Almost everyone I see in ‘real life’ has asked, as well as receiving quite a few messages via my Facebook page. “Any news?” And for weeks and weeks now, I’ve had to shake my head and look fed up (not a stretch – I am fed up!) and say, “no, nothing yet, we should hear any day.” And then we didn’t hear anything. Week after week.
Well, friends, yesterday was the day!
A brief update before the news: last week I had a cuppa and a chat with my friend and supporter, J. We discussed options moving forward, knowing that our first choice school had turned us down and we were waiting to hear from our second choice. The headteacher at Tink’s school discovered that our wait would be prolonged due to someone, somewhere losing the paperwork. However, after some dogged determination on her part, the Head managed to speak to the Head at the other school and they arranged for her to come and see Tink in Nursery to assess her suitability for their school. This happened on Friday morning, although nothing was given away!
J had already emailed the relevant person with details about an appeal, and he had contacted me – at the weekend – to start the ball rolling with that. Early this week, someone from that department came round with the documentation for me to sign, which I did, and she filed it immediately. (We are appealing the fact that there is no specific school named in the relevant section in the EHC plan so that we can name our first choice). We have had an email today detailing timescales and a date for the final hearing, if it comes to that. Why can’t everyone be as efficient?!
Meanwhile, I had emailed my MP and copied in the head of children’s services for our city council for good measure. I’m not sure what I wanted to achieve, other than to highlight the poor service families like ours are getting from the Local Authority when it comes to EHC plans, school places and transport to school. Their incompetence/high staff turnover/staff shortages are letting children down, and they seem to be losing focus of those children and their needs. However, I must have rattled some cages, as a polite chap from the MPs office called to say that the MP had read my email and could they please pass it on to the local councillors? Plus within a day, Tink’s case had been transferred to a higher-level manager at SENAR, who called both J and me to discuss what was happening.
She reiterated that our first choice is adamant there are no places and told me what I already knew about the second choice coming out to see Tink. She then said it might be a good idea to look at yet more schools, and suggested three. She asked if she could send them the consultation paperwork as “time is of the essence”. Er, no, I don’t think so! I’d like to see them first! I looked them up, and only one of the three appeals – slightly, but, when I called to book a viewing, we can’t get in until the beginning of July! :bangs head:
Ok, I think we’re caught up! So…
Today I missed a couple of phone calls as my phone was on ‘silent’. Typical. Dave called me while I was out with the kids, and said that “a triple-barrelled lady from SENAR” has called and that our second choice school has offtered Tink a place from September!
Hallelujah for someone else who knows how to do their job! She came and saw her on Friday and by lunchtime the following Tuesday (after a Bank Holiday and with it also being half term), a decision had been made!
So, we can at least breathe a little now, as we know she has a place in a school we really like. The only issue with it, however, is the distance from our home as it is in the next county. We’re still going ahead with the appeal for our first choice, with the main reasons being that it is ASD-specific and possibly more suitable, and it is a hell of a lot closer, so I could take her to school myself.
Let’s see if the Local Authority realise they could save a fortune in transport costs and help the school to find a space for Tink… She’s only little, she won’t take up much room… 😉