Navigating the school system can be challenging with ASD and the different needs that can present. Often the behaviour that presents in school will be different from that at home, and this can add further challenges to getting the support you feel your child needs.
This is particularly the case with girls as their extensive ability to mimic, strong desire to fit in, and their masking can result in 'good behaviour' at school, with 'explosions' at home.
All education settings must meet the "reasonable" special educational needs of children, which means they should be able to meet the needs of most children with ASC. However, this is not always the case, and some needs that should be met within the mainstream education setting are not.
Each school receives a notional SEN budget from the Local Authority, entitling each child with special educational needs up to £6000 worth of funded support from their school per year. If a child or young person has SEN, or an educational setting thinks that they might have SEN, the staff must follow this process:
The teachers MUST, examine the progress being made and assess the needs the child/young person is presenting with holistically. This may include involving parents/carers and hearing the voice of the young person too.
Once the needs are identified, staff must work together with the child/young person and their family to decide what outcomes they want to achieve and what support should be put in place to help them
The staff, supported by the SENCO, where relevant, should put this support into practice
The support plan should regularly be reviewed by everyone involved to see if it is working. If the current plan is working, it may continue, if it's no longer working or achievement of outcomes, there may be changes to ensure proper support
A continuous 6-week cycle of this process should happen. Forming the basis of any futures cases by yourself of the education setting when requesting additional funding and support from the Local Authority.
A Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) is a teacher who coordinates the provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities in schools. This person must be a qualified teacher and sit on the senior leadership team of the school. Furthermore, they must complete the Nation Award for SENCOs as mandatory training within three years of taking up the role.
The SENCO has a critical role to play in ensuring that children with special educational needs and disabilities within a school receive the support they need.
The early help assessment can be a handy tool in getting all the professionals involved with your child, or young person to sit around the table.
The purpose is to identify what is going well, what needs there are, and come up with an action plan. A 'lead professional' sets it up and completes the initial assessment. Someone within the school, often the SENCO will be able to take on this role. You have every right to request an EHA is set up.
EHA's ensure everyone is accountable for their actions to things keep moving forward. With meetings every 6 weeks as a 'team around the family (TAF) to review and identify next steps.
Sometimes a child needs more intense support and interventions; the school can put together an application for Higher Needs Funding Block. The HNFB is additional money on top of the notional SEN budget; the school must prove that they have spent the original £6000 on supporting your child's needs.
Along with the financial evidence, the school will also propose a support plan with updated costings to meet your child's needs. The school must also demonstrate that they have followed the Assess, Plan, Do, Review model in meeting their support needs. To be eligible for extra funding your child must be attending school full time, making those on a reduced time table ineligible. Every month a panel will meet to discuss new applications for HNFB.
Nurseries, childminders and preschools are also able to access this additional funding. For them, the criteria will be slightly lower as they don't need to factor in the notional SEN budget.