As promised, here’s the latest installment in our statementing journey. You can read my previous two posts here and here (they’re short). But if you’re even shorter on time the gist is that we feel that the support Boo is getting in nursery is not up to the task of meeting his needs. This isn’t about school yet or even what kind of educational setting he would best thrive in (mainstream, SEN, mainstream with SEN unit – I make it sound like we have an embarrassment of riches don’t I? – that’s not so, sadly). For now, it’s about getting Boo’s needs formally documented, getting a binding agreement of how to start meeting those needs and eliminating the uncertainty we currently live with that any support he gets could be withdrawn at any time.
We will be some of the last people to go through statementing now that EHCP is in place. It was a conscious decision on our part to enter into a system that was tried and tested and known, rather than gamble on something that looks good but about which people’s knowledge differs scarily widely.
Timing it all to meet the deadline before EHCP came into force meant we got the LA’s agreement that they would assess Boo for a statement in late July. Just when half of the NHS, all educational settings and many LA folks are on holiday and us, of course. Fabulous timing, Mrboosmum!
I emailed everyone as soon as I knew that reports would be due on the 28 August, not wanting then to have to wait until the paperwork arrived from the LA. If I hadn’t been so proactive, we wouldn’t have a report from Boo’s fabulous conductive education setting, which he attends one morning a week with us and which turned round one of the most detailed reports I have read about Boo in a day.
I had gathered as much documentation together as I could prior to putting the statementing application together, so was less worried about the health side of things. I hope I’m not being naive about that. Since his birth 2 years ago we have amassed one massive A4 ring binder of Boo reports already and I have about another half a folder to file.
But I was concerned about the Ed Psych report. We had never met an Educational Psychologist before. I was led to believe it would be someone from the Portage team, but as Portage is sadly ending for us, I wasn’t sure. As week after week of the school holidays passed and our holiday loomed I felt more and more nervous we wouldn’t get to meet her or him before the deadline. This wasn’t someone I could approach myself as I didn’t even know who we’d been assigned to. I had screwed up by awful timing.
And then 3 days before we went away on holiday she rang. We explained that we would be going away (our LA officer had suggested we might have to drive the 5+ hours back from holiday to meet an Ed Psych because of the inconvenient timing of our application) and she agreed that was silly and that she would meet us at home the day before we went.
It wasn’t ideal. Boo was distracted. His auntie was visiting to look after his sister and he wanted to play not be assessed and talked about. She didn’t have time to assess him in nursery, which is a real pity. She was lovely but said she didn’t know what she could add to existing reports, since there were so many, or why we even wanted a statement given that Boo was in receipt of discretionary funding. I explained to her what I had previously explained at the Parliamentary Inquiry into disabled childcare. She heard the stress levels in my voice rise as they had in Parliament and she understood. ‘His current 1:1 does not meet his needs. He needs more. It needs more careful management.’ Yes! She agreed with us.
Going on holiday knowing that this meeting had happened was a huge weight off my mind. I drafted all our documents, a lengthy and sometimes painfully depressing task, and put it out of my mind (well, sort of…).
The deadline for all paperwork was last Friday. The meeting is on an unspecified day this week. Maybe today. I have seen the Ed Psych report now too. It is a full and accurate assessment of his needs. Boo is a bright boy there is no concrete evidence either way that he has a learning disability, but there is plenty of evidence that he is a little boy who wants to learn but for whom every aspect of the curriculum is difficult to access because of his physical disabilities.
I wish it said in black and white what the Ed Psych said in person. He needs more support. More hours of and more targeted support but, of course, these forms don’t work like that. Why ask professionals the right question when you can ask them another and make your own mind up about what the answer should be? The answer, of course, will be based on resources as much as if not more than Boo’s need, no matter what the rhetoric suggests. Maybe EHCP will be different…
Now we have to hope that the weight of evidence we and others have submitted will convince the LA to think about issuing a statement that addresses the impact that Boo’s CP has on all aspects of his learning and development. My hope is he gets more support. My hope is that his physical barriers to education are not going to be used as a way to write him off in cognitive terms or expectations capped. And my hope is that some of the strain and worry of taking on much of what should be happening in an educational setting at home might be alleviated. But all we can do now is wait and see. I’ll keep you posted.