I was due to meet Jackie Drayton this week but unfortunately she had to cancel, but has tried to re-arrange for the next few weeks.
I am meeting the Head teacher of my son's school on Monday to discuss these issues, so I will update on the outcomes after that, here is the email I sent him:
I would like to bring to your attention the existence of my blog that I have created to facilitate my campaign for a better way of educating our SEN children. And to be a focal point for parents to come together.
At this point I would like to point out that this is NOT a campaign against [your school] or yourself, but a wider campaign that is aimed at the education system nationally.
I will be campaigning at a local level and gradually building up from there, because in order to effect change, I believe I have to evidence the pros and cons of all options, when taking my arguments to influential people.
I have spoken to many parents and professionals about the IR at [school], what it did and stood for in the past and what it represents now, and the overwhelming feeling is that it was always touted as 'the jewel in the crown' of [school] and was renowned across the country, indeed the world as a centre of excellence for children in general, but more so for children with ASDs.
Parents aspired to send their children there for the opportunities it presented for them to thrive and succeed in the big wide world.
Recently though the feelings are more negative, and although the work done there is still excellent, there have been (in my view) cuts and 'reforms' that have had a direct impact on the brilliant service it provides, and this can only be detrimental to the kids. It would seem there is a slow but definite move to reduce the IR, its staff and its effectiveness, as well as diluting its services to a wider number of children, with not much more resources to support this.
I have had parents telling me that what was on offer to their children, when they were there, was much more positive and useful to what is on offer now.
I appreciate that you say there are STILL alternatives out there, but the sad truth is that not many schools offer these alternatives because (again, in my view) it does nothing for the school in the eyes of OFSTED. This has been conceded by Councillors and Local Authority members to me via email, and they agree that things need to change.
Again I would urge you to look at my blog and appreciate that this is not MY campaign just for MY child in OUR school, but for ALL children, in ALL schools across the country for good, and I would ask for your support in this venture.
I would be interested to know why you would not support it?
I hope to meet you eventually and discuss further if you so wish, and ask for support not conflict.
Now. We will all feel animosity towards the teachers and Heads that are telling us that they must do what they do (a whole myriad of pathways that do not suit our children), some are very apologetic, some not so. You will all have your views on the people you deal with in school, and I would not want to tell you what to think or that you are over-reacting.
In my view all schools are currently constrained by funding cuts and pressures that they must absorb, but we may not agree where those cuts should fall. Usually, the weakest and quietest will sustain the worst cuts, and usually the cuts will be quietly introduced over a period of time. This is why we need to be 'on the ball' as parents, we must keep an eye on what is changing, and what is detrimental to our children.
Some teachers/Head teachers will be more supportive than others, and some will be more obstructive than others.
I have no doubt that in general, most teachers and education professionals would want the best for our children, but are tied somewhat, in respect of what resources they have to deliver these services. I think we ought to try and get our teachers and Heads on side, we have to try to get as many people on board as we can, and this is why I have sent this email to my son's Head teacher, because I felt as though it was becoming a little adversarial rather than working together to secure a better future for our kids.
I would ask you all to contact your Head teachers, teachers and SENCOs and direct them to this blog in order to explain what we are trying to do, what we are trying to achieve, and ask them to get on board. Ask them to supply evidence (anonymously if need be) to prove that the system is failing many of our SEN kids.
Contact your MPs and Councillors, ask them for a meeting, print off the testimonies from this blog if you wish and show them the effects of children being pushed through the system against the wishes of their parents.
I have contacted all 7 Sheffield MPs and 84 Councillors, but some will not get involved due to me not being one of their constituents...YOU could be one of those constituents that meet with them, that gets them to work on our behalf.
PLEASE GET INVOLVED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN.
Feel free to contact me for any advice.
If we can affect change then these kids will be happier, more successful and contribute more to society and this has got to be better for the schools??...why would they not support it???...they just need a catalyst to do so...we are that catalyst...parent power!
There are teachers out there relying on us to do our bit where they can't.