EHCP for secondary school for child who's managing without one at primary

(11 Posts)
Borka Fri 01-Feb-19 13:56:54

DS is 10, in year 5 and has ASD (Asperger's). He's doing ok academically but has difficulties with very slow reading speed, sensory sensitivity, social skills and anxiety. He's very good at masking his difficulties, and doesn't cause the school any problems, so he's getting by with minimal support at the moment and appearing to be 'fine. However, at home it's obvious that he's finding school really hard.

I know that he won't be able to cope with secondary without a lot more support, and the primary school agrees, so I want to apply now for an EHCP so that it can be in place before secondary choices need to be made. But how do I show that he's going to need a much higher level of support in future than he needs now? Will the LA just think I should wait until he's at secondary & having problems?

DS really needs a properly planned transition and all the support in place in advance - he didn't have this when he started Reception & it was a disaster.

OP’s posts: |
Nettleskeins Fri 01-Feb-19 18:01:41

Firstly, some mainstream secondaries have excellent SEN departments and will organise the transition for you, and put the help in place afterwards, it is to their advantage to give your child help once their needs are recognised.

Some EHCPs guarantee the schools no extra money, or at the least the LA s may resist topping up the EHCP with any extra funding, despite what the specified help is (this game of passing the buck may go on for many many months)

So if you can define what your child's needs are to the Secondary, and they show signs of "listening" and tell you what the tailored support is, you may not need that EHCP.

Before my ds2 applied for secondary I emailed every SEN department in turn and asked them how they would help my son. The school that gave the best response ended up as our first choice for ds, and they certainly organised a very good transition for him, AND a taster day for a TA supporting him a year 7 class when he was in Year 6.

In the event, it all went a bit pearshaped because his dyslexia was so bad and the homework was not really differentiated, but they did accommodate him enormously, include him in all sorts of extra curricular activities, put a TA in to support him, the SEN head was always there to listen to problems, and I suspect they would have given him a differentiated homework timetable if I had flagged it up earlier as a source of severe anxiety.

However, what I would say, is that the lack of any clear definition of his exact needs was what made things difficult for ds.(and why we ended up home educating him and applying ultimately for an EHCP to change schools) He did seem to cope with things and be "clever" but the thing they couldn't anticipate what his anxiety about Year 7 tasks because he couldnt cope with socialising. The EHCP itself may be the only way to get a clear picture of what your child does need, in turns of OT, language and communication and comprehension.

You are likely to be turned down, because most requests for assessment are, that is just the game they play, but you can use your evidence to apply for the secondary that you think best, and the evidence that you applied for an EHCP in itself.

The most important thing I think is just to find a good secondary that will be supportive. They will be supporting children with and without EHCP plans who have SEN, and it is not necessarily the case that they get any more money to support the ones who have EHCPs any more.

Borka Fri 01-Feb-19 22:40:47

Thanks for replying.

The school that I think would be best for DS is a mainstream one with a unit specifically for academically-able children with ASD - which he can only go to with an EHCP.

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MeetOnTheledge Fri 01-Feb-19 22:48:16

I did this and DS was able to go to an independent special school from year 7 after appearing to cope at mainstream primary. But it took a lot of money spent on private assessments (SALT, OT and EP) and also a solicitor in the end. I applied in the Jan of year 5, so the same time as you. He's similar - Asperger's, well behaved, great at masking.

Nettleskeins Fri 01-Feb-19 23:21:47

if he needs an EHCP to go to the school that is the best fit, then definitely apply for EHCP. You have nothing to lose, and use the evidence you have of his existing deficits to show that at secondary, the support he is having now will not be sufficient.

Nettleskeins Sat 02-Feb-19 00:06:16

If you have hard evidence of his slow processing (ie a report from a professional with numbers on it), and a diagnosis of ASD that could be one of the pieces of evidence that you use to apply for an EHCP. Other pieces of evidence might be a log of his behaviour after school, when he is letting out the anxiety. How long does it take him to do a piece of homework that should take 20 mins for example? Social communication difficulties in school, does he have friends in the playground, has he needed to attend a nurture group in school. It may be that you think the school is supporting him sufficiently but they aren't if he is showing anxiety/behavioural outbursts after school and his academic potential is not reflected in his academic results - for example if his spelling/reading and processing are holding him back.

IPSEA has some good model letters and explains what the process is. You can apply for an EHCP yourself. You can send a generic question to IPSEA and they tend to email back very helpful replies based on current law. Yes the LA will probably turn him down and give as their reason that the school needs a) to do more to help him, b) OR he doesn't show evidence of need, but can then appeal against refusal to assess, gathering more evidence in the meantime, up to date reports etc.

An OT report was the most useful report, as it explained how my son's handwriting, organisational issues, and his sensory issues affected his ability to cope in a mainstream classroom without support, and how his anxiety was a result of environmental factors in mainstream classroom/playground - noise, crowds, poor dexterity. This was free from the NHS, but it took a long time for me to get a referral from my GP to the OT, so that would be worth pursuing. The OT has incredibly helpful suggestions and did numerical tests of his abilities, ie in lowest centile for motor skills etc..

Speech and language is another big piece of evidence to prove your child needs help in mainstream, beyond what is offered in a secondary classroom. Has he had any SALT sessions with a trained therapist, or even any generic communication sessions, taking turns in conversations etc in a small group which has been set up by a trained therapist? That would be evidence he isn't getting any help with his speech and language needs, and this is showing itself in anxiety because he doesn't really know how to express his feelings or to communicate with his classmates optimally. And it also is affecting his academic work because he cannot process instructions or understand what he is being asked to do unless it is broken down into smaller chunks, or in explicit ways.

Ipsea Ipsea Ipsea!

cakesandtea Sat 02-Feb-19 14:50:28

This is the struggle of all DC on the spectrum - how to deal with transition to secondary. Both my DC got the EHCPs just in year 6 in participation of transition.There are many stories of DC just managing in primary and then imploding spectacularly in secondary without support. The school know that, but you need to drive the process if the school does not.

You need to progress along the phases of the graduated response according to the code of practice. There is structure in the SEN process, it is a process and you need to undetstand and use it, otherwise your DS might not receive the support he needs.

As many said EHCP would be the best answear, if your DS needs are sufficiently high. EHCP is the highest level of that graduated response and will not be afforded if yours DS's needs can be met at lower level. You need to demonstrate that this is not the case, that your ds needs are not met with the current support. You need to track his individual educational plan targets. These targets should include social interaction, organisation and other not purely academic areas where your DS has difficulties. It should all be documented, he should have and individual educational plan reviewed termly with you. SMART targets should be set and reviewed. The code of practice defines what is adequate progress, i.e. what could be evidence of slow/ insufficient progress. If targets are not met or progress is slow, this means strategies don't work and needs are greater, so perhaps the school needs to involve professonals like the educational psychologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist etc to understand needs and suggest new strategies. If they make recommendations and the school implements them for a while with progress still being slow, you would have reached the thtesholf for EHC assessment. At which stage you would need to demonstrate that your DS needs require support not available within school resources for the EHCP to be appropriate.

You need to give some structure to your pursuit and it is the code of practice and SEN law. Download the code and quote it to Senco. Talk to SOSSEN and IPSEA for advice.

Borka Sat 02-Feb-19 22:05:11

MeetOnTheledge I'm glad to hear it worked out for your DS, it's encouraging to know that it's possible!

Nettleskeins thank you for breaking it down into so much detail, that's really helpful. I do have evidence of slow processing from an Ed Psych report, and an OT report from several years ago, but also several of the other things you've mentioned like time taken to do homework are things I hadn't thought of including.

cakesandtea I get what you're saying but at the moment the primary school is being supportive and agrees that DS will need more help for secondary so I don't want to be too confrontational with them or make it be about needing more support in primary. Thanks for your suggestions though.

OP’s posts: |
MeetOnTheledge Sun 03-Feb-19 00:09:04

Borka - I felt like that about DS's primary but unfortunately that is the basis of the assessment, not what is needed a year or two later. So I had to toughen up and make it all about the support at primary being inadequate without a statement (predecessor to EHCP). It really soured my previously good relationship with the primary but I had to do what was best for DS. You can be polite but firm. Remember that for you and your child this is of the utmost importance, potentially life-changing stuff. Whereas for the school staff, no matter how caring and dedicated, he is one of many and they'll never see him again after next year. Indeed when I sent in my private SALT, OT and EP to assess him it showed unequivocally that the support he was getting was nowhere near enough (and they really tried, I couldn't fault them for effort and he did have good IEPs going right back to yr R, with SALT/OT input). He was lucky that he was in an excpetionally nice year group in a small nurturing primary where he was cut a lot of slack and was able to mask very effectively but despite all this was not developing many of the skills needed for secondary (physical, social as well as academic progress). So he got his statement mid way through year 6, but it really wasn't worth the paper it was written on and it named the local secondary school. I appealed straight away and it was finalised in the summer term in time for transfer to secondary.

cakesandtea Sun 03-Feb-19 01:40:02

Borka, using the code of practice and the law, and having a structured approach is not confrontational, is just the way the system is set up and the way it works. Advocating for your DS needs to be met is not confrontational and the school knows this all well, they expect that much. This whole idea of avoiding confrontation is neither here nor there, and quite naive tbh.

EHC needs assessments and plans are not done for needs that don't presently exist and for support that is currently available within school resources and works just fine. In that case your DS doesn't need the assessment and the EHCP. To get to that stage you will need to demonstrate that your DS currently has needs that cannot be met within resources available to the current school, unless you expect that the school themselves will write that, which is extremely rare and tends to happen when the school are struggling to deal with a disruptive child, and the parents are ineffective.

You received a lot of good advice here. As MeetOn said, you need to toughen up and focus on your DS. You don't need to be aggressive, but assertive and structured, you need to learn to agree to disagree with the school. In current climate of cuts in schools, they are not going to get ahead of themselves, they are expecting you to do that part. Getting an EHCP is a tough fight as MeetOn illustrated. Based on what you say, it doesn't look like your DS needs any more support.

MeetOnTheledge Sun 03-Feb-19 08:57:30

When you say he's getting by with minimal support now, what do you mean by that? If he has very slow reading speed is he having intervention work? Has he been part of socisl skills groups? Does he have any written targets? He might not be having 1:1 TA support but might be getting quite a lot of additional help in small groups. Unfortunately unless you can show that his current school have exhausted these lower levels of intervention without adequate progress it is very hard to rebut the argument that the school can meet his needs through its internal resources. Perhaps meet the SENCO and ask to see records of all support given to date, it might be more than you realise. Also gather together all reports you have from OT, EP etc, anything from pre-school etc showing evidence of long term need. You might find, as I did, that your DS's needs are far more complex than even you have realised (mine has dyspraxia and language difficulties as well as AS).

I have to say though, places in resourced provision units are very hard to come by. At this stage if you haven't already done so I would be making appointments at local secondary schools to see the SENCOs about your DS. Some mainstream schools without units still provide very good support for pupils with needs such as your sons, I know of one locally which is doing a very good job witn some friends sons with AS. They liaised with primary schools, provided an enhanced and tailored transition and provide good support on an ongoing basis, even without an EHCP, so keep an open mind. If you have any local parents SEN groups such as NAS it is well worth reaching out to other parents for their experiences, often by FB groups. I found this sort of local knowledge invaluable.

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