Bristol Send Problems Ed Psych:
Educational psychologists in England are concerned that children and young people are not getting access to their services. Those most at risk were said to be those out of school or living in poverty.
The news, which comes from a survey carried out by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP), comes as a surprise to no parent who ever requested an ed psych assessment for their struggling child.
A 57 ed psychs from 29 local authorities in England took part in the survey with the results presented at the DECP annual conference which took place in Bath this week.
“This study adds to the growing evidence that many vulnerable children and young people are struggling to access the services they need,” Sarb Bajwa, Chief Executive of the BPS, said.
“It is unacceptable that thousands of children and young people who need help cannot access it. Failure to help with mental health problems at this stage can lead more serious problems developing.”
As a parent with concerns about my child’s academic progress, I had many meetings with school at the time, but was constantly reassured that there were no issues despite his obvious inability to get his work from head to paper. I was fobbed off repeatedly. My child had to be physically dragged into school each day. It was disastrous and even thinking about forcing him into such a Send unfriendly school makes me feel guilty even today.
It might be bad form to publish a copy of a letter from school, but the deflection, gas lighting and lack of Send support was appalling. I was often at the school door with issues ranging from school refusal, no Send support, physical bullying, a stabbing with a pencil during an unsupervised PE lesson out of the building and an incident involving another child who was trying to get the children on his table to Google images of rape during a sketching class.
During Year 5, it became a crisis. Three children in three consecutive years, all with Aspergers and all with the same class teachers left Broomhill Juniors. I can only speak for my child, but functional school exclusion was the main reason for us as well as the school not being able to guarantee his safety. My child could barely hold a pencil and certainly couldn’t use it, but this was apparently not holding him back or causing any problems towards his education.
I disagree in the strongest possible way. Early intervention is key to avoiding further problems down the line. An educational psychologist at this point could have put a range of interventions into place which might have salvaged my child’s education from becoming even further behind.
During Year 5, we left the appalling school behind and moved to a different school resulting in a completely different experience. Not perfect. But much better.
Whilst the head at Broomhill Juniors might not have believed his achievement was outside that of his peers, thankfully, the class teachers at the next school were very honest about where he was and what he was likely to achieve in the time he was at their school.
Send parents often discuss with each other about why schools lie. The most popular opinions are that it comes down to a lack of funding, fear of senior leadership, general incompetence, disability discrimination and arrogance. Arrogance that teaching staff are the professionals who are right and parents are wrong.
My child did get his ed psych assessment during Year 5 in the end. He got one because I paid £500 to have one done privately. It showed up cognitive strengths, weaknesses and dysgraphia. What not a surprise.
We are still waiting to see an ed psych at the moment. As part of the EHC Needs assessment, children need an ed psych assessment. Unfortunately in Bristol, the wait is currently very long pushing Needs Assessments long past statutory time frames.
I sometimes wonder if we would be in this position now should the right support have been put into place in the early days. If the SendCo, instead of mithering about how hard it was to get an EHCP or put in for Top Up funding had actually got on and done it.
A lack of Send funding in education has caused a crisis. But incompetent Send support within education should also be challenged. The role of the SendCo should not be seen as a shortcut to the senior leadership team. It shouldn’t be a job passed around spare school staff in a slapdash manner. When a school lacks a good SendCo, it is the most vulnerable children in the school that suffer. Or perhaps it’s a quick and easy way to functionally exclude them and wash their hands of the difficulties. Would Bristol schools actually do that? I think some do.
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