It’s now 18 months since we first discussed a residential special school place (at an SEMH school) for Joanna at her EHCP review. (You can read about that experience here.) We’re still going. It’s been a bit of a saga, to say the least, with a sprinkling of school exclusions followed by a 1:1 tutor who has since been withdrawn with no notice – obviously not a kind or thoughtful way to treat someone with a severe attachment disorder. The problem seems to be, as ever, that the people with the power are not the people with the understanding. Those who understand are very much in agreement with us, but they don’t hold the purse strings. And so we have to go through the palaver of discussions and multiple drafts and appeals and mediation and almost certainly a tribunal with SEN, while also fighting social services – who are supposed to be supporting us – to get them to pull their weight too. It’s ridiculous.The problem seems to be that the people with the power are not the people with the understanding. Click To Tweet
Who is actually going to support us?
Last December, post-adoption support, which is a ‘tier 3’ service, handed our family’s ‘support’ over to the local safeguarding team, which is a ‘tier 4’ service. This was intended purely so that they could do the assessment required to get Joanna (then aged 9) into a residential special school. After a couple of false starts (one social worker turning up on our doorstep unannounced, another failing to turn up as expected), post-adoption support did the assessment themselves using the safeguarding team’s form, which was largely unfit for the purpose it was being used for in our case. They agree with us that a residential school is necessary. However, they have no authority to make it all happen or to fund it.
The current situation
Nine months later, having achieved absolutely nothing other than a whole lot of stress including a bizarre child protection conference, last week we were told our family are being returned to the ‘care’ of post-adoption support because the safeguarding team apparently can’t be bothered to fund the attendance of the required professionals at meetings. Naturally this makes absolutely no sense at all. To say we are fed up with the so-called professionals is to understate things quite considerably. We’re waiting for someone to meet the identified care needs in Joanna’s EHCP. We haven’t seen any yet.So who the heck provides the identified 'care' aspect of the EHCP? We haven't seen any care yet. Click To Tweet
The only positive outcomes are (a) we no longer have to fight against the social workers who wanted to visit (which upsets the children) and (b) having deregistered Charlotte from school partly to prevent them springing surprise visits on her there (as they tried to the first day we took her out), it turns out we actually quite like home educating. So in that sense it’s a win. But a pretty hard-won one.
We’re still fighting for the right school for Joanna (we’re currently at the mediation stage of the appeal process, and if that doesn’t get the right result we go to tribunal, causing more stress and considerable expense). Meanwhile we keep going, endeavouring to hang on in there until we get the girls the support they need.
As well as the appeal process, we’re appealing to the virtual school head, asking her to get involved. We’ve research grant-making bodies but they only seem to cater for secondary-aged children. We’ve written to our MP, to the head of children’s services, even to Kensington Palace.