Today was a monumental day in our personal #SEN journey.
Last week I took our case to an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to hear evidence which aimed to highlight the unfair trial I felt my daughter had received. Back in July, I took the appeal to the governors committee (the GDC) as I felt that the decision to permanently exclude my child was directly related to her SEN and was unlawful.
It will be no surprise to hear that the data I requested was withheld and, as was reiterated by the governors, that the headmistress would give me “what she deemed relevant.” As many will know, this breaks the data protection act, something which I quoted in order to get some vital evidence (which I still only have partially) and finally given at the eleventh hour before the case.
Yet I carried on.
Even at the governors review, I tried to use this evidence to highlight the wrongdoings that had happened, but was interrupted and told it wasn’t to be heard as it was irrelevant. I was grateful that an independent representative from the Local Authority was there to step in and ensure I had my say as guess what? It was very relevant…too relevant in fact that they wanted it to not be heard.
Yet the governors ignored any evidence I gave and stated they agreed with the decision the headmistress had made.
To even begin to describe the anger and frustration at a system that fails us is beyond words.
So I wasn’t expecting much from the review panel – another bureaucratic loophole to go through.
But I was wrong.
I sat in a room full of people who listened and considered the flight of a vulnerable child whose needs had clearly not been met. They even saw through the fabricated evidence put before them to cover the lies that had happened. They could see that codes of practice had been violated.
My daughter was the unfortunate scapegoat for when plans and proceedures are not in place to assist children with extra needs. She’s not the first and I’m sorry to say she probably won’t be the last.
I was just fortunate enough to have been able to be her advocate.
Other children in our system are suffering because they don’t have that.
So, to receive the decision in the post today was a letter worth waiting for.
These words, after two years of being judged and oppressed, was like a weight off of my shoulders:
The panel unanimously decided that, the GDC’s decision was flawed when considered in the light of the principles applicable on an application for judicial review and quashed the decision of the GDC and directed that they consider the exclusion again…they also identified irrationality and procedural improprieties in the GDC’s decision making process.
I wasn’t quite ready for that. When you get so beaten down, it’s difficult to keep hope that procedures can be carried out fairly.
They realised that exceptional needs funding for a 1:1 teacher and applications for an educational health care plan had been completely prepared by the parent, in order to get my daughter off of an enforced reduced timetable. I wanted to stop the informal exclusions that weren’t being documented. I simply wanted her to receive an appropriate education and nobody was listening to me.
I guess they are now…a little too late.
In the mean time I’ve been picking up the pieces of a child with a damaged self-esteem.
The report even went on to say the panel had grave concerns over the school’s use of an imposed reduced timetable over an extended length of time. As well as worries that the amount of undocumented exclusions were not on the school record. Again, the panel had concerns that there was a lack of rigour shown by the GDC in reviewing the evidence before they reached their decision.
It’s all there in black and white, but what will be the ramifications of this hearing?
I know there are other children in that school being sent home to cool off, other parents who are made to comply with reduced timetables due to apparent staffing issues. Let alone the importance of paying out for a qualified, knowledgeable SENCO who can be behind these children.
So, what happens from here?
We have 10 statutory days for the GDC to reconvene and consider the decision of the panel. Yet, that doesn’t mean they have to change their decision.
But the bigger picture is far more complex that that.
Who is willing to listen and actually action this further? It is a widespread problem and one that is getting worse.
But for today, I shall sit and absorb this euphoria – after all, it doesn’t happen very often!
If only those in that room could read these words they would know they have restored my faith that some justice was done, not only for my daughter, but the rest of the invisible children embroiled in the failing education system.
Let’s work towards an inclusive future.
#education #SEN #exclusions