Search Results for: school

Navigating the end of year: will children be intentionally​ excluded from school trips?  Can more be done to prevent common difficulties?

Navigating the end of year: will children be intentionally​ excluded from school trips? Can more be done to prevent common difficulties?

So, it is soon school trip season. It is a few years since I was introduced to ‘groups’ in social media and one thing I have noticed each year is a pattern whereby small children who were looking forward to their school trip are removed at the last minute.  The accounts that distraught parents write … Continue reading Navigating the end of year: will children be intentionally​ excluded from school trips? Can more be done to prevent common difficulties?

When ‘school’ ‘gets it right’, what does it look like?

When ‘school’ ‘gets it right’, what does it look like?

… and how does it feel? Well, it feels effortless, though you know that hard work is being relentlessly applied, and it looks easy, though the skills of the staff are clearly evident.  It also feels respectful, objective and there seems to be no interest in blame, gossip or drama.  The business of the day starts … Continue reading When ‘school’ ‘gets it right’, what does it look like?

When your child isn’t ‘fine’ in school.  Superb resources​ for families and for professionals.

When your child isn’t ‘fine’ in school. Superb resources​ for families and for professionals.

A must read for all families that have children who struggle to attend school and all professionals that work to support these families.  See also the guide specifically for professionals/schools. Please share this widely so that as many families and professionals as possible can access it: it’s an essential resource in my opinion. https://schoolrefuserfamilies.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/new-guides-for-parents-schools-when-a-child-struggles-with-school-attendance/ Above is … Continue reading When your child isn’t ‘fine’ in school. Superb resources​ for families and for professionals.

Is the culture fostered by the school leadership team the most important intervention a child can receive?

Is the culture fostered by the school leadership team the most important intervention a child can receive?

What if… Lily receives excellent support from a school that is genuinely inclusive at heart. I can’t help but wonder, what if?  What if, from an early age, Peter had been offered the type of support, within the same sort of school culture, that Lily receives now. You see, Lily is believed.   Everything stems … Continue reading Is the culture fostered by the school leadership team the most important intervention a child can receive?

SEN Support in Schools – We’re Missing the Point

SEN Support in Schools – We’re Missing the Point

Every school-age child with a special educational need (SEN) should have a written plan of support.  Every single one.  That is my interpretation of the SEND Code of Practice (SEND COP) and I will explain why.  Published in June 2014, Chapter 6 of the SEND COP describes the provision of SEN Support in Schools.  It … Continue reading SEN Support in Schools – We’re Missing the Point

Unable to attend school – what next?

Following on from the tips from Rosie and Jo’s mum (see unable to attend school) I want to share some lessons learned from the experiences of Peter and Jack. Peter and Jack were almost 9 and in Year 4.  They had shared the same kind, nurturing teacher for 1 term in Year 3 and the same unkind … Continue reading Unable to attend school – what next?

Good Quality SEN Support could lead to fewer EHC Assessments and Plans…

Good Quality SEN Support could lead to fewer EHC Assessments and Plans…

… fewer children with unmet need and a reduction in preventable escalation of need. Couldn’t it? Have we paid enough attention to ‘SEN Support’, or did it become lost in the rush to secure a ‘legally binding’ EHC Plan?   There have been twitter rumblings of late about more use of SEN Support (and fewer applications … Continue reading Good Quality SEN Support could lead to fewer EHC Assessments and Plans…

Bethany’s Dad Gives the Rest of the Story

Bethany’s Dad Gives the Rest of the Story

Last week, I was given the privilege of sharing the turning point in Bethany’s story (see here).  Following a BBC exposé her dad was ‘allowed’ into a meeting about her and finally, experts on PDA were listened to.  A corner in her care was turned and she could finally see a way out of the … Continue reading Bethany’s Dad Gives the Rest of the Story

When FND, ASC and EDS Collide

When FND, ASC and EDS Collide

Another child pushing himself to extremes to meet the expectations of school and so on with shocking results. CAMHS tier three inadequate and what appears to be complete apathy when it comes to the mental health of a neurodiverse child by them. Lovely to hear about such a thoughtful SENCO.

“That would make it very difficult for me to bring her in again tomorrow.”

“That would make it very difficult for me to bring her in again tomorrow.”

This was something I heard myself saying recently.  I was with senior staff from Lily’s school and we were (again) racking our brains to think how else to help. Lily is struggling to attend school, thanks to recently being overwhelmed with memories linked to trauma from a different school.  As part of this, someone suggested … Continue reading “That would make it very difficult for me to bring her in again tomorrow.”

Three powerful questions to help your child access the services they need.

Three powerful questions to help your child access the services they need.

I’m exhausted with having to micromanage systems and process.  Too often the paths to accessing the services my children needs are cluttered with semi-automated processes manned by professionals that are seemingly unable to use their knowledge, skills and judgement.  Any pre-existing commonsense, autonomy and advocacy seemed to have been driven out. Most recently, CAMHS systems meant that … Continue reading Three powerful questions to help your child access the services they need.

Why does the parent have to be more ‘professional’ than the ‘professionals’?

Why does the parent have to be more ‘professional’ than the ‘professionals’?

Yet again I hear of a parent being informed (this time by a paediatrician) that they need to ‘work with school’ and so I feel the need to vent… This is what almost all parents want more than anything else: to be able to work with WITH school (staff).  There are a few things that … Continue reading Why does the parent have to be more ‘professional’ than the ‘professionals’?

It’s not all bad news… my recommendations to commissioners and service leaders

It’s not all bad news… my recommendations to commissioners and service leaders

Last week I got the chance to spend time with some SENCos.  I was invited to talk about Peter’s story and with his permission, I did just that. It’s the same story every time – there is no question that there are very many professionals ‘out there’ that want to ‘get it right’.  For about … Continue reading It’s not all bad news… my recommendations to commissioners and service leaders

Just imagine – if adults were treated like some of our children…

Just imagine – if adults were treated like some of our children…

I’m struggling at the moment at work.  Lots of stresses, both physical and mental have been building up over time. I have never been a bounce out of bed person but I’m finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning and leave the house to go to work.  I noticed it started … Continue reading Just imagine – if adults were treated like some of our children…

Is there too much gate-keeping for autism assessments?

Is there too much gate-keeping for autism assessments?

I have heard, one time too many, that a child won’t be referred by a GP for an autism assessment unless school staff ‘agree’ or ‘have concerns’.  Teams that do this and professionals that partake are not, it seems, following their own professional, evidence-based guidance. A diagnosis of autism is carried out by a multidisciplinary … Continue reading Is there too much gate-keeping for autism assessments?

The privilege of being ‘just’ a Mum that so many can never experience.

The privilege of being ‘just’ a Mum that so many can never experience.

I love being Lily’s mum. I love being Peter’s mum but this post is about only having to be a mum. It’s a long time since I have only had to be a mum to either of my children. Being ‘just a mum’ is a privilege that many parents will never experience.  I suspect that … Continue reading The privilege of being ‘just’ a Mum that so many can never experience.

“There might be a cost for that.”

“There might be a cost for that.”

Said the GP receptionist, kindly, gently and in an almost apologetic tone. Yes indeed.  There are many costs. They include my identity, my career (job), pension, salary, professional status, our mental health and time…  time with each other.  Having choices about where my child lives ripped away from me is another one that springs to mind, … Continue reading “There might be a cost for that.”

When your child is struggling can your GP help?

When your child is struggling can your GP help?

I have previously written about children that fall between the gaps, those who seem to be ‘Nobody’s Problem’.  Here I have written a template letter GP that I think could help. It was written with this scenario in mind: You and your child are desperate.  S/he is struggling to get to school, they are coming … Continue reading When your child is struggling can your GP help?

Broken.  Unmet need in SEN – more about the true costs.

Broken. Unmet need in SEN – more about the true costs.

By DJ and Velcro’s Mum The tears haven’t come for a long time, but today they did…. and I couldn’t stop.  So I rang my dear friend, who just gets it, and talked… and sniffed.   The devastation physically and mentally to our family and home over the last year is now what I see … Continue reading Broken. Unmet need in SEN – more about the true costs.

Early Intervention does not mean: “send them on a parenting course”

Early Intervention does not mean: “send them on a parenting course”

‘Catch all’ strategies prescribed indiscriminately (and that must be completed before other services are accessed) can’t possibly be the right approach.  Sure, it is a way to manipulate waiting time information to show an improvement.  No doubt it will reduce demand too, as some families simply can’t face it or can’t manage to get there … Continue reading Early Intervention does not mean: “send them on a parenting course”

How much control should my child have?

How much control should my child have?

  By Rosie and Jo’s mum I’m not an expert in behaviour management or child development. I’m a parent who has learnt lots over the years from reading, looking after my own children and talking to other parents of children with ASD. Controlling behaviour is an issue that lots of us parents seem to come … Continue reading How much control should my child have?

Just listen to me and properly assess him, please?

Just listen to me and properly assess him, please?

Not much to ask really is it? Parents generally know their children well.  When things aren’t ‘right’ parents can be pretty good at noticing. Can’t they? When children have difficulties, disabilities and/or medical issues their parents are a gold mine of information about those issues. Aren’t they? Last year, by about 6 months into his … Continue reading Just listen to me and properly assess him, please?

You want ‘Mum’ to be less anxious?

You want ‘Mum’ to be less anxious?

It’s simple.  Look after her child in a way that accurately reflects their needs. To do this right you need to understand her child.  You may have to develop some humility, improve your communication skills, learn a few new things, test them out and liaise with ‘Mum’ and some professionals.  Not to hard right?  Part … Continue reading You want ‘Mum’ to be less anxious?

Is bullying a form of rationing in the Public Sector?

Is bullying a form of rationing in the Public Sector?

Serious question: is bullying a method that staff in education, health and/or social care use to ration their limited resources?  After all it isn’t uncommon to hear “It was all fine until I requested a specialist school” or “As soon as we requested an EHC assessment it all changed.” These seem to be magic triggers … Continue reading Is bullying a form of rationing in the Public Sector?

Know when to stop flogging the dead horse.

Know when to stop flogging the dead horse.

Possibly one of the many lessons that I have been slow to learn over the years is when to stop hoping things will get better.  When to stop trusting, believing and imagining good intentions in others.  When to realise that very many ‘professionals’ are anything but ‘professional’ and that someone may have the title ‘expert’ … Continue reading Know when to stop flogging the dead horse.

Bullied by Headteachers: No fresh starts allowed.

Bullied by Headteachers: No fresh starts allowed.

I learned a lot from the contents of my Subject Access Request.  Under the Data Protection Act I requested a copy of Peter’s files and along they came.  In theory, there should have been no great surprises should there?  School staff should work with me in the spirit of a shared aim of ‘the best … Continue reading Bullied by Headteachers: No fresh starts allowed.

When should we ask teachers for opinions on SEND?

When should we ask teachers for opinions on SEND?

It’s called a social communication disability for a reason….. I could give you pages and pages of examples that demonstrate that many, if not most, teaching staff not only lack knowledge but more seriously, lack awareness of this lack of knowledge, about SEND.  Many of these examples are from before the changes to SEND provision … Continue reading When should we ask teachers for opinions on SEND?

Being forced to fight for things you never wanted to need.

Being forced to fight for things you never wanted to need.

“Because you want him ‘Out of County’” For parents of children with additional needs this paradox (fighting for something you don’t want to need) is normal.  It ranges from constant, every day, exhausting mini-dramas, to full out, full scale all consuming battles for survival where you have 3 choices: remove your child from school altogether, … Continue reading Being forced to fight for things you never wanted to need.

Children with SEN shouldn’t be set additional targets.

Children with SEN shouldn’t be set additional targets.

Children should not be set targets as part of their written plan of SEN support.  This change came about in 2014 with the publication of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code Of Practice. Don’t believe me?  Well I did an audit of the use of the word target in the SEN COP.  The results … Continue reading Children with SEN shouldn’t be set additional targets.

There’s a whole lot more to ‘independence’ than catching a bus….

There’s a whole lot more to ‘independence’ than catching a bus….

…. than making a sandwich or doing your washing.  Just like with the new approach to SEN Support in schools, that asks us to think about ‘barriers to learning’, the ‘itmustbemum’ mums are clear: “It is essential that the likely barriers to becoming independent are properly identified, assessed, then understood – so that support is appropriately targeted … Continue reading There’s a whole lot more to ‘independence’ than catching a bus….

No smoke without fire?  ‘Safeguarding concerns’

No smoke without fire? ‘Safeguarding concerns’

I’d have been the same.  I would’ve thought “I bet there is more to this story, a whole ‘other side.’ There will be something legitimate that triggered the Social Care referral, I bet.” That is until I read the contents of Peter’s school and local authority (LA) files.  To say it was interesting is an … Continue reading No smoke without fire? ‘Safeguarding concerns’

It’s Not Complex: A Mini-blog

It’s Not Complex: A Mini-blog

It really isn’t.  Fixing famine in Africa is complex.  Understanding a school budget and notional funding should not be seen as/talked about as complex by those in a graduate professional with access to finance advice. So please stop hiding behind poor information and a lack of transparency.  The unspoken message here is ‘we can’t do … Continue reading It’s Not Complex: A Mini-blog

Disagreements over ‘diagnosis’: What should happen next?

Disagreements over ‘diagnosis’: What should happen next?

This Situation The open secret that teaching staff can decide that the conclusions  of an ‘expert’ about a child’s specific difficulties are wrong, without following any agreed process, became well publicised over the last week.  So what ‘should’ we expect from the professionals that we entrust our children to every day? Examples of the types of … Continue reading Disagreements over ‘diagnosis’: What should happen next?

Shouldn’t it feel like a free choice? Why I don’t home educate

Shouldn’t it feel like a free choice? Why I don’t home educate

By Rosie and Jo’s mum Both of my girls have found school difficult.  They have both spent long periods unable to attend and they have both experienced severe anxiety as a result of inadequate provision. When things weren’t going well, which has been often, I have strongly considered home education.  Both girls are academically able … Continue reading Shouldn’t it feel like a free choice? Why I don’t home educate

The Absence of Critical Thinking

The Absence of Critical Thinking

The best education I received was led by exceptional Nurse Teachers and Leaders.  They had PhDs and they taught us to think, question and evaluate carefully the information that was presented to us. Yesterday a bizarre collection of statements was compiled in a document and published, then seemingly inadequate reporting of this followed making me aware again, of … Continue reading The Absence of Critical Thinking

We Won’t Treat your Child’s Mental Health Problems – ‘they are normal in autism’

We Won’t Treat your Child’s Mental Health Problems – ‘they are normal in autism’

Oh….. so that makes it ok then? Of course not.  Yet it happens often and, it seems to me, with increasing frequency. No one is born with an anxiety disorder. It isn’t surprising that children with Autism are prone to mental health problems.  To start with schools are designed for neurotypical mini-adults.  They aren’t great, … Continue reading We Won’t Treat your Child’s Mental Health Problems – ‘they are normal in autism’

We can’t tell education what to do

We can’t tell education what to do

By Rosie and Jo’s mum I have been working with health and education professionals to get my children’s educational needs met for over ten years now. As time has gone on and their needs have increased, the opinions and recommendations from health professionals have been hard and harder to obtain in writing or at least … Continue reading We can’t tell education what to do

Dyslexia Diagnosis– an embarrassing catalogue of errors and poor practice

Dyslexia Diagnosis– an embarrassing catalogue of errors and poor practice

It’s Year 3.  Peter is 7.  He has Asperger’s and needs a consistent routine so we had to read every night (or not at all).  So, he had read more than many other children for a few years now.   He liked books and hated playtimes – wanted to spend them “sitting on a step looking … Continue reading Dyslexia Diagnosis– an embarrassing catalogue of errors and poor practice

Please Don’t Suggest a Sticker Chart

By Rosie and Jo’s mum. Those words seem so innocent yet they can feel so loaded. This is the kind of advice parents generally pick up at toddler groups when dealing with the terrible twos. We see it on TV, in parenting magazines and on parenting forums. There can’t be many parents out there who … Continue reading Please Don’t Suggest a Sticker Chart

You Are Not Asking for an EHC Plan

You Are Not Asking for an EHC Plan

By Rosie and Jo’s mum “She’ll never get a statement.” The confident words of various school staff to me on the occasions that I raised the possibility of requesting a statutory assessment for one of my daughters. They were always absolutely sure they were right. At the times of the conversations, both girls were making … Continue reading You Are Not Asking for an EHC Plan

How Far Behind Does She Have to be for an EHC Assessment?

“He is 2 years behind but the SENCo says he won’t ‘qualify’ for an EHC assessment.”  “School say she is doing well in set 3.” It seems to me that this is misinformation and not in any way within the spirit of the SEN Code of Practice that all schools are obliged to follow: The SEN … Continue reading How Far Behind Does She Have to be for an EHC Assessment?

Engaging with Professionals when you are a Parent with Asperger’s

Yesterday’s guest post highlighted difficulties that many have found shocking.   There is one element, however, that she has reflected on more here: that of being a parent when you are “on the spectrum” yourself. Further to the “Surprise Child Protection Meeting” incident where I went to a meeting expecting ‘help’ and after arriving found … Continue reading Engaging with Professionals when you are a Parent with Asperger’s

The ‘Surprise’ Child Protection Meeting

It was snowing, I felt empty as he packed his last bag into the car, this was my new life as a single mum to three. They would see their Dad, and there was a glimmer of hope that social care would finally provide the help we had been begging for to prevent this break … Continue reading The ‘Surprise’ Child Protection Meeting

Important Advice from a Mum (Seclusion Rooms)

The Use of Seclusion. A guest blog from a very experienced mum who was shocked to have been caught out.  She wanted to warn others so they could learn from her experience and she shared the information below on social media.  Straight away others commented to say how important they felt it was that this information is … Continue reading Important Advice from a Mum (Seclusion Rooms)