Sometimes I feel like J’s whole life has been some kind of fight to get what he needs. It would seem that a place at school will be no different. We got a letter last week to advise that he has been given a place at a specialist school 16 miles away from our home. So, at 4 years old when he starts school he will be expected to make a 32 mile round trip to school each day on a bus full of strangers. Excellent!
Being the type of person that I am I immediately googled the school, found their local authority page and their HMIe report and read both before making any kind of decision or response. In our initial application for him to attend a specialist placement due to his needs we had requested that he attend the school where he already attends nursery, which is about 2 miles from our house and where he can be transported by us or my parents. This was not given any regard apparently. The school he has been allocated is definitely not where we want him to go. The HMIe report did nothing to change my mind, in fact it made me more determined that he will not be going there.
I telephoned our local authority to query his placement and was told that I would need to make an appeal in writing and wait several weeks for a response. This has now been written and sent, though based on how long it took them to make the original decision I won’t hold my breath for a reply in a few weeks time. I have also looked at the policy on school admissions, some guidelines on support for learning and suitable support for pupils, legislation relating to additional support needs and girfec/children’s rights information. This may seem like I am jumping the gun but I used some of this in my appeal letter and I also like to know what kind of arguments I can use in future should the need arise. My mum says I’m always fighting my battles in advance and sometimes fighting battles I may never need to have, but experience has taught me that it’s best to know what to expect and to be prepared for all eventualities.
I like to try to find the lesson or positive outcomes from our experiences and I admit I have struggled a bit with this one. Maybe it has taught me not to be complacent by just expecting that other people will act in my child’s best interests. Or perhaps it’s made me wonder how many people just accept decisions that are made for them without question, as they are ill-equipped or uninformed about how they can challenge it. I suppose I’m lucky that I have the ability to allow me to take on these battles and to be the best advocate for my son that I can be. For now I am thankful for that.
An overview about Additional Support for Learning, with links to other related information, can be found here:
Information relating to education and additional support for learning. This site has links to many other sources of information relating to specific needs, the Support for Learning Act and useful resources:
(The above information is specific to Scotland. Resources may be useful but rules, placements, guidelines and legislation etc. may work differently in other countries.)