Every day I get several enquiries about my services as a Specialist Consultant Independent Educational Psychologist from parents who are, quite frankly being served extremely poorly by the SEN system. The most usual complaints that parents have are about having to be very assertive in their communications with teaching staff, SENCos and senior school managers in order to get any acknowledgement of their youngsters’ special educational needs. In short, their concerns are not taken seriously, or staff are being somewhat dismissive of the child’s needs.
What seems to be exacerbating the situation is schools’ over-reliance solely on attainment data about whether a pupil is achieving in line with their peers. This is particularly the case where the youngster has an ASD presentation or diagnosis. Never mind the fact that parents struggle to get their child to school in the first place, because of their high anxiety about the sensory demands of a busy environment, and about tasks they will be asked to complete – without the necessary support.
So it came as little surprise to read the following story on the BBC news website yesterday:
The SEN system, in my experience, and that of the parents I work with, is not working. Actually that’s an understatement. It is working against the very pupils it was ostensibly set up to serve and support. This isn’t news either, and many of us have been vocal in stating the blindingly obvious to anyone and everyone who will listen.
When I visit youngsters at their current school to observe and assess how they are coping there, I am generally met with a hostile attitude from staff who clearly see my involvement as interference. Plus, they know that the report I write is likely to be highly critical of their insufficient and grudging actions. Only on rare occasions am I welcomed, and this is generally because the school itself has had difficulties convincing the LA that they need an Educational Psychologist visit to provide advice for the school.
If, like Nicky Tutt, the mum in the BBC reported story, you are having real difficulties in getting staff to appreciate the need for support for your child, you might begin by reading my handout, and then contacting me for further advice and support.