info@action4send.co.uk

Some positives in Huddersfield, but not enough.

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

I have two children born less than a year apart, they are extremely close. D is autistic, he was diagnosed after a 2 year wait. J struggles with anxiety but is otherwise fine & does very well in school. They both attend the same mainstream school who have been very good. Prior to our children being of school age i worked part time as a care assistant, but this is no longer an option. My partner is self employed and i now volunteer meaning i am able to change/cancel shifts at very short notice & do only the shifts i’m available for. Working just isn’t an option with exclusions, appointments, meetings, courses which run over a few weeks and challenging behaviour which often needs a referee. I receive DLA for D & Carers Allowance but it’s hardly a part time wage & the DLA needs to go on the kids. I recently got a cheap car as it’s gotten too difficult to take them on public transport, partly for D’s own safety. The behaviour of others towards children can be pretty disgusting. I’ve also had the endless exclusions (5 between Dec 19 & Jan 20) meetings at the opposite side of our local authority area, training courses which you’re made to go on, even if they don’t explicitly say that and appointments. It’s so difficult to do all this and the school run on public transport.

J has been on the receiving end of D’s violence many times & safeguarding referrals have been put through. He also has to deal with the fact that a lot of kids just don’t want to play with D as it can be difficult. They do look after each other really well despite all their issues. The school holidays are a living hell at times & the more outings we have, the better they are, but that costs money. Sometimes the entire day is spent walking on eggshells waiting to see who will explode next.

School.

D has very challenging behaviour & is physically and verbally abusive. The school have a high % of children with additional needs but he is probably the most complex and challenging they have had. He is now in year 3 and is (hopefully) going to a transitional placement in alternative provision before returning to his school. Our main issue is that provision in Huddersfield is lacking. All the PRU are in Dewsbury & Batley. The only alternative provision (that isn’t a PRU or special school) for primary age children is also in the same area. This means that D will have a minimum 45 minute taxi ride each way. He hates taxis. As the process for transfer to the other school can take months the school have a very high level of involvement from Autism Outreach & the Pupil Referral Service, who have been the only constant staff from outside agencies. These ladies have known D since year 1 and are excellent but the level of involvement isn’t sustainable long term. His behaviour is worsening and he is becoming much more violent within school. We still have certain staff members who think he receives special treatment or who make sarcastic comments when they think he isn’t listening, but they are in the minority.
I would also commend the children at this school who are so tolerant & inclusive in their nature. They have had lessons on “differences” and are generally full of empathy. They’ve been with D since pre school and reception so it’s nothing new to them. 

In all the alternative schools (PRU, alternative provision within mainstream, special schools) places are extremely limited and criteria is strict. At some schools the criteria has been tightened in such a way that they will only get the students they want, the ones who are compliant in school & meltdown when they leave, the non violent children. For D this means we have very little choice. He has so many behaviour incidents in his record that many schools would be put off. He has an EHCP which is reasonably good (although not always followed) but he seems too complex and challenging for mainstream primary & doesn’t meet the criteria for special schools, which probably wouldn’t be suitable anyway. Once he’s of secondary age our options are slightly better.
The other issue seems to be that certain schools are giving out a lot of misinformation. Staff will say your child needs a diagnosis or that their EHCP has to have the highest funding level when it’s not true.

Local Authority, Health & Wider Area.

Our local authority seems to have a huge issue with staff retention. For D’s first EHCP we had a new Educational Psychologist. For his annual review we had yet another who first met him on the morning of his review. There are similar issues with SENACT who regularly miss meetings. Our parents information service only has 2 staff members. We have always managed to get appointments with speech therapy very easily.

The CCG have recently taken on 2 sensory trained occupational therapists, but they are both part time and training schools & parents as well as seeing & assessing children. The only way to request assessment is through an EHCP & the majority of children they see right now are without a school place. They have been in their roles since summer 2019 and already have around 600 children, including D, on their waiting list.

CAMHS is a similar story nationwide, although we now have an autism specialist working alongside ours. She is ridiculously busy providing training for parents, schools & other professionals as well as offering 1 to 1 meetings with parents. Both our children have been referred to the local wellbeing service which includes CAMHS. J was referred due to his anxiety, neither me nor school have managed to speak to anyone since the initial referral. D was referred due to threats to self harm and hurt others, we’ve heard nothing for a month now and are only able to leave messages for his keyworker.

Autism Outreach have been a constant for 2 years now and i cannot fault them. They have fought for him throughout and have had quite difficult discussions with school regarding the behaviour of certain staff regarding D.

We also have involvement from children’s services so have a Disabilities Social Worker & have had a Family Support Worker, the jury’s still out on how useful they are.

Our experience seems to be one of the more positive ones from our area & from chatting to other parents (our biggest and best source of info) we may have been quite lucky.

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  • : male
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  • : less than 20, it was well within timescales
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1 Response
  1. Thank you for sharing your story Emma. I am so pleased to hear that other children are being taught about “differences” as this will have a big impact on children with additional needs in the way they are treated. Also, it is good to hear that you have had overall a positive experience. However, I think that many areas are lacking in provision for SEND and this definitely needs highlighting.

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