Appealing – Mon 9th June 2014

By | June 9, 2014

Today was the day I’d been half looking forward to and half dreading ever since National offers for places were made in early March. The date set for the appeal
against the refusal of T’s secondary school place at our first choice of school.

It’s been a time where I’ve felt frustrated at the lack of assistance offered to us (ie zero) because T is unstatemented although he has a medical diagnosis of high functioning autism. If he had had a statement (or SEN) then a place would have been allocated automatically but because he doesn’t – and the SENco at his primary school laughed at me when I suggested it – we were very much on our own.

But, maybe that was a good thing ultimately. We could stay what we wanted to say without someone else interjecting.

It’s been a long day. A meeting this morning, where all the parents who were appealing sat in a room and heard first the head teacher explain why they didn’t have the extra resources, room or funding for any more pupils, then a panel retired to consider whether the school had acted according to legislation and agreed that they had. A room therefore of disheartened parents, wondering why they had been encouraged to appeal at an initial open day meeting if unsuccessful, only to feel that there was no chance of success.

We went away. We looked through our paperwork again. We agreed to go in and say thanks for this opportunity and to do our best for T.

That happened this afternoon. A rather daunting scenario of two chairs placed in front of the panel, a clerk and the head teacher. It felt like an interview but one that determines the next 6 or so years of T’s life.

We put our case across. It’s a difficult scenario because on the one hand we have T’s high functioning diagnosis and we opted for this school because of its reputation, its community feel, its very visual layout and its SEN department; but, on the other hand, we needed to get across just what a bright little man he is, the fact he’s a great sportsman and that he’s a team player.

There were a lot of questions asked around his social ability, his willingness to adapt to change and how he handles them. We were honest. They had the reports from CAMHS and a letter from school to refer to, also his anticipated end of year grades. We also said how proud we were of him and wanted him to get the best possible start in secondary school, we used the example of how D has absolutely flourished in the right setting for her.

We will know in nine days. Yes, another delay. It doesn’t feel like long until the end of term and there will need to be visits. To where we don’t yet know.

But we do know that we did our best today and, guess what, I didn’t cry!! I noticed that my voice was breaking a bit at the start but kept it together. As did my silly cough.

We’ve told T what is happening, as we said in the meeting, he has remained surprisingly calm.

What happens if we are refused? We remain on the waiting list, we are number 14, down from 47 in March. We keep hoping. We go for number two choice and hang in there. We have to. We have come too far to give up on what we feel is the best setting for our little man.

D coped extremely well with the changes today. She had to go to after school club for a while as our second meeting was right at the end of the school day, with no option to move the timing. Blooming expensive for one hour of care but she seemed to enjoy it, one of her “boy friends” was also there.

So, I guess we just wait now. It’s too late for “I should have said that” or “why did I bring up the waiting list?”. I did and was firmly told that this was not the forum. Foot in mouth time.

But that aside, we’ve done our best. Another waiting period begins.
But guess what? He’s worth it.

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