Part of the reason behind Hattie Boo Designs is that my childen needed me at home! They struggled in school and they wanted me to be there for them! I could have returned to work however I didn't have the support needed from family to do this! I felt that had I returned to secondary school teaching, even on a part time basis, I would be failing in both roles! As a parent I would miss assemblies, school shows and plays, the school run, and as a teacher, even if I went part time I would always have one eye on the clock!
So... I stayed at home and created a business and now as an illustrator, a childrens book so that I could lead a creative life and hopefully help other parents with children that learn in a different way!
I truly believe that there are two types of parents in this world, the ones like me who can see what their children are, warts and all, the good and the bad, the nice and the naughty, and those parents who love their offspring as much as I do but see only the good. If you are the latter then it’s probably best you stop reading now as my intention is not to offend….
So fingers crossed I’m now talking openly and honestly to parents that see their children with eyes wide open rather than through rose tinted spectacles. Maybe I’m lucky with a background in teaching, or unlucky as I can see the flaws in my babies and will do anything in my power to help them, even if this includes shouting from the rooftops and chasing for Statements and IEP (Individual Education Plan) programmes for learning. When I was at school there was a whole stigma associated with learning difficulties, those extra classes were for ‘remedial students’, these were extra help for ‘slow’ pupil, children and students with challenging and problematic behaviour, poor concentration or they were simply labeled as ‘naughty’!
Today, thank goodness, those terms no longer exist but unfortunately there are some parents that refuse to seek extra help for their children in fear of them being labeled! I cannot shout this loudly enough! Labeling and getting your child an Educational Health Care Plan is one of the best things you can do for your child and the earlier you seek to achieve this, the better! Do not wait until secondary school or it will simply never happen!
When Hattie’s teachers called me in to discuss her progress, or lack of it, they were terrified and I could see that they were concerned about my possible reaction. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Far too often this subject is broached to parents and their reaction is negative, how dare someone criticize their child or point out their educational downfalls and flaws. For me, I couldn’t have been happier! At last I had not one but two teachers that could see what I could see! I was happy that they had my back and more importantly had my child’s best interests at heart! I cried tears of joy rather than anger and probably even hugged them, I could not thank them enough and finally I could put things in place that would enable my child to reach her full progress and I will be eternally grateful for their support and backing.
You need to fight and push for this! Getting your child the help he or she needs is vital from the earliest age possible! It means one to one time for your child, better lesson planning and personalized work sheets, help from a classroom assistant, small group lessons, and funding to the school to pay for this from the local council or government. Later on it means extra time, or sitting examinations in a smaller room for those important GCSE exams and A levels too! With so much terminology and recent changes to this in 2014, it is far too easy to become baffled or put off pursuing this for our children. With that in mind I’m going to attempt to explain the process in layman’s terms, fingers crossed as the acronyms are constantly changing!
A Statement was a document which sets out a child's SEN and any additional help that the child should receive. The aim of the Statement was to make sure that the child got the right support to enable them to make progress in school. Most children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) should have their needs met within a mainstream school. A statement was an informal term that simply means that a child had been assessed and given a Statement of Special Educational Needs. In a nutshell this is what you want as it is a passport to access all the support you need to enable your child to be the best that they can be! An IEP (Individual Education Plan) will be put in place, tailored to your child to allow them to make progress in school and ultimately reach their full potential, and if needed you will be able to access further help such as speech therapy or educational therapy.
As I said, acronyms are constantly changing and the term Statement was replaced with Educational Health Care Plans (EHCPs) in 2014 So… how do you get an Educational Health Care Plan for your child? You need to get the support of your school and contact your LEA (Local Education Authority) who will conduct a Statutory Assessment, this is a multi-disciplinary investigation to dig deeper into exactly what sort of help your child needs. If you are successful then The Plan should describe what your child’s needs are, learning targets, the help required to meet those objectives, how all of this will be monitored, and how this will be best put in place in your child’s School. This will also cover any non-educational needs, if any, and will look into how these will be met.
This process is not always easy but do pursue it and please, I beg of you, don’t give up! It will take time and you will have to fight for this and chase it. There will be tears and frustration but the earlier you can put this plan in place for your child the better.