended by a professional. Our private EP report was amazing, so much detail and a true reflection of her issues and detailed provision. We got everything we asked for at tribunal but without those reports we would have failed I am sure.
Thanks everyone for your replies.
So I've posted it off, albeit with a day to spare. I came to the conclusion that if I'm barking up the wrong tree the Judge can tell me - I'd rather do that then regret missing the date and missing any possible chance of being right.
I sent a rude email to the LA which unsurprisingly I've had no reply to. I also sent an email to the other EP (we had two as the school is in a different LA to our home address) asking for clarity on the situation but yet again no reply.
I've spoken to 3 other SENCO's now and they've all said it is the SENCO's responsibility at the school the child currently attends to read the EP's reports once they are received and question all the provisions, gain clarity on what has been recommended, question how it can be implemented in a school setting and discuss with the parents how the funding can be put to its best use to benefit the child. This is definitely where it's gone wrong for us as this did not happen. I didn't know at the time she was meant to have done this - it would surprise me if she had even read the report to be honest. I think that as she is aware we want to move she hasn't bothered - nothing written on the plan is being adhered to currently however the school isn't named so I believe legally they don't have to.
I'm Trying to find out now whether the school immediately receives the extra funding as soon as the plan is finalised even if the school is NOT named on the plan.
I think the LA are trying to bump me off through stress as I'm also applying for my other son and they have lost all his documents and file TWICE even though it was sent recorded signed for and was received by them !! The incompetence is staggering.
Hi frayed - still no school named on final plan, keeping him where he is is absolute worst case scenario, he will 100% fail all GCSE's there. I'm going to view Thriftwood School in Chelmsford at the beginning of May which feels like his last hope. I'm sure the LA would give me a battle on transport if we liked it.
Mega unfortunately I cannot afford private EP as I'm led to believe starting prices are in the £100's 😳 Please correct me if I'm wrong !
Low your comments have also been something I've thought about. You cannot do right for doing wrong sometimes especially when you cannot see what is coming down the road. I don't want to ostracise him from every single provision yet don't want slack provision that any old soul could deliver. The balance of what is enough and when is it detailed enough is a real problem.
Last week he was given a reading comprehension age of 6 years 10 months..........he will be 15 this year - so the provision they've recommended, 1 hour a week delivered by a TA is definitely not enough. Surely he needs direct speech and language support to try and improve this ? This would be something I'd want to appeal at the Tribunal.
I'm also in the situation of having a miniscule choice of schools to choose from, he doesn't have a learning difficulty so that excludes majority of schools near me. The otHers are more at the moderate to severe end or full up.
I live in hope I will write a positive joyful post at some point this year !!
Hi tartan sorry I got wrapped up in typing out my mini novel and didnt respond. The SENCO is awful and the school have failed him massively - that will be a battle for another day.
I did try and get an IPSEA callback but missed all the slots. I then emailed them to say I urgently needed advice and outlined my dilemma, they said to send it off so I didn't miss the date as you only get 30 days after your issued with the mediation certificate (31st March).
Good luck wishes to you too - keep plodding on 🙄
I think you've done the right thing in trying, hopefully it will focus the LA to sorting it out, if nothing else. Is there a type of school named mainstream/special etc? I did get a quote from a SOS!SEN recommended EP and it was breathtakingly expensive! I hope the visit goes well to Thriftwood and they can either offer a place or offer some advice about what you are supposed to do next.
Hi frayed. I'm definitely at the point where I don't know what is the right path to take, so many contradictory thoughts!
LA have said a mainstream school is suitable. Current school have written a letter saying they cannot possibly meet his provision in a mainstream setting and verbally have said they doubt any mainstream could either.
SOSSEN woman said starting prices are £800 for an EP. Yikes !!
Some EP's do charge that much but there are cheaper ones out there.
What the sossen lady said about the judge not being able to order the LA to specify provision when it isnt specified in the reports is correct unfortunately. The tribunal can only make judgements on the law not on missing advice!
Its very difficult but most advocates or charities will advise you to get independent specified reports before tribunal.
Keep pushing on with the appeal for now though because your LA could well concede and offer the school that you want. You can always back out closer to the time if you want to.
I was quoted 3 times that! To be fair, SOSSEN did say that EP was more expensive but also very highly rated.
So, DS has an EHCP with no school named and the school he currently attends have informed the LA they can't meet his needs. I know you are looking but are the LA doing anything to find a placement?
A good EP spends an awful lot of time on the case - they will go through all the paperwork, observe the child in class, carry out formal assessments, talk to staff, talk to you, go to see the school the LA proposes if your child is not there and talk to the staff there, produce a detailed report in draught and then finalise it. That's why independent reports tend to be so much better than LA EP reports - LA people just haven't got time to do the same sort of job. So it's not surprising they're expensive, and given that the good ones are so much in demand, I guess they can more or less name their price.
I was quoted £1800 and a 3 month waiting list for an EP. I can see how the hours add up tho once they have done visits, reviewed the other paperwork done meetings and observations, as well as report writing.... not much consolation for you tho....
I think you were right to appeal. In parallel could you make a formal complaint to the LA about the quality of the EP report to see if they could sort it out? They are responsible for making the targets specific and measurable- and the EP is their employee? If they don't sort that out within 12 eeeks you would then go via the LOcal Government Ombudsman complaints process. Ideally not as it's time consuming but it might be worth running that route in parallel with the appeal?
Gosh tartan that's a lot of money, although I do realise they do a lot of work....... Way out of my budget
Fingers crossed I've done the right thing. I wish there was a flow chart for this whole process with step by step guidance on what you do in every situation. I hate the not knowing and trying to find out everything about everything when you know nothing !
£1800 is just one quote, there are very competent EPs who won't charge that much. However, you do need one with experience in tribunals, and the good ones are very booked up.
I emailed Bettina Hohnen just out of interest, she said she is booked up for ages.
I have a tribunal date of 3rd July. eeek
Say i did save up every penny and get an independent EP i wonder whether their report will be sufficient or whether they would have to attend the tribunal and give verbal input ? does anyone know this ?
No idea! You could try asking the SENDIST clerk how often EPs appear in person for the family?
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