Extra help in school she needs

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How do I get my child the extra help in school she needs? 

How do I get my child the extra help in school she needs? 

How do I get my child the extra help in school she needs?

(This mostly applies to the UK situation)

The British government has promised that "a child with special educational needs should have their needs met" (sec. 1.3, SEN Code of Practice, 2001). 

This is a pretty rash thing to promise, since there is no way that they have the resources to back this up.

However, there it is, in black and white! So, if you have a child with special needs, how do you make sure she gets the help she needs? 

The first step is to understand the way schools are set up. The second step is to recognise that, despite the governments promise, resources are tight, so you will need to develop a good working relationship with your school so that you can clearly state your concerns, and work with them in finding solutions.

Most children's educational needs can be met in the normal classrooms of normal mainstream schools. Once it becomes clear that a child is not making the progress that should be expected, it is the responsibility of the school to take some action.

Lack of progress may be because of problems with: 

a. communication and social interactions (e.g. autism, speech problems) 

b. thinking and learning (e.g. poor memory, poor concentration, low IQ, dyslexia) 

c. behaviour, emotional and social development sensory and/or physical disabilities (e.g. deafness, paralysis) If you are worried about your child, you should speak with her teacher and/or the school's SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO). If they agree that she has special needs, they will place her name on their Special Educational Needs Register.

It may be that they have already done so. Once the school have identified that there are special needs, they then have the responsibility to meet those needs. 

There are many way by which this may be done. But the important point is that everyone (which includes you, the parents) should agree on what goals you are trying to achieve for your child. 

Normally this is done by drawing up an individual education plan (IEP) On this IEP certain targets are identified and worked on, with these targets being reviewed every six weeks or so.

These targets might be academic such as reading or writing, or there may be behavioural such as putting a hand up to ask a question, they might be social such as getting along with other children at play time or indeed they may be physical if the child has any particular physical or medical needs or disabilities. 

Parents should normally be invited to take part in the process of drawing up and reviewing these IEP targets.

Indeed, you will best help your child if you are fully involved in the process, as there may be things you can do at home that would support what the teachers are doing in school. If it becomes clear that what the school is able to do by themselves is not enough, then they should involve some outside experts. 

Most commonly this would be an educational psychologist, but may be any of a number of different professionals.

These experts may work directly with your child, or they may give advice and suggestions to the school. This level of support is called "School Action Plus". Finally, if even this is not enough, then either the school, or you, may apply to have a Statutory Assessment of SEN, which is done by the Local Education Authority (usually the county council).

If they agree that the needs are severe, they may issue a Statement of SEN which spells out just what the needs are, and what the school (and others) are legally required to do to meet those needs. 

If the LEA refuses to do a statutory assessment or issue a statement then you, as a parent, have a right to appeal. Note that in most cases, even if the LEA grants a statement, the school does not necessarily get any extra money to do what the statement says!

This means that they are still stuck with the very difficult problem of how to divide up their limited cash amongst all the SEN children in their school. This is why close co-operation between home and school is essential The school is not your enemy, so fighting with them is unlikely to get your child the help she needs. Do try to be polite and friendly, and listen to what they say about your child.

At the same time, don't be afraid to speak up if you are worried that something is being missed or not dealt with. 

After all, if you don't speak up for your child, who will? Hopefully, if the educational needs can be appropriately identified and targeted, then your child should find school to be a less stressful environment and, therefore, be more settled, not just in school, but also at home. 

The SEN Code of Practice can be ordered, free, from 0845 602 2260

The author of Extra help in school she needs is Dr Noel Swanson MD

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Source:  Article Extra help in school she needs was submitted by Dr Noel Swanson MD for publication.

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