Updated: Sep 13, 2021

In my last Blog, 'Being Heard', I explained some of my experiences and struggles with 'being heard' and my child being supported at school. The struggles began when my eldest son was a toddler, with slower speech development, co-ordination difficulties, difficulties blending and connecting with peers, and then when he started school, difficulties with reading, writing, following directions, concentration and generally keeping up with his education at school.

I explained the difficulties I had getting teachers and the first school he attended, to listen and to take things seriously, and to offer extra tuition and help with his education. Our son eventually had a diagnoses of Dyspraxia, Asperger's Syndrome and Dyslexia. I think they missed ADD, but this was enough to help us understand what was happening with our son.

However, we moved to a new area and school, and my son joined year 2. This school were more sympathetic and understanding of dyslexia, with a helpful teacher and SENCO. At last we had some recognition of the problems he was having at the school, but the problem was that the problem did not go away! Although the school was able to put in some limited help, via small group work, once a week, they were unable to provide help in the classroom or with the widening gap in his ability to read and write. The school was stuck. They needed more funding and more staff to be able to accommodate his needs.

We went to many meetings and reviews with the school SENCO at his primary school, but progress was still slow. I felt my son needed a Teaching Assistant in his classroom at a minimum, but this could not be accomplished without finances from the Local Authority. So a battle began with the Local Education Authority - although they knew my son's difficulties from the school records and meetings, they did not agree to him having a Statement of Special Needs, as it was called then - currently called an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC), in the UK.

We attended many Individual Education Plan (I.E. P. ) review meetings with the SENCO, and

some with the Local Authority (L.A.) representative, who unfortunately for us, was the worst, most uncooperative, unsympathetic and uncaring person I had come across in the education field! From their point of view, if my son made a tiny steps of progress, they refused any further help - even though he was more than 2 years behind his peers at this stage. In exasperation, we took the LEA to court, to force their hand into giving our son a Statement (EHC), not once, but 3 times we went to court - but even though we had evidence and medical reports to back us up, we STILL failed to get the necessary Statement (EHC) that we needed. The L.A. had good solicitors and representation that fought our case. We felt angry, exhausted and exasperated, and this time, because we had moved house and area, we did not have a support group to help us through!

Eventually, after many battles, the LEA agreed to carry out a full assessment of our son's needs - and guess what? They discovered that he WAS as far behind as we said and they FINALLY agreed to Statement him! What a relief! At last! We finally had some extra help in the classroom - 7 hours of T.A. help! Well, that was better than nothing! It was the next step up on our journey.

Just an added note here, the Plan should note and mention all your child's stated needs, and should state specifically, how the school is going to help your child.

Today, 25 years plus later, the system has changed from a Statement of Special Educational Needs to an EHC plan in the UK. The process is still tough. I still regularly meet many parents who face similar difficulties with their child's education, and they feel they need tuition for their children because it is not forthcoming from the school.

To achieve what my son needed, despite the setbacks, it took courage and persistence, negotiations with school, plus help from medical experts including Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapist and other educationalist just to get the Statement (or EHC), because his difficulties were persistent and the educational gap was wide.

Not all children will need a EHC plan, but most with Dyslexia and similar difficulties will need extra support in school. I would encourage all parents, no matter your child's needs are, or how hard the road gets, to keep negotiating with the school teacher and SENCO, to seek outside help, such as tuition and other therapies and professionals, to keep persisting and to continue to have courage to push through, until you are able to get what you know your child needs. Be strong!

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