One of the biggest challenges faced by parents is finding the right setting for their child. Children spend about 7 hours a day, five days a week at school, possibly more at nursery. Therefore, their educational setting will have a significant impact on them.
The ethos and understanding provided by a setting can make or break your child! Look on any parent forum on social media, and you’ll see that the topic of education is always there. It always features heavily and the conversation is usually highly contentious.
Whilst there are some great educational settings out there, very many still don’t ‘get’ our children. Nor do they appreciate the challenges they face.
Certain issues seem to crop up again and again. We address some of them here. We also recommend the best sites for you to investigate if you need more information.
What is an EHCP?
Most children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) will have their needs met in local mainstream settings. These educational settings should try to meet the needs of these children and young people.
Often children and young people do not make the progress expected of them, despite efforts to identify, assess and meet their special educational need. In these cases, schools or parents should consider requesting an EHCP needs assessment.
This assessment involves a process of gathering information from relevant people or agencies, including the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person.
The needs assessment will help to determine whether there is a need to make additional provision through an EHC Plan. These plans replace statements of SEN for children and young people with the most complex needs, from birth up to the age 25.
When deciding whether to issue an EHC Plan, the local authority will decide whether the needs of the young person can reasonably be met using the resources most usually available in a school.
Each school must publish an annual SEN information report on their website. This should describe the provision available to help children with SEND in their schools.
What does and EHCP look like?
An EHC Plan will include:
- the views, interests and aspirations of the children and young people and their parent/carer
- an outline of the child or young person’s special educational needs
- outcomes covering education, health and social care
- the special educational provision needed to support the child or young person
- the name and type of current education setting
- Resource attached to the Plan
- personal budget information if applicable.
An EHCP needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC Plan. The Local Authority and school will then need to demonstrate how the child’s needs will be met without it.
The timescale for requesting an assessment to a final EHC Plan being issued should be fewer than 20 weeks.
This video was created by the Department for Education to help explain EHC plans.
Barnados have produced this more comprehensive explanation.
If you think your child might need an assessment for an EHCP, you should go to your child’s teacher and school SENDCo and arrange a meeting to discuss your concerns.
How do I get one?
Usually, it is your child’s educational setting who will apply for an EHCP assessment. However, as a parent, you have the right to request an assessment too, as can other professionals and a young person themselves over the age of 16.
Here is a really useful ‘get started’ checklist from the Special Needs Jungle.
Who can help?
If you need help you to prepare to appeal a decision about an EHCP, independent supporters are available to you.
The key champion in this area is the fabulous charity IPSEA who provide information based in law to support parents and carers. Additionally they have an advice line, many online resources including template letters and also hold face to face courses which are excellent.
Their vision is that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are able to fulfil their potential.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to take your ECHP application to tribunal. Here is some advice about how to handle that.
IPSEA explain what an Exclusion is here.
What if my child is excluded?
Here’s some good advice from The School Run.
What are my rights?
Statutory guidance on exclusions can be found here.
The right setting
Evidently, finding the right setting for your child is crucial to ensuring a child’s happiness, regulation and ability to reach their potential. Because every child and every setting is different, it can be alarmingly difficult to know where to start. However, it is even more important if you are also concerned about additional needs and challenges.
Here is some general information about settings and some useful websites. Firstly, try to speak directly to the settings you are considering. Also remember to start early when getting close to a transition such as primary to secondary provision.
- Choosing your school
- Schools Admissions Criteria
- School Admissions Code
- Tips to guide you through the applications process from the BBC
What are the different types of educational setting?
- Types of school
- The Education System in the UK
- Choosing the right special education placement.
- Information on pre-school education
What questions should we ask a school?
- Questions to ask on a school visit
- Questions to ask the SENCO
- Key questions for primary schools
- Key questions for secondary schools
What are trauma/attachment aware schools?
Trauma aware schools primarily operate around five core principles:
- SAFETY- Ensuring physical and emotional safety
- TRUSTWORTHINESS: Making tasks clear and maintaining appropriate boundaries
- CHOICE- Prioritising student choice and control
- COLLABORATION- Sharing power with the student/family
- EMPOWERMENT- Prioritising student empowerment and skill-building
An Attachment Aware school is a term being used to identify schools where all the staff are aware of the neuroscience that stops vulnerable children effectively accessing learning. Also, they have specific understanding of attachment and trauma that they draw upon to support them to further:
- develop the ethos and culture of the school
- develop classroom pedagogy and behaviour management strategies that can enable vulnerable or disengaged pupils to make progress
- build effective relationships with parents/carers and effectively target and utilise other agencies
- support effective transitions for vulnerable pupils or those at risk of becoming disengaged
What are my rights as a parent?
What is the situation with social media/photographs?
Who does what in school?
- Roles in schools
- Role of the SENCO
- How a SENCO could help your child
- Designated person…looked after and adopted children
- What do Governors do
- How to become a Governor
When should we send our child to school following adoption?
Generally, your social worker and school will be able to advise you on when is the best time for your newly adopted child to start school. However, remember, these early days are crucial in developing attachment.
Basically, your child will be the critical deciding factor in this.
For an example of good practice, take a look at Beech Lodge School.