Negotiations need to be constructive, even if relations have broken down. In addition to talking to many parents at CVI Scotland, we also talk to many teachers, who are devoted to the children they support but frustrated for many reasons, including:
You have your list of tangible, quantifiable, demonstrable needs, however, your child may not be entitled to them all. A teacher may completely agree with you, although may not always be able to say so, and in not accommodating your request, for example due to lack of resources, try to understand their limitations.
Teacher do not have:
Before starting your negotiations, clearly understand your rights in relation to your child's needs, using the professional support resources we have listed below. For example, with Isabelle's transport, the local authority only have to prove that their provision is 'adequate', as is mirrored in the law in Scotland. Isabelle is transported meeting all legal safety requirements and in time for school, so it could be argued that the need has been met. There may be a valid further argument around Isabelle's wellbeing, and here, as a parent, you need to explain Isabelle's particular needs and challenges relating to her CVI. This is another complaint from patents we regularly hear, that those making decisions simply don't understand CVI, including in legal proceedings, and for this reason requests are refused, leading to a breakdown in communications.
CVI is unique to your child, you know your child better than anyone, you need to make this argument for them, with the support where necessary and desired of professionals, who can argue on your behalf in formal meetings and sittings.
Do not bump-up your request, with a view to negotiating a reduced settlement. Your child is not a second hand car! You need to confidentially argue their actual needs, it will be harder to present robust arguments around an inflated amount of support, with the hope of achieving a reduced amount - you might end up with nothing.
Do your homework. Look at what other schools offer to see if there is precedent. For example, some large schools have dedicated areas for 'quiet time', acknowledging a need, that you may be able to use to support your case.
There are many organisations (see list below) offering support and advice. Use them, even if it is just someone to have sitting next to you at meetings. If they agree with your request for needs, note it in the request.
With CVI, because it is so complex and unique to each individual, you have to become an empowered parent. Learn, about the condition and your child, use our resources, and become a confident and articulate advocate for your child.
GIRFEC Well-Being & Adequate
There are various organisations offering excellent advice and support across Scotland, and we recommend you always seek independent professional advice. Many offer free advice, or where criteria is met, offer Legal Aid.
You may have heard about GIRFEC - Getting it Right for Every Child. There is a lot of information on the Scottish Government website. GIRFEC comes down to your child's well-being. However, all your local authority or service provider need to prove to demonstrate that they have met their legal obligations, is that the provision is adequate. You may have to prove that it is not adequate. Adequate feels like a very low standard, the bare minimum, but you need to know that is what you must demonstrate. This is why professional advice and support is so important.
Seeking Support & Dispute Resolution
1 Discuss the needs with the school, take someone with you for support, and to take notes. There are various support plans used across Scotland for children, and it may be that your suggestions are incorporated.
2 If the school does not agree with your requests, or agrees but does not implement them, and you are unable to resolve this, the next step is Dispute Resolution. We have not gone into detail here because you need independent professional advice.
Formal Dispute resolution can involve one of the following:
You may wish to consider contacting the following organisations:
An impartial organisation funded by the Scottish Government with a wide resource of information, advice and publications, including about guidance and support through dispute resolution.
"We offer independent and impartial advice and information to parents, carers, practitioners, children and young people about how pupils should be helped to get the right support to be successful learners"
0345 123 2303
Kindred offer a free advocacy service to support families in relation to educational disputes for Edinburgh and the Lothians. A trained advocate will assist the family and attend meetings. If necessary, up to and including an Education Tribunal.
Govan Law Centre
The Education Law Unit of Govan Law Centre
"provide legal representation in appropriate education law cases to parents or pupils. Our solicitors regularly provide representation in cases heard by:
Additional Support Needs Tribunals
Sheriff Courts; and
the Court of Session.
Our Education Law Helpline is available to anyone who has an enquiry about any aspect of education law in Scotland.
Education Law Helpline 0141 445 1955
You don't have to go through this alone, many parents have commented on the value of having people from other organisations, including charities, to support them.
The following organisations offer family and emotional support (but not legal support) for those affected by CVI. Assistance can come in many forms, including attending meetings, arranging family days and information sessions. Many parents use several of the organisations and it is worth contacting them and explaining your needs to see how they can help.
RNIB Scotland (Visual Impairments) 0131 652 3140 email@example.com
Visibility (Visual Impairments, West of Scotland) 0141 332 4632 firstname.lastname@example.org
Guide Dogs (Visual Impairments) 0345 143 0203 email@example.com
Royal Blind (Visual Impairments) 0131 446 3120 firstname.lastname@example.org
PAMIS (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) 01382 385 154 email@example.com
Sense Scotland (Multi Sensory Impaired, Visually Impaired, Autism) 0300 330 9292 firstname.lastname@example.org
Your local MP, MSP or Councillor may also prove to be a helpful support and is worth contacting.
If you know of any other organisations who have been helpful, and may help others, please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com
Habilitation (and rehabilitation for acquired injuries) used to be called mobility, and is support specially designed to teach people with visual impairments how to live as independently as is safely possible. This extends to all areas affecting independent living, not just mobility, however not everyone with CVI will qualify for local authority habilitation services.
Visibility (West of Scotland) and Guide Dogs both provide free habilitation support. Many parents have expressed how useful and helpful the input has been, and in some cases habilitation officers have supported families seeking additional support in school.
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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.