When 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.
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 email@example.com 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