Guerrillamum's Blog


Woman’s Hour – so what was it like then?
November 5, 2010, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Radio | Tags: , , , , ,

I would like to say a huge thank you to Jenni Murray and the staff at Woman’s Hour for inviting me to be on the programme today. Never having done anything remotely like this in my life, it was a real adventure! We hadn’t told the children beforehand because we thought it might divert them from their school day, but we needn’t have worried. My husband told them about it on the way home from school in the car but frankly, he says, they were much more excited about going to McDonalds for their tea! Quite right too ….

Having rehearsed my answers to possible questions on Woman’s Hour all week, I waited on my own in an otherwise empty and silent studio for my part of the show to begin. My legs turned to jelly, my mouth went dry and all the carefully prepared answers disappeared. Yes I was incredibly, mind numbingly nervous and despite Jenni’s very helpful questioning I didn’t get to say all that I wanted. Being on the radio is much more difficult than it looks! Fortunately there was another mum on the programme who sounded very calm and said some of the things I would have liked to have said – so thank you to Mencap’s Pam Johnson – I am glad somebody said them, even if it wasn’t me!

However, in the blogosphere I am the mistress of my own destiny. Having failed completely to answer Jenni’s first question, as to why I called the book ‘Guerrilla Mum’, the answer is as follows:

‘The book represents one family’s struggle to get the right support for their children with SEN. This was an extremely adversarial process. The campaign was fought on so many levels; we used the local authority and NHS complaints procedures to get the services our children needed. We appealed (twice!) through the SENDIST tribunal. We also used the local authority’s own policies to justify the things we requested for our children, such as the local authority’s Educational ICT policy when we requested laptops. There was also a battle for the hearts and minds of the teachers and other staff who worked with our children at school. Staff who at first may have seen us as neurotic parents became real champions for our children at school and made an enormous difference to their lives. The book is intended as a guide for other parents to use in their own battles to obtain the help their SEN children deserve, and to spread the word that this is a fight that can be won if you have the right information.’

So that’s it, really. That is the thing that irked me the most. I had let myself get so wound up that I missed my opportunity to say the things I wanted to say and I have felt a bit let down by myself all afternoon. Fortunately for me, I have William my son to put things into perspective for me. He tells me that this sort of thing happens to him all the time, but that the thing is to try to go back and make your point. These are wise words indeed from a boy who really knows what it is to struggle to find the right words. I am lucky that this only happens to me when I go on the radio … so here I am, taking his advice, safe in the knowledge that the main message about the importance of meeting SEN still managed to come across despite everything. And that really is the main thing!

If I am ever invited back, I will send them a letter ….



Automatic right of appeal for parents if LA fails to amend statement following Annual Review

From September 1st 2010, at the recommendation of the Lamb Inquiry, parents now have an automatic right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND Tribunal), if the Local Authority (LA) fails to amend a statement of SEN following annual review.  This is momentous because until now, parents in the position of disagreeing with an LA on this point had to request a full reassessment of their child’s SEN.  This is an exhausting process, particularly if you have already been through it before, and you also ran the risk losing or having changed any provison the child might have had at that time.

On contacting the SEND Tribunal for confirmation I was told that parents could expect to hear about this change in due course from LAs, and that when they receive a final statement following annual review, the LA should inform them of this new right of appeal in the accompanying letter. Make sure they do!