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Children starting secondary in September 2013; support & hand-holding, tips and advice...

(135 Posts)

This is a thread for those of us with children who are starting secondary in September 2013; nerve-racking enough even when a child doesn't have SEN.

Hopefully we can give each other support and encouragement.

It would also be great to get some advice and tips from parents who have already seen children through this; what do you wish you had known etc?

PolterGoose Fri 22-Feb-13 21:12:20

Can I lurk please thanks

Ds will start in 2014 but we need to start the process soon. It is especially helpful hearing from those with dc's already at secondary as it shows what is possible.

Yes, you'd be very welcome! smile

The last thread I could find was from two years ago:

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/special_needs_education/1171065-Moving-up-to-secondary-school-lets-flap-about-it-together

so hopefully I'm not treading on anyone's toes by starting a new one.

inthewildernessbuild Fri 22-Feb-13 21:27:01

Me! Ds2 has no statement, and we are waiting to hear whether he gets into the school round the corner (difficult over subscription criteria) or will have to travel to his brother's very good school. However we aren't sure whether Ds1's school will be the best match.

However, one of the issues of ds1's school for ds2, is of the course the journey (easily bullied ASD child),and I've already made the decision that it would be better to bite bullet and drop ds2 by car, and pickup, rather than let him brave the bus like his brother. It is 10 mins by car, 20 mins on the bus.

I know Ds1's school will accommodate and nurture him; they have been kind and helpful, letting him try a morning's school in Oct to see how he felt/coped (he liked it!) but I'm already worried about the homework, which ds1 could only just about manage confused On the other hand I suppose if ds2 had been my first child I would just have complained about the homework and said it wasn't possible! I feel v nervous about ds2 reputation affecting ds1's position in school and teachers thinking of us as difficult family...

Which is why I want ds2 to go to the school round the corner! Ds2 likes school atm, and he enjoys the learning and the institutional setting. I'm just worried about his academic performance (not his intelligence, which is good) and the friendship stuff.
'

Hi inthewildernessbuild.

DS2 doesn't have a statement either, hopefully going to the same school as his older brother. It is the only school that I feel confident will meet his needs, and I was very impressed with the learning support department and head when we went to look round.

DS1 doesn't have additional needs, so although I have seen one child through secondary transition, this feels like a completely different ball game.

I am trying to stay focused on DS2's strengths (academic ability & organisational skills) but there are so many aspects of secondary school that he'll find challenging. His height, weight, social and behavioural development are all like a child in Y3/Y4, so it feels bizarre that we'll be sending him off to secondary school in six months time.

moosemama Fri 22-Feb-13 22:06:18

Hello, can I join please?

ThreeBee, my ds is also tiny and skinny and developmentally he's behind his brother, who is 8. I tend to think of him somewhere between a y2/3 child in many ways.

He has been horribly bullied throughout primary school and is an easy target. He's also really struggling socially as his peers gain speed towards becoming teenagers and is being targetted again, although currently only verbally, not physically. sad

Despite everything he's been through at primary, he is distraught at the thought of leaving, to the extent that he can't bear to miss a day off school, as each day he misses is one day he won't be there next year.

He has a best friend, who is incredibly loyal to him and is going to be heartbroken when he hears for certain that he isn't going to be able to go to the same school as him - but the fact is they don't want him, they don't want any children with SEN and have refused every statemented child this year.

Ds does have a hard won statement, that was only finalised during last year's summer holiday and has yet to be properly implemented by the school - not for the want of trying. Ironically, we pushed for a statement so that we could name the school he wanted to go to, as we were told that academies can't refuse statemented pupils. hmm

LA have failed to name a school for him (deadline was last Friday) as thanks to the Academy refusing to take him, they now cannot place him in any other ms school in our area, as they are all essentially the same size with similar resources. They have fudged naming the statement, so we have to refuse to accept it whilst we try and get things sorted.

We are currently pinning our hopes on the out of area ms independent that the inclusion team recommended and want him to attend. There are several other children from our area already attending the school and it has an excellent reputation for children who have ASD.

He has an interview/chat with the HT next Tuesday and we've been told that if they are happy they will agree to be named at that point. If not they will invite him to spend a week at the school to see if he's suited to it! shock They already have his statement and dh and I have visted and met the staff and HT. It was so lovely to go to a school where every member of staff is ASD trained and able to immediately discuss how they would differentiate for ds's needs.

I'm ridiculously nervous about the interview, but then, if he does get in, equally terrified of having to put him on LA transport every day for a 45 minute journey. Our local primary is literally 3 minutes from door to door, so it will be a big shock to his system.

The whole thing is just horrible and scary for both parents and children really. Hoping we can support each other on this thread and looking forward to getting to know you all.

Hi moosemama, that sounds so frustrating.

Just to add that we went out for a meal last night to celebrate DS1's birthday. We didn't realise till after we'd left that we were charged for an under-8s meal for DS2! I didn't know quite how to feel. He'll be 11 in 2 weeks!

eggandcress Fri 22-Feb-13 22:17:14

Good luck with the interview Moose - that school sounds very good!

My DD is visually impaired and has statement. I was very anxious about the whole transition process but we have had the school we wanted named on her statement - a local mainstream We also had her annual review and the SEN staff from her new school came along. They were lovely and they are going to arrange lots of visits for her next term so she can learn the school layout ahead of starting. They were vey experienced with VI and really wanted my DD. so far so good!

eggandcress: that must be a relief to have the school she needs, and also encouraging that they've got some transition activities lined up for her.

Ilisten2theradio Fri 22-Feb-13 22:22:58

I wanted to say good luck to everyone. DS started High school this year. He has a statement and he has gone to a school where he knew no-one. He has always found it v difficult to make friends and we were very anxious for him. Also he has to walk by himself and it is about 25 mins(primary was 5 mins). I would say emotionally he was about 8y.
He has shocked us all by settling really well and making a couple of friends who have been over a few times.They purposly matched a few children to the same form class and hoped they would find each other - they did!
His key TA seems to be getting on well with him. There have been hiccups - don't get me wrong , and the school are still picking and choosing which bits of the statment they are complying with ( story for another time) but overall DS is happy which means IU am more relaxed.

eggandcress Fri 22-Feb-13 22:26:32

Yes they seemed amazing I am so happy for my DD.

I find some things seem to go well others not so well!

sunshine175 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:27:56

Im definitely here too. Dd will be making transition from small ms primary to a really big ms secondary as long as we get a place. She finds school challenging and often has a meltdown after school or before! I really hope we can get her out of the door in September to start school. It feels like she has lots stacked against her but current and future school are being positive and are planning multiple transition visits etc. Im trying to remain calm...

moosemama Fri 22-Feb-13 22:32:38

Thank you ThreeBee. Yes, it is incredibly frustrating and I feel so impotent at not being able to just make it all all right for him. sad

Eggandcress, congratulations! Lovely to hear the system can and does work for some people. You must be so relieved.

Ilisten thank you for sharing your ds's story with us. It's reassuring to hear things can work and our dcs can be happy, especially when they go to a school where they don't know anyone.

Hi sunshine175, hope you get the news you and your DD are hoping for next Friday.

Ilisten2theradio: thank you for your words of reassurance. Do you have any practical tips about how to make things easier for coping with the longer journey and/or making new friends?

coppertop Fri 22-Feb-13 22:50:29

Good luck, everybody!

Ds (ASD) is in Yr8 with no statement. He goes to the local m/s secondary and is doing well so far.

The waiting to find out which school he would go to was probably one of the worst bits. Once that was out of the way, it was much easier to start planning ahead.

Some of the things that helped with travelling to/from school:

- Lots of practice in advance if possible.

- Work out a plan for what your ds/dd should do if things go wrong eg missed bus, journey is delayed, injury or illness on the way (I only mention this one because ds was ill on way to school one morning but hadn't realised it would be okay to just come home!).

- If you're planning on giving them a phone, find out what the school's policy is. Some ban them outright. Others don't mind as long as they are switched off and kept in their bag.

- If they are going to need a key to let themselves in after school, practice this in advance. Work out any house rules they need to follow if at home alone, eg whether it's okay to answer the door/phone, what to do if smoke alarm goes off, who to contact if there's a problem etc.

There's probably more but my mind's gone blank. blush

Waiting to hear here as well, have only put 2 choices (not an issue round here), really hoping he gets the first choice as it has a few extras he would benefit from, the biggest of which is year group bases rather than subject bases (except for the practical subjects like PE and Science). So instead of going all round the school, from maths at the top of the west block, to English at the bottom of the north block, then languages, middle east block and so on, all his non practical subjects will be in the same area. As a dyspraxic aspie who takes a long time to learn his way from a to b, it will be extremely helpful for him.

I was watching this thread last year, which has lots of helpful suggestions for AS children starting secondary, things that have been found helpful for children already at secondary.

MerryCouthyMows Sat 23-Feb-13 00:47:30

Signing in. I have done this once already, with DD. now it's DS1's turn.

My best advice is VISUAL TIMETABLES. No matter what their issues are, dxd or undxd.

Visual timetable for what needs to be packed in their bags. if they have ASD or dyspraxia, expect to still be helping them pack their bags, or at least checking them, well into Y10, if not longer...

Email addresses for each class teacher

MerryCouthyMows Sat 23-Feb-13 00:56:56

Sorry, net went weird there!

Email addresses for ALL class teachers - you'd be surprised how much info about your DC's SN's doesn't get passed along in Secondary.

If your DC has issues writing quickly or clearly - ask the SenCo if there is an LSA available to help write homework in planners. You can't help them to be organised with homework if you have no idea that they have any, and if there IS something basic written down (for the first two years, DD often just wrote 'maths home' or 'science home', and then had no clue WHAT the homework was, or when it was to be done by...).

Check how to go about getting replacement locker keys. They WILL get lost. Ditto PE socks and ties. Set aside a replacement budget! bitter voice of experience there

DON'T expect every teacher to set homework according to the homework timetable they are given. Explain to your DC that if they remind the teacher when the teacher has forgotten, they will become very unpopular, very quickly. That's one gem I wish I had told DD!

There's probably many more!

MerryCouthyMows Sat 23-Feb-13 01:01:20

Waiting to find out if DS1 has been allocated the Grammar or not. It really is the best placement for him. (Probable Aspergers).

If not, he'll have a place in the OK Academy that DD is at. Great school for those with LD's, like DD, but not so great with extending their top set pupils. And huuuuuuuge.

I wish it was March 1st NOW!

DS1 is 'borderline' for the Grammar with his score - he dropped around 20 marks because he was very ill with strep throat AND the start of appendicitis when he sat the 11+.

I have been told that we have good grounds for appeal, though. Just want to know one way or the other whether I have to start to compile an appeal, or whether we can celebrate!

Sunnymeg Sat 23-Feb-13 08:13:22

Hello everyone

Just getting my seat on this bus. DS 11 with Aspergers, very intelligent, genius according to IQ levels. but can't cross the road on his own, or tie shoelaces, or organise himself or any of his kit. On School Action Plus. Can't believe I am planning to send him to a school over 10 miles away ( we live in rural area) but our local school is dire with Special Needs. I know people who have homeschooled rather than send their child there. Just thinking about the number of times I have to pop into primary because he's forgotten something. Even now he won't leave the school building to go home until he sees me out the window. Things are going to change so much!! Autism Support have said he wouldn't cope with the school bus in the first year, so I will be running a taxi service, luckily I am SAHM and he is our only child. wink

Sunnymeg: your son sounds a lot like mine. smile

MerryCouthyMows: reminding the teacher that they haven't set homework is exactly the sort of thing DS2 would do. blush

He has had a front door key since his tenth birthday, so at the moment he meets me at the junction half way home from primary school, I help him cross (still gaining confidence after being hit by a car last year) and he runs home to let himself in and start his homework so he can spend longer on Minecraft.

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