Well the time has finally arrived! 15 months of asking, arguing, researching and stressing, and we have a finalised EHCP in place for Katie.
It’s not worth the paper it’s written on. All it’s doing at this point is rubbing salt into very open wounds and demonstrating that even with an Ed Psych report, 2 Occupational Therapy reports, 2 autism advisory reports and a CAMHS report the LA is still not listening.
The EHCP doesn’t reflect Katie’s situation. There is no mention of the fact that she can’t enter the classroom and sits on her own in the staff room. There is no mention of the fact that the EBSA (emotional based school avoidance) team has provided her with a robot so she can learn without being in the classroom. There is no mention that her timetable has been reduced even further.
There is less budget allocated in the EHCP to supporting Katie than what her current school is/was already spending on her before.
Half of the ‘desired outcomes’ sections have been left blank.
The accommodations written into the EHCP are so waffly it barely makes any sense. It’s not enforceable in any way because nothing is specified e.g. she can have access to a quiet area but no information on who else would be using this space, how often she can go there, what she should do or who she should communicate with if she needs to use it etc.
There are ‘get out of jail’ phrases all over the report which means school staff can basically decide not to implement the support Katie needs. It talks about things like reducing demands ‘if necessary’ with no information on what the criteria is for ‘necessary’ or who gets to make these decisions.
Section F isn’t fit for purpose. Loads of support needs identified in the reports have been missed out. I sent the LA four pages of copied and pasted quotes from Katie’s assessments that haven’t been catered for in the EHCP.
The whole document is written as though Katie is just going to magically walk into school and happily sit in a classroom, at which point her support will start. No one is acknowledging the fact that she’s been basically out of school for this academic year with no clear steps in place to help her feel safe or develop secure relationships with key staff and no indication that she’s in any fit state to return.
We asked for a specialist setting for secondary school and the LA have named mainstream. No one has any answer when I question how they expect her to manage a mainstream secondary when she has already tried and not been able to cope at two mainstream primaries.
I’ve spoken several times to SENDIAS. I used an independent company to review the EHCP and my feedback on it. I spoke to a friend who works in a specialist school and gets involved in EHCP tribunals as part of her job. All three of them said Katie’s EHCP wasn’t fit for purpose and all the feedback I’d sent back to the LA needed addressing.
And the LA still just went ahead and finalised it anyway and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. So now I need to go to another round of mediation and/or tribunal and the wait for a tribunal date is about a year.
The secondary school the LA named said they can meet Katie’s needs but that’s because they’ve been sent the LA’s cruddy version of the EHCP which doesn’t cover half the issues. I sent the school SENDCo my feedback on the EHCP and she said she wanted to talk to me, so I phoned her when she said she’d be available and she didn’t answer. Let’s add that follow up to the to do list.
The LA said they didn’t feel the specialist school we requested was suitable for Katie. It’s a tiny school with maximum class sizes of 6. Tick. It caters for children with high anxiety. Tick. It specialises in children with school avoidance who have had involvement with EBSA teams. Tick. It’s for children who tend to retreat and shut down rather than show aggression in the classroom. Tick. They have a therapy dog that comes into school two days a week. Tick. This school would be perfect for Katie and when I pointed this out to the idiot who signed off on Katie’s EHCP she had no answer.
Trying to get this sorted while having Katie at home all the time is a full time job and it’s really hard to do my actual job properly. Having worked at it for a year and been proud of myself for losing 3.5 stone in 2021, I’ve put a stone of that back on since October because eating my feelings seems like a marginally better option than going and punching certain members of the LA in the face. Having also never struggled with anxiety or depression (apart from a period of PND after Alice was born) I went to the GP in January and got myself prescribed with happy pills (sertraline). It was definitely the right decision because there are a lot less tears and a lot less brain fog going on now, but I’m pretty resentful that a bunch of idiots from the council who have never met me or my child and apparently can’t read or digest information are exerting so much control over my life and making me fat and depressed! (To be fair, I realise that I can and I will change this again, I’m just taking a moment to wallow!)
It would be great if the powers that be could try and keep in mind that there is a child at the centre of all this. It shouldn’t be this hard to get support and it shouldn’t all come down to lack of funding or specialist school places. It definitely shouldn’t come down to people who aren’t competent to do their jobs.
Next steps – phoning Global Mediation to get the appeal process started. Can’t flipping wait.