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can you compel the LEA to provide the therapies documented in the statement?

(23 Posts)
bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 11:15:48

hello everyone

i hope you don't mind me posting here. i apologise if this has been covered before.

i have recently become a school governor at a primary complex special needs school. it appears that many of the children are not getting the therapies prescribed in their statements, despite the best efforts of the school. the reason given is lack of resources in the lea. can the lea be compelled by legal means or by any other method to provide these therapies.

thanks in advance for your help.

mogwai Tue 21-Jun-05 11:21:10

depends to some extent what they are. The statement is a legal document and can be enforced by law. It also depends where the therapy appears in the statement - ie is it up to the LEA or the NHS to provide it?

And what do they mean by lack of resources? Lack of money? No, they can't get away with that. Lack of therapists? Well that's a very real situation. You can't provide a therapist if there's a vacancy in the post. Most NHS therapy departments are short staffed. No wonder, the therapists are hacked off, they leave.

You may be able to force them to provide locum therapists (very expensive - where some of the therapists are going - more money less hassle), that shoudl be a possibility??

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 11:23:51

mogwai, thanks for your response.

the specific example that came up was OT, and yes the reason was because there aren't enough OTs to provide the necessary cover.

so yes right again, why should it be the children's problem that the lea can't recruit? so yes i was wondering if there was a way to legally enforce the statement thereby compelling the lea to get locum cover.

have you any idea how one might go about it?

geekgrrl Tue 21-Jun-05 11:33:57

bk, try talking to IPSEA . They're an organisation dedicated to helping with all the statementing aspects and enforcing bits & pieces etc., and provide free legal advice.

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 11:41:04

thanks, geekgrrl.

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 12:10:25

BK- depends which part of the statement they are mentioned in. If its in parts 2 and 3 then YES the LEA have to provide it. As an example ds1 (after a battle) had SALT put into parts 2 and 3. His NHS SALT went on maternity leave, there was no cover provided, so after giving them reasonable time to find cover I inssited that they pay for ds1's private SALT to go into school- which they did.

If the therapies are in parts 5 and 6 (which they will be unless the parent has kicked off at the time the statement) then there is bugger all that can be done- not worth the paper they're witten on.

Hope this helps!

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 12:13:01

As regards OT it is very difficult to get it written into parts 2 and 3 of the statement (as that represent educational needs whereas OT is seen as heallth needs) although it has been done - although AFAIK only for a child with very severe CP who needed to be taught to swallow- point being that for that child being taught to swallow was his education iyswim. Had to go to the apppeal court or something hideous though.
So if you can argue that 1) OT is an educational need then it will go in parts 2 and 3 and then the LEA are obliged to provide it- even if there are no OT's available. They would have to pay to send someone in. But needs to be in parts 2 and 3.

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 12:28:22

geekgrrl, thank you, the IPSEA website is very informative.

jimjams, thank you, that is very clear. if the OT were mentioned in s 5/6 of the statement, then could you either (1) get the child restatemented? or (2) bring some pressure to bear on the nhs as it is a health need?

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 12:29:36

getting involved with this school is an eye opener, believe me.

MeerkatsUnite Tue 21-Jun-05 12:44:16

Bossykate,

I would talk with IPSEA further about this.
LEA's have to quantify support made in statements.

This is what happened in Lambeth:-
Lambeth acknowledge acting illegally by not quantifying provision in statements ... and promise that statements which were illegally written in the past are being amended.

In a letter to IPSEA dated 13 January 2005, the DfES has reported on their investigation into IPSEA's complaint (made by the charity last February) that the London borough of Lambeth was acting illegally in refusing to quantify special educational provision in statements of special educational needs.

The Authority acknowledged that it had been acting illegally in not quantifying provision in some statements. Officers confirmed that the practice had ceased and statements which had been issued incorrectly were being amended."

Parents whose children have statements should check Part 3 and if the provision is not quantified, request the LEA to amend the statement.

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 14:40:53

BK

1) statements are reviewed anually - so that could be a time to do it. I think getting OT written into parts 2 and 3 would be very difficult (and would almost certianly involve a tribunal). SALT- there is more of a case for that- plenty of case laws. The LEA refused to quantify numbers of hours of SALT in our case and I couldn';t be bothered to go to tribunal over it. The NHS SALT instead recommended the number of hours ds1 should have received and the LEA agreed to pay our private SALT for that.

2) I don't think the NHS care tbh. They don't legally have to provide anything. DS1's old NHS SALT has rreturned to her post p/t since having her child (fair enough) and the NHS aren't providing a replacement foor her lost hours. She's the only autism specialist covering all the autistic children in m/s school in the city. What a joke! I know that the LEA have met with the NHS about SALT, but basiclaly the NHS don't seem to give a stuff. Locally we're pondering organising something but when I tried a year ago to complain about no maternity cover no one (including our crappy Blair babe MP) seemed to give a damn. The councillors (tory) were better. Anyway crap MP didn't get my vote-silly cow stayed in though.

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 14:58:32

meerkats, jimjams, thank you so much for that.

just a little bit of context...

i volunteered more than 3 yrs ago now to be a school governor, and signed up with a body called the school governors' one stop shop, which matches volunteers with school governor vacancies. this school just happened to be the one that got in touch with me...

so i am not a parent of children with sn.

however, now that i am involved i am committed to doing whatever i can for the school/pupils.

the school battles to get the right amount of specialist support, so i posted this on mn to get some help to understand better what could be done.

as i'm not a parent, i couldn't take action on behalf of any individual child, but perhaps could make sure that this information was made available to the parents.

meanwhile i will try and think of other things the governing body can do to help. i've thought of trying to persuade some trainee OTs to give us some free time in return for some practice... we'll have to see if that flies.

thank you so much everyone for your help.

flashingnose Tue 21-Jun-05 15:03:09

bk, does the one stop shop have a website?

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 15:12:06

OT's could set up things like after school clubs. The local school here runs something called the "in control club" which takes all the AS/Auti/dyspraxic/something going on not sure what children and dooes exercises with them (not sure what). The kids seem to enjoy it. Thatc shool is very switched on and very committed to SN though- unusually so really.

At ds1's old school OT's had helped to set up a gym session for kids with dyspraxia etc.

For parents the best number to make available would be IPSEA, and also your local parent partnership. Schools can do things as well t help. For example at my son's old school a child needed full time 1:1 whereas the statement gave 0.6- so they set aside a series of sessions to observe him- listed all the things he was "failing" at and had the support upped to 1:1

bossykate Tue 21-Jun-05 15:15:57

School Governors' One Stop Shop

thanks for those ideas, jimjams, i hope we can find ways to boost the level of support.

flashingnose Tue 21-Jun-05 15:23:17

Thanks

mogwai Tue 21-Jun-05 16:48:47

sometimes the maternity situation is difficult. I'm an SLT on maternity leave and there is nobody to cover my post because my job is so specialised. There isn't another SLT specialised in the whole of my part of the country.

I'm going to return to fewer hours but the trust cannot recruit someone to cover the extra day I'm dropping. They can't find a full-time specialist, least still one who wants to work one day a week. And of course, it's my right to work fewer hours.

I don't think they have tried locum agencies though. I guess it's seen as very expensive. In my experience (I've worked for NHS and LEA in my career), the LEA have more money and are more likely to employ through a locum agency or to allow private therapist to cover (as Jimjams described).

I don't think it's always the case that the NHS doesn't care. Perhaps there are mothers of children on my caseload right now who think their health authority doesn't care that I'm on maternity leave....but how can they recruit a person who doesn't exist? I know the funds are available, an it would make my life easier when I return if the children had been seen in the interim.

I do agree, however, that there are times when funds are "frozen" by managers higher in the food chain (often not clinicians by training). For example, I have a friend who works in a communicty clinic. The caseload is about 250 inner city kids, she works there three days a week and her colleague did two (so that's one whole time equivalent). Her colleague has left the post, and my friend has been told that she will not be replaced. In other words, she's left to cover 250 kids on three days. I don't know how the trust can justify that level of service or putting that amount of strain on their staff.

Unfortunately, it's not the managers who have to pick up the phone and deal with parents compaints, it's my poor stressed out friend. In these cases, I'd say yes, they don't appear to care a jot.

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 18:11:03

Mogwai its not that the LEA have more money- its just that if SALT is in parts 2 and 3 of the statement the LEA have no choice. if they don't provide SALT they can be taken to court. Believe me if they could get away with the "we can't find anyone" excuse that the NHS does then they would.

Jimjams Tue 21-Jun-05 18:15:26

In fact my stupid MP used the "there is no-one to recruit" excuse as well- well strike me down shouldn't she be in parliament making sure there are people being trained, rather then telling me how much money labourt has out into the NHS.

I didn;t much care for the reasons I just cared that my non-verbal child was in a mainstream school without a single person in there was was PECS trained and didn''t see a SALT for 8 months (the LEA agreed in principal over and over again to allow ds1' private SALT to go in, but didn;t actually give the OK from on high until I sent them a letter saying I was take them to the local govt ombudsmen unless I had the agreement in writing by the end of the week. I got the agreement

mogwai Wed 22-Jun-05 09:54:46

I disagree about the money thing. When I worked for the LEA I was given every piece of equipment I requested, without question. I got a very swish laptop computer within a fortnight of mentioning that I'd like one.

In the NHS, on the other hand, I have trouble getting post-it notes.

I have witnessed money being thrown at problems in the LEA to very little effect. There is a terrible waste of resources. Same applies to the NHS but it's more "in your face" in education.

I also agree with you that more SLTs should be trained. Unfortunately that doesn't help the situation right now, it takes four years to train and years of experience to become a specialist. If the NHS made hundreds of new places available, they wouldn't be qualified for about 8 years.

I don't want to turn this into me justifying anything the NHS does or doesn't do - I'm not their spokesperson. I know your situation makes you angry - and can understand why. I'm making the point that sometimes the provision seems to be witheld by managers who will not give the funds, and sometimes there is a genuine problem of recruitment, even when the funds are readily available.

I don't know what can be done about the latter in the immediate term. Perhaps if the profession were more attractive and there were fewer reasons to leave, some of the qualified therapists who are not practising would return to work. It seems a terrible waste that they aren't using their skills, but it's their right to leave if the job has become disillusioning. I remember a thread some time ago in which I said I felt upset that parents of the children on my caseload were having a go at me for goig on maternity leave. Somebody on that thread said I should question whether the job was for me, and perhaps I ought to leave the profession. A surprising attitude, but one that many therapists have taken to heart, deciding they would rather dedicate themselves to their own children, which is exactly what all of this is about.

Jimjams Wed 22-Jun-05 11:09:00

I've just re-read the thread that you are talking about. The only person who says that you should question whether the job is for you is not a parent of a child with SN- she's a professional who works with families with children with SN!!!

I'm surpprised to hear the there's so much moeny floating round the LEA's to be honest. maybe there are in other LEAS (our LEA is actualy one of the poorest int he coutry- somethign to dow ith it beng small and the way govt funding is calculated). It certainly doesn't ake its way to the children though- you only have to read the threads on SN to realise that. DS1's mainstream aschool couldn't afford to send anyone on a PECS course (what £200 quidish?) - even though that was the only way he could communicate, and a highly effective teaching method for him.

Davros Wed 22-Jun-05 16:31:32

Our LEA doesn't seem to throw money at things, I know how hard it has been for our Head EP to get any autism provision set up (obv that a VERY expensive thing to do) but they will send people on courses etc. I saw the whole staff of the local autism unit at an NAS conference last week, good for them as it was excellent. The whole thing about SLTs and OTs kind-of goes past me as we have never felt they have much that is relevant for DS, lucky us I suppose. I did get phoned out of the blue by the local Clnical Psych and offered her trainee to help us with some strategies for home, I was very pleased and surprised.

Jimjams Wed 22-Jun-05 21:35:28

NOw ds1 is in an environment where everyone is PECS savvy etc SALTS are increasingly irrelevant for us as well Davros. The OT is useful, but she isn't an autism specialist so probably a bit out of her depth re the sensory stuff.

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