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Is this discrimination? (long, sorry!)

(10 Posts)
nuru Wed 11-Nov-09 22:10:12

Dd2 has Downs Syndrome and attends mainstream nursery at our local primary (where dd1 is in Yr 2). She is statemented and has 1:1 LSA support for all the hours she is there (mornings). The LEA pay for 10hrs per week and the school for 5 hrs per week.

My husband is Indian and all his family live there. His brother is getting married and the celebrations start on 10th Dec and will last about a week. This is a major event for our family and the four of us plus my Mum, Dad and sister are travelling out there on 5th Dec.

I gave in a letter to the school the week before half term notifying them that the girls would miss the last two weeks of term, explaining the reasons why and the importance of this for our family.

On Friday I got a reply from the Head, saying that she could not authorise the absence, stating three main points:

- the girls missing opportunities for progress (the last two weeks of term before Christmas - excuse me!! but what will they be doing apart from Christmas plays, parties etc., we do an incredible amount to support the girls' education)
- the girls missing out on Christmas activities at school (we have just celebrated Diwali, the girls will be attending a massive family wedding celebration)

Now, I don't particularly want to get into a debate about the wrongs and rights of children missing school during termtime, as my main point for this thread is.......

the third point - school provides 1:1 support for dd2 and they will still have to pay her LSA during the time dd2 is not there.

I was really shocked to see that as a point in the letter and a couple of friends I have mentioned it to (who don't have SN children) think it's appalling. I see it as a form of discrimination against my daughter/her family - why should we not have the same opportunites for family celebrations as those who do not have a child with additional needs. Are we always to have this kind of attitude levelled towards us?

So, just wondering what people here think. Am I overreacting? I want to write back to have it on record that we are shocked by this attitude, but am unsure how to word the letter.

Sorry this has turned out to be long. Any thoughts....

wasuup3000 Wed 11-Nov-09 22:16:25

Just go and tell them tough. The LSA will have been paid for from the schools annual budget already anyway.

asdx2 Wed 11-Nov-09 22:28:14

Plus school will use the LSA to support other children anyway so it's not as if they will be paying for a service they won't be using.

nuru Wed 11-Nov-09 22:32:59

Absolutely! There are two children with ASD in the class who get no additional support - I'm sure the run-up to Christmas will be quite stressful for them with change of routine etc. and the nursery teacher will be all too pleased to have dd2's LSA to help support them.

It just seems that the Head can never miss an opportunity to grind the knife a little further in about the financial burden we have caused by having dd2 statemented. It comes up at every meeting we have

wasuup3000 Wed 11-Nov-09 22:38:17

Well Tough Luck for the Head! Don't give it another moments thought and get planning your trip! Have a fab time

tethersend Wed 11-Nov-09 23:08:34

Err... they have to pay for those hours anyway hmm

The money they receive is ringfenced for support- specifically for supporting your DD. They can do this either by 1:1 support or through small group support. Her support is a legal requirement the school have to provide in accordance with her statement.

It's not like they can use the money for anything else.

They are not authorised to withdraw funding.

It's a tough one with so many crackdowns on attendance coming from above, but the school have a choice- they can dismiss the LSA for the two weeks your daughter is away (good luck to them if s/he is on a contract), but they MUST have support in place when your daughter returns to nursery; or they can just keep paying the LSA for the time she is working, and use her within the school.

If your DD were in hospital for two weeks, they would face the same issue, yet there would be no question of withdrawing funding.

I teach in a school where we have long-term non attenders who receive support. The support can only be withdrawn at the annual review and/or after much discussion with the LEA; the school cannot remove support because they feel like it, they must make a case to do so.

You are on slightly shaky ground with the two weeks off being for a family wedding, but I would speak to the LEA to find out where you stand wrt funding. Frame it not as "she won't miss much at school", but rather "she will gain so much (social skills etc) from this trip"

Have fun!

sarah293 Thu 12-Nov-09 07:52:46

Message withdrawn

cory Thu 12-Nov-09 10:57:26

The Head is an arse, but since he is not refusing to authorise the absence solely on disability-related grounds I don't think you can get him for discrimination. It's only discrimination if you can prove that he would grant two weeks absence for a family-occasion to a child that was not disabled, and tbh I doubt that. Neither of my dcs' schools authorise time off for family events any longer, unless there are really important special needs (e.g. parent with terminal illness).

If this wedding is important enough, then I think you will just have to put up with it going down as unauthorised absence and maybe be prepared to make a cup of tea for the Education Welfare Officer when she pops round: there's only so much they can do to you for a one-off event. I wouldn't use the Act on this one though; you may need that for later.

cloelia Thu 12-Nov-09 17:52:54

i always thought my dd's school were in the money when she was ill in hospital as they had a TA free to use wherever they wanted. DD had one whole term off in Yr 4 and one whole half term off in Yr 6 and the school could not have been nicer. They also, I might add, let the TA come to hospital, occasionally bringing other girls to see my DD, when DD was ready for visitors. So sorry your school is being negative.

nuru Thu 12-Nov-09 20:21:58

Thanks for all the messages.

Glad it's not just me over-reacting to the Head's constant mentions of money - it is out of order, isn't it?

I know I can't seriously get her on discrimination, although she did authorise my friend's girls having three days off for a wedding in Europe - guess it's our bad luck our extended family lives on the other side of the world and have weddings that last a week! Just think it was an irrelevant comment to put in a letter of that nature.

Anyway, on to the next battle

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