An appropriate school place for SEN non verbal child, Jamie
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My son, Jamie, was diagnosed with autism and severe speech delay in 2010, aged 3.
Prior to starting school in 2012 Jamie received a Statement of Special Education needs and began to attend school with the support laid out in his statement. The school was a mainstream school, and massively unprepared to be able to provide the level of support that Jamie needed. I often had to collect Jamie as they could not handle him.
In early 2014 I had to remove Jamie from school as I was being asked to collect him too frequently for school to be of any benefit. We also moved abroad to America in 2014, due to my husband's employment. I advised the school authority we would be doing so and not once was I told that we would lose Jamie's statement by doing so.
In America, Jamie continued to receive special education and was also diagnosed with apraxia - which was the cause of his speech difficulties. His teaching team got to know Jamie very well and when we discovered we would unexpectedly have to move back to England, they put as much information together as possible for Jamie's new school in England to benefit from, including an up to date and very detailed IEP (USA equivalent to an Education and Healthcare Plan) and a behaviour action plan, explaining what is effective if Jamie acts up at school.
On May 3rd, I contacted Southampton City Council to advise that we were moving back. I explained he had a SEN Statement and asked if it would still be valid given our absence. They told me it would be and to call back upon our arrival to get moving with sorting a school place for Jamie.
When I contacted them again on June 12th they asked me to send his Statement and his American IEP over by email. This was done on June 20th as the statement was in transit with our belongings. I asked whether it would be possible for Jamie to attend Springwell Special School in Southampton as we live in close proximity to the school.
Then, on June 22nd I received an extremely negative response that Springwell is full and that Jamie's statement had ceased due to us moving. The man dealing with our case was rude and lacked any empathy. When I said that I had contacted them before he just said "well this is the first I am aware of it". He didn't give me any information on what I had to do to get Jamie up to date until some back and forth with emails, and a telephone call - all the while with me having to tolerate his rudeness.
We don't agree that Jamie's statement should have ceased. The move was temporary as we held non immigrant visas. The autism hasn't gone away and Jamie is now 9 and there no way he can possibly attend a mainstream setting without a huge level of support. He will disrupt not just his own education but other pupils too.
We have had to start the process to get Jamie an Education and Health Care Plan which can take up to 20 weeks. This involves psychologists, speech therapists, doctors etc all carrying out assessments on the taxpayers bill when they have been done before.
All the while Jamie's American IEP is being ignored even though it is current and far more detailed than the assessments here can achieve because the professionals in America assessed Jamie for 45 days, then continued to make frequent updates as necessary.
It is beyond me that the authority cannot take the valuable information held in the IEP and apply it to whatever process they need to here in the UK.
So because they know Jamie has special needs, the school authority are struggling to find Jamie a school place. Mainstream isn't a good setting, but the SEN team are loath to give him a place in a special education establishment pending assessment. We did ask neighbouring authority, Hampshire about a place but Jamie needs to be referred by Southampton, and Southampton don't seem to want to despite having no suitable place available for Jamie.
I am told everywhere is full but they are not offering a single viable alternative. Jamie has the speech of a less than 2 year old and requires an augmentive communication device to communicate his needs.
We feel our only option is home school which also isn't viable as Jamie delineates school land home and this will impact massively upon him. Yet another call to the school admissions department revealed it will be at least mid September before we can be offered a school place - well after the beginning of the school year begins AND still only mainstream. Mainstream will not work at this age. There is absolutely no way Jamie can follow the curriculum his peers are following.
So I am petitioning to get Jamie the school place that he needs and deserves. Southampton City Council are being far from helpful in this matter and choose only to argue with us rather than work with us.
Jamie adores school and keeps asking when he can go to school. Without a place, we cannot answer that question and he is frustrated that he can't count down in sleeps to school because we don't know when that might be.
Special education children deserve an Education too so please help me fight to get it by signing this petition.
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