Dinner Party Parents

I was reading this old report yesterday  from the NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) called ‘getting it right – LEAs and the Special Educational Needs Tribunal’ https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/90003/90003.pdf and having just seen a tweet which related to an LA employee’s views on parents of disabled children and /or those with SEN I’m thinking not much has changed since this report was published.  Although when reading the report, I visualise this, 


the report was actually published in 1998, so really have the perceptions of parents really changed much in 40 years??

During the stage 3 investigation into my complaint about the lack of action by Wigan Council to investigate allegations we’d made about the treatment of my son in school, both the LA and the independent investigator at stage 2 maintained that the crux of the problem was me:  I was never satisfied, I complained, staff are scared of me.  

I fiercely (yet unagressively and very politely) contested this theory.  In fact there was no evidence available that backed up this theory.  It was a perception.  Because I don’t tolerate poor service where my children are concerned, I was painted as the bad guy.  An unreasonable person who others are scared of.  This also fitted the council’s agenda nicely though, which was to try and justify why they failed to act on safeguarding concerns raised about staff in a school, so although it was hurtful, I’ve become more prepared for these antics over time. 

So returning to the NFER report from 1998, which says on page 59:



which just makes me so angry and even though this was written in 1998, I do suspect similar views are still held today by LAs and of others who hold the purse strings such as governing bodies, that funding is ‘stolen’ from other children to give to the ‘pushy’ parents’ kids.  If this is the case, surely it reflects a negative view of disability (that disabled children and/or those with SEN do not merit an equitable education) and a failure of LAs to impart knowledge and provide information to parents about their rights rather than a hostile parent who is fortunate enough to know the law but is constantly frustrated by the lack of its implementation?

The language of this exerpt very much paints a negative picture of parents,who have done something wrong in knowing their stuff. I’d be interested to know if there is a more up to date report which captures the views of LA staff with such candour.  I doubt this could ever be done now though for fear of repercussions. 

My experiences with LA staff have often made me feel as though I’m the one in the wrong, and so when the old NFER report says parents are ‘astute’, why on earth should parents of disabled children and those with SEN have to be astute for goodness sake? And what’s the meaning of a ‘dinner party network’.  If only!! 

So, to the former LA employee who was so upset by parents behaviour, because the LA had ‘failed to provide’ and were ‘dissatisfied’, I’m really sorry you’ve had such a negative experience, but I think by saying  ‘there’s no pleasing some parents’ is probably not helping to identify the real issues.  Only by speaking out about these experiences will changes to accountability within LAs be made easier and a lot quicker.  

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