I’m sorry but I’ll try and make this as un-boring (yes it is a word) as possible…here is todays focal experience.
So, late this afternoon I thought I’d quickly give the school that Jude is going to be moving to a call just to see if they have a start date for him. I assume it isn’t “after half term” as originally suggested because that’s now (thanks for letting us know peeps). I have to assume because no one has actually told me, so I’m surviving on guess work on this topic. I called the school and as usual the person in charge of transfers was in a meeting so I left him a third message to call me back. Third message in a fortnight; none returned so far. The lady suggested I call the SEN team on the council so I asked if she had a direct number as I’m so confused, I really don’t know who I need to ask for. She gave me a number and said to ask for the Gatekeeper for our area. I had a sudden vision of a hooded Jesus-esque man guarding a big iron gate as she said this but I’m doubting this is what she meant. Gate keeper?! Seriously, is raising a disabled child not complicated enough without giving standard employees within the council ridiculous titles?!
So, I called the number but couldn’t bring myself to ask for the Gatekeeper (still sniggering about the above image) but scarily the lady on the phone couldn’t find Jude on the system so according to her Jude didn’t have a case for transferring school. I was about to lose my cool but she quickly suggested that she would transfer me to another department where they assess applications to see whether a move is viable (council employees seem to love transferring you!)
SO third lady to speak to me…tell me if this gets boring by the way…she couldn’t find Jude’s name on the system either so looked to clarify that I actually had a school in mind in central Bedfordshire that I’d like my son to transfer to.
Errrr no, Hertfordshire.
She said “oh but you live in Central Bedfordshire?”
Errrr no, Hertfordshire.
For some reason, the woman at the school had given me the number for Bedfordshire!!! Why did she do that when a) I am in Hertfordshire but more importantly b) SO IS THE SCHOOL!!!
I asked if she had the Hertfordshire number for the SEN team, she didn’t but gave me the one for the main switchboard instead.
So far, this has taken over twenty minutes.
A really lovely lady answers and after completing all her questions to ensure I am who I say I am, she tries to transfer me to the SEN team. Nine minutes and thirty three minutes later I am still on hold. Seriously, I want to punch someone right about now. But I don’t resort to violence (yet), I merely hang up and call again…
Same lady answers and apologises. She had tried to transfer me but there was no answer; she was trying another line when I hung up.
The lady tries again and miraculously, I get through!!! Half an hour and several conversations later and I’ve finally found the person I need woo hooo. She was pretty helpful and said that she is talking to the school tomorrow to find out start dates for Jude as well as a few other children but the school is staggering the early transfer dates to suit everyone involved.
I guess if you can imagine all these disabled children starting at a new school at once, it could get a bit messy.
I totally appreciate this but all I was hoping for was a bit of clarity. I find it confusing knowing who to contact, which department to ask for and what processes we have to go through in order to access something I think is a fairly simple request so the odd explanation here and there doesn’t go amiss. Surely I’m not the only confused parent out there?!
Today, I just wanted to know when Jude is starting his new school but during this process I was asked about what stage my application is in, if I had checked that it was through the processing department (no idea how), if I had spoken to the Gatekeeper. I had to chase the school again as well as the council case worker plus I needed to fend off jargon lobbing attempts at confusing me into ending the call prematurely. It’s a nightmare! Calling the council is NEVER FUN.
You don’t get this with mainstream schools and I find it incredible how terribly we treat our disabled citizens. And I do mean Jude in that last sentence because by not giving us information and by not keeping us informed in any way whatsoever, he is potentially being denied the support he needs. There is only so much research I can do without the help of the service providers and I have most definitely reached my capacity limits..
I’m FED UP of chasing people, calling several times before I even get recognition and having to push, push, push until something happens. What would occur if I hadn’t called all of the above people several times in the last month or so? I’m so tempted to do it and see what happens as a kind of social experiment but then I’d be potentially jeopardising Jude’s education.
So anyway. I’ll stop now but I just wanted to highlight ANOTHER area in which we treat our disabled children like crap. It shouldn’t be this difficult to find out a simple piece of information like a start date at school but sadly, it is.
The boy in his favourite Chicago Blackhawks gear. And for some reason, a pair of gloves.