with Harminder Samra, SEND parent
Just over two years ago we ran an article by Harminder Samra, the mother of Kyle, who has specific learning difficulties (SpLD) but no behavioural issues. Harminder and her husband struggled to get the right kind of help in mainstream for Kyle and it led to a hugely stressful experience for the whole family.
Their situation didn't improve and led to deteriorating mental health caused by the ongoing fight with their LA, and Kyle being isolated in a classroom with a teacher for two years. In an attempt to change their lives for a new start, the family upped stakes and moved north - to Scotland. It's from there that Harminder sends an update, with positive news of Kyle and relief to be away from a failing and abusive fight.
We found a better life and a small Scottish school after a six-year SEND nightmare by Harminder Samra
Kyle was diagnosed with dyspraxia and language needs at about the age of six. We had been from school to school, where he was not supported at all. For four years he was basically left out of education with no support even though he had a statement/EHCP. We have fought all the way and three tribunals.
Two years ago, our local authority forced a placement in a mainstream school with an additional resource provision, as we did not feel that a special school was suitable for his needs. They have always wanted to go down that route as it is the cheapest option. I also worked as a school governor for four years at a special school and so I'm familiar with SEND funding.
The school made it clear that they were unable to support him. He was not provided a full curriculum and instead kept in a room on his own with his specialist teacher on a part-time timetable for two years. She also took him to her house to learn as his room was being used as storage. No safeguarding checks were made and the headteacher and SENCO approved this.
They seemed to do a lot of learning walks and at the annual review this year, it showed that he'd made little progress. We were told by the council that they couldn't justify the cost of £84,000 for Kyle. The school has never provided resources. We did attend a mediation, where we were looking to proceed to judicial review for not complying with Kyle's EHCP.
It has been hell for us and torment for Kyle.
Social services "harassed us"
Kyle was deregistered from the school last September. This school has made false allegations against us and we have been interrogated by social services. We had a similar incident with another school that was also continuing to accept the funding, even though Kyle was not there, leaving him with no support from speech and language or occupational therapy. School X has been reported to the Department of Education for fraud and we have contacted the police over harassment and have a crime reference number.
Even though Kyle is no longer at that school, we received constant threats from social services where we were interrogated and harassed. Even after months of assessments, we were cleared every time. They still continue to harass us with the same allegations and there are no consequences for the ‘specialists’ making the false allegations when they are challenged by parents. No accountability.
A full report was written by social services and cleared us of any possible harm. We believe it to be malicious, as I have an employment tribunal against the school, and because we started judicial review proceedings as the school wasn't providing the support as laid out in his EHCP.
The constant harassment by the school and social services has caused Kyle to have a mental breakdown. It has been a difficult time for us as a family to see our son deteriorate from the very people who are supposed to be caring for our son.
Heading north of the border to Scotland
We finally decided to leave it all behind and moved to Scotland. Within a week of being in Scotland, a meeting was set up with county and the learning support department of a local school. They have allowed him to go back two years and he can start senior school from the beginning. He is being completely supported and had been doing a few mornings, but wanted to go in full time, He managed this with little support and that was his first day in six years he has been in a classroom with his peers and enjoyed it.
Kyle has now completed a few weeks. It really is just amazing here in Scotland. They provide small buses free to get to school and back. He has the option to go to the learning support department and to be taught there if he is struggling, and has additional lessons tailored to his needs for Maths and English. There are toilets just for SEN pupils and smaller classes. We couldn't ask for more. No fighting and years waiting for assessments and EHCPs, which in my experience, are rarely followed. However, we still continue to be hounded by the LA and social services and I've made a formal complaint
The harassment isn't over
This is continuing to cause our family, especially Kyle, a lot of distress. He feels safe here away from the horrors of education and social services threats and constant involvement. It is clear that we are innocent and the evidence is shown in the reports from social services yet the threats continue. If false allegations have been made and the victims cleared, how can a school be allowed to continue making these allegations, and social services take them seriously? Surely they can see from history and evidence that the allegations were made up. In my view, social services are used by heads of schools frequently as a deterrent against parents who are willing to stand up for their children. I work closely with sendnationalcrisis and many parents have similar experiences.
I have used IPSEA and SOS!SEN many times in the past. I recently had the advice of an SEN barrister, who kindly guided us through the legal system and the obvious pitfalls of SEND. He was absolutely amazing and we could not have made it this far without him.
There is definitely a huge difference between SEND education in England and Scotland. Kyle has been in school for over a month now and is doing full days. Considering he has never really been in a classroom, he has done so well and the support and professionalism of the SEN team has been amazing.
He is happy going into school. In England, with all the tribunals and complaints we've faced over six years, nothing had been done for our son to receive an education and the provision in his EHCP. Not once did anyone at the LA agree to meet with us to discuss going forward. Here in Scotland within a week, a meeting was set up with the necessary people and the provision and support put in place. It has been successful as he is very happy attending school.
We have had to move 400 miles out of England leaving behind our lives, friends and family just so that our son can have a chance of a supported education. He has missed six years, but we are hopeful that here in Scotland they can provide him with a suitable education according to his needs. There is hope.
- Additional support for learning in Scotland (Scottosh government)
- Our wish for a mainstream school turned into a nightmare
- Stress and parenting: Don’t fall into the guilt trap
- Help! I’m a parent carer and I’m on my VERY last nerve!
- Helping autistic children experience the joy of connection
- The emotional impact of parenting a disabled child
- How a parent held her council to account for its SEND failures
- Children’s Mental Health: Our experience of CAMHS nearly broke us
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She is also an experienced broadcast and print journalist & author. Tania also runs a PR, web & social media consultancy, SocialOro Media. She is a Rare Disease & chronic pain patient advocate with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
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