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Xavier is 15 years old and has autism. His mother reached out to our Mediation service to get her son the right school placement.
His mother was unhappy with the school named on Xavier’s EHCP. Xavier had been attending a secondary maintained school but the placement had broken down. He had not been excluded but had been taken off the roll, and he had not been in school for 5 months. Xavier’s mother had requested a number of schools, including an independent school, but this had not been agreed by the LA. She was concerned that the provision named by the local authority (LA) was a programme based at a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Her older son had attended that PRU and had a difficult experience there. So she had not agreed to send Xavier there. As a result of the disagreement about placement, Xavier was becoming increasingly withdrawn while being out of school and was receiving no education, aside from what his mother could do by buying him GSCE study books.
Xavier attended the mediation along with his mother and his 5-year-old sister (it was half-term). For the LA, the Tribunals Manager attended. She had not been involved in the case before the mediation.
Xavier did not participate although he stayed in the mediation. His mother explained that Xavier was interested in school and was doing several GCSE. She and the Tribunals Manager discussed the process of GCSEs when a pupil is out of school, and there was shared concern that he might miss out on taking his exams and getting the right support to do so.
The Tribunals Manager did not have the most recent version of Xavier’s EHCP and did not have the consultation paperwork that was sent out to schools. During the mediation she was able to get hold of some of the paperwork. This was important because it was unclear to everyone in the mediation why all the schools who were consulted with declined to offer a place. There was a concern that he had not been adequately supported and that any behavioural challenges had been dealt with disproportionately and not in line with SEND good practice.
Xavier and his mother agreed to visit the PRU with the Tribunals Manager and to meet with the headteacher to discuss Xavier’s mother’s concerns about safety. The Tribunals Manager agreed to get all the consultation paperwork and share this with Xavier’s mother so they could better understand why the schools had responded as they had. It was agreed that a clearer view of Xavier’s needs was necessary, so the Tribunals Manager agreed to request assessments by the Educational Psychologist (EP), the Occupational Therapist (OT) and Speech and Language Therapist (SAL T) and to revise Xavier’s EHCP as needed. She also agreed to explore with mainstream schools what provision Xavier could receive and whether Xavier could repeat a year to give him the best opportunity with his GCSEs.
*Xavier is not his real name.