On Saturday a letter arrived in the post with our LA logo on it. We weren’t expecting anything from Social Services or Early Years, so it had to be the decision of the panel which met last week to consider whether to proceed to statutory assessment for a statement of special educational needs for Boo.
I opened the letter with a good deal of trepidation. As I said in my last post, several people who work for our LA in different roles said categorically that they could not see the LA considering him for a statement on the basis of his age, and that we should expect to be turned down.
But the LA didn’t turn him down. They only bloody agreed to assess him. Can you hear the corks popping?
But why did they agree, I wonder? I’d like to think it was because his need is so obvious and the LA’s duty of care is so clear. I suppose the vain part of me would like to think that, in part, it was because I really did my homework. I phoned Contact a Family’s statementing helpline. I talked to various parents I know who have been down this route already in different LAs. I read Tania Tirraora’s incredibly helpful book Special Education Needs: Getting Started with Statements. I collated 11 recent reports from healthcare professionals and politely badgered those we hadn’t got one from until we did and sent copies of 12 months of IEPs.
Maybe it was these things. Maybe, the cynic in me thinks, it was that I mentioned that I would go to Tribunal if he was turned down. Maybe it was that I mentioned my involvement in the Parliamentary Inquiry into Disabled Childcare. I don’t know.
And I won’t ever know of course.
And I don’t know what will happen next.
I am really pleased we have got to this point without contentious conversations with the LA or legal proceedings having to start. But I have to admit that the timing of all this (and it’s my fault) is shockingly bad.
There are very clear, statutory deadlines for each part of the statementing process, just as there will be for its replacement EHCP, which comes in in September. We received the LA’s decision two days ago. Before the end of August, the assessment process needs to be completed. At that point they will decide whether to issue a statement or not.
And we are going away for 2 weeks of this 6-week period. Boo’s special school, which he attends one morning a week, finishes for the summer holidays on Wednesday and won’t return until after the deadline has passed. His physio is away for 3 weeks, one of his consultants (the one who has to coordinate all the medical reports) is away right now, so can’t coordinate anything, and his SALT therapist only works term time.
I think we might be screwed. I feel I have let Boo down.
I phoned Boo’s case worker this morning to talk about these difficulties. Obviously, the LA can only go on the basis of evidence collated, so we will just have to hope as many people as possible respond by completing appendix B in the time frame permitted, and that where they can’t do that, that the reports we have already collated and submitted give the necessary info. I emailed everyone who might be contacted yesterday evening to warn them, in any case.
So there is a moral in this tale. Timing is everything with these things. Even with EHCP, which promises to be a much quicker process, deadlines will still apply. Trying to coordinate all stages of this lengthy process to avoid Christmas, Easter and especially the school summer hols is not easy, but it’s clearly advisable if possible.
So please cross your fingers that we can get over the calendar hurdle to the next stage, which will be the LA agreeing, we hope, to issue a statement and not (please, not) a note in lieu which sets out the kinds of provision he might need but binds no one to provide it. Oh and let’s hope I don’t have to cut short or return in the middle our holiday to Cornwall this summer for an Ed Psych assessment. Boy, do we all need a holiday.
I promise to keep you posted. And would love to hear about your experiences of statementing, assessment and how the holidays may have had an impact on experiences of these processes.