Starting the statementing process by Claire

I wondered how long it was going to be before I had to start on this road. I’m talking about my  eight-year-old son Jack, who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

At the end of the school year, I, along with tens of thousands of parents, traipsed dutifully along to see my child’s class teacher. I had been bracing myself , because Jack's mid-term report had been somewhat disappointing. I had been informed that he had not yet made any progress with his reading and writing as expected but not to worry! His teacher had assured me then that he would catch up. He’s a bright boy!

So there I sat, with Jack's class teacher on one side and the school’s learning mentor, who has been supporting him with his emotional and social needs, on the other. Then I was told that he had not progressed with the expected two sub-levels* in reading and writing since the end of year 2. He had, in fact, dropped a sub-level in reading since the end of last year and not progressed in writing at all.

"Oh, but he’s doing really well in Maths and Science," I was reassured. "He seems to have a naturally inquisitive mind." That's not going to do him much good if he can’t read the script or write down his ideas, I thought.

 It was also clear that Jack had not met any of the targets on his IEP (Individual Educational Plan), which is a plan that is supposed to be tailor–made to help him reach his expected attainment.

I went away and had a good think. I had already spoken several times to the school SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) a lovely woman who is very experienced and had worked closely with Jack , but who also told me in an aside that she thought it very unlikely that he would ever get a statement. I felt I needed some independent advice, so I then logged onto the IPSEA (Independent Panel for Special Education Advice) website. There it stated quite categorically that you can ask for a statutory assessment from your local authority “if your child has a learning difficulty or a disability which is holding them back at school and that the school is not able to provide the help your child needs”.

Although this was clear, it's still a very difficult balance to juggle. I don’t want to piss the school off; I’d rather have them on my side, yet I don’t want to fail my son either. And the truth is that Jack had made fantastic progress in some areas thanks to the work that the school had done with him. His social skills, turn–taking and sharing in a group have improved enormously and so has his self-esteem. By the end of this school year, he no longer came out of school crying everyday about the ‘bad day’ he'd had.

However, I had to be realistic. Another last-minute meeting with the SENCO confirmed my thoughts. Her view that Jack didn’t need a statement reaffirmed for me that no school was going to fork out for extra resources if they could get away with not doing so. I feel that it's my duty as his mum to fight for Jack's right to a decent education and the chance to reach his potential.

When I returned home, I logged on to the IPSEA website and downloaded the model letter they had there. I hope to have it adapted and in the post by Monday morning, so watch this space for future developments. However, I can’t shake off a real feeling of foreboding. I am reminded of the six long years I had in trying to get a diagnosis for Jack in the first place. I think I have another long fight on my hands…..

* National Curriculum levels of attainment. The level of attainment will be based on the teacher's assessment of your child's work in class and in the national tasks and tests. Every child is expected to raise two sub levels each academic year. For more, go to the DFES website and click on the "parents" link.

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