Apologies for the forthcoming rant but I am fuming!
14 yo son with high functioning autism in comp with special needs unit from which he attends mainstream lessons. Several problems with the school regarding lack of communication and what I believe discrimination e.g. changing his options due to student refusing to work with him 'cause his autistic'. Didn't know about the change until after it'd happened but head denies all knowledge. Has LSAs which he really dislikes and who seem to only make him feel monitored and are clueless to episodes of bullying he has experienced (seen the proof).
Last October he comes home with letter regarding school trip to France in March. Due to his interest in history and that his cousin was going he was eager to go. Considered carefully and decided he was very capable, would aid his enthusiasm in history and benefit him both socially and educationally. Paid deposit and confirmed he had a place. Spoke to history teacher at parents evening in November who confirmed he had place, was happy for him to go. Paid further two instalments (£285 so far and sorted him a passport).
In work today (on phones) noticed I had miscalls from school (always worries me as fear he is ill or been injured), my brother and mother all advising school trying to contact me re trip and its urgent.
Spoke to another teacher who advised he now can't go on the trip because they were 'concerned' he may need support and they can't provide it. 'What if they asked him to do something and he didn't immediately comply?' Only options were I also go and sit in a nearby hotel in France (if I accompanied my 14yo teenager on school trip with his mates he would disown me! Not to mention the hard time his mates would give him!). If he did go and there was any problem I would have to go to France to collect him. I stated this was extremely unfair as he'd been promised he could go, I'd paid out and there was no specific reason for the sudden change in decision other than he had aspergers and receives minimal support. Advised teacher to put it in writing and hung up.
Five minutes later I rung the school and stated I would be there in 15 minutes and demanded to see the head and to have a copy of the governers. Arrived to be refused list of governers and after waiting about 20 minutes saw the head. Stated that we were informed they were happy for him to go, he was looking forward to it and now this sudden refusal. No recent events in school. Advised that under the Equality Act he had the right to the same educational experiences as any other child and if they feel he'd need extra support (which in this scenario I don't agree he does) that its a reasonable adjustment that they were duty bound to provide. Head complained that if a member of staff from unit accompanied him he'd have less in unit that week. This school gets extra money for children with additional needs such as my son so sorry not my or my son's problem!
I advised the head that if my son had done something terrible in school and he said to both of us if that happens again you will not go on the trip he'd had my total support but he hasn't. My son has been promised something he is very much looking forward to only to have it snatched away and why? because he's labelled with autism.
Stated I would be back Friday to pick up his written response. His gonna seek 'further advice and guidance'. Advised him that if in his letter the answer continues to be no I was it stated very clearly why. Said nothing to my son yet as waiting to see what happens Friday but seriously how can this be? Plan to take to local authority and make this situation public but I find it heart-breaking and am so angry. We are in 2018, can they really discriminate so blatantly when they are suppose to be a school that includes a provision especially for children with additional needs?
This isn't my first battle with them and my desire to engage with them in next to nothing. I have considered other options but don't seem to be any. I'm scared for him to be in a school with no provision in-case he struggles and have no faith in the local schools here. Home education is not an option. My son's unhappy, I'm unhappy and there seems to be no way out. I'm counting the months till he leaves.
I guess my question is am I right to feel this is discrimination? What should I do? And any advice in general would be much appreciated.
Thank-you in advance.
I wonder if the school have gotten round to doing a risk analysis or some other bit of paperwork, only to have someone pipe up with a "what if...?" scenario regarding your lad?
There is an old saying that if it's a toss up between a ***-up and a conspiracy, it's probably the former...
Yes, it's unfair, but the school is probably trying to just protect themselves from "reasonably foreseeable events", without properly considering the impact that a volte face would have on your family?
I would probably be just as much on the warpath as you are, but then I have a habit of cutting off my nose to spite my face...
Since you fear a lack of provision, perhaps the "least bad" option is to grit your teeth and work with the school to reach a solution.
Their "what if he didn't immediately comply?" is laughable.
What if they asked another, undiagnosed pupil on the spectrum to comply? That's also reasonably foreseeable, so I guess they ought to cancel the whole trip, then...?
Somehow, they've gotten the idea that autism = might not immediately comply.
You might need to point out that if they've encountered one autistic person, they've encountered one autistic person.
Thank-you for your reply. It sounds very possible regarding the paperwork and second thoughts. I have noticed in the past some very stereotypical comments from one of the teachers regarding children on the autistic spectrum and yes one child with autism is one child with autism.
What you say makes a lot of sense, I will try hard to keep my cool. Problem is its been an uphill struggle and feels like engagement is a waste of time but will see how I feel in a couple of days.
I also very much agree that fear of failure to immediately comply is a crazy standard with teenagers in general. If that's the fear then indeed they should not do trips. Above everything I want my son to be safe and I truly believe he is very capable of doing this trip. He just wants to enjoy what everyone else does. I have nieces and nephews, talk to many parents in work all with neuro-typical children none of which are perfectly compliant 100% of the time. My son has his moments but is reasonably compliant and shows real maturity when out and about. I agree they may have played the what if game with their stereotypical views, shame they haven't considered what if a lad that is desperate to feel the same as his peers has a fantastic time with his mates and comes home with a positive experience he can finally link to school.
Thanks again for your feedback, much appreciated.
The only difficulties I had on my school history trip was eating too much of a particular cake and feeling like a might be sick for a while, and being taught by some French teenagers what turned out not at all to be polite greetings in Belgium!!!!
I’m sure if you go on the schools website it should list the Goveners as it will be in one of their policies. Also go through their own SEN policy I’m sure you’ll find they have breeched their own procedure.
I would also put everything they have changed without permission, in a letter of complaint to them in writing. How this is impacting your son. This backs up your complaint. You will have to follow their complaint procedure. OFSTED told us they have a right to reply and if it’s not dealt with correctly then they can investigate. Contact OFSTED about raising a complaint and raise your concerns. I would say failing that I would also contact your local MP they aren’t allowed to treat your son this way. It is discrimination but every phone call everything said write it all down as evidence and it will back up what you say.
Good luck and hopefully you’ll get the changes your son needs, not their needs.
Would the reason your son is getting assistance at school be more to do with the theoretical aspects of the curriculum; rather than so much his practical or environmental wherewithal?
I mean for instance that if you focus purely on the problems he does and could have, you might be able to focus the school staff on the reality of his needs ~ rather than have them involve their bureaucratic nightmares, or any misnomers about people with Asperger's Syndrome being guaranteed trouble, and all that.
For alot of teachers, doing a holiday excursion is a major risk for their career, if things go wrong, so they can get mighty paranoid about it all. I recall my history teacher (with long experience and very much respected in and out of school) telling one of the three newly qualified support teachers (who came on the history trip with us) not to worry about trouble and keep their mind on the job of having a good time (with a beaming big smile on his face). My history teacher loved teaching about the futility and the reality of the wars and did so not to let that be forgotten.
By the way, the fact that the school are withdrawing their offer for the trip at this late stage is staggeringly out of order. I can well understand why you are furious, and I definitely recommend involving the board of governors, along with your MP also. The school should have told you all that they are now telling you at the very beginning of this ~ but discrimination does not involve befitting conduct obviously it seems.
I really really hope all turns out well here for you and abroad for your son.