Papers for Bristol City Council’s People Scrutiny Commission tomorrow which will look at council legal boss Tim O’Gara’s ludicrous ‘fact-finding’ report into SEND spying have been published. These papers include questions and statements from parents.
Here’s a particularly disturbing statement, which suggests that the spying goes far beyond a couple of parents involved with the Bristol Parent Carer Forum. While SEND management actions go far beyond spying. They also appear to be referring ‘difficult’ parents to child protection social workers as some sort of weird disciplinary measure.
I am a parent of a child with Special Educational needs. I am not an officer or volunteer of Bristol Parent Carer forum but I have experienced tweets of mine being copied and shared with other agencies.
It took me almost 2 years and cost me thousands of pounds to ensure my son was in a suitable school place – this was decided by a judge during a tribunal process, through independent reports.
During this process I was referred to social services as Bristol SEND services raised concerns that I had fabricated or induced my son’s illness. Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is the term used for when a parent or caregiver of someone, most commonly a child, is accused of fabricating, exaggerating or inducing the symptoms of that person.
False FII allegations are made by people in power, such as medical professionals, social workers, teachers, the Local Authority etc and they happen more often than is known and the cases are continuing to rise by the day.
Part of the reason these allegations came about is because in May 2021, an employee of BCC sent my son’s head teacher a copy of some tweets I had made about how my son feels in school. The officers told the headteacher that, “BCC communications team…. Monitor social media for us” and that she felt the school would, “rather be aware of the situation than not”.
SEND parents know that monitoring of families is prolific, especially if we appeal decisions of shoddy EHCPs which are not fit for purpose. This SEND surveillance is not just about [Bristol Parent Carer] forum officers – the leaked emails clearly show redacted names which are likely to be other parents.
Although my eldest son is now in the correct provision and social services have no concerns and are discharging us, my younger two children are being denied referrals to the Autism team. This is in part due to the school insisting that my children are not autistic and should not be referred and being denied Human Rights to go private.
The officer that shared my tweet sought to damage my relationship with the school – which they have been totally successful in and the actions of this officer now impacts the support my children are able to access and the hellish nightmare of FII accusations over the last year. The school for example, has actively called the paediatrician to ensure the GP request of referral for autism assessments is blocked.
I urgently need to get my children help as their SEN needs have been recognised by independent professionals but I am not able to get them they help they need due to the FII allegations, yet I have support of my GP, Social Services.
Their needs are being ignored across health and education. Surely this is disability discrimination? I feel this situation has been deliberately created due to the surveillance actions of the comms team and the officer that shared the post with the headteacher. I believe this is some form of punishment for advocating for my eldest and for contacting the Evening Post in 2020 to share with them how awful the SEND system is.
This is simply unacceptable and I hope my story encourages other families to share the experiences they have had and not to be scared of the threat of social services.
The People Scrutiny Commission takes place tomorrow, Monday 26 September 2022, at 10.00am. The meeting will be streamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVGK620pizA
It may be some of the most entertaining TV you see all week. One councillor is describing it as potential ‘carnage’ for Bristol’s SEND team!