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Is this bullying of the SEN/autistic children by the headteacher / management team?

(30 Posts)
blizzard79 Wed 16-Jan-19 12:53:40

At my primary school in leafy West London, we got a new headteacher a couple of years ago. Her priority on every matter is to cut the budget. I guess this looks good when it comes time for her annual review. Some parents are finding they have to fight quite hard to get their children access to the education to which they are legally entitled.

So, the new headteacher has been telling parents and teachers (many of the teachers and other staff are also parents) that there is a an organised group of SEN parents who are actively trying to harm the school. This is not true. But the school community seems to believe and the children and their parents are being excluded from the school community. This is especially harmful to the autistic children, who already have a social communication disorder. Does the fact they are being targeted at the core of their disability (to promote social exclusion) constitute bullying of the disabled children? And, if it does, would you regard this as a hate crime?

A parent who does not work at the school, but is a bit of a social butterfly and close friends with many of the staff sent this email out in September. It broke friendships, divided the playground, and alienated many SEN parents and their children. EVERYTHING stated in this email is untrue, and in my opinion designed to harm the most vulnerable members of the school community.

********BEGIN EMAIL********

As some of you already know a small group of SEN parents have formed a pressure group against HEADTEACHER and the schools SEN policies.

These parents are grinding her and the staff down on a daily basis thus preventing them from running the school and teaching our children. All their time is taken up with fire fighting.

Each day HEADTEACHER receives a barrage of abuse from this group and I fear that she and some of the staff are at breaking point.

The board of governors are aware and I’m in touch with them.

I’ve asked for an update from PARENT GOVERNOR AND Y3 PARENT and HEAD OF GOVERNORS although I’m not holding my breath as from what I understand there’s very little they can do.

I’ll know more by the end of the week.

In the meantime I think the school would really appreciate some positive messages. Whether your child is or ever has been SEN, had additional support, or you’re simply happy with the school and your child’s teacher this year. Any positive comments would be greatly received via email to [redacted].

This would really help boost morale and give staff a reason to carry on and not be beaten by this small toxic group of parents.

Please forward onto anyone you think may be able to help.

Keep being positive about the school and quash any negativity when you hear it.

This group needs to be shut down.

Y3 PARENT x

******END EMAIL*******

*This post was edited by MNHQ*

SuperNappyBaby Wed 16-Jan-19 13:12:49

Maybe request that the name of the teacher be removed from your post.

The whole thing sounds a unprofessional at least and the woman who sent the email sounds like a busy body!

blizzard79 Wed 16-Jan-19 13:27:13

Oh no! I thought I read it over and over and had changed everything. I have reported my post. Hopefully it can be changed very quickly. blush

zzzzz Wed 16-Jan-19 13:32:19

Ignore it. It sounds like one silly parent with little understanding of how schools work. If a group of parents were in contact with the school over any issue, another parent would not be able to “demand an update” from governors. Other parents are unlikely to know about your child’s sen in any detail.

blizzard79 Wed 16-Jan-19 13:42:57

I believe this parent is well integrated into the running of the school. Everywhere I go, parents who used to be my friends, now look the other way. Some are downright rude to my face, some talk about me behind my back, and some just keep their distance. I am not the only parent wo was (and still is) targeted. I think the parent who sent that email was silly and thought these things were true when she sent it. So, really the problem is that the headteacher is promoting these lies across the staff/parents. Now, I can stand up for myself and walk away. But, my autistic son cannot. sad

zzzzz Wed 16-Jan-19 13:53:39

Have you told other parents about your sons sen?

Thekidsarefightingagain Wed 16-Jan-19 16:00:19

Wow just wow. It's so sad that the national underfunding of SEND causes all this bad feeling and misunderstanding. It does sound like there's a huge lack of empathy and a dodgy school culture.

Calmed Wed 16-Jan-19 17:37:20

Sounds like a call for evidence to me - all those lovely emails will prove that any complaints against the school are invalid - because look at all these positive emails singing the school's praises. I'd say the Head has asked this parent to send the email and will use them to show the governors that there is nothing wrong and the SEN group of parents are just nasty, trouble-makers.
Hard to win against a Head like that - I've known even the governors resign and the Head still got to stay.

Thekidsarefightingagain Wed 16-Jan-19 18:14:38

Ooh yes Calmed, it IS a call for evidence isn't it. I think I'd be tempted to consult a SEND solicitor to see if anything can be done.

blizzard79 Thu 17-Jan-19 09:50:20

@calmed Spot on! A coordinated effort by the headteacher and her supporters to harm the the disabled children. Punish those pesky parents for thinking they should get their children access to an education. They are toxic and must be shut down!

I don't think I have the evidence, unfortunately.

She has also cleared out all of the senior teachers (they cost too much) and cancelled school run clubs (so she can outsource to expensive private clubs and charge them rent).

London Diocesan Board for Schools is supporting her. shock

So, if I could prove it, do you think this is a hate crime?

SaturdayNext Fri 18-Jan-19 07:46:33

If this parent sent that email out to all the others, or a substantial body of them, I would suggest that you and other parentsask the head to send a generic letter out setting the record straight, not least because it's utterly unfair on pupils with SEN in the school. If she won't do that, escalate it to the governors.

Claw001 Fri 18-Jan-19 07:52:54

I doubt this parent has access to all other parents email addresses.

As others have said contact the HT and let her know a parent is sending unauthorised emails on behalf of the school.

MoreCheeseDear Fri 18-Jan-19 08:57:30

It's not a hate crime. To try to escalate it to that would make a dreadful situation far worse.

The head was obviously told by those who employed her that saving money had to be a priority. I can understand your anger but maybe address some of it to the politicians who are constantly cutting all education funding. The head has to find £6,000 for every child with SEN from the school's already overstretched budget before he/she can get any further funding. That's something else to talk to politicians about.

Having said that- communication has obviously broken down and the situation seems to have become toxic. Has the head really said what you say he/she said? If some parents are making life unpleasant for the head and staff then it's understandable that they feel defensive. Maybe some parents have spoken to them aggressively. It's hard trying to get what your child is entitled to, I wouldn't blame parents for feeling frustrated.

The head is not responsible for this letter. It was sent some time ago had anything changed since it was sent?

I your place I'd have moved my child from there by now.

Onglue Fri 18-Jan-19 23:29:43

I would be escalating it, because this sort of behaviour isn't acceptable and needs challenging.

Funding issues are not an excuse to marginalise a group of parents and children like this, and anyone who behaves in this way is immoral and shouldn't be working with children at all.

SaturdayNext Sat 19-Jan-19 00:22:49

The head has to find £6,000 for every child with SEN from the school's already overstretched budget before he/she can get any further funding

Not true. Although some local authorities try to make this a condition of carrying an Education, Health and Care needs assessment it isn't a requirement in law.

MoreCheeseDear Sat 19-Jan-19 06:42:16

So true in practice then.

Onglue Sat 19-Jan-19 09:28:56

Not everywhere morecheesedear. Certainly not in my LA. Even if some LAs have this rule it can be easily challenged, as the law trumps illegal local policies.

MoreCheeseDear Sat 19-Jan-19 14:04:42

Certainly not in my LA. Even if some LAs have this rule it can be easily challenged, as the law trumps illegal local policies.

Applies in every LA I've worked for.

Onglue Sat 19-Jan-19 15:17:48

Not if it is challenged it doesn't. Like I say the law trumps local "policies".

coffeewonder Sat 19-Jan-19 15:44:20

'So true in practice then.'

Possibly true in practice, but not in law. It wouldn't stand up at tribunal as a reason not to assess and so should be challenged by parents.

Noeuf Sat 19-Jan-19 15:53:01

An EHCP assessment isn't the same as additional funding. Schools are expected to pay for the first £6,000 of support from their general and (non ringfenced) budget.

Noeuf Sat 19-Jan-19 15:55:07

https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/import/cdcfundingg_briefingforr_parents--_final.pdf

Onglue Sat 19-Jan-19 15:56:23

True Noeuf but schools do receive notional SEN funding as part of their bedget, and that SHOULD be used to pay for additional support, but like you say it's not ringfenced, so it can be spent on something else.

Goldmandra Sat 19-Jan-19 15:58:54

The head has to find £6,000 for every child with SEN from the school's already overstretched budget before he/she can get any further funding

Not true. Each school is allocated a notional budget of this amount for each of the children with SEN they would be expected to have on roll. This may not exactly match the actual number but the bigger issue is that the budget is not ring-fenced. If the head and governors choose to use that budget elsewhere, there is nothing anyone can do. If they get shot of all of the children with SEND, that's even easier, isn't it?

It is my understanding that this problem is becoming more and more widespread as school funding comes under more pressure. It sounds like the inspection framework may be changing to encourage schools to support children with SEND more effectively which could help.

Onglue Sat 19-Jan-19 16:02:20

In any case, I'm sick of budget cuts being used as an excuse to treat children with SEN, and their parents appallingly. It's not acceptable, and parents of NT children certainly wouldn't put up with this sort of shit. I don't know why we have to be the scapegoat, our children have as much right to a suitable education as anyone else. And this fact is supported by law. Unfortunately too many LAs and schools behave illegally, think it's ok, and go around spreading misinformation like it's fact.

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