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An apology up front

Children like Alice

Monday 11 January 2016

An apology up front – this blog is going to be jargon-heavy!  Children like Alice with special educational needs (we call this SEN) are all moving from something called SEN Statements at school onto something called a Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP).  An EHCP is a legal document which sets out a description of your child’s needs (what he or she can and cannot do) and what needs to be done to meet those needs by education, health and social care – the aim is to join up education, health and social care in a way that the old statements did not.  Still with me?

Alice’s transfer meeting from her SEN Statement to EHCP was last June and we’ve been chasing the paperwork ever since.  This year she will be moving from an infant school to a separate Junior school, so it is imperative that her new plan in place as soon as possible.  The new school will not be able to accept her application until the plan has been agreed – because without it in place they will not be able to say whether they can meet her needs.  This means without the paperwork in place we could be left without a school place for the next academic year.

Last week, I spent most of the week chasing my tail as I got passed from pillar to post.  The SEN department caseworker assured me for the third time in as many months that Alice’s paperwork is on her desk and it will be a matter of weeks before it is approved and sent out.  This time, I’m not buying it.  I asked to speak to the manager.  He was in a ‘meeting’.  I told her that I will call every day until I speak to him, as I’m fed up with being fobbed off!   I rang again the next day, this time he was away from his desk.  I felt like a pattern was starting to emerge.  He did however (to my surprise) call me back.  He said he understood the urgency of the case and that he would draw his attention to it and get it finished and sent to me registered post by Friday.  I was really pleased with his response, but couldn’t help think – i’ll believe it when I see it!

Friday arrived and…true to his word I received the EHCP paperwork! This was an amazing example of when someone says they will do something and they do it.  It doesn’t happen very often, so I called him to thank him for his efforts.  I go through the EHCP with a fine tooth comb.  I make a call to the Looked After Team to check the figures.  Everything appears to be fine – and the figures quoted will give the school enough money for a full time level 2 learning support assistant for Alice – this is the level of support that her current school agreed to give her. I breathed a sigh of relief as there has been no change to the support she will receive.

I arranged to meet the special educational needs coordinator at school today.  She went through the EHCP with me.  A query arose – the school is currently getting around £2,000 more per year, than is being offered in the new plan.  And what exactly are they spending it on?  A big black hole has appeared.  The SENCO shrugged her shoulders, she had no idea where the Headteacher had decided to use the money.

I was secretly hoping that this time it would be straightforward – no such luck!

A Family Less Ordinary