EHC plan

All posts tagged EHC plan

Our school to home ed Journey…………

Published January 8, 2016 by thefamilyof5

I have some new followers, I guess the new ‘Home Education’ tags have drawn interest from different circles so I guess I had better do a quick post to fill everyone in! are you sitting comfortably, you might want to go wee and grab a coffee before you start!

We tried school, it didn’t work for us, we now Home Educate

Of course there’s a lot more to it, so here goes……………….

The girls first came home at the beginning of summer meaning we had to get their names down for school before we’d even met them! We knew nothing of schools, or the education system never mind what the needs of our soon to be daughters would be so we had to rely on local advice when choosing the school/nursery. We opted for our largest primary, within walking distance, it came highly recommended by some of our older neighbors who had sent their, now grown up, children there. We visited, had the guided tour, I even took my mom along! It seemed lovely, they had lots of space, lots of staff and lots of experience with SEN apparently. We filled in the forms.

It was fine for about a year, well kind of, but then, so were the girls, kind of, it took about a year for us to realise that they were ‘too fine’. We soon realised this was compliance. Once they realised that we’d realised they were faking it, well the masks came off and the games began. We paid more attention to the subtle clues they gave us, we connected the dots and we noticed more. Baby girl, well she was a unraveling at school. She didn’t feel safe, there was too much going on, too many faces, too much time where she wasn’t supervised, and she knew it, she was stealing food/milk, cutting up her school clothes, being disruptive in class, being unkind to her peers, her name spent more and more time in the ‘red zone’ on the classroom wall. ‘She needs to know your watching her and keeping her safe, think toddler’ we said, ‘We are’ they said ‘So how did she manage to cut her dress up in class if you were watching her, she knows your not watching her, and your behavior system is making her feel ashamed’ we said.

Big girl was also struggling, she didn’t have any friends, she was constantly falling out with people in her class, her work was falling more and more behind, she was getting more and more frustrated, she began self harming at break and lunch times, she shouted at teachers and ran away from lunch time staff. She was scared and didn’t feel safe.

Middle girl was invisible. ‘she’s so helpful isn’t she’ they said. ‘she’s trying to please you because she doesn’t feel safe’ we said, ‘she’s got such a lovely smile’ they said. She became more and more invisible, hiding her fear behind her smile.

I cant blame it all on the school/staff, this was before the Pupil Premium, they had no real experience of traumatised children and neither did we. We didn’t know what they should be doing to support the girls needs and neither did they. But we knew the girls didn’t feel safe in school, we gave it 3 years before we realised we needed a smaller school with less faces, less space, less visitors, less everything.

So the hunt for a smaller school began. We narrowed it down to 2. One within our local area and one further afield. The closest one had a warm family feel about it, but the head openly admitted she knew nothing of attachment or trauma but would en-devour to do her best to support their needs. The school that was further away was marginally bigger, had that same warm friendly family feel about it and a head teacher that said she knew all about attachment and trauma as they had lots of adopted and looked after children in school. We signed the forms.

September came, by October it was very apparent that the head teacher, nor the staff knew anything about the needs of truamatised children, the open door policy the head teacher claimed to have was more like a door slammed in your face policy. Thankfully November bought her resignation. It took the best part of that academic year for a replacement head teacher to be appointed, it was a difficult year to say the least, a wasted year really, no relationships were made, no trust was gained so no learning took place. We then had quite possibly the worst summer ever, the anticipation of the return to a school that didn’t understand them was just too much for the girls. We entered a new academic year weary and tired. Thankfully that September bought a new head teacher and with it renewed hope. My hope wasn’t misplaced either, he was/is amazing. He listened, he accommodated and he did his very best to understand. He put measures in place, the most important of which was a Key Worker, she was/is also amazing. Between the two of them they did their very best to support us all as a family during what was Big girls last year in primary school. They used some of their pupil premium money on attachment training, removed the girls from their behavior modification systems, put in specialist support at crucial times throughout every day, added flexibility/consideration to the curriculum and vast amounts of extra learning support.

So the hunt for a high school began. We researched all the local and not local high schools, we knew a big school would be too much for her so we opted for a smaller one (same size as the first primary school but smallest we could get) outside our catchment area but everyone agreed it was the only suitable place for her, well everyone except the LEA, without knowing anything about her, they were adamant our local high school, 3 times the size, would be fine so they refused to support us with transport. We knew our daughter best and applied for the smaller one, it was there or Home Ed, we knew that much. We got the EHC plan the high school said she’d need and we did our best to make it through the year. Big girls tantrums worsened as her anxiety increased, baby girl got closer and closer to school refusal needing more and more support each day and middle girl finally found the courage to remove her mask at home and tell us and our therapist that even though she said she did, she really didn’t like school at all, she found it scary. There was a lot more to all of this, I’m simplifying it, many incidents, many indicators, many sick days due to stress, many tears and much hard work and relentless support from the school.

September came and before we even got big girl to high school, there were problems. Aside from discovering that the tutor she’d met during her transition meetings was going on maternity leave, We discovered days before school was due to start that the crucial key worker that they’d assigned to big girl, the one person that had the ability to help her feel safe in school by taking the time to build up a trusting relationship, was also key worker for many many other children most of which outwardly displayed their needs, unlike big girl who would need time and patience and trust before she would be able to even consider to ‘open up’. I feared she would become invisible, her needs over shadowed by the needs of those more secure needy children. I wasn’t wrong. By mid September Id already had a meeting with school, exchanged several heated emails and already requested an emergency review of her EHC plan. Her needs were going totally unrecognised, they were utterly unable to see past her compliance. Her anxiety was very apparent at home, once she got home and felt safe it would all come out, often in violent rages. Things were also made worse because despite her EHC Plan being in place with details of 17.5 hours worth of support including social skills support, reading support, emotional language support, classroom support, she received nothing more than a room to spend break/lunch times in, where she would build a den under the desk in order to feel safe, and a busy key worker to share with various other needy children. She’d scraped through a level 3 in SATS just a few months prior, yet was expected to do level 5 work, or at least try, without any support. By October things had become completely unmanageable for all of us. Big girls anxiety was through the roof and it was effecting the entire family. Middle girl had completely stopped ‘learning’ and was needing more and more support, she was withdrawing and showing signs of underlying anger, baby girl wasn’t sleeping, crying, clinging to me each morning and not wanting to go to school and becoming more and more ambivalent in our relationship. CAMHS had agreed to prescribe big girl with medication for her anxiety ūüė¶

Half term came and the week was spent agonizing over what to do. Id asked both the LEA and high school for a review of big girls EHC plan several times, no action was ever taken. I was about to medicate my child ‘just’ so she could manage school. Middle girl was withdrawing from ‘relationships’ and becoming ‘shut down’. Baby girl was a mess, she was angry with me for making her go to school, but clingy and needy at the same time. All of this, just for school! We had to draw the line. We’d spent 5 years trying to get the girls to feel safe in school, things were getting worse not better. How much more of their childhoods could we spend unhappy and stressed out, just because of school!? They needed so much more joy in their lives, they deserved happiness!

So we made the decision to home educate. It wasn’t a snap decision, it had been on the cards for over a year, we’d discussed it with several professionals as well as family members, Id made no secret of it. It certainly wasn’t my choice, but I knew that we might at some point have to accept that they were just unable to manage a school environment. Id really hoped that the high school would get it right, if they had, well maybe things would have been different, if things had been going well for at least one of them, maybe it would have given us enough ‘hope’ to carry on. But it didn’t, it was falling apart from all angles, even with a super supportive primary school, baby girl and middle girl just weren’t improving and big girl, well she didn’t stand a chance at a high school that couldn’t even see her needs, never mind meet them. If we’d just de-registered Big girl, well, there was no way Id have got the other 2 in school, and if I’d forced them, the damage to our relationship would have been catastrophic. This was a make or break decision for our family.

So here we are. Big girls anxiety has reduced so much that we no longer feel she needs anxiety medication. Baby girl is happy, I can almost see her heart smiling, middle girl, well, her confidence has soared!
My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner!

PS remember the LEA that insisted our local huge high school was the best place for big girl, and as such wouldn’t support us with transport to the smaller further away school, well since I asked again for her EHCP to be reviewed in November, with a view to name Home Education and apply for a personal budget for tuition, they’ve now decided that the smaller high school, that they refused transport for, is the best place for her and are still refusing to review her EHCP (Education Health Care Plan)! Couldn’t make it up could ya!

Must it always be so hard!?

Published August 27, 2015 by thefamilyof5

I’m starting to buckle a little. You’ll have noticed that I haven’t blogged much lately and that’s partly because we’ve been having a great summer and partly because my head is so stressed out with things that are going on in the background that I struggle to focus long enough to switch my laptop on never mind actually type something.

So here goes, I’m going to off load. If you haven’t followed my blog for a while then this probably wont make much sense to you, If your one of those super bored people that has nothing better to do than read my dreary ramblings, then it will probably, perhaps, maybe, make a bit of sense. Hopefully. Or not.

At the beginning of the year our DDP therapist suggested we look in to having Big girls mental health assessed, her constant high anxiety levels are a huge worry and she may need medical support with this. So I made some calls. 46,799 calls and several letters later, having been passed back and forth between CAMHS and our local ASD service provider for over 6 months, CAMHS finally called today and agreed to see her, the ‘nurse’ is adamant she MUST attend the 1st appointment and is unwilling to see myself and our therapist in the first instance. So not only will this be even more anxiety for Big girl, and quite possibly unnecessarily as there isn’t anything she can tell them that I cant (in fact she wont tell them anything ‘real’ anyway), but¬†the appointment will mean missing time off school after only having being there for a few weeks

The school we chose for Big Girl last year is not a local catchment school. Adopted children are given priority admissions to make it easier for parents to choose the RIGHT school to meet their child’s needs. So we did just that. However, what I didn’t know is that this did not come with provision to support a child getting to the school they need to attend. So I applied to our local authority for help with transport as the school run for all 3 girls is a logistical impossibility. I was told I had to wait until the school place was made official, so around March/April time. They turned down my application. The 5th of August I was advised to appeal. So I have. I’m still awaiting the results of that hearing. There is 2 weeks left until the start of school and I still have no idea how I’m going to get them all where they need to be for the right times. When I applied for an EHC plan for Big girl last year I mentioned to the worker that was completing the assessment that I’d applied for transport to get Big girl to the high school we’d chosen. I wasn’t informed that it could be part of the EHC plan. Instead I was left to fight another battle. Its now too late to get transport incorporated in to her EHC plan apparently.

The placing authority provide us with an adoption allowance, its a sum of money that ensure’s I’m available for the girls appointments and therapy. Its not a lot but given that the girls high level of needs have meant that I’ve been unable to return to work as originally planned, its been a huge help. Over the last 2 years the placing authority have reduced this dramatically, even though our household income has not changed and the girls needs have increased. I received a letter 2 weeks ago, they’re reducing it again, massively. Another appeal.

I saw our GP in July. I requested some urgent help for Big girl for ‘girl stuff’. She received an urgent Pediatric¬†gynecology referral. The referral was ignored. I chased it up. It was ignored some more. Finally we got an appointment for next week (late, but kinda perfect because it was before she goes back to school). I had a letter today. Its been cancelled and re-scheduled for the middle of October. Apparently 4 months is urgent!?

I discovered the other day that the Key worker, at the new High School, that’s been assigned to Big girl as part of her EHC plan has also been assigned to another child who also has a high level of need. So each morning this ‘key worker’ is supposed to be greeting my super stressed compliant daughter and another child who’s needs are displayed far more outwardly (I know this because I’ve met the other child). So my super compliant Big girl who should be starting her day calm and making a connection with a trusted adult, will instead no doubt end up soothing the worries of another stressed out child alongside ‘her’ key worker, whilst her own fears go un-soothed and her day begins with anxiety. No one at High school is currently available to clarify things or reassure me that this isn’t the case and that the Key worker assigned to big girl will in fact be able to offer her undivided attention as I was led to believe. They probably wont be available until the day before school starts.

The day before school starts we get to meet Big girl’s new tutor for the first time. Someone in their infinite wisdom thought it was a good idea to put Big girl in a tutor group with a tutor who was going maternity leave in July. So the extensive transition plan that we worked through for months and months, couldn’t involve meeting her tutor. I honestly am not making this stuff up!

Then there’s the worry about how Middle girl and Baby girl will settle back in to school with their new teachers with the knowledge that Big girl is somewhere else.

Its also time to review both Middle and Baby girls ‘working diagnosis of Autism’, and given how much I upset the local ASD service provider trying to get Big girl some help, I suspect they’ll be wanting get me off their books and out of their hair. It certainly felt that way when I called them today to make the appointments.

Then there’s the possibility that I’ll be applying for an EHC plan for Middle girl soon, really not wanting to leave it till year 6 like I did for Big girl, year 6 is stressful enough I think.

And my cat is poorly. Again. She’s a sickly thing but I do love her so.

This is just the stuff in my head.

Then there is ‘life’ with 3 traumatised children to manage.

Why does everything have to be so hard. I just want to be a mom.

Photo Challenge #FO5photo Day 21

Published December 11, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Today is day 21, the theme for today is ‘Reflection’.

Been an awful day. My morning started with a tantrum from big girl before school.

Then a very draining meeting with EHC co-ordinater that involved me spending 2 hours telling her about all the awful things that big girl endured during her time living with her birth family, and then again in foster care, and then describing the effects that all this has had on her and in-turn the effects it has on all of the family. Thinking about, and talking about so much trauma and heartache is more draining that I thought.

Then tonight, after school, another 2 and half hour tantrum from her.

So this is my feeble contribution, the reflection of light on my chocolate (self care) wrapper………………

My tea tonight.......... :(

My tea tonight………. ūüė¶

 

 

My little book of worries…………..

Published December 10, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Inside my head I have a book, it contains all my worries, it seems to be rapidly growing!

I have an appointment tomorrow with the lady co-ordinating the EHC plan for big girl, I must remember to tell her everything!

I have an appointment with the pediatrician next week about all 3 of the girls anxiety levels and the knock on effect its having on their sleep, which seems to be getting worse with age! I need to write an email to the pediatrician so she/he can have all the sensitive information without me having to say it all in front of the girls.

We had a letter today notifying us that middle girls teacher is leaving and a new teacher will be taking her place in January, I knew this was going to be happening, I just didn’t know exactly when. So I need to ensure that school, sometime over the next 7 school days before they break up, do some work with middle girl to prepare her for this transition. Perhaps a photo of the new teacher and an informal meeting with her before school recommences in January!? Middle girl is already worried, ‘what if she shouts’ she asked me tonight. I’d also like them to pass to the new teacher the information (letter to my teacher) that was given to each of the teachers at the start of the school year so that she can also ‘know’ about Middle girl before school commences.

This new teacher (if staff/classes remain the same) might also be Baby girls teacher next September which means they will also need to be thinking about supporting her next year with that transition. I’d also like some thought in how the year 5 teacher (again assuming there are no changes) will support Middle girl next year as I’m not sure the approach she had with Big girl last year, will work with Middle girl next year.

Big girl goes to High School next year (hence the application for an EHC plan), there’s been a lots of talk about supporting her with the transition but I think I need to know more, like how and when etc

With big girl changing schools, Middle girl and Baby girl are also going to need a lot of support with this. It will be a big step for them to be in a separate school. The bad dreams about ‘sisters getting lost’ have already started for Middle girl and I’m convinced this is linked to her knowing that Big girl is going to be changing schools.

Then there is all the other day to day stuff, like Christmas Plays, Sats, Therapy, IEP reviews, Letterbox contact with birth family, what to cook for tea!

Oh, and its Christmas soon……………..

Big school for Big girl

Published September 18, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Its here, the time when I have to choose a high school for Big girl.

Its come around too quickly, she’s not ready, I’m not ready.

I’ve been looking for a suitable school since around Easter time, researching them and comparing them. I made a list, I called each of them and made appointments to meet with their SENCO’s. All of our local secondary schools are big, there were 4 on my list and only 2 of those would make the school run fairly easy the other 2 would require some sort of after/before school club, or lots of waiting around, neither of which are really ideal for big girl. The first three that I called didn’t really sound like anything special but the 4th one impressed me on the phone with their talk of support and understanding and a nurturing environment.

To cut a very long (over 4 months) story short the 1st three were not suitable, no real understanding of trauma, attachment or even autism, all of which big girl struggles with and the environments didn’t fill me with warmth and hope either. So on to the 4th one, the one I’d pinned all my hopes on.

I arrived at 9.05am. On my loooooong walk to the Senco’s office from the main reception, I commented on how ‘fit’ one must have to be to work there, clearly confused by my comment she told me that there were lots of ‘fit’ male teachers at the school and it was quite a pleasure to work there. Further along our walk ¬†we passed a very depressed looking boy slumped at a desk outside the head teachers office, remember this is 9.05am!! I spent almost 2 hours chatting and listening to her tell me how most children settle in very quickly, how her daughters really enjoying being there, how lots of children struggle with the hustle and bustle of the corridors at class changes and how they support them by giving them a map and if they loose it, they help them buy attaching it to their bags. Lots of talk about how great the communication between staff was, but no real assurances of how this helps the children on a practical level or examples of how she would be supported.

After our lengthy chat and shortly after a class change, we headed back through the winding corridors, the little boy that was slumpled outside the head teachers office, well, he was still there, there was also another boy flopped over a desk looking very sorry for himself a little way around the corner. As we walked out to the courtyard I noticed a young boy chatting with a fit male teacher, he appeared to be having some difficulties and neither looked too happy, just behind them in a classroom were some older children having what appeared to be a very aggressive argument, the teacher chatting to the young boy, and the senco who walked besides me were both completely oblivious, I can only hope it was a drama class but somehow I don’t think it was.

Back in the main reception and the senco was approached by a young boy who wanted to tell her something, once he left I commented on what a sweet looking boy he was and I was horrified as she proceeded to tell me his personal story, that he had an attachment disorder and was feeling like his world was falling apart as his favorite teacher had just left, apparently he and his mum had decided to move schools for a fresh start but she thought it was a mistake. The little boy, who’s world was falling apart, reappeared and wanted to tell her something else, she suggested they catch up at lunch club at which point he informed her that he’d be late because he’s just been given a 10 minute detention. What a considerate teacher that must have been.

This was the school that sounded good, the one that filled my heart with hope, imagine what the rest were like!

So the search continues, I’ve widened the search area, although I have no idea how the logistics would work If any of those schools prove to be suitable. Big girl doesnt have a SEN statement/EHC plan, I’ve always been told by teachers that she wouldn’t qualify for one, so special schools are off the radar. ¬†I have reluctantly put ‘home-schooling’ on my radar. I don’t have any strong views on home schooling, I think it can be a perfectly acceptable method of education and equally I think schooling is also a perfectly acceptable method. I’m also of the opinion that not all children fit in to the same box so whilst school may be suitable for some, it may not be suitable for others and vise versa. However, my reluctance to consider home schooling comes from some where else. Home schooling big girl would take a lot of my emotional and physical resources and I’d never get the chance to ‘stop’ and recharge during school hours, and recharging is vital when your raising traumatised children. Baby girl and Middle girl equally have their own struggles and deserve a mommy that’s not exhausted by the time they come home from school each day, but at the same time sending Big girl to a school that she cant manage could just push her over the edge that she’s currently teetering on.

So my plan is to apply for a statement/EHC Plan for Big girl myself, I believe her emotional needs are vast and they have a huge impact on her ability to learn, I’m going to research home schooling, visit the other schools in the wider area and hope and pray one of them is amazing.

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