systemic failiure in the EHCP process, a screen of grinding cogs

Systemic Failures in SEN Support: Why Parents Should Take Note

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Systemic Pressures and the Quest for Diagnoses

The increasing awareness and diagnoses of conditions like Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia among young people, underscore the complexities facing the education system in supporting students with SEND. The drive for diagnoses, partly fueled by the quest to be recognised for additional support, raises critical questions about the role of diagnosis in education and its impact on students and their families.

A diagnosis in the hands of a teacher or teaching assistant, responsible for 30 students is by itself questionably, perhaps not as useful as one might think. Do things get much better with an EHCP? How about an IEP?

A diagnosis that explains that a child needs to be taught by chunking is beneficial for those delivering learning content in a 1-to-1 approach, but they would already be equipped to teach in that style, all they need is for the student to be signposted into their care.

Is the lesson plan for the class going to pause and repeat for one pupil, while 29 get on with the task or pause with the teacher while it gets repeated? Maybe at primary, how about secondary, what about college?

This is why under section I of the EHCP, a school may resist taking on a pupil with specific needs because they are viewing the impact of education on others and the ability to provide bespoke adaptations for one. It’s within the parent’s right to appeal section I to a SENDIST tribunal, but consideration needs to be taken by parents, that if successful, will this school shift its teaching approach in a way that will meet the child’s needs. That is key, without the realistic possibility of the education setting meeting the child’s education needs, what is the purpose of appealing?

Unfortunately, the answer is often, what else is there, a good school that cannot meet the child’s needs is preferable to a bad school that cannot meet the child’s needs, in the hope that a school with aspirations for the student body is a better place to be.

The Impact of a Lack of Options in the SEND Coin-Flip Process

It does not take long when involved in the special education needs space to come across the calling card of lack of funding. Where are the schools that can meet the needs? This is true of course. It seems more effective to create systems that require extensive efforts to navigate than to have an open application process that identifies problems and provides a recognisable outcome, where appeals are the exception.

The question is, should they provide more funds to process SENDIST appeals more efficiently or should they focus on building new school infrastructure and appropriate training so the system can identify those with needs and simply signpost them to the education facilities that can meet those identified needs?

Integrating Systemic Awareness into Self-Care and Advocacy

For parents and guardians, understanding these systemic challenges is crucial, we can pretend they do not exist, and we can also tell ourselves it is not our problem. After all, the EHCP statute is without cost. The Local Authority may like to add the amount of funding to the EHC Plan, they may even have a policy document which outlines various bands of costing, but in law it’s irrelevant. There is no cost limit, the Local Authority is legally bound to provide the provisions set out in the EHC Plan.

So why is it our problem as parents, guardians and caregivers? because the reality of the system safety valve is to regulate an empty pot of funds and a scarce scattering of resources. You can feel frustrated, angry, and disillusioned but you, and not even the operator on the other side of your decision letter, can change the systemic underpinnings of this system.

This is a core theme in Therapy! Zones of Control, if you would like to explore this in more detail, we provide 1-to-1 therapy to help those navigating this system to cope – reach out using the contacts on the page. Or share your thoughts on this blog post

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