Loyal readers will already know the struggle I’ve been having with the Local Education Authority (LEA), for new visitors “hello, pull up a chair and take a look at Branded Unteachable , Life In Limbo and Communicating About Mis-Communication ”
So, just as I thought things were reaching a conclusion – we’ve found the perfect school for The Whirlwind, they are confident they can meet his needs AND they have a place for him – the LEA decide to move the goal posts! Based on 6 weeks in a Pupil Referal Unit they now feel he can go back into mainstream school!!!
This is the letter I’ve posted to them in response (I’ve changed names to protect the guilty!):
“Further to my telephone conversation with xxxxx, this morning I would like to formalise my response to your decision not to approach HG School with regards to an educational placement for The Whirlwind.
Firstly I would like to point out that basing this decision on the apparent ‘progress’ he’s made at the Pupil Referal Unit is absurd – he has only been at the unit for approximately 6 weeks and during this time a marked regression in his behaviour has been noted by myself, his morning tutors and his key worker. There have been several occasions where his meltdowns have been so severe I have been forced to cancel his afternoon at the PRU as it would have been impossible for me to physically get him into the taxi (even if the taxi driver had agreed to transport him in that condition!). In addition, I cannot see how the fact he appears to be managing in a classroom with only 8 pupils (including The Whirlwind) and 3/4 staff, part time and with no lunchtime or playtime to contend with could possibly lead you to believe that he will manage in a mainstream school (with or without an Enhanced Resource Unit). As was clearly shown at yyyyy School (in your own departments’ words and those of Autism Outreach, one of the very best schools the LEA has when it comes to being Autism Friendly) it takes a while for The Whirlwind to feel comfortable enough to ‘let go’ within school but it DOES happen eventually and if you insist on placing him in a mainstream school it is only a matter of time before we are dealing with another exclusion and all this stress again, not to mention the damage to his confidence, self-esteem, education and anxieties that this will cause.
In September you contacted DH and AW (both Independent/out of county placements) who BOTH indicated they could not meet The Whirlwind’s needs, as was stated to me at the time you rarely (if ever) contact these schools and usually only for your most complex and difficult to place students, as a last resort. If these schools could not meet his complex needs why do you now believe you have suitable provision that CAN meet his needs?
Since being refused by DH and AW, and due to the LEA not having an appropriate school for him, The Whirlwind has been on your ’emergency list’ that is sent to every mainstream and special school that the LEA maintains, the idea being that if a school can meet his needs and has a place they are supposed to contact you with regards to him being placed there, in addition I told xxxxxxx in September that I would be happy to consider any schools that the LEA felt could meet his needs – the LEA has failed to put forward ANY schools for me to consider. In all this time NO school has come forward to say they can take him so how can you state we have alternatives to HG?
During the meeting at PRU on dd/mm/yy zzzzzz suggested PL and BD as possible placements. The response I received from BD is that they already have two extra students above their capacity in the ERU and could not possibly place another student in a unit that is already over capacity, the response from PL is that their unit is also two students over capacity with two students in their mainstream school who SHOULD be in the ERU that they are unable to place in there and both schools stated that they also have waiting lists for the ERUs. It was suggested by zzzzzz and the head of the PRU that I consider looking at ‘smaller’ primary schools, however all the primary schools I have researched (online and/or by telephone) have class sizes around the 30 pupil mark – as previously stated The Whirlwind will not be able to cope in a class this size and we will end up back in this position again but with TWO exclusions on his record. I have rung around most of the LEA maintained schools with ERUs and they have ALL stated that the ERUs are completely full, in some cases they already have children in their mainstream classes that should be in the ERU and they ALL have waiting lists for the ERU. If you attempt to ‘shoehorn’ him into an ERU that is already over full it is going to be detrimental to the education of The Whirlwind and to the other students. All these schools with ERUs have mainstream classes of approximately 30 students, as previously stated he will not cope with such large classes.
The Statement of Educational Need dated dd/mm/yy states “The Whirlwind can find the school environment overwhelming”, “he finds many situations anxiety provoking, or frustrating and once in this heightened state finds it extremely difficult to de-escalate”, “crowded and noisy places appear to distress him a great deal” – how can he be expected to manage a mainstream classroom?
The SEN also states “The Whirlwind’s outbursts have increased in intensity and frequency…..physically attacking pupils and adults” and “He has hurt children, staff and his mum during his physical outbursts” – his presence in a mainstream class will not only be detrimental to his OWN emotional and physical well being it will be detrimental to other students and staff and place them at risk of harm if his meltdowns are not dealt with appropriately.
In Part 3A of the SEN item 1.3 states “To develop his sense of security and well-being in school so that his identified anxiety is reduced” – placing him in a mainstream classroom will have the opposite effect!
Finally in Part 4 of the SEN it is stated ” Education Otherwise than at school for pupils with complex needs not currently attending school, leading to integration into an appropriate school” you quite clearly state here that he has complex needs, nothing has changed so much since dd/mm/yy that he no longer has those complex needs, so why do you now believe that any of the schools that were unable to meet his needs in mm are suddenly able to meet his needs in mm?
I would ask that you consider the above points, some of which you may not have been made aware of, and reconsider your decision not to approach HG. I must also insist that within 10 working days of this email you supply me with a copy of The Whirlwind’s statement with either a named school OR the type of provision you intend for his placement to enable me to begin the tribunal process if I feel it necessary. As you are aware The Whirlwind will have no educational provision after the Christmas Holiday so time is of the essence.
Ok, let battle commence…….I’ll keep you posted!