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Wise MN adopters, please help me choose a school (really long sorry)(27 Posts)
I had some very helpful advice on my thread re approaching a school for what will hopefully be my DD . I've now done school visits and got down to a choice of two schools and am stuck. I so want to get this right! So if you can spare the time thoughts please on the below:
School 1 - I met the head, at lunchtime in the school. it is small, 180 children, and the reception class as of places taken up now will be 17 children, although their maximum is 30. Going round the school children talked to the head, met one little boy with his SALT talking to the school pets, another little boy came and hugged the head as we were going round. It felt friendly. School building was smallish and scruffy, but had a big outside area including a pool. It is 10 mins or so from home. There is a separate reception playground area, which is used for children who don't cope in the big playground at break and lunch. They have a number of children with additional needs and keep money back every year so they can put another TA into reception if needed once they see what needs they're dealing with there.The head seemed on the ball, when I asked her about areas of the curriculum which may pose a problem for LAC she immediately identified topics on family, mothers/fathers day. She seemed to understand the need for security re who is allowed to pick up DD from school, and balance between confidentiality and what staff need to know to support the child. She seemed interested in DDs SN - I said separation anxiety, food issues, she didn't seem fazed and talked about this a bit - and keen to have the child in the school. When I said SWs want DD to delay starting school til January she said no problem. Head is also the SENCO. There is a stable long serving teaching team, although the reception teacher is retiring so the reception teacher for DD is new and is a NQT. All female teachers and TAs - DD has a fear of adult males. I asked if they had experience of LAC, she said they'd had two sets of adopted siblings through the school, the youngest of these will leave this summer. They have also had children whose wider family members have been removed. She spoke a lot about finding every child's talents and not just looking for these in academics. She gave me all the new parent info and dates for parent meetings etc.When I left the meeting I was convinced another school would really have to be going some to compete with the impression I'd formed of the school and the head. Then I visited school 2!
School 2 - I was due to meet the head at 3pm in the school, but she'd been called away so I met the assistant head who is also the SENCO instead. This school is bigger, 260 children, she wasn't able to tell me the exact number who will be in reception next year but said it is 20something, their maximum is 40, and they will have one reception class and one mixed reception and year one. She said they split by age - DD is 5 in September but when I said she will be emotionally younger, SENCO straight away said it's probably be better to place her with the younger ones in the reception only class. She offered to show me round immediately so I could see the school with the children still in it, a few chatted to her as we went round but they were really getting ready to go home. The school building was only built 3 years ago and is lovely and well equipped, it has a bigger outside space than school 1 but more raw - just grass and playground. It is extremely close to home - you can see the school from my house. The SENCO seemed less knowledgeable than the head of school 1 re LAC SN - she couldn't think of particular problem areas of the curriculum and suggested PE, when I said DD may have a problem changing in front of others she likened this to children who start school not potty trained or having toileting issues. The school are hot on security and the building layout makes this easy, she spoke of having dealt with adults trying to pick up a child they are not allowed access to. When I spoke about possible food issues she suggested DD and I both attend for school lunch together to talk this through - a good idea but felt a bit like she thought that one visit would address the problem? When I said SWs want to delay starting school she asked quickly if the head knew this and when I said yes seemed to relax. There are 3 male teachers/TAs in the school, DD has a fear of adult males. When I asked if they had any LAC she said they'd had several children in FC at the school and also have a LAC starting in September although she didn't know if they were reception or older. She spoke of working closely with other agencies like ed psych, counselling, and being very keen on confidentiality and respecting the child's background and history. She gave me the new parent info and took my email to send parent meeting info etc, and encouraged me to call in again to meet the head.
So I am quite stuck. School 1 was small and the head seemed on the ball, but DD would have a NQT so that feels like a risk. School 2 has more children but a better building, and might be great for DDs separation anxiety if she knows we are literally across the street when she is at school. Both have had LAC there, SENCO at school 2 seemed less knowledgeable than at school 1 but then she hadn't been expecting to have the meeting with me whereas school 1 had so was more prepared. Plus adopted children's SNs is pretty niche so I can't expect schools to be that clued up. Both schools seemed like they'd want DD there, I thought saying she has additional needs would put them off but both seemed willing and positive. I so want to make the right decision - all comments welcome!
Just realised I have said the opposite of everyone else!
getlucky it's helpful to hear another view - and the things you've said are the main things making me still unsure. If school 2 weren't closer and school 1 didn't have a NQT in reception it'd be a very easy decision. I've seen friends struggle horribly with a school who don't 'get' adopted children's needs, so I really want to choose well.
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