Dyslexia, the Education System and Life in general

Year 11 is over

Year 11 is almost at an end, with three more exams to go. Everything is calm on the surface at home. Josie says she is not stressed about her exams, which should be a good thing, but she is convinced that she will fail them all. 

I have since realised by fail she means anything less than a C (new level 5), as this is classed as a Pass. At that standard, I failed all my exams back in 1985. I passed CSE level 2 Maths, 2 Typing, 3 Science, 3 Home Economics, 4 English, 4 Child Development, 4 Geography. These would be GCSES levels D, E, and F (or the new GCSEs levels 4, 3, and 2). I wanted to retake my English in 6th Form but was told ‘I would not be able to pass the O Level in one year that I couldn’t pass in two years’, so I took Business Studies instead. 
It’s an exciting time of year. I can see Josie growing day by day, and her National Insurance number (no cards any more) arrived the other day, so she really is becoming a young adult. 

As the independent young adult that she is becoming, she has decided where she wants to go to college, and has an interview lined up. But she still needs more help with English and Maths etc. We had her Transition meeting in March and she has now received her draft EHCP which agrees she still needs Specialist input to help her reach her potential. She would really struggle in mainstream college without the proper support. Only trouble is that she only wants to go to mainstream. The LA left it so last to start the Transition that we are still without a school placement for September and we still only have a draft EHCP. These should have been completed by 31st March. 

So although things are calm on the surface, we are both frantically paddling underwater, like two beautiful swans. 

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Tribunal Timetable for Appeals


There have been changes to tribunal timetable for appeals. 

From 1 Aug 2016, Tribunal moved to a 12 week timetable for hearings (from 20 weeks) so it will be important that parents considering an appeal, must be better prepared and have their evidence/assessments planned well ahead. 

Additionally all appeals regarding Refusal to Assess are now paperless i.e. there will be no physical hearing and decisions will be made on the documentation alone; parents can request hearings if tribunal considers it reasonable.  Again it is vital that all evidence/documents from nurseries/schools/colleges/experts for the appeal are sourced early & their release timed well. This will go some way to ensure that evidence is not provided by the local authority at the last minute to counter evidence/reports. 

This is likely to rule out the times that local authorities have been able to turn up with late evidence at hearings, which has added to parental frustrations and further delays.

Do contact us on our helpline on: 0300 302 3731 if you need further advice.

We are open tonight (Tuesday 6th September) from 8.00pm to 10.00pm and from 9.30-12.30 & 2:00-5:00pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday our helpline is open from 9.30-12.30pm.

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LA Blunders

With all this uproar over Baker Small this weekend, gloating over social media about their victory over a child with SEN.  I am reflecting how lucky I am that my LA’s lawyer has actually helped smooth the pathway along our route to Tribunal. With the guidance of their lawyer we agreed on a Finalised Statement (back in February 2016) after having a Proposed Statement since August 2014.

Celebrations all round, and I carefully filed the wonky scanned copy of the agreed finalised statement that the lawyer had emailed me. I withdrew my Appeal, and took a deep sigh as it was less than a week before the Tribunal Hearing.

I waited for my official Statement to arrive. I emailed the LA and requested a copy. They passed me from one department to another. I was eventually sent a previous draft. Then another draft. Several more versions later. Now their solicitor has sent them the scanned version that the LA sent him, to help them find the official Agreed version. It is now almost four months later and yet again they have just emailed me another wrong version tonight.

Tomorrow I will be on the phone to the Ombudsman and then maybe the SOS!SEN helpline, think I may need some help with some scary legal wording.

Looks like someone may have to retype it from scratch.

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Sophies’ Journeys


The funniest part of my job is the variety of donations, and the strangest I thought was a squeaky giraffe dog toy.  We had received about five of them, which all sadly ended up in the bin before I realised they are actually quite expensive baby teethers.  As the toy has a small opening, we didn’t feel we could safely clean it to be sold. Then just as Sophie (number six) was about to go on the journey to landfill, a lovely lady walked in and asked for squeaky baby toys for her dog.

Since then ‘Squeaky Lady’ has been in several times and we hear all about Sophie and how her dog gently carries her around the house. I am so happy that Sophie has now found a home to be loved again.

Time is flying so fast at All4kids2 and every day I am amazed at the generosity of people with their amazing donations, and how so many people who are willing to give their time to support our charity.  We really have the best group of volunteers who are more like one huge family, without them, none of it would be possible.

I am also getting to meet lots of people who have been through similar battles with the education system. Most have either had struggles at school themselves, have children who are struggling or know someone else who has.  I feel so privileged to be part of making the SOS!SEN Walk-in Advice Centre possible. It is held in the back of the All4kids2 shop (117 High Street, New Malden, KT3 4BP) on the first Wednesday of every month (excluding school holidays) from 5-7pm.

Every day I am grateful to be part of SOS!SEN, such an amazing charity, helping to empower parents with the knowledge, so children with Special Educational Needs get the right help that they are entitled to.

Thank you so much for following my blog.  Please share, so we can help raise awareness and much needed funds, so we can provide this support to families who really need us.

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Support in New Malden

I am so excited to announce that SOSSEN are coming to New Malden.


We are having an ‘Open Meeting’ on 23rd September. Please come along and meet the Advisers. Ask your questions about SEN Law and Educational difficulties your child may be having.

We will also be looking for feedback on the type of advice service needed in New Malden. Have a look at http://www.sossen.org.uk to see the types of services we provide.

We look forward to seeing you there.


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support in New Malden

I am so excited to announce that SOSSEN are coming to New Malden.


We are having an ‘Open Meeting’ on 23rd September. Please come along and meet the Advisers. Ask your questions about SEN Law and Educational difficulties your child may be having.

We will also be looking for feedback on the type of advice service needed in New Malden. Have a look at http://www.sossen.org.uk to see the types of services we provide.

We look forward to seeing you there.


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Proposed Amended Statement… 2nd Draft Finally

One Year and One Week after receiving the first draft of my Proposed Statement, finally I have received the second draft (8th August 2014 – 15th August 2015).

I had been wrongly advised by someone not to push for the Statement to be finalised, as the EHCP transition was coming up, and I should leave it as long as possible and let the LA practice on other people before giving me a EHCP (instead of a Statement).  At the time this made sense, as the LA had already moved Josie into her new school and was settling nicely.

Then with just eight days notice, the LA informed the school that they wanted to have a Transition meeting, and I was sent some forms to complete.  I stupidly wasn’t prepared for that surprise.  So with advice and support from SOS!SEN, we put the LA off and demanded that they fulfill their legal requirement and issue a Finalised Statement.

Now I am back in the game again, and just over one year since receiving the first draft, I have a second draft of the amended proposed statement.

This time I am going to be prepared, so I will book myself onto a SOS!SEN Workshop to learn as much as I can.  www.sossen.org.uk/parent_workshops

For now, I have to get my ‘Finalised Statement’ finally finalised.

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All4Kids2 New Malden


Woooooooooow….. what an amazing three and a half months. The shop is doing amazingly well. I am working with the most amazing people ever, and helping to raise awareness and funds for SOS!SEN.  What an amazing job!! I am so lucky to be in a position to now help make a difference to so many lives.


SOS!SEN have helped so many families over the last 15 years.  The stories of praise I have heard from so many parents that have been supported over the years are amazing.  Now these families all want to help and are bringing in all their toys, clothes etc, and offering their time to help the charity in return.

Every day I hear stories of families that need support now, or who wish they had known about SOS!SEN in the past when they were fighting the Education System for extra assistance.

We have been very lucky to be chosen by a local company that designs and develops, toys and games.  They now donate stock to us that has only been used for photographic purposes and then often comes to us still in it’s original packaging.

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We are having fun, coming up with ingenious ways to bring books to life. We are creating Book Bags, by matching a toy to a book and helping children to act out the story and really make it a book to treasure forever. This will help the imagination take the story way beyond the book itself. These have been very popular with Childminders and Teachers.

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Some of our lovely donations, that don’t stay in the shop for long.


As you can see, we sell everything from Maternity clothes, baby clothes all the way up to teenagers clothes, with swimwear, fancy dress and school uniform.  Also car seats, pushchairs, prams, cots, bouncers, walkers, bottle sterilisers, books, bikes, scooters, toys, games and teddies, and anything child related.

We want to bring the support to parents into New Malden, and SOS!SEN are planning on running a group of some sort one evening a month.

If you are interested in making a donation or finding out more about the evening group, please email me at All4kids_2@aol.com

Please follow us on http://www.facebook.com/groups/all4kids2  and twitter  @All4Kids2Shop

Thank you very much in you interest in my blog.

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SOS!SEN – ‘All4Kids’ Children’s Charity Shops

My kids say I’m a bit of a hoarder, but every now and then things get too much and I have a big clear out.  I have always donated my excess treasures to local charity shops, as it makes the process feel twice as good; because I know I am helping good causes and making room at home again.

Once I have dropped off my donations, I feel it would be rude not to have a browse.  There are always so many bargains to be had, and they are a real treasure trove for things that you just wouldn’t find in ordinary shops.


I have been very happy in the Clothing Department at Sainsbury’s for the last five years, but when I saw the position advertised to work in a brand new Children’s Charity Shop in New Malden to raise awareness and funds for SOS!SEN, I had to apply.  Before I had time to blink, I had an interview, was offered the job and then found myself (with very watery eyes) standing in the HR office handing in my notice.

I am so excited that I have now got the opportunity to make a difference, to help raise awareness and funds, so SOS!SEN can continue to help give advice and support to families of children with special educational needs.  Being in the shop gives me a chance to talk to parents, and to be a friendly face in the community.  Hopefully we can help parents feel not so alone, and point them in the right directions for support.

At this point I suppose I should point out that I am just a parent, that has been through the battle with the education system to get help for my dyslexic daughter, I am not an expert and all views are my own.

SOS!SEN already have a shop ‘All4Kids’ at 169b High Street, Hampton Hill, TW12 1NL.  So I am really excited to be part of the new venture.

‘All4Kids 2’ has now opened at 117 High Street, New Malden, KT3 4BP Tel: 020 3761 7320.  Please pop in for a browse or a chat.  At present in New Malden we are trying to be open from 10am to 4pm.

As we are so new we are still looking for Volunteers, so if you have a few hours spare please pop in and see us.

Also we are always in need of donations of; good quality clothes and shoes we can sell in our shop (we can also recycle damaged clothes), maternity clothes, toys, games, books, cots, buggies and equipment.

I am also being very cheeky and asking if anyone has a computer they would be willing to donate to the shop, this will be put to use to help us run efficiently, and in turn help SOS!SEN help more families.

Please view their website at www.sossen.org.uk to find out more about the charity.

Thank you x

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I had total trust in the Education System

This has been quite therapeutic starting this blog.  Having gained so much experience about how the education system works, and I hate to think of all those lost parents out there who don’t know which way to turn. I felt like a failure as a parent for so long and buried my head in the sand. But it was my daughter’s determination and desire to go to school every day and keep trying, that finally made me open my eyes and start to battle for her.

Questioning the school and education system totally went against who I was as a person. I had total trust in the school, and believed that they were doing the right thing.

I feel so angry at the education system, and the lack of real support they have for children and parents. Obviously funding is the main concern, but surely to have the right support from an early age will save the Government money in the long run.

I had written my story as a blog (below), but it seemed too patchy for people to dip in to. So I have put it all together and amended it slightly (spell checked it), and it is now stored under a separate tab ‘A Long Battle – The Whole Story‘.  Sorry it is so long, I’m not very good at being concise.

I hope it helps people that are on that journey already, to feel not so alone. Also I hope it reaches people that just feel maybe something isn’t quite right and their child isn’t keeping up in some way.

I hope this helps you see what questions you should be asking.


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