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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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.


7. Dyslexia and the Education System (Happy Endings)

The night we arrived home from The Moat School, we received a phone call from Moon Hall College offering Josie a place.  Now we can name Moon Hall as the school on the Statement, but we have to wait again for the LA to send all the information back to the panel meeting. My finger nails are now bitten down to the knuckles.

The Tribunal date we had was for ‘failure to provide a statement’, so that hearing was cancelled when we received the draft statement.  If the LA refused to send Josie to Moon Hall we would have to apply for a new Tribunal Hearing, which probably wouldn’t be until May 2015, and Josie would be coming up to 14 and almost to late to salvage her secondary education, which is crazy when she is still struggling with a lot of the basic things.

Then the amazing day arrived and I received the phone call saying that during the meeting, The Panel have agreed to send Josie to Moon Hall College. Then letters were signed and exchanged, and a start date agreed for 6th January 2015.

We were all over the moon. Josie was so happy even when we told her she was getting a new school uniform for Christmas.

Straight away Josie came home from Moon Hall College saying that she now understands maths, and when she doesn’t, the teachers explain it and make it easy for her. She really has become more confident, and parents evening was amazing. We are now enjoying discussions about GCSE options, even though she still needs a lot of support in place, anything is now possible.

Now we want to share our story so others can see that you have to fight to get any help.

1 in 10 people are dyslexic.   That is three children in every classroom.

The whole education system is wrong.

There needs to be more funding in place to give the right support to children from a young age.

Without support people can end up dropping out of society, causing greater expenses on the unemployment and legal systems.

With the right support people can conquer the world or be anything they wish.

(Updated 28th March 2015)

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6. Dyslexia and the Education System (Draft Statement – Am I the only Expert)

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)

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