This is the second installment of a week-long interview with Ellen Power, mum to two children with Special Educational Needs and author of the new how-to book Guerrilla Mum: Surviving the Special Educational Needs Jungle (August 2010, Jessica Kingsley Publishers), which describes how she worked with – and in some cases challenged – the authorities to get the right education for her children.

Today, Ellen shares with us how she picks her battles in the fight to have her children’s Special Educational Needs met.

Prior to our children having statements, we had to fight for everything each time a problem arose, mostly without success. We had nothing to uphold our children’s rights to have their needs met in school, and the school did not really have to do anything very much different for them than what it was doing under the mainstream curriculum – so it didn’t. It was extremely labour-intensive.

Battles are far less frequent now that our children have statements. However, if a battle does crop up I apply a formula to the problem. I consider how much the problem is affecting my child now, the longevity of the problem, and whether the problem is causing my child significant upset or putting him at risk of significant failure. I also consider whether the school/Local Authority (LA) has agreed previously (i.e in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or statement) that it should be doing something to alleviate the difficulty and whether the school is failing to keep to the terms of the statement. This sort of problem is easiest to solve.

Dealing with problems is much easier with a statement in place because the child’s right to have their needs met has already been agreed by the school/LA and is enshrined in the law. Schools/LAs know there are consequences for them if they do not do what the statement directs them to do.

Tomorrow: Ellen shares her take on the new academies and free schools legislation in the UK.
Yesterday: Ellen’s transformation from ‘mild mannered parent’ to ‘guerrilla mum’.

Ellen Power has a BA Honours Degree in French and History. After graduation she worked as a police officer then in commerce before having her first child in the mid 1990′s. Since then she and her husband have been tireless campaigners for their children’s rights to access the curriculum at school and to meet their potential in life. She has contributed to the National Austistic Society magazine ‘Communication’, discussing the issue of homeschooling children on the Autistic Spectrum. She lives with her husband and two young sons.

Visit Ellen’s new Guerrilla Mum blog!

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2010.

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