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Parent paid independent assessments

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ShadowMan, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. ShadowMan

    ShadowMan New commenter

    What obligation are schools under to follow the advice of an independent assessment carried out by someone the parent has paid for?

    In my school this is not only an increasing trend, but one where the 'assessor' appears to have suspect qualifications.

    Basically what is now happening is that rich enough parents can throw away several hundred pounds to pay someone who claims to have knowledge in the field to write in a report whatever the parent has suggested. This report is then presented to the class teacher as though all other children have to be swept aside to prioritise this particular one.

    We have reports that do not even state accurately what the school is currently doing. The report states what the parent thinks the school is not doing.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  2. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Are these children that the school has already flagged as having SEND? If so, presumably, there are plans in place to 'reduce the gap.' Or the child will have something that is 'additional to, or different from' others in the class.

    If, on the other hand, the school does not feel that the child has a sufficient need to have additional support, then I expect that the parent feels that their child has a need that is unmet by the school and has commissioned a report to back up their view.

    If the parent is requesting additional support - an EHCP for example, then the school will have to demonstrate the need for that. This will be over time, via ILPs and with advice/support from appropriate LA advisors, if the school is an LA one.

    In terms of additional support for testing or exams, in my experience, the boards will only accept expert advice from Ed Psychs or others employed by the LAand requested by the school.

    I used to have parents who would pay several hundred pounds for an assessment and be very disappointed to find that it not not have any weight in terms of extra time, reader, scribe etc, for exams.

    If the parents are saying that these assessments demonstrate that their child needs X and y in the classroom, you need to be able to show what is happening to support them. If you don't believe the child merits additional support, again, the evidence will be demonstrated in the child's progress.

    It's never an easy one!
  3. ShadowMan

    ShadowMan New commenter

    Thank you, Foxtail.

    The specific child is violent and hits, punches, shoves other children. He has been witnessed on more than one occasion, punching in the face a random child who happened to be walking past.

    This problem has been recognised by the school for a long time and we have lots of effective procedures in place. (Parents are violent too).

    The parents wish to send in someone who is an 'educational consultant' without any qualifications in child psychology to come and observe him in the classroom where violent problems almost never occur (and thus observe me).

    They have paid thousands so far in assessments.
  4. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Do the parents recognise that th violent problems rarely occur in the classroom? What about the school's EP or behsviour management advisor?

    If they are adamant about wanting someone to observe, perhaps a compromise would be a joint obs with this consultant. Probably a pain for you, but may appease the parents and the EP or whoever, might have some further useful strategies to add to the effective ones you're already using. I've found EPs useful in talking to parents too, because they don't have to have daily contact with them.
  5. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Refer to local police? After all, a punch is assault & battery....If he hit my child, and the school didn't act to exclude him, that's what I'd do...

    Refer to social services? Child is failing to thrive?

    Check with your school that they have carried out a risk assessment re; the violent parents and members of staff (e.g. you).

    NB the 'Assessor' couldn't enter class without DBS clearance, could he/she?
    midnight_angel likes this.
  6. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    To answer the OP's original question: "What obligation are schools under to recognise an independent assessor?"

    My guess would be "none". The schools would only recognise "official" assessors.

    The actual answer would depend upon the exact wording of the relevant Act and whether any High Court cases had addressed this specific issue.

    I have come across this in schools where they seem to think that a person, who has a recognised medical condition causing loss of control and subsequent violence towards others, somehow has a "licence to assault". They don't and the school has to take this on board.

    In cases where such a person has ended up in court, it was effectively a case of the judge locking them up and throwing away the key.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  7. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    From a parental point of view, we were advised by a potential school (he is 3 1/2 and will start primary/reception class next September) to consider a speech therapy assessment. We were lucky to get a private assessment done last week and he has delayed speech of a few months. Now that we as parents and his private childminder are aware, working with the speech therapist every two weels, we are hopeful that this minor delay will be resolved (and even in the last two weeks, he is)....In our personal circumstances, we took the advice of the potential school and will work together - home, 'school' and therapist. However, we would not impose our demands, e.g. that he get individualised attention unless all three parties agree.

    However, in the circumstances that you relate - it is, in my opinion, completely different. It is the parents asserting their right to control what the school can or cannot do for a child without the proper authorisation/going through the appropriate channels. We chose to go private, but if the school our little boy does attend says that his speech delay has improved/there is no need for specialist attention, etc., we may continue the therapy ourselves but not expect them to implement our 'report' or 'expert' within their school. Of course, it may help that I am a teacher so can appreciate the fine line of looking after my child and telling you how to do it.

    I also find it shocking the level of violent behaviour from this child and that the parents think an educational consultant can resolve it....perhaps they should have this consultant help them in the home environment first.
    midnight_angel likes this.
  8. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    My gut reaction, in answer to your question, is none.

    In my school, when parents have brought in recommendations from assessments they have had done themselves, we do of course consider them, in the context of anything we have in school. There have been times when we have not been able to get the support we need for a child and have found these very helpful. However we have also been on the receiving end of the sort of situation which has been described above.

    I would not allow this person to observe the child in class. If you, your SENCO or headteacher feel there is a problem and that the school needs support I'm sure you will have mechanisms for moving forwards with that. The parents need to be given this message very clearly and directly.
  9. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    I agree, but sometimes it's easier said than done and the subject of behaviour is a particularly emotive one. What is perplexing, is that the OP says that the child is rarely violent in class, so that would indicate that s/he is capable of managing behaviour. If the child is violent in the playground, I'm sure they have methods in place and a risk assessment to deal with that. If however, the child is violent at home, no amount of educational consultants are going to be able to help in school.

    The part about the parents being violent is a concern. Make sure you never have meetings alone with them. Been there, done that!
  10. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    I once taught an eight year old boy who was seriously under-endowed with grey matter. His doting parents, convinced they had given birth to an unrecognised genius, paid hundreds for a report telling us he was an unrecognised genius. (The poor kid couldn't remember how to spell his own name after a week away from school, and used to eat his rubbers).
    midnight_angel likes this.
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    You don't have to follow it but you should give it proper consideration and take into account its recommendations, even if after having considered them you reject them. If you ignore it or reject without proper consideration you run the risk that the parents' next step is to take the school to the SEND Tribunal alleging Disability Discrimination against their child. They can argue that his behaviour is a disability and the school is breaching the Equality Act by failing to make 'reasonable adjustments'. The school's case at Tribunal would be weakened if it had ignored the parents' "expert".

    How old is this child?
    irs1054 likes this.
  12. ShadowMan

    ShadowMan New commenter

    Thank you everyone. Your responses have been extremely useful.
  13. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    I taught in an area where the 11+ still existed and there was always much showing off by parents of kids who had 'passed'-notices in local press etc, :rolleyes:
    One year we had a lass come to us with documentation from some sort of organisation charging a fee, and this organisation had 'discovered' that the girl was dyslexic. Obviously, undiagnosed dyslexia was the reason she had failed to 'pass' for the grammar school!! Makes sense, doesn't it? :rolleyes:
    The upshot was that this girl 'stole' time from the support department who were obliged to give her support for her supposed condition. If she was dyslexic, I'm the Queen of Sheba, but at least her traumatised parents had an excuse for why their darling daughter was not at the grammar school.
    :mad: :mad: :mad:
  14. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Dyslexia was fashionable and acceptable as a reason for a child performing less well academically than the parents would wish. It was ok to be dyslexic, but not ok to be not very bright.
    johnberyl likes this.
  15. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    You're not wrong!!
  16. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Anecdote here: youngster clearly struggling at primary school; school are providing extra support. School want an assessment done, but have limited funds so waiting list might be over 18 months. Family volunteer to pay - means youngster gets assessment, school get the information they want, waiting list reduced by one, so another child moves up the queue. Not a bad outcome.
  17. ShadowMan

    ShadowMan New commenter

    Well, the effectiveness of your 'anecdotal' outcome would depend on the following factors:
    • Who did the assessment?
    • What were their qualifications?
    • How much did the parents pay?
    • What influence did the parents have on the recommendations in the assessment report?
    • Was the school consulted at any stage?
    • Does the class teacher/Inclusion Manager feel that the recommendations are relevant to the child?
    • What pressure is the class teacher under to implement recommendations that will have limited impact?
    • What other children, whose parents have not paid for an assessment, will lose their support to provide unnecessary support for a child whose parents have paid for a piece of paper that says their child is entitled?
    johnberyl likes this.
  18. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Does anyone know of an example where a parent paid a sizeable sum (often over £100 when I was a SENCO - more than a decade ago) only for the assessor to conclude 'No, nothing extra needed - he/she is quite normal, it's all fine...they just need to work harder....'

    Thought not....
    johnberyl likes this.
  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    SENCos have an obvious financial interest in bigging up the number and nature of any SENnies in their school.
  20. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Quick response: highly qualified educational psychologist, standard costs, with school's support and agreement in advance; parents did not lean on the psychologist; child was getting extra support anyway and school now feels it can be better focussed; school still making the running as to what is/is not implemented, as agreed before the assessment. Final bullet point: this has moved other children one place up the waiting list, which the school says is very long.

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