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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES: 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. 5. If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.

Webchat about educational provision for children with SEN on Wednesday 18th August 12.30pm
85

JuliaMumsnet · 11/08/2021 11:17

Hello

We’re delighted to announce a webchat with Ms Alice De Coverley. Alice de Coverley is a specialist education, equality and public law barrister. She has notable expertise in cases involving special educational needs, school exclusions, child sexual abuse and discrimination. Alice acts on behalf of children and young people, vulnerable adults, parents and carers, schools, local authorities, charities and NGOs, government departments, students, and universities. She is ranked by legal researchers at Chambers and Partners UK and the Legal 500, and is described in these directories as “very knowledgeable and passionate” barrister. She is also on the Legal Reference Panel for the Centre For Women’s Justice, and the co-author of “A Practical Guide to School Exclusions” and contributing author to “Patterson and Karim on Judicial Review”

Alice has kindly agreed to join us for a webchat to answer your questions about the getting appropriate educational provision for children with SEN and/or disabilities. As always when we ask experts to talk to MNers about legal matters, there will be a limit to how specific her advice can be, but she's been recommended to us in glowing terms and we hope the webchat will help to provide good general advice for parents and carers.

Please join us here on Wednesday at 12:30pm. The webchat will last one hour. If you can’t join us on the day, please leave your question here in advance.

Please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil.

Many thanks,

MNHQ

Webchat about educational provision for children with SEN on Wednesday 18th August 12.30pm
OP's posts:
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AvaCallanach · 13/08/2021 17:47

Hi Alice
Do you think that emotionally based school avoidance is finally being a little better understood and better supported since covid? At least at the local authority level? My LA has recently produced helpful guidance, very long overdue.

Part of the issue, it seems to me, has been that anxiety based disorders (selective mutism is another one) that don't tend to cause the school a huge amount of bother but have an enormous impact on the young person often don't seem to be a priority for referral eg to educational psychologists.

How would you advise parents advocate for their young person who has an anxiety based issue that the school doesn't seem to want to refer to specialists?

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Panickingpavlova · 13/08/2021 18:22

Hi Alice, thank you for coming on mumsnet.
I'm not sure if my questions are relevant to you, 1) my daughter was massively behind in school by year 2 as in one of the bottom. Looking back I see a few conversations with teachers missed out now obvious issues like short term memory issues and keeping the holistic approach to the child in mind.
I'm have realised that teachers actually get no sen training, not even basic stuff to be able to flag things up to Senco or even parents.
This is a massive and debilitating whole in education. If for instance teachers had even minimal training in sen, short working memory would have been flagged up sooner and help, games, strategists put in place. 1b) Senco, often more pay but what training? Surely Senco should have a minimum qualification which gives them again To good insight into send needs to then get the right referrals in place to aid the child.
Since my journey began... All my help for my daughter has come from outside the school.
Sometimes very small tips like spelling using "oh u lucky duck for should could etc" which made a massive difference to my daughter.

It's been the blind leading the blind and luckily I was able to buy in outside help.

2) we suspect my daughter has dyslexia and unfortunately, in the left leaning schools like ours, dyslexia has become a dirty world. Even the Ed psych from the school flinched when I mentioned it and she said "OK I don't mind you calling it that.... Literacy issues"

But dyslexia is still a protected disability?

What can I do do as a parent trying to help my bright but "trapped" daughter learn when I am coming up agaisnt hidden political agendas, from people who don't recognise dyslexia.

I have been told by 4 different parents from different age children that our headmistress doesn't recognise dyslexia.

And that any strategies used would help any literacy issue.

What can I do?

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Panickingpavlova · 13/08/2021 18:24

  • I stress the holistic approach because she was becoming very aware of her inability to read and take part in lessons like her peers and its been noted that this now low self esteem impacts her work.
    Thankfully over lock down I was able to get her to reading to a good level and help her learn. But the school didn't seem to understand this holistic approach but even the Ed psych has picked up on how she must have praise etc.
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Bangkokbaby · 13/08/2021 20:14

Can I check, will this be focusing on the English legal and schooling system? I'm in Scotland and we have a different system here.

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ChocolateHoneycomb · 13/08/2021 21:37

My ds, now 10, has ASD and dyslexia.
We thought he might be dyslexic from yr1, as his spelling is so utterly horrendous and we felt he didn’t ‘get’ phonics. Told repeatedly by lots of teachers that his reading was fine (actually very advanced) so he wasn’t dyslexic.
We already knew he had a ‘spikey’ cognitive profile with very high IQ but very weak areas e.g. working memory and spelling.
Yr3 saw edu psychol who said elements seemed like dyslexia but it wasn’t’normal’ dyslexia. I didn’t think they were great tbh, a bad choice.
Paid for private psych edu assessment again in yr4 this time from a specialist edu psychologist for ASD. They said it was classical presentation of dyslexia in high functioning bright ASD child.

Given prevalence of ASD and dyslexia, I am amazed a SENCO or dyslexia assessor would not know even a tiny bit about this.

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Elephantsparade · 13/08/2021 21:43

Is there a mechanism to claim back education provision youve had to make yourself when the LA provided none - as we paid for 5 hours with a tutor for a term when school coukdnt meet needs and tge LA didnt have an alternative available.

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morejumpingfrogs · 14/08/2021 09:31

My son has been out of school almost a year while the LA try to find him a place at a residential special school. He has complex needs and at 14 is physically and mentally difficult to manage and it looks like my husband will have to give up work to help me look after him. Can we claim any compensation from the LA for forcing us into this position? Is it relevant that there are a shortage of places due to increased demand because of the pandemic?

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Geraniumsandroses · 14/08/2021 13:12

My son is starting year 9 in specialist placement 40 miles away from home.

We had to fight for over 18 months to get this place. Our LA dragged their heals when issuing our final EHCP so it took a long time to get our right of appeal. During this time my sons mainstream placement inevitably broke down as it wasn’t suitable. We finally got our right of appeal and submitted our paperwork, we spent a small fortune on solicitors and expert (S&LT, OT and Ed psych) fees. Our LA backed down and offered placement just after responding to our appeal.
The whole system is incredibly unfair, my son got his placement because I was pushy, knowledgeable and could afford an amazing solicitor and experts. As his mainstream placement broke down his new school now has to build him back up again before he can even begin to start moving forward.

Why are LAs routinely getting away with failing and pushing children and their families to breaking point? They are so rarely held accountable for their actions.

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drspouse · 14/08/2021 14:29

I'd like to ask what force does the right to a mainstream education have when no mainstream school will take your child?
Our 9 year old son has ADHD and when he doesn't feel safe he displays challenging behaviour. He is in a PRU following exclusion and we cannot find a place in mainstream and have looked at 5 specialist schools (all of the ones within an hour) and none are suitable.
We believe, and the research shows, that children learn better both academically and socially when educated with neurotypical children.
We feel that schools expect us (non professionals) and our daughter to manage his behaviour and our 7 year old daughter to cope while schools are allowed to refuse to take him.

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GloGirl · 14/08/2021 14:47

My son is aged 8 and has autism, ADHD and dyslexia.

I've been advised he needs an EHCP and been advised by school that he could not get one, he doesnt really need it. At the moment he has almost no specialist provision in school aside from social support and ocassional tutoring in small groups.

I'm aware that I could apply for an EHCP myself and I would likely receive one, but no one can tell me what it should say, why I should want one, what it would ask for.

I understand the value and the premise of it but there is no one to help me establish what provisions he needs - so I can demand them. Specifics. My family are telling me that's our next fight, but god knows what am I fighting for?

He's a very bright child and his access to education is being blighted. I've spent thousands getting information and reports but I'm falling short of knowing how to help him in the next steps.

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WetWeekends · 14/08/2021 16:06

@GloGirl

My son is aged 8 and has autism, ADHD and dyslexia.

I've been advised he needs an EHCP and been advised by school that he could not get one, he doesnt really need it. At the moment he has almost no specialist provision in school aside from social support and ocassional tutoring in small groups.

I'm aware that I could apply for an EHCP myself and I would likely receive one, but no one can tell me what it should say, why I should want one, what it would ask for.

I understand the value and the premise of it but there is no one to help me establish what provisions he needs - so I can demand them. Specifics. My family are telling me that's our next fight, but god knows what am I fighting for?

He's a very bright child and his access to education is being blighted. I've spent thousands getting information and reports but I'm falling short of knowing how to help him in the next steps.

This is exactly what I was going to ask!
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WorldsBestBoss · 14/08/2021 21:48

Following

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sunshineandtulips · 14/08/2021 23:05

I am very curious about schools saying that my son doesn’t need an echp “yet” and I am going to have to sit back and watch him fail before they do anything?!?
I don’t believe they are pushing him enough as they don’t have a 1:1 with him the whole time- but when he does have assistance he thrives (.if it suits his agenda!!)
I have no idea how to fight for what he needs and he doesn’t have the language to say a what he needs help in, so it can come across as his just being “defiant or naughty” which it really isn’t- he needs a more structured environment with a set routine, staff support etc because left to his own devices his literally climbing the walls!

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Shuffleuplove · 15/08/2021 00:44

I have a more general question: how can charities (IPSEA/SOSSEN et al) exert influence to get Local Authorities to simply follow the law? The only recourse seems to be to threaten Judicial Review, which is time consuming and not always accessible to the layperson.

It frustrates me that we have well written laws which aren’t being followed!

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somuchcoffeeneeded · 15/08/2021 13:27

How successful can legal action ever be when the system is so woefully underfunded? I’m a school leader and the whole system is broken and frustrating for schools as well as parents. It all boils down to money. How can we work to separate decisions on provision and money constraints? How can we get people to stop voting Tory so that all children in state schools get a better chance at their education being properly funded? How do we stop blaming schools and LAs when it’s a money problem caused by Westminster?

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danni0509 · 15/08/2021 15:16

Hi.

What advice can you give about schools making ds stay on part time illegal timetables? (Against my wishes)

We had it at his old school (mainstream) in reception, year 1 and year 2. Hours were usually 2.5/3 hours a day. With a small period of full time hours before they cut him back down due to his behaviour. Complained numerous times, contacted LA no one interested. Got sendiass involved & Ipsea who sent warning letters. Head of send for our local authority had to contact the school in the end after I phoned her / emailed her my complaints. He went back up to full time then he left a few weeks later to go to a specialist school.

He started at a special school in may and they are doing the exact same thing Angry it’s a 35 minute drive to his school and he’s only allowed to stay 2.5 hours. He was on 4 hours a day to begin with but they decreased it due to his behaviours. They know I’m not happy with this arrangement, he’s due back in 3 weeks and they want to continue part time.

(Ds has autism / adhd / challenging behaviour to add, has had an ehcp for years)

He is nearly 8 and never received full time education. I’m unable to work etc.

Would appreciate any advice, thanks x

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hiredandsqueak · 15/08/2021 18:21

Hello Alice, thank you for coming onto Mumsnet.
I'd like your thoughts on Local Authorities who are deliberately disregarding the law in order to avoid costs of making provision for children and young people with SEND.
Our LA feign ignorance all the time forcing parents to pursue formal complaints that they obstruct and impede and then take their chances with the LGO who, if you are fortuante enough to find an investigator who actually investigates and understands the issue, then orders a token penalty to be paid.
So for myself, daughter out of school for two years LA refused to make provision under section 19 initially because I didn't have a letter from CAMHS. CAMHS refused two referrals from school because she has ASD and although GP referral accepted she was eventually seen some nine months after I had asked for help.
Complaint to LA was initially ignored, some six weeks later I received a response stating their policy had been met (ignoring the law) and no fault found and no provision made. Stage two ignored, LGO ordered a response giving them another month, then when that was ignored they gave them another month and then a fortnight.
Eventually I received just short of £2k, daughter had missed two years of school, got provision for just eighteen weeks of the two years because LGO refused to consider the time waiting for SENDIST even though SENDIST had no role or scope for recompense in failing to make out of school provision.
Daughter's independent specialist school costs £70k pa. Provision made for the two years cost LA less that £5k so they benefited enormously through their actions. In our LA this is common practice and parents are forced to make huge sacrifices to secure provision for their child, two Tribunals, one leave for JR and I'm saving for next Tribunal as despite LA losing almost 99% they will undoubtedly force me to Tribunal when current placement ends.

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perfectstorm · 15/08/2021 20:36

Hi Alice, and thank you for doing this.

In the years I've been on Mumsnet, there's a real pattern. Women post that their child is really struggling and in a very bad way when at home, but totally fine in school. Over and over, people say that their child's school school insist all is going well there, and parenting courses are then suggested. The parents question themselves, do the courses to no avail, and while their gut tells them there's something really serious going on, at the same time they worry that the school's right and 'it must be mum'.

Almost always, things reach a crisis and the child becomes so overwhelmed and overloaded that they lose it in school, or an acute mental health crisis develops, and the problems are suddenly obvious to everyone. But to an extent it's too late, because by then the child has already been harmed by all the lost years. An EHCP assessment gets underway, because the child's disability has stopped only harming them, and started to impact people outside the family, and the assessments almost always find significant unmet needs, and mental health damage that could have been reduced or even avoided had anyone listened in time.

Everyone always says early intervention is key, but nobody with any clout listens to the mother until the intervention is, by definition, late and triggered by the damage that's by now been done coming out in the child's behaviour outside their own home.

So as someone to whom the above must be as familiar as it is to us: if you could go back in time and speak to parents when they first start trying to tell the school, what would you tell them to do? As people who, individually, can't change the system in time for that child, what can they do within it as it presently stands, to try to get their child effective help before terrible damage is done?

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fhammock · 15/08/2021 22:18

@perfectstorm I agree.

I had concerns about DS when he was about 2, his nursery had concerns when he was 3. Age 4 we saw an early help worker from the council which was meant to start the assessment process, but didn't. After lots of messing about and long waits he was diagnosed with ADHD aged 8 but discharged there and then. School weren't helpful- it took 3 years (and me having to make a bit of a pain of myself) to get them to apply for an EHCP for him. We were eventually able to get back in to the system to be allowed an appointment, he's now 12 and on the (2-2.5 year) waiting list for an ASD assessment. He's now medicated which does help at school, but it took 2 appointments, questionnaires etc and around 2 years of waiting to get the first prescription. Meanwhile he began self harming, having meltdowns at school, and became violent towards me, but all CAMHS could do was give us the details of a volunteer counselling service- who were so overwhelmed with people referred via CAMHS that they had a huge waiting list! 🤦‍♀️ And in comparison to many others, we've had it easy! None of it is acceptable, the whole thing is so frustrating.

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notaflyingmonkey · 16/08/2021 16:14

I think more needs to be done to expose the practice of off rolling.

DS has ASD. His needs and his EHCP weren't being met at 6th form. They expected him to be able to seek out and articulate the support he needed, which was impossible for him to do. So at the start of the second year of A levels he was off rolled as it became apparent to them that he wasn't going to pass his exams.

We were left with a distraught teenager, who because of the timings, couldn't get in to another college to finish his second year. We ended up paying for private tutors, and he passed his exams, but the whole experience left him an emotional wreck who was at times suicidal.

What he was put through was disgraceful.

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Custardslice3 · 16/08/2021 22:29

Hi Alice, thanks for taking the time to try and answer some of our questions!

I have a tribunal date fast approaching to appeal B/F/I - the main purpose in appealling being to get DS7's dual placements at a carefarm and a MS school named in I and detailed more clearly in F. Since appealling the MS placement has failed. LA say they cannot name the farm provision in I without a registered provision also, and they do not have an alternative to name. So I am asking for I to be left blank and suitable EOTAS provision to be detailed in F.

LA are still exploring one possible indie school. I don't feel the school will be suitable for at least another 12-24 months due to DS's developmental age, and the trauma of 2 failed school placements. I am pretty confident the LA will not be in a position to name this school on the EHCP by the time we go to tribunal (though they are saying they want to ask the court for extra time).

My question is, if I am able to get EOTAS agreed either before or at tribunal i.e. the provision my son needs detailed in F and no placement named in I, but the LA then, at a later date, get this school to say they can meet need, can they change his plan after tribunal and name the school and cease the EOTAS provision? And if so, what do I need to do to stop them from being able to do this?

If you have additional time to comment on this I'd love to have advice on how to get a good EOTAS provision really well secured in the EHCP and how to convince a tribunal that this is in my son's best interests. I really want some stability for my son of knowing what provision will be in place for a full 12 month period but the LA are unwilling to commit to this.

Thank you!

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NameChange30 · 17/08/2021 07:51

@perfectstorm

Hi Alice, and thank you for doing this.

In the years I've been on Mumsnet, there's a real pattern. Women post that their child is really struggling and in a very bad way when at home, but totally fine in school. Over and over, people say that their child's school school insist all is going well there, and parenting courses are then suggested. The parents question themselves, do the courses to no avail, and while their gut tells them there's something really serious going on, at the same time they worry that the school's right and 'it must be mum'.

Almost always, things reach a crisis and the child becomes so overwhelmed and overloaded that they lose it in school, or an acute mental health crisis develops, and the problems are suddenly obvious to everyone. But to an extent it's too late, because by then the child has already been harmed by all the lost years. An EHCP assessment gets underway, because the child's disability has stopped only harming them, and started to impact people outside the family, and the assessments almost always find significant unmet needs, and mental health damage that could have been reduced or even avoided had anyone listened in time.

Everyone always says early intervention is key, but nobody with any clout listens to the mother until the intervention is, by definition, late and triggered by the damage that's by now been done coming out in the child's behaviour outside their own home.

So as someone to whom the above must be as familiar as it is to us: if you could go back in time and speak to parents when they first start trying to tell the school, what would you tell them to do? As people who, individually, can't change the system in time for that child, what can they do within it as it presently stands, to try to get their child effective help before terrible damage is done?

Excellent question. A second request for an answer to this one please!
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OneinNine · 17/08/2021 09:49

Whilst we have been lucky that we have managed to get educational support for ds2 we have never managed to get support for his mental health issues written into his EHCP. In part this is because CAMHS and social services do not seem to offer long term support in our area (their preferred model is to waste resources on assessing and then discharging because they have no support available rather than because of no need). What should we have done to get this support written into to his EHCP and implemented. And can you explain one thing I have never understood is how when education and healthcare budgets and administration are completely separate can an education authority force the NHS to provide care or therapies.

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drspouse · 17/08/2021 10:12

And can you explain one thing I have never understood is how when education and healthcare budgets and administration are completely separate can an education authority force the NHS to provide care or therapies.
My LEA tried to say that because the NHS didn't want to do OT, my DS doesn't need OT, despite it being written into his EHCP.
They have now agreed that private OT will be sourced (but he still hasn't had any for a year).

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10brokengreenbottles · 17/08/2021 15:00

Thank you for kindly offering your time to answer our questions.

DS1 (complex MH problems and some physical medical needs) has a comprehensive EOTAS package including home tuition and other provision such as therapies.

He excels at maths and science. If he were in school science lessons would include practicals it obviously isn't possible to deliver at home. So far practicals at home with the science tutor have been limited to things such as circuits, however I feel DS1 is missing out on opportunities normally available to his peers, which is only going to be magnified as he becomes older.

Do you think it is feasible for provision for practical science experiments to be included in section F as part of an EOTAS package? And have you ever managed to secure such provision, or know anyone who has?

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