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Specialist autistic school
  • Hi, we are in the process of moving our daughter who is six (I'll refer to her as C) out of mainstream and into a special school. We are fairly well into it having viewed several schools and are pushing through the amended EHCP. Our problem is that the best school for C's needs, the only one in our area who could even begin to work with her, is an independent school. Obviously the local authority aren't exactly delighted about this. Our nearest catchment school is fantastic but autism is a secondary diagnosis ; the primary is complex and multiple disabilities which C doesn't have. The head there said they could look after her and make her settled but that's about it. So we know we have a fight on our hands, we understand about funding and all that.
    We have back up from our OT, Cs equine therapy instructor ( who was on the working group with Elizabeth Newson), Ask Nottingham and her current school ( as much as they can). What I need is any advice on how to push for the school we want and how to reject the others, and if anyone knows of any agencies, charities or anyone who can help represent us. We intend to fight it to tribunal if necessary, and we'll have to represent ourselves I suppose, so if anyone has anything to suggest or experience of a similar situation, any help would be fantastic.
    Thanks very much!
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Hi, I'm also in Notts, been through 3 Appeals and managed to get my son in Specialist education until 22 years old.

    Independent Schools can be expensive for LA's but it is about placing her in a school that can meet all her identified needs.
    Independent Schools can be very good if for ASD & PDA and have had training in PDA.
    They tend to have OT's trained in Sensory Processing Disorder and S&LT for Social Interaction and Communication Difficulties.

    So, the way to win an Appeal is to get the right evidence to prove her needs.
    If you can afford to you need an Independent Educational Psychologist assessment and report, S&LT asst and report and OT (trained in Sensory Integration) asst and report.

    This evidence should then prove to the LA and the Tribunal that your daughter needs the Independent School.

    Could the Ind School provide a report and go to Tribunal with you to state how they can meet her needs?

    The following Charities can help you -
    IPSEA
    SOS!SEN
    Education Equality

    Hope the info helps



  • Hi Happytheman, it’s so important to find the right setting for our children... we’ve just got our daughter into a specialist ASD school. It’s early days, but I’m so impressed with their understanding of her and the range of strategies they’re using to engage her. One other organisation I’ve heard of is Sunshine support. A friend of mine has had support from them and has been very impressed, so might be worth looking at?
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Sunshine Support - Derby
  • Wow that's brilliant thank you! We have an IPSEA lawyer calling us next week for some advice, so that one is in the bag. We're going to start calling the other ones on Monday.
    The school we want (Sutherland House) will support us at appeal and I think are going to write something when they come out to assess C. Problem is, anything involving paying out for reports and what have you is out of the question - we can't even afford to pay our water bill ha ha. But all the agencies seem to agree that SH would suit her best and the school ( who can't do enough for us - they are incredible) are really getting behind us. So we'll get in touch with these people and see what they can do for us. Thanks so much guys! I'll keep you posted how we get on, and anything else, any advice or anything is so much appreciated.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Hi,
    You said - 'the primary is complex and multiple disabilities which C doesn't have. The head there said they could look after her and make her settled but that's about it. '

    If you could get this school to put this in writing it would definitely help your case!

    Visit all the LA Specialist Schools that your LA are thinking of placing her in and then compile a list for each one stating why they can't meet your daughters needs.

  • Hi, we've got our lists and the scary thing was how easy they were to make ie how little the LA schools can offer her. The head of the above school is sound and she's going to put in her report that they can't meet her needs. The only other real tricky one is Newark, but there's absolutely no peer group for her there. I'd rather home school her than send her to the other two we visited. One looked and felt like a converted Borstal and the other was just inflexible and authoritarian. For PDA kids!!!! C's pediatrician is the doctor for that school and she said no way would it be suitable. We now have to get her to put that in writing, which is going to be hard but we can only try.
    Just want to say, knowing people are reading this and rooting for us makes all the difference. It gives me strength and I can't thank you guys enough
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,152
    Hi, I've just replied on your other thread suggesting you take a look at IPSEA, but I can see you know all about them already :-)

    With regards to the schools, even if you can't get written evidence from the schools/GP do write your comments/concerns down about each of the placements as the parents views should also be taken into account during the process (some counties are better at this than others!). We were certainly listened to and it was helpful to have visited each of the local schools to have first hand knowledge of why we felt they would not be suitable.

    I'll keep my fingers-crossed for you that the Padiatrician is able to help.

  • Thanks, I'm not sure she'll be allowed to word anything as strong as we want but if you don't ask! We visited the schools in our area and I'm currently writing up a hatchet job of each of them, ready for Monday. We spoke to the IPSEA lawyer today and she said in notts we'll definitely have to go to a tribunal. It's incredible really; all we want is for her to have the same opportunities as her twin brother who is NT. Anyone would think we're asking for her to be shipped to America to be educated the amount of fuss they make.
    As for Sunshine Support and all those, we looked into them and they are fee payable services. Sunshine Support starts at £44 per hour and claims to be taking elitism out of the process! £44 is pretty much our weekly food bill, we could never afford anything like that. Same old story I guess; if you're loaded you don't have a problem, if not then it's tough. Not that that will stop us. Just makes me more determined to stick it to them!
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    So pleased you have an IPSEA Lawyer!

    If you have IPSEA, who are free and one of the best, you won't need any of the other charities!

    Not sure where you are in Notts but if you are looking for an Independent School have you looked into Dawn House (Rainworth) or Hope House (Newark)?

    I had to Appeal against Notts LA on 3 separate occasions but they did concede each time - the week before the Tribunal date!

    Wishing you all the best!

  • I don't know if it's significant, but the LA have asked Sutherland House to come and visit C at school. They sent one school to assess her without telling us which means they acted unlawfully; the IPSEA lawyer told us not to say anything yet and save it up as ammunition for any tribunal. Anything which weakens them strengthens us!
  • KobiKobi
    Posts: 42
    That's terrible that they did that behind your back, but sounds like you can turn it to your advantage. It really does feel like us against the world most of the time but you're doing amazing. :)
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    It is best for Sutherland House to see your child in a school setting, so that they can see what she is like in school. Then Sutherland House can really determine if they can meet her needs and also which class they can place her in in their school.


  • Absolutely, but I was just thinking that they don't ordinarily ask independent schools to do assessments. At least so I've been told but I might be wrong there. It seems like every professional has a different take on things. Probably best to stick to what we know than speculating
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Are IPSEA going to represent you at the Tribunal? If not try NAS, they can offer a solicitor for free sometimes.

    What date is the Tribunal? Have the LA named a school yet? When they do you will know what type of 'battle' you are up against.

    Sutherland House should have looked at your daughters EHC Plan and at least observed her in school before saying they could meet her needs, so I am pleased to hear they will be going to see her in school.

    Hope they will still say that they can meet all her needs and have a peer group for her.


  • They've said they can meet her needs and create a managed peer group which is great, but Newark orchard are after her I think. But there's no peer group there. Ash Leigh also said they could meet her needs which is ridiculous. The kids there are complex and multiple disabilities. She needs a specialist autism and PDA setting to even start getting on. It's really made us angry because the head of Ash Leigh told us they could look after her but couldn't bring her on, and then told the LA they could take her in September.
  • It’s really frustrating isn’t it... we had a specialist independent setting say they could meet my daughter’s needs but again there was no peer group and the children at the setting presented so differently to her. Really hope you can get the right place for her.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Local Authorities dictate which of their LA Special Schools should take which pupils - not the schools!

    But, your LA will have to stand in Tribunal and prove with statistic & evidence etc that Orchard School or Ashlea School can meet her needs and have a peer group for her.

    At the moment your LA have told Ashlea that they must take your daughter - it doesn't mean to say that the school can meet her needs, these 2 things are different.

    You and your IPSEA Rep need to find out if these 2 schools have ever taken any children with PDA like your daughter and also if they have had any PDA Training for their staff and if their are any children similar to your daughter who would be a peer group for her.

    There is a big difference in cost between Sutherland House and Ashlea approx. over £20,000 a year - I think this is why your LA want her to go to Ashlea !

    Keep going with your Appeal.
  • There is no peer group at Orchard, that's for definite. Their SENco said that pretty definitely. As for Ashlea, the class they want to put her in has girls, but they are older and there are older boys in there which presents a real worry for us because of certain behaviours she exhibits. She simply can't be put in with older boys. The EHCP is still being finalised, and I hope that once they see how extreme her needs are they will say they can't meet them.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,581
    Hi, I really hope so too.

    You are right to go for an ASD school which has good experience and training in PDA.
  • Newark orchard have assessed her and say they can meet her needs. That was today. C's TA grilled the SENco about how they were going to meet her needs and she seemed pretty impressed, and they're going to create a managed peer group for her. We're still going to aim for Sutherland House, but if it goes pear shaped then Newark might not be that bad an option. Do you think we should ask for a meeting with the SENco there and ask how he's going to meet her needs?

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