Friday, March 18, 2005

Lewis again

Found out today that my ten year old son had an 'incident' at school yesterday.

This is to be expected.

He has Aspergers syndrome, but owing to some confusion over the evidences provided to East Sussex County Council, instead of being statemented in time for the start of this school year, he got a note in lieu, something which does not provide extra funding.

His favourite classroom assistant, Zoe, (at one point the only person in the school who understood him, according to Lewis) was the casualty of that, her hours were reduced from full time to two days a week.

Bless her, she hung on in hope for as long as possible, but had to quit this Tuesday gone.

This, according to Lewis, has changed everything, although he wont verbalise it. He feels his (lovely) teacher doesn't properly understand him without Zoe to translate and things are on a downhill slide, blatantly obvious in less than two days.

So, Thursday, another child starts picking on Lewis during a break time. This is fairly normal, or it used to be without an interpreter hovering in the background to give him essential tips on social interaction, if needed, before it got to 'smack in the teeth' time. His reaction, given that he feels isolated, misunderstood, picked on etc was probably not that outrageous, but he apparently gave as good as he got.

Upshot: both kids get detention, in separate rooms.

Lewis, as you can imagine, thought this was unfair, and on a matter of principle, refused point blank to go to his detention. He demanded that someone go to fetch, in his words "One of the Morrow-Nobles" (thats Zoe, or her sister who is a full time teacher there for another year group). He just wasnt going to budge until told to by someone he could accept the instruction from.

Eventually the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) told him she was just going to stand in the corridor with him until he calmed down and went to start his detention.

His dead-pan answer? "Well you'd better go and get your sandwiches then, you've got a long wait."

I repeat, the kid is ten.

She knew enough to walk away. Without someone to lobby, he gave up and walked to detention after all, but if anyone expected a normal child, this reaction of his would have only piled on the pressure, maybe resulted in a restraint hold and a forcible march to an increased detention. He would have been kicking and screaming about his human rights for the rest of the day, complete with irate language. Heck I wouldn't put it past him to phone Amnesty International.

Thank God, when the SENCo told me about this she was laughing at it all. I was so relieved that he hadn't alienated himself from yet another adult, that I forgot to be angry until half way home; angry that, with the proper support, he wouldn't have been thumped in the first place, nor, with his gigantic social blinkers, pushed into a position where he thought that extreme measures were the only way out. Angry that he then had to go through all that stress and upset for the sake of a five minute detention.

Easter holidays start today. The SENCo will be at work next week, trying to sort out all the paperwork surrounding Lewis, either to re-present the evidences for the current statement application, in April, or for a new application, in May.

Good 'ere, innit.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Email #12

Dear Mrs Parentlink-lady

What a tremendous amount of work in such a short space of time.
I have a couple of questions and one suggestion.

The first section appears to be repeated at the very end of the document. I would guess the empty table at the end is a format, for the teachers' use? This wasnt immediately clear to me, but then I am not used to these forms. In that case, to save them having to reproduce a blank, could it be on a new page, reoriented to landscape, to allow for bigger boxes and typeface?

The same element appears to suggest that a breakdown in the tabular format is only required of the level of help given at year four, not at year five. Thats great if the school are going to say they feel he needs that level of attention anyway and would be giving to him if the funds existed, unless that can safely be assumed.

I strongly suspect that the teacher's idea of the amount of help currently being demanded at year five disagrees with the amount listed on the senco's notes - as I say, I believe the senco took the form at absolute face value and listed only what was specifically requested on there, rather than the the total disruption caused / 1:1 attention required, current or projected.

I defer to you to interpret Ms caseworker-manager's suggestions and decide whether year five support needs to be re-assessed, but I thought that was what she meant. That said, the rest of the assessment papers were based on the child's behaviour within the framework of support provided at year 4, so redefining that alone would seem fair.

SUGGESTION: Lewis had to change classes early in year three, his behaviour up to that point was increasingly unacceptable and they changed his group as a 'new start' to coincide with the introduction of his teaching assistant, who was then with him for the rest of year three and all of year four. Splitting year three into two rows on the behaviour assessment section might be best; it should show up a sharp change on behaviours and a crucial turning point.

Please dont be too hard on the school if they havent gone for the outside help that you mention. The Deputy Head at the time went to a lot of training herself, introduced a lot of SEN awareness training into the school and ultimately left to become Head of a special needs school - they had their 'outside help' built in. She was the person who found Lewis his assistant, her own daughter, so communication was more than excellent there. The school was trying to get Lewis statemented before the last school year ended, to stop them having to reduce Z's hours, so any thoughts of further support have been put on hold this year, with the statementing process still at hand.

Hope that all makes sense!

Thank you


Email #11

Following the meeting (when it was fresh in my mind ) I made some notes that I think could help in the presentation of info to the panel again as Mrs Caseworker-manager suggested

I will be contacting school and EP on Monday- and see what they think-but would welcome any thoughts you may have before then

(Parent Partnership Officer)

Meeting re LEWIS

1. There need to for clarity about provision in the past (Y4) when I understand support was extensive and the progress this achieved. It needs to be compared to when there was less support. Colour would help comparison

Additional information (some examples)

 RESOURCES- eg work station, computer for recording, visual timetable, fiddle toy, literacy programmes etc

 TRAINING -ie consideration at regular meetings, whole school training, circle time for class

 Specific programmes undertaken:
Jump ahead
Structured spelling programme
Social Use of Language etc
 Allocation of additional responsibility eg taking register, counting number of dinners, taking messages, helping with younger children
 Additional breaks from work (how often, doing what)
 TIME OUT arrangement-how often was this used and how independently?

2. This needs to be compared to current (reduced SAP) levels of provision and additional information
Additional information (some examples)

 RESOURCES- eg work station, computer for recording, visual timetable, fiddle toy, literacy programmes etc etc

 TRAINING -ie consideration at regular meetings, whole school training, circle time for class

 Specific programmes undertaken:
Jump ahead
Structured spelling programme
Social Use of Language etc
 Allocation of additional responsibility eg taking register, counting number of diners, taking messages, helping with younger children
 Additional breaks from work
 TIME OUT arrangement how often was this used and how independently?

3. Then the progress can be charted and evidenced
Changed of support resulted in (or contributed to) PROGRESS academic
This is evidenced by SCORES for spelling, reading, maths,
This is clearly more difficult, but some aspect could be quantified
Eg disruption to class (calling out, arguments with peers, hiding under tables, incidents when others were hurt etc) could be:
1 for low level to 10 for highly disruptive seriously effecting learning of all class

3. The role of outside agencies and how they contributed

Who gave what advice and what was the impact?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Email #10

Parentlink to the school:


Mrs Baggage has contacted our service for support, information and advice about Lewis.
The particular issue relates to his Note in Leiu.
Mrs Baggage feels that Lewis needs are such that a statement is required to support him in school.
The LEA have stated that 'The proposed level of provision for Lewis does not indicate support at statement level( N in L )'

Mrs Baggage is interested in speaking to the LEA -a meeting has been arranged with (SEN casework manager) on Friday 11th Feb at 11:30 at County Hall
She has lodged notice of her intention to appeal against the LEA decision not to issue a statement

At this meeting will discuss

How much help* Lewis has had in the past (was this full time 1-1) and how effective this was

How much help* Lewis gets now and the current effectiveness

The progress lewis is making over time

* help or provision includes a planning of work, grouping, teaching strategies, training etc as well as support 1-1 or in a small group

The N in L hasn't at this time been circulated. (J have you seen it?)

How closely the N in L matches Lewis and the provision he needs
To assist in discussions Mrs Baggage is
Bringing copies of his current IEP (detailing provision)
Examples of any behavioural problems since he has had less support (to compare to when he had more support and also as a measure of progress)
Other evidence of progress from his SAT's scors, spelling test results etc

Please contact me should you wish to discuss this further

(Parent Partnership Officer)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Thanks, Caroline

Thanks to Caroline for tipping me off to a truly bizarre site, .
Is it a blog or isnt it? I dont know.

Anyhow, Seriously freaky is the toe dream, you have to see this. Very clever and just yuck.

If, after that, you are feeling a little sadistic try this: Bear. Bear is pink but somehow very masculine, and I like the way he cringes slightly. You'll see.

My contact at the County Council sent me out copies of everything to do with the statementing process, yesterday. It all arrived today. Bless him, its nice to know theres one good apple in the barrel, even if this is still one huge, hellish mess.

Monday, March 07, 2005


A joke from my resilient, ebullient eldest son, who has gone from end-of-the-world-get-me-out-of-here to life's a beach, in two short days:

Did you hear about the circumcisionist who slipped?
He got the sack.

A joke from East Sussex County Council, who were weeks late sending me a letter announcing intent to issue a note in lieu for my younger son, in which letter was a list of intended provisions and a note on how to appeal etc:

'Oh no Mrs White, the Note in Lieu was sent out to you in December with the letter announcing it'.

Yeah right, I am rolling on the floor, my sides are splitting, not. Thats why, 9th January, even the Educational Psychologist hadnt seen a copy.


Email #9

Dear Mr Caseworker

Further to our telephone conversation today:

I accept that, on the email version of the original letter announcing intent to issue a note in lieu, it does appear to say that a copy was included. I do remember a list of suggested provisions but nothing that appeared to be definite or cast in stone. I would be grateful to see that list of provisions again. Your letter gave me to the 15th December to express disagreement and up to now I had taken that to mean that there was a period of grace and negotiation before things were formalised.

When I went to the meeting at School, on January 9th 2005, I was given to understand that the Note in Lieu had still NOT formally been issued, that the Educational Psychologist had no copy and so I was further led to understand that the list you originally provided was of intended points and not a 'final' official piece of paper (trying to avoid using the word 'statement' there!).

This was underlined by ongoing communications between ESCC and the SENCO asking for clarification on certain points, which again I was led to believe had been requested IN ORDER to formalise the note in lieu, the finalising of which had been delayed following the need for certain extra or more complete evidences.

Have I been thoroughly misled/confused?

It is worth pointing out that, if the note in lieu was issued that long ago, Lewis has already been suspended for three days since then for uncontrollable behaviour in the playground.

I am completely confused here and would appreciate hard copy, through the post, of everything you now say has been sent to me, so that I can start to understand and I look forward to the formal response you mentioned in your email of this morning.



Email #8

Thank you for your email. A formal response will be made in due course.

Regards. Mr Caseworker

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Happy Daze

I never wanted this to be a 'personal' blog, but a heroic gas man turned up at 4.30 yesterday and fitted a new fan on the boiler. We have heat and hot water.

The most bizarre thing is that when I was having to boil pans of water for the washing up, everything was done, carefully scraped and rinsed under the cold tap first to make the least mess in the precious bowl of suds which, given the recent awful weather, started going cold as soon as it was filled. This morning there isnt an inch of space in the kitchen because we all breathed out and caught 'it-doesn't-matter-itis'. The sink is blocked with stuff that wasnt scraped from the stacked plates before my darling husband landed them in the bowl to make space and all in all its time to get back down to business - rediscover tops grunged with the spills from five days of constant hot drinks. No more excuses that I cant face using cleaning fluids with cold water or worse, neat, with nothing but a cold hand-wash afterward.

Not only did the boiler man come and rescue us, there was a long, helpful and reassuring phone chat with someone who is helping me sort out the mess and confusion around my youngest son's special needs statement.

His older brother upset me, thoroughly, for two days solid, but that has a happy ending too so today I am in an incongruous puddle of peace. The little issues, which will probably matter tomorrow, are insignificant today, my internal warning system has shut down. It over heated with the last few days of big issues and it needs a reboot.

It feels strange, like treading water, but I know my life well enough to make the most of it.

The older son thing requires its own space, so the telling will be separate, if it happens.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Email #7

Dear Mr Caseworker

As you know, I claimed my right to a Tribunal rather than lose that right, and not because of a definite intention to make use of it.

As far as I am aware a Note in Lieu has still not been issued, which makes it 'early' for mediation, nonetheless this is a path I have to go down now because of the time constraints on finalising a tribunal application, if eventually needed.

Please confirm that the ESCC and the school are still in discussion over clarity/interpretation of the submissions and that the note in lieu has not been finalised. I have to assume, because of the ongoing efforts in this case, that the notice of intent to issue may have no bearing on the content of an eventual note in lieu - I am therefore at a loss to know whether I would agree/disagree with the provisions, or the school's declaration of ability/inability to provide at the stipulated SEN level.

PLEASE WOULD YOU accept this email as my permission and request for Parentlink-Lady to have access to copies of anything she requires regarding Lewis' case. I would be very grateful if you could send her a copy of the paperwork that has been put forward to date, both the evidences originally submitted and the subsequent communications to and from the school.