• soulkarens

As I read the issues of many parents through my work and on social media, it leaves me feeling depressed and frustrated by the state of SEND and the 2014 legislation (as it does for many, many people). As we come to the end of another year and with a General Election just behind us, it feels as though the struggle of children/young people with SEND and their families will continue for the foreseeable future. As with all SEND issues, the problems are complex with many different concerns across all areas. From lack of funding for Local Authorities and schools; poorly trained SEN Caseworkers (many are agency staff) with very little experience in SEND legislation and law; and inadequate advice from education, health and social care professionals that does not fully identify the needs of the child/young person (CYP) or recommend the provision they require to make progress.

Whilst I pride myself in writing good quality EHC Plans that provide detail, specification and quantification, this can only be achieved by utilising good quality professional advice. Writers cannot make it up - if we don't have the evidence then it can't be written into the EHC Plan! It is, after all, a legal document! I've read too many reports which fail to make clear the complex needs of the CYP. This is a fundamental reason for writing the report in the first place and leaves me (and many others I'm sure) questioning the reason why Local Authorities are accepting these reports and allowing them to form the basis of the EHC Plan. Many of these reports are so poor it renders them useless.

More than ever, parents are having to pay out for independent advice from private Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapy etc. This isn't cheap; in my experience for a CYP who has complex needs, parents will need to engage at least two or three independent professionals to carry out this work. This is achievable for parents who are able to afford to do this, but there are many parents who cannot, which unfortunately reinforces a very unfair system. In addition to this, for a CYP with medical needs (especially when they impact on access to education) the reports from health professionals, such as Paediatricians, need to be up to date enough to be used as evidence. With the NHS in crisis, this is not always an easy task as consultations/reviews become less frequent and many reports are delayed in being typed up and sent out. Many parents find themselves constantly chasing for reports which for example confirm a diagnosis or give details of the medical care required when the CYP is attending school.

So, the combination of a lack of adequate advice and an inexperienced EHC Plan writer, who is very pushed for time, results in a document that is invariably very poor and does not, in any way, serve it's purpose. Writing a good EHC Plan takes time and concentration, and you have to have a determination to include every bit of relevant information you can dig out from a report. The writer has to know what to look for and what needs to be included. Above all the writer needs to have a strong desire to make sure all of the CYP's rights are met. This is also true of all those professionals writing the reports, which brings us back to why so many parents seek independent advice.

What I've written here is one small part of the enormous problem with SEND. There are many layers to this topic and unfortunately I think it will take many years for the Dept of Education to focus on this and get it right. And who knows how long it will take for a failing system to recover enough to properly support CYP with SEND!

Most of the work I do currently is for parents. I work tirelessly for the rights of CYP with SEND. Please don't hesitate to contact me, even if you just want advice, which is free!

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and a good New Year!

  • soulkarens

As a reflection of the SEND crisis, increasing numbers of parents/guardians are looking for help and advice from an independent service. Over the last year my focus has been developing this side of my business in order to offer an affordable and flexible service to help parents/guardians get the much needed support for their child.

The services I offer are:

Writing or amending an EHCP – if you’re not satisfied with the draft EHCP written by your Local Authority I can write a comprehensive and good quality EHCP which takes account of all the statutory advice provided, and adheres to SEN law and the 2014 Code of Practice. Most importantly I work in partnership with my parent clients and take into account their views, and include details/recommendations from independent/private professionals such as Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists etc.

Working Document – If parents are appealing to SENDIST concerning their child’s EHCP, I offer the service of writing a Working Document, correctly following the Tribunal's guidelines in setting the document out, and ensuring that all evidence you, as parents, want included is clearly outlined. I ensure that enough time is factored in for parents/guardians to consider the draft Working Document and ask me for any changes/additions before the Tribunal deadline for submission.

Parental Request for EHC Needs Assessment – Increasing numbers of parents/guardians want to make requests for an EHC Needs Assessment to their Local Authority. I will write the request for you and also give advice on what evidence you need to include in your request when sending it to the Local Authority. Most importantly I will take into account your views and work with you to ensure that the request for assessment is a true reflection of your child's needs.

Advice and support – Most importantly, with all of the above services I offer sensible and impartial advice. If I’m not sure of the answer to any query my clients have I will signpost them to an organisation or someone who can. I don’t charge for giving advice, it’s all part of my service!

And finally – Every document I write always meets a very high standard. I’m extremely conscientious in ensuring every word is spelt correctly; each sentence is grammatically correct as well as using appropriate punctuation. I like to ensure that the document is well presented, clear and easy to follow for the reader.

  • soulkarens

We don’t have to look very far to see that SEND is in crisis. We've all read many articles highlighting the failure of children/young people with SEND and the significant increase in the amount of appeals which have been registered with SENDIST.

Local Authorities are more than strapped for cash and schools have run into difficulties financially. A lot of mainstream schools are no longer able to provide the support that children with SEND require and many parents are fighting to get the badly needed support their child needs. As a consequence there has been a significant increase in parents wanting special school for their child and get the right provision included in the EHCP.

There has also been a significant increase in requests for EHC Needs Assessment; many of these have been refused by LAs which is another reason for parents appealing. When an EHC Needs Assessment is agreed it can be a very long time before the child is issued with an EHCP as many LAs are unable to meet the 20 week deadline in an underfunded and unworkable system.

K.S Associates has completed a lot of work for Local Authorities and we also help parents with a range of services. Whilst budgets are tight I try to keep my fees as competitive as possible.

I have almost 20 years experience of SEN administration and management, including 13 years writing statements of SEN/EHCPs. I also have experience as a qualified nurse and as a Learning Support Assistant/Teaching Assistant in Secondary School, mainly supporting pupils with profound/severe hearing difficulties, learning difficulties and ASD. I have a good knowledge of a range of medical difficulties and the impact this has on the child/young person. Also my experience of working in school has given me a valuable insight into the struggles children with SEN have both educationally and socially.

I left the employment of a Local Authority to set up my own business, K.S Associates - EHCP Writing and SEN Service. I hand pick very experienced EHCP Writers and qualified teachers to work alongside me. I am conscientious and expect a high standard from myself and my colleagues, and everything is quality assured/checked before being sent to the client. I specialise in complex cases and offer the service of writing Working Documents for appeal, new and amended EHCPs and parental requests for assessment. I also offer EHCP training sessions, which again is an area I have experience in!

I am passionate about working for SEN and very interested in it's development and current issues. I can offer a very good quality of service with competitive rates to Local Authorities and to parents. I would like to get some discussions going on SEND and other related issues, so it would be great to get some followers for this blog!

If you are considering getting some help or just want some advice, please check out my website www.ehcpwritingservice.co.uk. You can message me via the website or email me at: soulkarens@aol.com

© 2015 by Karen Soul