At the beginning of August 2014🙂 I received a draft Statement of Special Educational Needs. I was over the moon. But looking into it properly, I didn’t feel it was specific about Josie’s needs. It looked good at a quick glance, but there was no real advice or guidance.
I couldn’t get hold of Josie’s school (until September), so I headed back to Parent Partnership, they had a look through it and agreed with what I had written on it, that it is too vague in places. They could only offer a little bit of information and recommended that I head back to IPSEA. I tried them again but still couldn’t get through.
I wrote endless emails to the LA querying everything in the Draft Statement. They said they needed a reply from the school. But school won’t even receive it until September. By the time School did see the Statement, they through a couple of questions back at the LA. I was worried as you only have a few weeks to appeal a draft Statement.
I spoke to the LA and they agreed that school haven’t got the right support in place for Josie. They said I should look at other schools in the borough.
I phoned the BDA helpline and I was put through to a lovely lady who really listened to me and empathised, and made me feel like there was still a way forward. I said I felt the only option was for Josie to go to a Specialist Dyslexia School but that there were none locally. I remember boarding school being mentioned as an option during the phone call. But what she said was that I was the one who would need to prove that none of the Local Authority Schools could offer Josie the right support.
She told me to contact, and actually visit all the local schools. Send them a copies of Josie’s Ed Psych report, and request in writing what support they can provide for Josie, or to ‘put in writing why they cannot meet her educational needs’.
I think she also recommended getting in touch with SOS!SEN as they are close to me and have a walk in advice centre. I found SOS!SEN in Hampton Hill, they had a walk in appointment session the next morning, so I went along. They suggested the CReSTeD website of Dyslexic Schools and they pulled out a little book that listed all Specialist Schools. They mentioned a few (one in particular). They also gave me huge amounts of advice on what to put in a letter to the LA, and to give them a dead line. They said that I needed to go and speak to all the schools in the borough and get facts about what they can and can’t offer Josie. They all agreed that they couldn’t offer any more than the school she is already at.
While I was contacting all the local schools, I booked an appointment to view Moon Hall College (Reigate), and I was totally blown away by this magical school that offered more dyslexic support than I could ever imagine in my wildest dreams. That was the best and worst day of my life. I have now seen the dream, how on earth do I make it reality.
I completed the forms so Josie could attend a taster day. She went along and absolutely loved it. She made loads of friends and for the first time she could see that there are lots of children with dyslexia, she was not alone in her struggle to get through school.
We had to wait for feedback from the school, this got a little complicated as they had to make sure they had exactly the right support for Josie. They thought her needs might be greater than they could cater for. Being a small school they can’t get in extra support, they just have what is already there. I kept the LA up to date with almost daily emails of all the information I was gathering.
With the worry of not getting into Moon Hall College, we booked Josie in for a taster day at The Moat School (Fulham), while I was there they said that if they couldn’t help her then maybe Blossom House School might be able to help her. Josie absolutely loved it at The Moat School, and yet again she made lots of friends.
Now we have seen two schools with amazing support, but how do we get the LA to agree to send her.
I have had all the advice I can find, but the LA have a track record of of saying no to what seems like screamingly common sense. I had heard that IPSEA sometimes go to court with people, so I needed to try them again. It was unbelievable how long it takes to get through to them, as they are volunteers working from home. They are all very experienced people in SEN Education Law, and do an amazing job. I finally got through and was given loads of brilliant advice, I was recommended to try and get Legal Aid and get a Solicitor to help me. I was also offered the possibility of one of their people helping me if it goes to Tribunal.
So by the time I was next in contact with the LA, I had the name of a solicitor to add to my massive stack of paperwork they must of accumulated about Josie.
It felt like every day I had to prove that I was not going away. This has had huge implications on my whole family’s life. I’ve talked of nothing else. My brain doesn’t stop swimming with questions, worries, points I need to write down, new facts I need to chase up, my next line of attack, who else can I turn to for advice and support. Some time during this chaos, Josie had her appendix out, and when I was sitting with her afterwards, I was on the computer most of the time day after day, next to her, typing away my next battle plans.
(28th March 2015)