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I would like to share my experiences of getting our daughter into mainstream school via the statementing process, in order to warn other parents of a particular problem caused by the current system. We have always known that our daughter, who has Down Syndrome, would get a statement of special educational needs. In addition, we are keen on allowing her to mix within society generally, and support the ideal of inclusion within mainstream schooling. Therefore we were prepared for the statementing process and were advised to delay starting this until a relatively late stage in order to gain the most accurate and up-to-date picture of our daughter’s needs when she started school. The process was initiated around November of last year, in order to complete around Easter of this year. The usual round of school allocations started around the same time and we duly visited the local schools and selected the more appropriate of the two catchment schools. In actual fact, this school was the only local school that came close to being acceptable as most schools here are multiple-year intake, split site and on several floors, a far cry from the small, single-year intake local primary school we had selected. However, by the time the statement was complete the school of choice was full with no chance of getting in (we were told). This is despite naming this school in the statement. We then has an unexpected and unnecessary fight on our hands in order to get our daughter into this school, which we won only with strong argument, which we had to make personally to the head of “inclusion”. The message to other parents here is to be wary of the advice that starting a statement late will be beneficial – this can seriously under the current allocation system.
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