ASK IPSEA: My son’s support assistant is untrained!

My son's (mainstream) school have employed an ESA with no experience or training.

Although lovely, she does not have the tools for appropriate differentiation and his progress and behaviour are deteriorating (although not with other, more experienced, staff). This is his 5th in under 2yrs, so I don't want a change, I want to work with school to give her the support and training she needs to help her in her job. We are meeting with school: can you advise me what leverage we have to expect them to get her trained and any links or resources that might help us/them?

Many thanks - and thanks for this wonderful resource that I've only just discovered!

ask ipsea

Julie Moktadir, IPSEA CEO says:

I wasn’t sure from your question whether your son has a statement/EHC Plan or not.  If he doesn’t have one then the key legal duty would be that arising under s.66(2) Children and Families Act 2014 which requires schools to use their “best endeavours” to secure the provision required by the SEN of a pupil.   It might be useful to remind school of this duty and try to establish what support and training they can provide the ESA with to ensure that this duty is met.

It’s also important to remember that it’s not necessarily the job of the ESA to differentiate the curriculum for a child, but to deliver the differentiated curriculum created by the teacher: the school might also need to look at whether the teaching staff need support/education about your son’s needs in order to ensure he gets the right provision.

If school are struggling to provide the right support for your son and he doesn’t already have a statement or Plan, you could consider asking the LA to carry out an EHC needs assessment which is the first step towards getting an EHC Plan and we have information about that here:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/what-you-need-to-know/ehc-needs-assessments

However, if your son has a statement/Plan then you need to consider whether the special educational provision specified in Part 3/Section F is being delivered.  If the new ESA lacks the training/expertise specified in the statement/Plan or isn’t able to do the things she is required to do by the statement/Plan, then you can involve the LA in your discussions and point out that the provision specified isn’t being delivered.  Ultimately, it’s the LA who are legally obliged to make sure this provision is delivered and it is good to involve them early on if there’s a problem.  They will also be well placed to advise on what resources for training are available.

If getting the right ESA support is proving an on-going problem, you could also think about what changes might be made to the statement/EHC Plan to ensure that this doesn’t keep happening and ask for these changes at the next annual review.  Our online resources might be useful if you’re considering this:

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/what-you-need-to-know/changing-an-ehc-plan

https://www.ipsea.org.uk/file-manager/SENlaw/FAQs-about-statements/statement-faq-18.pdf