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I Mala Thapar give my consent to ACTION 4 SEND to share my story publicly online for the benefit of shared understanding. I agree to the terms of conditions set by Action 4 send for the benefit of my personal data and that Action 4 SEND are GPDR compliant. I believe that my shared content is the truth and I will not name individuals or schools.

Arun

my story

My eldest son A is 16 years old; he has Autism, ADHD and Dyspraxia. He is a
very bright boy and wants to pursue his education and enjoys Media (which
happens to be my career) and was a very happy go lucky child. He was
diagnosed with Autism at age 3. In 2014 he was diagnosed with ADHD but CAMHs
undiagnosed him without an assessment. I had to request an assessment
through my GP and in 2016 A was diagnosed with ADHD through Michael Rutter
NHS part of Maudesley.Tribunal 1/ Hearing 1: 2014
A attended a mainstream school in LA started in 2007 and applied for a
statement then which was refused by LA previously. In 2010 after I got
involved and commissioned private reports, he finally received an EHCP in
2014. We knew mainstream was not an option and he was offered a place at
School for secondary starting 2015.

After naming School in 2014, we were served court orders from Baker Small
Solicitors to attend a tribunal as the LA decided that a mainstream with an
attached unit was the right provision. We had no contact from LA at all,
instead we were antagonised for months by Baker Small Solicitors who was the
LA designated solicitors with no meetings/mediation offered.

We went to tribunal in 2014 and with the disgraceful conduct of Baker Small
Solicitors and we had to resume another tribunal in March 2015. I was a SEN
Governor at my son’s school, I resigned on the day of the tribunal and
pulled A out of School and home educated him.

Tribunal 1/ Hearing 2: 2015
During this interim period I complained to the council and after quoting the
Children’s and Families Act and emailing  LA, we were offered a meeting with
Director and Tribunal officer, upon meeting with them it was said “you will
not get the Rolls Royce of Education for your son”, we were mortified and
shared facts on that point and stated the law. A short period after the
tribunal officer called me and stated that LA had conceded but we would
still need to attend the second hearing. We did attend and covered the
working document and sadly had to battle it out with Baker Small Solicitors
again during the second hearing.

A started School in April 2015. In 2016, the following was exposed about
Baker Small solicitors whom  LA had been using:
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/jun/22/simply-inhumane-the-law-firm-tha
t-fights-parents-seeking-help-for-childrens-special-needs

School
A flourished up until September 2018. The company who ran the School and
this changed over to another company. The Headmaster left mysteriously in
early 2017 which became apparent after some press releases were shared on
the public domain.

There was no Head Teacher until September 2017, who sadly passed away a few
weeks later.

September 2018 – July 2019
Then a new HT was employed in early 2018. A started to change in October
2018 and kept mentioning a particular staff member who was a class TA.

January 2019
I noticed the continued change in A and in January 2019,  I received a call
from the HT stating that A was on internal suspension as he swore at the HT.
I was mortified as inappropriate language is unacceptable in our home and
apologised profusely to the HT. On this day, A shared everything – where the
TA was discussing inappropriate topics, such as where he lived and his
salary. The TA shared details of his love life with A and showed his photos
from his private Instagram account – nothing disturbing.

A broke down when he came home and shared with me that the TA had shown him
a few weeks before age inappropriate film trailers when he was alone. Also
the TA had asked A (only) to write his favourite teachers on a list, when
the TA was not on the list, he asked A to write it again. This was when A
left the classroom as felt uncomfortable, when the HT saw A having a
movement break, he tried to say no, the HT forced him to go back in. A had a
meltdown and swore in retaliation as was unable to express his frustration,
this is the norm with children on the spectrum but no like A as he does not
have challenging behaviour. The same TA told everyone in the School when A
had a crush on an older student – he was 14 years old at the time and also
topics involving shaving.

I went to the School the following day with A as requested by the HT and was
surprised when welcomed by several members of staff in a boardroom, which I
found peculiar. During this meeting I explained the discovered triggers, the
HT requested that I discussed this privately which I did and on explaining
the full details he instigated an investigation. A’s details were sent to
LADO, the TA was not suspended. The investigation was concluded as
unfounded. We found out that B had sent LADO incorrect details, such as
A’s age and the film trailer ratings, which was brushed under the carpet
after requesting an SAR request. As the situation was getting complicated
and serious, I kept a log of incidents which was getting more frequent.
Further incidents continued, where the TA locked A in a games room, tried to
talk with A when asked not to, and then continually winked at him. A was
ostracised by staff and peers and the situation worsened.

June 2019
A’s EHCP was not being followed and after the continued disasters I
requested an emergency AR and emailed Head of SEN including my log – which
was a huge PDF document including unanswered emails and situations that
remained unsolved. The AR was carried out late June and due to Summer
holidays there was a short break. We wanted to move A but there were no
places available in other Autism Specialist Schools.

September – December 2019
In September 2019 the Head of SEN chaired a one hour mediation meeting which
started off well but ended quite badly. A was subjected to an altercation
from another child and the HT stated that was because A stared at the other
child. The same child previously threw a book at A which made A’s hand bleed
which is why A was anxious around this particular peer. The peer and A got
on well before until the TA moved to this peer’s class and changed
overnight. A was accused of changing his file names to obscenities and found
out by accident this had happened to other children, yet A was the scapegoat
of this and accused of hacking a staff members social media account during a
time he was watching a TV show with us. Upon requesting answers to
allegations there was never any response.

We had a complaints panel meeting in early October and the Head of SEN was
aware of this and advised me to share my detailed log with the panel. This
was the worst advice we could have been given but actually thought she was
trying to assist, we followed her instruction which led to carnage. During
this time the TRA were also involved who were investigating the TA. The
complaints panel meeting was not what we were led to believe by the HT, it
was a waste of time as they thought it was from the complaint of the TA in
March 2019 which was concluded albeit unfavourably.

On 18th October 2019 we had an AR and agreed to work together for A’s final
year,  LA EHCP Coordinator attended this as well. A few days later during
half term I met with an ex staff member, we were at a restaurant in Bromley
as was going to ask her for private tutoring for A as his attainment levels
had digressed. I received a phone call from MASH and was mortified, unable
to speak due to both my children being present and also the ex-staff member
who was horrified. I requested she called back the following day. The case
was closed down within minutes, referred by School on the same day as the AR
and was through sheer malice.

I lodged an appeal for A to move school as this was not working out and had
to employ a Solicitor to manage this difficult case as felt this would not
go well. A was assessed at another School for three days. A loved it there
and I received positive feedback. They were going to offer a place starting
January 2020 but this was allegedly sabotaged by one/both of the two parties
of  LA and School which was heart-breaking. Other schools also rejected A
and we were unsure as to why this was happening. After our solicitor got
involved, he requested that he be copied in to correspondence between  LA
and potential placements. After that, coincidentally we were offered two
places within a week.

In November 2019 we were emailed an “Undertaking request” from the school’s
Head of Legal stating that we were no longer able to email the School and
made false allegations about us which was outrageous.

Unsuitable school
LA contacted me in November 2019 and asked that I visit this provision with
A. On 11th November 2019 we visited and was greeted by the DH (now HT) who
witnessed A having a sensory shutdown within a few minutes of entering the
School. The HT agreed to reject him as they could not meet his needs.

In January 2020 HT contacted me again and asked me to visit alone which I
did on 14th January 2020. The School had not changed within a month and I
reiterated what I stated the first time, the provision was not right for A.
I emailed this to HT and her colleague.

The school have never followed their own admissions protocol nor spoken to A
yet have offered him a place.

The SENDIST tribunal had ordered evidence to the appeal and to my horror I
read that the HT wrote a witness statement in December 2019 and offered
placement which I discovered after my second visit in late January.

January 2020 – to date
A’s EHCP has not been followed, he has had no OT since October 2019. We have
requested this from  LA since January 2020 and had received no response
until last week. No SALT and various other failures. Under-Section F, the
EHC plan specifies the special educational A should have received and  LA
have a legal duty to “secure” this provision under s.42(2) Children and
Families Act 2014 and thus in breach of this legal duty and would warrant a
Judicial Review

Tribunal
We had mediation with Head of SEN and the Tribunal Officer on 2nd April 2020
through video due to Covid. Our Solicitor tried his best to negotiate this,
the proposed was not even named under Section I of his EHCP but it was
decided thereafter.

Our appeal and all preparation in respect thereto has focused on the
particular school currently named being replaced with another named school.
The grounds of appeal have not advocated a change of “type of school” under
section 51 CFA 2014 and  LA have used our appeal to re-entertain the issue
as to the type. The proposed school was never considered in 2014/2015 so why
now. The LA have removed parts of our closing statement to the appeal and
have added in new documents from B where assessments have been
completed but were never even shared with us nor known to us previously.

A Social Care assessment was refuted by  LA on two occasions, which is
against the law and flagged to the tribunal.

The proposed school seeks for him to return to its “set” curriculum among
lower achieving peers and following a curriculum below that which other year
11 students. They course on offer (being functional maths and English only)
restrict his chances to even re-take the subjects he has long pursued and in
particular media. This whole façade breaches A’s rights to equal treatment
and to a fair and equal service in breach of section 29 of the Equality Act.
The witness statements of HT even seeks, in a quite contradictory way, to
persuade A to abandon his plans/aspirations in particular his passion of
Media.

Conclusion
We have been subjected to a huge financial loss over this where there is no
reasoning nor logic in any aspect of this. The laws and legislations have
been clearly broken and misrepresentation to our case has been conveyed to
those in higher positions. We been have subjected to untold pressure and
antagonism for no palpable reason.

Our son has been the key victim in all the indignities where  LA and B
are in cahoots and nothing short of targeting a family due to racial
discrimination which is clearly obvious. Why put us through another tribunal
after all this. There are clear disparities in how BAME families get treated
within LA and clear racial target to us.

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1 Response
  1. Thank you Mala for sharing your story , and your above information clearly highlighted the emotional roller coaster and the emotional and financial impact lack of support,knowledge and understanding coupled with a total disregard to the law can have on a family. We stand with you and together we move forward to make change by spreading awareness and increased understanding.

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