Right you lovely lot,
Have written this letter to my local MP. It's not perfect, but want to get it off today. I've kept it quite unemotional.
What do you think?
Re: Special School Provision In XXXXXX
I am writing to you for your advice and support regarding my daughters education. I am the mother of XXXX, 4, who is severely autistic with associated severe learning difficulties.
To cut a very long story short, XXXX has been doing a home-based education programme for the past two years, funded by XXXXX LEA. They have been supportive up to this point.
XXX is now due to start school. It was agreed, verbally, at XXX annual review in XXX, by a senior member of the SEN team, that XXX would have a place within XXXXs specialist autistic provision. It was agreed that XXX would do some warm up sessions in the autumn term, starting in September 2005 and start full-time in January 2006.
However, when I pushed for confirmation of this in writing, this was not forthcoming and I started to worry that this decision was not as set-in-stone as I had previously thought. The ASD panel met on May XX and, naturally, I phoned up the day after to find out what decision had been reached. I left several messages and nobody returned my call. I e-mailed and nobody returned my e-mail. I was told by our caseworker that she wasnt at the meeting, neither was our assessment manager and they were waiting for the notes. I finally ascertained that clarifications needed to be made regarding the placement of the children discussed and they would let me know ASAP.
I know that some parents whose children were discussed at that panel found out immediately that their children had a place. I have since discovered, from a senior figure in SEN in XXXXe, that there are seven children waiting for a place within XXXX autistic provision and no places. Apparently, they are trying to create a new class.
My concerns are these:
1) The appalling lack of communication between the LEA and the parents concerned. I was made to feel as if I was hassling them and they did not even have the courtesy to return my phone calls or my e-mails. Surely this is good business practice, whether dealing with the sale of washing machines or the education of severely disabled children.
2) Why we were not informed at an earlier point that there were no places at XXX so we could look at alternative provision.
3) Why the LEA have left it to this point, seven weeks before the end of the academic year, to discover they have seven children with very severe needs requiring very specialist support with not appropriate provision in place.
4) Why a senior member of the SEN team at the LEA is able to verbally promise a parent a school place when, clearly, there is not a place available.
5) What happens to my daughter in September if there is no place available at XXX, the ONLY specialist provision for severely autistic children in the borough.
I would appreciate your help and guidance in this matter,
JakB - think it is great. Only change I would make is I would move your first point further down the list. Although I totally agree with you and it is appalling I would have thought that as an MP their concern is going to be more about provision than a lack of communication.
Also thought that what you said the other day about them treating you as if you were enquiring about a washing machine (or whatever) rather than your child's education was a really good way of putting it.
Also (sorry!) maybe stress something to do with the lack of specialist provision because of government policy of inclusion which is kind of a hot point at the moment (see Pupils casualties of inclusion thread). But that is probably getting too political.
Thanks so much for reading it. Have added in a few bits about 'taking it further' and all of DD's professionals agreeing that the school is the best provision (on advice of DD's therapist).
Am going to fax (according to his secretary the quickest way of contacting him) and send a hard copy in the post.