Year of School Removed from Summer Born’s EHCP in Surrey as Ofsted and CQC Commence Joint SEND Inspection

sen-catherineWhen even a summer born child with special educational needs (SEN) can be made to miss a year of school – against her parents’ wishes – it’s clear that the DfE urgently needs to protect the educational rights of EVERY summer born child.

In the same week that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are carrying out a joint inspection of the county’s SEN effectiveness, parents in Surrey have told the Summer Born Campaign that following a house move, their daughter’s adopted year group has been removed from her EHCP.

Eight-year-old (summer born and premature) Georgia started school in 2013 at CSAge, and in 2015, a ‘non-chronological’ year group was included in her Education, Health and Care Plan, to ensure she wouldn’t be made to skip a whole year of school in the same way other summer born children have.

Unfortunately, a catalogue of health problems (culminating in a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome (PDA) in June 2016) meant that Georgia only received part-time education for the best part of three years, and then in autumn 2016, when her EHCP was transferred to Surrey, there was more bad news.

Georgia’s parents say that by removing her out of year group education from the EHCP, a reasonable adjustment for a child with SEND under the Equality Act (2010) is not being made, and she would face huge difficulties in a return to mainstream education.

  • Surrey County Council‘s position is this:
    A child may not be expected to remain out of chronological year group indefinitely. Any return to the correct chronological year group is expected to be managed within a Key Stage i.e. at the end of a Key Stage the child should be placed within his or her chronological year group. To achieve this, schools should be aware that children with a statement of SEN/EHCP who are educated in a younger year group should have transition reviews at their appropriate chronological age. For a Year 5 pupil placed in a Year 4 group this would be while in the Year 4 group and not a year later. Similarly for a Year 2 pupil placed in Year 1.
  • The Summer Born Campaign asks this:
    If schools and councils have policies in place to make children with SEND miss an entire year of their education, why does the DfE – a government department that persistently preaches the dire effect of a child missing even one week of school – continue to protect and support the power of admissions authorities to decide whether or not ANY summer born child should miss a year of school?

Catherine and Jeremy Mackinlay say they now have no other choice but to take their case to tribunal, and have been assured by Ofsted that their case in Surrey will be one of those examined this week.

The investigation includes ‘how effectively the local area meets the needs of these children and young people so that their outcomes and chances of participating fully in society improve‘, and promises that the views of parents and carers will be ‘critical to the inspection process‘.

The Summer Born Campaign will also be interested to learn what Ofsted and the CQC’s views are on children being made to miss a whole year of their education, since Ofsted has declined our requests for comment in the past by saying ‘admissions’ is outside its remit.


Wednesday Webinar

The inspection will also include an online webinar to allow all parents and carers in the Surrey area to contribute. The session will be led by Sian Thornton, Her Majesty’s Inspector, who will ask parents and carers about their views and experiences on how effectively the Surrey County Council area is fulfilling the above responsibilities.

The webinar takes place on Wednesday 19th October at 8.30pm.

Parents and carers are also encouraged to email consultations@ofsted.gov.uk with details of their experiences.

Parents with children on the autism spectrum can also visit Ambitious About Autism (#everychild on Twitter).

  • Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull
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15 Responses to Year of School Removed from Summer Born’s EHCP in Surrey as Ofsted and CQC Commence Joint SEND Inspection

  1. EleanorA says:

    This story is awful. Truly awful. How can Surrey CC justify removing a full year of education from a child against parental wishes? Why? I have seen FOI request raised last year that showed that Surrey CC has fined 987 families of primary school children in school year 2013/14 and 1524 in 2013/14. So, they clearly believe that missing education is detrimental. So, why would they remove this provision from any child, let alone from a child with EHCP, who is already educated with that cohort.

    The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 24, Clause 2) states: In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institution, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration. How is it in the child’s best interest to be pushed into a new year group, surely it will create immense amount of stress and suffering – on the child, the family and anyone who has to cope with the consequences of this cruel and completely unnecessary action.

    What does Surrey CC gain from this? Are they trying to show to county parents that no family is ‘safe’ should they choose to send their summer born child to school at compulsory school age and educate them in the state sector? And what will the government do about it? Stand by and watch? Where is the change to the Code that was promised in September 2015?

    I am in tears.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna Greenwood says:

    I this week contacted Surrey general admissions and HT of preferred school about a R CSA start for my August 2013 DS and both have told me I need to provide reasons, and that it would be very unlikely unless there was recommendations from other professionals such as Education Psychologists and Speech and Language specialists etc. before arriving at a decision.

    The HT also indicated that my DS maybe be put with the correct cohort when moving up to secondary school.

    I only asked for support of an R start opposed to year 1 but neither times was this directly answered.

    As a mum making the decision to send their child out of cohort as such it scares the hell out of me I will carry the responsibility for anything that may occur in the future because of it. Especially at secondary age. And Surrey LA sound ruthless! Yet I feel 4 is so young and my DS will struggle in a year of 90 other children regardless of all the support in the world. . Breaks my heart thinking about it but I’m willing to start the battle to do what I feel is right.

    Thanks everyone for the amazing advice and knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michelle Carnegie says:

    Appalling, there cannot be any benefit to school or child in making this child repeat a year/changing her EHCP on this point. The postcode lottery on this matter in relation to Summerborn children in general is disgusting. If children are not required to start school until they are 5 years old why are they than forced to miss a year of schooling if they take up this option. The system at present (in many counties) of forcing parents to provide evidence etc to back up their view that a child should not miss reception is time-consuming and stressful (not to mention potentially expensive for parents – cost me £250 for a SALT report). It also wastes local authority resources arguing with parents rather than allowing a select group of children to access the same amount of education as their September-born peers (these children either miss out on pre-school funding or on reception year).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel Burnell says:

    So sad, the poor child’s best interests are not central in this process.
    What chance do other summer borns have of not being forced to miss a year’s education if it can be removed from an EHCP.
    The ammendments to the admission code need to happen now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim Jones says:

    We had to argue the case for our daughter coming from another country’s educational system not to have to forgo 18 months of schooling when any logical analysis of the situation and consideration of the ‘best interests’ of the child would indicate that inclusion in a particular school year would make the most sense and be the most beneficial to both her and the school’s resources.
    Looking at Georgia’s case above it again seems an adherence to administrative neatness and an unwillingness to consider the nuances of the policy pertaining to her education has lead to this ridiculous stance. The time, effort and resources that need to be dedicated now to arguing on her behalf place such an unnecessary additional burden on both parties and indeed the school again to make these adjustment to support her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nat says:

    An educational health care plan is supposed to help and cover the child with all their needs until the age of 25. How Surrey can do this is unbelievable. Children with asd and pda struggle massively on a daily basis as it is ( my daughter has asd and going for a pda diagnosis also not in mainstream ). How can this possibly be in the child’s best interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jennie says:

    This is extremely worrying. Having to deal with reluctant and bureaucratic systems is terrible enough, but having a decision essentially written in chalk to be wiped away at any time makes a mockery of the Government’s commitments to education.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Vicki says:

    Really Surrey CC, are you just flexing your muscles to scare off other people? This is appalling. For what possible reason can they amended an EHCP without consulting on the needs of the child.
    These are real children, not statistics. The government and LAs need to get their act together and stop playing games with children’s education and future lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How can this be considered in the best interests of the child?

    I am a primary teacher and plastered all over the walls are the fact that missing even a day at school harms a child’s educational prospects. How an earth can a child be forced to miss an entire year of school.

    In 2015 Nick Gibb wrote a very clear letter with action points for LAs and schools. Making it clear that they should take immediate action in terms of allowing summer born children to start at CSA in RECEPTION. Moreover that they should not be forced to miss a year at any point in their school life.

    Why is this not being followed?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. EleanorA says:

    I called Surrey admissions two years ago to ask about my own summer born daughter. I was told that in order to “defer” my child’s school entry (and I was insisting that they stop using the term “defer” as I am sending my child when my husband and I feel is most appropriate for her – legally *on time* – at compulsory school age) we would need to have exceptional reasons, we would need to ask for formal permission and provide them with professional evidence in order to evaluate if our reasons are valid. And if we did’t have valid exceptional reasons and we still sent to school at 5 upon reaching compulsory school age my daughter would be placed in Y1, no right of appeal.

    I just called the admissions again and was told that they still require exceptional circumstances and professional evidence. And they still insist that the child will have to catch up by the end of the key stage.

    Surrey CC runs their own lottery. I know a parent who told me their request were granted relatively easily, just on the basis of their child’s summer birth. Yet some other families had to fight tooth and nail for children with language delay, emotional immaturity, etc… diagnosed and suspected SEND only to be told that their children must start at 4 or risk missing reception altogether. These families had to commission copious amounts of professional paperwork from medical experts – SALTs, OTs, EPs; spend hours and hours on researching legal position, go to meetings with schools (head teachers, primary school teachers and governors), Surrey CC representatives (who, incidentally, still don’t understand the difference between “can start school at 4” and “must start school at 4”)… This is when they cannot meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people in the county, which is reflected in Surrey CC “inadequate” rating of children services by Ofsted. But yet, they are enthusiastically spending money, time and outside professional expertise in order to fight parents who only want to give their child uninterrupted education when starting at compulsory school age.

    There is nothing that is going to happen short of re-writing School Admissions Code that would compel inflexible admission authorities like Surrey to make child’s best interest trump any bureaucratic neatness they want to pursue. DFE must act with utmost urgency to guarantee a child’s right to full education including right to reception legally defined as “an entry class to primary schools providing education suitable for children aged five and any children who are under or over five years old whom it is expedient to educate with pupils of that age.” And, stop them from forcing these children up a year at any point in their schooling, against parental wishes and certainly against best interest of the child. That is just cruel.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hendrik van der Graaf says:

    I am disgusted. In Pink Floyd words this is obsessive “brick in the Wall” stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Donna Greenwood says:

    As a mum making the decision to send their child out of cohort as such it scares the hell out of me I am responsible for anything that may occur in the future because of it. Especially at secondary age. And Surrey Admissions sound ruthless! How can they think this is in anyway good for a child.

    I this week contacted Surrey general admissions and HT of preferred school about a R CSA start for my August 2013 DS and both have told me I need to provide reasons, and that it would be very unlikely unless there was recommendations from other professionals such as Education Psychologists and Speech and Language specialists etc. before arriving at a decision.

    The HT also indicated that my DS maybe be put with the correct cohort when moving up to secondary school.

    I only asked for support of an R start opposed to year 1 but neither times was this directly answered.

    Seems they make it up as they go along. Awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Elizabeth says:

    What makes Surrey CC think it’s ok to deny this child (or any child for that matter) the right to a full education? There is absolutely no justifiable reason to deny ANY child an entire year of school. It is appalling that they are allowed to get away with this.

    Like

  14. Ellena Outram says:

    Good god that is atrocious. When will they start to actually consider best intetests of the child!

    Like

  15. JM says:

    Surrey County Council’s approach in Georgia’s case, and I suspect there are many more others, is dangerously close to being simply cruel and unethical. Acting against any child’s, and especially a vulnerable one’s best interests (without having ever considered these in the first place) cannot be described in any other terms. Surrey CC is generally known as being obstructive, difficult and inconsistent, if not random, in its approach to summer born children starting school in reception at compulsory school age. Only a couple of months ago, they denied my own summer born daughter with SEN the continuation of discretionary funding that she was awarded in April 2016 so that she could be better supported at her nursery. There was absolutely no review of her needs or whether she made progress through this support. The decision was based solely on the fact that she is starting school in reception at compulsory school age. We were told that had she started school this September 2016, she would be supported but because she is staying another year at nursery, the continuation of funding is not necessary. The Council’s stance is simply appalling, since they fully recognise my daughter’s special needs, and especially since her SEN were the reason why the Council agreed her CSA start in the first place. Our case is another example of how Surrey CC can discriminate against summer born children starting school in reception at compulsory school age.

    If that was not enough, when we were in the process of requesting a CSA start for our daughter, we were told by an official from Surrey CC that she would have to return to her chronological cohort (i.e. skip an entire year of education) by the end of a Key Stage. It was made very clear that our daughter’s best interests would not be part of the decision-making process.

    The question is ‘Why Surrey CC continues to get away with causing misery to many families, whilst at the same time wasting valuable public resources?’ And the answer is ‘because our Government sanctions it by a) making the Code ambiguous, b) not giving parents a statutory appeal process by which they could challenge unlawful decisions made by LAs, and c) backtracking on its promises to bring on the changes to the Code that would secure an equal access to full and uninterrupted education for all summer born and premature children.

    Like

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