Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Providing for an SEN Child or fixing a hole in the roof??

Schools need children with complex needs like they need a hole in the roof, the consequences are potentially equally costly. 
In some instances there appears to be evidence that Child Protection procedures are used to avoid SEN expenditure. 
  • At the Westminster SEND Conference on 09 11 17, the OFSTED representative confirmed that they look at the issue of SEN Tribunal appeals and outcomes, including interviewing some parents about their experiences. 
  • However it doesn’t seem that they are able to access and interview those families who never get as far as Tribunal.
  • Some children are not assessed for SEND and fail to access resources and crucial support, either because they are not noticed (e.g. a painfully shy girl with unrecognised ADD or undiagnosed autism) or because their parents are regarded as “over anxious” and the system blames them for bad parenting, rather than investigating their children’s difficulties. 
  • Unwarranted Child Protection Proceedings may be invoked as a means of stopping a special needs family requesting assessments, or going to Tribunal, on the basis that the family are exhibiting supposedly rare signs of Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, (now known as Fictitious and Induced Illness) based on the outmoded Freudian assumption that children’s illnesses are family generated, especially as espoused by Bruno Bettelheim who spoke of ‘Refrigerator Mothers’. These discredited theories, which do not take into account recent increases in understanding of Autism Spectrum conditions and collagen deficiency, appear to be making a comeback as a means of combatting parental requests for SEN support. 
  • Some Assessments or support ordered by Tribunals are not implemented, because the child protection system overrides SEN Proceedings, making it possible for others (who have investigated the child’s needs less thoroughly than the SEN Tribunal decision makers) to assert that such assessments or provision could be harmful to the child.
  • Schools are wary of parents who are intent on insisting on assessments or additional resources for their children. At particular risk are families with tenacious undiagnosed autistic mothers, who are perceived as having poor social skills when dealing with education and health professionals.
  • Sources from which information about children with additional needs and their families is gleaned may well include those with no SEN knowledge, but who’ve seen adverts for children’s charities which regularly confuse symptoms of autism or illness with signs of abuse. 
  • The EHCP process (and associated directives on working together) give exaggerated voice to people who’s training and experience lacks knowledge of disabling medical or neurological conditions. 
  • Playground Supervisors may misreport autism spectrum children, who have short temper fuses or are painfully shy and those with collagen deficiencies who bruise easily, as abused children because that’s what the TV told them to think. 
  • When a headteacher hears of a child protection concern, a process is triggered without further common sense review. 
  • Observations are not considered by anyone who actually knows the child or family, because safeguarding policy is not conducive to inquisitorial investigation. The report is escalated upwards to people with no knowledge of the child or family and immediately becomes adversarial with an untried assumption of parental guilt. 
  • These referrals prevent many proper applications for SEN support and instead plunge vulnerable families into damaging CP investigations reminiscent of the actions of the House Committee on un-American Activities, which in his 1954 play the Crucible, Arthur Miller described as being analogous to the 17th Century Salem Witch Hunts. 
  • I would encourage everyone who is concerned about this situation to read this excellent report by Special Needs Jungle.

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Diploma in Child Development.
Jan Loxley advised Parliament on 'Latch Key Provision' during 'International Year of the Child'. Coming late to motherhood, she was wrongly accused of fabricating her children’s medical and neurological difficulties and formed Parents Protecting Children UK, which has over 1600 followers on Facebook and serves families with additional needs, caught up in the Child Protection system.

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