I have been truly blessed to meet some remarkable young people in my work as an independent education consultant. Sadly, not just some, but all of the young people I have been fortunate to become acquainted with experience special educational needs, to varying degrees.
For some, their difficulties may be transitory, context specific, single-issue areas of need, but for many, their difficulties are legion, they are not easily dispelled, and the discontent, anxiety and unease spills over into family life, into the day to day life of school, intofriendships and relationships.
The young artist whose portrait is displayed above, Imogen (not her real name), has suffered long term the debilitating effects of so many interwoven, complex needs – obsessive compulsive disorder, trichotilomania, friendship difficulties and delays in acquiring reading and literacy skills.
Her rich and inventive fantasy life could rival that of the characters in The Bridge to Terabithia. Her drawings, I have felt, are in some way a compensation for the paucity of friendship and beauty in her life.
My role as a consultant is necessarily that of one dispensing advice, in good faith that SEND Services and professionals are available and have capacity to respond to the needs identified. It is always a challenge considering recommendations against the reality of the context – being fully aware that the service needed to deliver the intervention, assessment or support, are running to capacity, or have a waiting list that would make you weep, or no longer offer that provision for that age range.
On many occasions, I have spent time sourcing the relevant support, before commiting to a course of action in pupil advice. It is a courtesy to client schools to make recommendations that are immediately ‘do-able’ and at the least, it offers encourgement to parents that certain steps can be taken in a timely manner, to address the special needs that present.
My next big venture, which will be an on-going project over several years, is to build up a Road Map of SEND Provision (England) showcasing and detailing all the service provision that exists within a locality.
I will be seeking the active engagement of providers across the public, private and third sector in Education, Health and Social Care, across all the Local Authority regions in England.
The service will operate as a web platform and social enterprise. The site is currently under construction – exciting times!
I say exciting times, but it is a long and challenging road, not least that the ideas contained in my head, the vision and ideal, must translate also to reality, to what can be achieved over a reasonable period of time. I am impatient to have more than just a holding page to my site, as at present, but all takes time. Several months of hard work and concerted effort have taken me so far and the journey has only just begun.
I am striving to build a Road Map for the future – and I need your support.
I’ve created a brief survey, courtesy of the genius that is Survey Monkey, to gather thoughts on the pragmatics of The Local Offer. I would be thrilled for a moment of your time and response –
I will keep you posted on progress as I move towards the launch of The Local Offer for the start of the new financial year, April 2014.
If you or children in your care have been affected by the difficulties Imogen has faced, here are some useful links –
With regards to you all, always, and in fond memory of some remarkable young people who have blessed my life by their presence.