Are we making the right decision to send her to special school?

(8 Posts)
ReginaPhilangie Thu 11-Jul-13 17:25:10

DD1, (10) ASD and Dyslexic, academic level of a 6 year old. Developmentally a bit behind her peers, but not excessively so. Not very good socially, she gets by, but can get quite lonely at school at times. She goes to a mainstream primary, and is currently in year 5

We've just had her proposed statement through (yay), and it stated which school the LEA thought was appropriate for her to go at secondary. It's a specialised ASD school. After A LOT of deliberating and making a decision then changing our minds, they changing them again, both DH and I decided before she actually got awarded the statement that we wanted her to go to this specialised ASD school. We decided that if she didn't get a statement that we would give some serious thought to homeschooling her, as we felt that mainstream secondary would just be awful for her. So we're obviously delighted that the LEA have decided she should go to this school. We sent off the form for our preferred school so they could put it in the finalised statement. The form had to be back before 5ht July, so we posted it last week.

Today when DH picked the kids up from school the SENCO (who has been very good throughout dd's school life) pulled him aside for a chat. She said that she hoped we didn't mind but she had to give us her opinion on the school we'd chosen for dd1. She said that she didn't feel the special school we'd picked would be best for dd1, that she would be "of a higher level" than the rest of the kids there. She thought she would be better off in a certain mainstream secondary with a special ASD unit (that has a fucking awful reputation and we vetoed immediately) or a certain single sex secondary (that we had originally said we had a preference for, but is actually highly academic so would be no good really). She said she felt that sending dd1 to a special school would almost "stigmatise" her and she felt she would be better in mainstream.

I'm once again totally confused. confused Are we doing the wrong thing sending her to special school? We honestly feel like in mainstream she will just get lost in the system, bullied because she's so different, possibly get in with the wrong crowd because she has low self esteem. At least in a special school all the other kids have the same type of difficulties as dd1. She needs one to one for pretty much all her schoolwork, (which she is getting some of in primary atm, but not to the level she needs) she can't write a full sentence because she struggles to spell words and apart from capital letters and full stops has no recognition of grammar at all. We thought we'd made the right decision, but now I'm back to worrying and wondering what to do for the best.

Any advice, experiences or opinions would be great.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Thu 11-Jul-13 17:40:39

I teach in a mainstream secondary, so am of limited help here.

In our school, students who are differently able are not bullied. I don't know if other places are different, but our kids seem able to understand that some kids are different and just leave them alone (they do pick on each other, just not the asd/OCD/physically disabled kids).

However, it's really very hard to cater for some children. We have children who arrive working at P scale level, which is fine if you want them to have a nice, mainstream experience, but it can be tricky to differentiate effectively to get these kids GCSEs that are appropriate. (Half of the battle is management/government dictating the courses we are allowed to offer, class sizes, prep time, etc)

Assistive technology can help. For example, in my area grammar and spelling are helpful, but my top student this year is severely dyslexic (and has other issues) and will still get an A*. An iPad or similar will allow some students to express understanding in more accessible ways. It is also possible to take computer based exams rather than hand written. In some subjects.

Think about what she enjoys, and where you would like her to progress to academically. Visit all the schools, speak to the departments which will matter to her and see what they can realistically do.

Negotiate reduced timetables if you like. You could still do an element of home schooling in some areas, but have her attend for others.

And you can move after or part way through year 7 if you change your mind.

Hope some of that is helpful. Good luck choosing!

ReginaPhilangie Fri 12-Jul-13 10:54:55

Thank you Underwater for your detailed reply. flowers

We're going to start by next week going to visit the special school in question and also the schools the SENCO referred to. I think we do have to be very flexible in regard to how things are going to go for her at secondary and it's a case of just taking each stage as it comes.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Fri 12-Jul-13 19:25:25

Sorry, I got a bit rambly!

Hopefully someone more experienced in SEN will pop along with more advice.

Good luck for you all. x

BrigitBigKnickers Sun 14-Jul-13 10:15:19

We have had a similar issue with a pupil at my school recently. Academically she would just about cope in the lower sets of a MS school but socially, although not bullied, would be tolerated by sympathetic pupils rather than actually have the opportunity to form meaningful friendships with other pupils who are at the same emotional and social level.

After much soul searching, the parents decided to send their DD to the special school. We also feel it was the right decision. The school have assured the parents they will be able to differentiate the work to suit her higher ability levels and felt that her being one of the more able ones in the school would help her self esteem no end.

Don't discount the ASD unit. Have a good look around- you have time to apply and even if you haven't made a decision by 31st October- you can still change your mind later as she has a statement (or at least that's what happens in our local authority.)

Hi regina I have three experiences of this. Non are my own children though.
My cousin has global developmental delay. She went to main stream primary and was going to go to local secondary. In the end it came down very simply to the fact that she would be at the bottom end of a main stream school, she would probably have been bullied (it was a rough school,that I went to too! ) or isolated (as someone else said, tolerated rather than meaningful friendships) or she would be at the top end of a special school,where she would not only be taught academically but also life skills that, especially for her, were very important. She came out of the s.school with gcse's and confidence and loved being there.

My friends daughter has Down's syndrome she went to mainstream primary but half way through they realised the school could not deal with her, give her the support she needed so she was moved and has thrived at her other school. I think if you do look at mainstream you need to be certain she would fit in and be supported.

At the school I work at we have a range of students with additional needs. They are supported a lot, some have dual registration and are hme schooled for some. The students in their classes are very supportive of them and the students in general are really good with them. We are a small school (700 students) so there is a family atmosphere.

Generally though you had made the decision yourself. The lady is being very helpful but she is seeing it from a senco in mainstream point of view iykwim. You and your dh have by the sounds of it deliberated this a lot. Ultimately you know her far better than anybody else. Don't be put off by another person.

hm32 Sun 14-Jul-13 10:38:20

Places in special schools are extremely hard to come by. Given your original thoughts, I'd be tempted to go for the special school, see how it goes (you won't get that chance again), and then either push to move to mainstream or home school if necessary. Bottom sets tend to be full of pupils who just don't care, alongside those who need to be there academically, so it can make it harder to learn.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Sun 14-Jul-13 10:38:57

I think you have made the right choice. Not sure what the teacher is trying to achieve. Asd units can be attached to schools with the staff having had minimal training ( may or may not be the case in this instance) children can end up constantly segregated because the large classes are too stressful for them so integration becomes a nonsense. Special schools are brilliant at doing individually targeted work so each child gets what they need to challenge them. It is much easier to change from SN school to mainstream than e reverse so if I were you I would try it and see.

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