Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

What do you think about this situation?

(16 Posts)
dontknowwhat2callmyself Mon 15-Jul-13 21:41:15

"in the way we need her to" sounds concerning to me. I don't think you are worrying too much - I do think you need to talk with the school again to ask how they support pupils who learn in a different way - for example would your DD be able to use a laptop in some lessons instead of pen and paper?

Would it be unreasonable to hope that the school should be having the attitude that it is their job to get the best out of her?

I think the above depends on individual teachers to be honest. My DD (Year 2) has had a crap teacher this year who had such low expectations but despite this and to teachers utter astonishment DD has achieved expected levels in SATS, however, I am still very worried about the coming years (and DD does have a statement).

It would be worth getting a private EP report as you could use that as evidence if you decided to apply for a statement and also you could see strengths and weaknesses of your DD and there could be strategies at home you could use to improve certain skills.

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 21:18:52

I have a feeling the online test worked better for her because it didn't involve using pen and paper and there was a direct connection between her answer and the screen rather than having to look at one questionsheet and complete an answer on a separate page. Her handwriting has really improved and she works hard to make it as neat as possible but it is hard work for her. She also uses coloured overlays to read text, but obviously the answer sheets provided were white. This was a suggestion by her clinical psychologist but not a formal requirement for any exams..she does not get any special consideration/time at primary school.

She will get support for organising her belongings, homework schedule at school and at home (and her friends are brilliant at helping her also!). I will pursue the EP route as I think it may help highlight her strengths and weaknesses a bit better and possibly give formal recommendations for exams/assessments which should optimise her chances of showing what she is capable of.

Flappingandflying Mon 15-Jul-13 15:27:02

To be honest it's a bit late in the day. The school will have broken up and your child is already fixed on that is where they are going. I concur with the view that indie's are sometimes not as good as state But they are far more likely to give access arrangements to students like your daughter and the pupils do get so much more individual attention from teaching staff rather than being sent out with a TA. If your daughter is self motivated, has some good independent study skills, is well organised (or has you to ensure she is organised), has a good level of literacy then she will be fine. A lot depends on how good the support coordinator is and how much the staff listen to them.

Two things I have noticed that are different between indie and state: Firstly, a lot more onus s on the child to achieve. Because it is a selective school and parents have made a choice to go there, they are less flexible about things like dropping subjects etc. so if it is three individual sciences from the start, then dropping chemistry is not an option.
Secondly, but I am in single sex so I think mixed might be a bit more forgiving, small infringements of behaviour are noticed and frowned on far more. This includes not handing in h/w and poor organisation.

In the current economic climate, many indie schools are having to accept pupils whom previously they would have turned down. Unfortunately, some of the old mores are still left from teaching a previously uniformly bright cohort. Possibly the HT is still in those days.

My advice, give it half a term to see how she settles in and what her attainment levels are like. Ensure there is some contact wth LS.

TOWIELA Mon 15-Jul-13 15:18:17

Thank you chocolate. Mine is an extreme story when things go badly wrong when schooling children with undiagnosed severe and complex needs. Just to be clear - the school and I worked very very closely together for four years - particularly on DS's dyslexia. We had a very good relationship to the very end.

But it simply did not work because of the undiagnosed conditions, the severity of his dyslexia, and the difficulties of educating a child in a mainstream school with such severe co-existing problems.

I am sure everything will be fine with your daughter - but always trust your instincts - you know your child better than anyone else.

AgnesDiPesto Mon 15-Jul-13 14:45:53

I think its worth asking what experience of HFA they have. If they haven't got much what are they willing to do about that? They will almost certainly have had children on the spectrum even if not with a formal dx.

Many indep schools state they will only take children with dyslexia no other SEN so I think you do need to find out more about what the school is prepared to do.

The school can let her for eg work on a laptop and arrange extra time for exams etc. Do you know why she can do online tests better? Is it a problem with writing? Has an OT assessed her motor skills? Is it because online was in a quieter environment?

DS is only 6 and in mainstream with ABA support. At this stage I dont know if he will be in mainstream for secondary or not. He is bright but has severe language problems and classic autism. If he were able to go to mainstream I suspect it would have to be indep not State as the State schools would be too massive and classes too big. So I think there is an argument for trying to get indep school to work as the small class sizes often suit children with HFA. The crucial thing for me would be whether the school would be willing to have outside autism experts like ABA come into school and work with staff to implement strategies. I would not expect a school indep or State to have the necessary expertise themselves. From what I have seen so far with DS the knowledge about autism in schools is very low. The ABA staff have to teach the staff how to teach DS, its not always instinctive, you need staff who are prepared to do things differently.

Some people can get statements with indep schools named on them (and funded by LA) if can show thats the only option.

zzzzz Mon 15-Jul-13 14:31:48

What sort of support do you feel she needs?

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 13:50:13

Towie, I am so sorry to hear about your DS and I do hope that returning to school in future is a far more positive experience. I am also sorry that you were refused an Assessment! I don't think my DD 'doesn't need' a Statement, but everyone I have talked to says she is doing 'too well' to be eligible...there are apparently one or two others who have been refused statements at the school who present similarly.

I think I am going to have to fork out for an EP report. I can also certainly push for an LEA statement in case the school doesn't work out for her as I believe they take a very long time to come through and then finding the most suitable school is a whole other kettle of fish!

HE is simply not an option!

She is very excited about going to secondary school as many of her friends will be there and she is familiar with the environment there already. There are SO many positives that I have reason to be optimistic, but this niggling doubt about the support she will get wont go away. I will just have to keep on top of things and hopefully this will all be a non-issue.

zzzzz Mon 15-Jul-13 10:43:13

I don't think it's anywhere near time to give up on this school. I also don't agree that Independent schools are more difficult to work with.
You are you going to have to handle them, but if this school is a good fit I think you should be optimistic.

TOWIELA Mon 15-Jul-13 09:40:05

Chocolates - Your very last sentence has rung massive massive alarm bells with me The comment about her needing to show her abilities in the 'right' way did not come from the LS person btw but the Head.

An indie school lives and dies by its head. The head is an incredibly powerful person in an indie school – probably more powerful than a head in a state school. A state school’s head is answerable to the governors and the LA. An indie is answerable only to the governors (or if it's independently owned, by the owner) and they will give their head a totally free reign.

The head is telling you that the ‘right way’ is his/her way and anything else simply won’t do.

If you have been following my story, you will know that my son was in a leading Ofsted outstanding indie school for 4 years. They have a very glossy brochure about their learning support unit but the reality was very different. All children had to fit a certain ‘way’ and any pupil (SEN and NT child alike) that couldn’t fit, the school are unable to support.

We lurched from term to term for 4 years – putting in support – realising the support wasn’t working, adding more support, trying different techniques. 18 months ago it resulted in the most depressing meeting I have ever had. The head of year, the SENCo, class teacher, LSA and others and I all sat in a meeting and they were literally scratching their heads in despair saying to me ‘we don’t know what to do’. The only option I had was to go to the LA and request Statutory Assessment. Three months later, on the very day I had received confirmation that the LA had refused to Statutory Assess, we all sat in another meeting, again all scratching our heads, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t tell me what to do, and I certainly didn’t know what to do.

Days later, it took a conversation with a leading educational solicitor (who I ended up instructing) for her to point out to me that my son was suffering very very high levels of anxiety and was extremely unhappy. She was the only person in all of this mess who had cut through all the crap and pointed out to me in no uncertain times that I ‘had a very unhappy little boy’. No one else had realised this (myself included). The school was so concerned in trying to shoe-horn him into ‘their way’ that they hadn’t spotted it. I was so concerned in keeping him in this school, that although I had spotted it, I hadn’t acted on it. Days after the conversation with the lawyer, I finally took control of this terrible situation and withdrew him from the school to home ed him and have been for the last year. I am hopeful to get him back into school this September. But the legacy of this situation at this school has left him with extreme literacy-related anxiety.

My son’s severest problems are dyslexia. I know of other parents who have withdrawn their HFA, AS, ASD, GDD children from this school and placed them in other indie schools. Some indie schools are fantastic with SEN children. Others do more harm than good. Mine did more harm than good - perhaps yours is the same?

You say your DD doesn’t need a Statement. How do you know that? I was told DS didn’t need one – but he did. I would suggest that you stop listening to the school, and your first steps are to get an educational psychologist report. The indie school won’t have access to state ones, so go get one from an independent. Do not delay any longer. Without an EP report, you simply do not know what your DD’s needs are.

Chocolates

Who told you that piece of misinformation in your first paragraph?. You were lied to. Such naysayers should always be ignored.

Attitudes from the top often filter down to staff, I would be very wary about sending your DD to such a school at all tbh with you as there are warning signs here already.

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 08:05:19

Thanks for all your responses. As she achieved above national average in her assessments and her behaviour is managed very well in her junior school where she is happy and well supported, I have been told she is not eligible to be statemented.
The state secondary she was allocated was completely inappropriate for her so we had to go independent, and in many ways the school is a great fit for her in regard to the sport, music and drama opportunities because they are very inclusive in those areas and she has enjoyed those sorts of activities a great deal in primary school.
I do like zzzzz's question a great deal and will be speaking (yet again!) to the Learning Support person. The comment about her needing to show her abilities in the 'right' way did not come from the LS person btw but the Head.

uggerthebugger Mon 15-Jul-13 07:07:13

I don't think you'll know whether it's the right place for her unless & until you have the sort of conversation that zzzzz is suggesting. What you'd hear from them in a conversation like that will indicate whether they think your DD's HFA is an irritating inconvenience or a challenge to be embraced and managed. As mummytime says, there's little consistency about how the mainstream independent sector treats SEN. But there's no doubt at all that your concerns are reasonable.

This independent school sounds completely inflexible re her additional needs and her junior school also let her down.

Some independent schools are not that good actually at helping or even wanting to help children with SEN. Also they work outside the LEAs remit of control so you cannot go to them either.

I would look for a decent state school and obtain a statement of special needs from the LEA. Statements are also there for social and communication difficulties.

zzzzz Mon 15-Jul-13 00:57:27

The response to "she needs to do it our way" is "so what steps have you put in place to help her achieve that?".

mummytime Mon 15-Jul-13 00:46:11

Sorry but it might not be the best place for her. Private schools can be inflexible, and often don't have the same resources to draw on for SEN that State schools do. On the other hand some private schools will do their best, and with some help can lead to a very happy outcome.

The best sign in what you have written is that they gave her a scholarship, this means they have more than usual invested in making this work.

But I would be wanting to have a thorough discussion with them about how they are going to approach this.

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 00:24:11

Hello,

I am posting here as well as in the Education thread.

My daughter is starting secondary school in September and the school asked to see me as they had some concerns over her academic levels (it is an independent school) because the entrance test results did not match up with her primary school assessment levels. The tests were much lower than her school reports.
It is quite an academic school and my daughter has some SEN (HFA) but is obviously capable of achieving very well because she is above average at her current school in many subjects and achieved an outstanding mark in another school which did an online test, rather than one using pen/paper. She was offered an academic scholarship on the basis of that result.

My concern is that she clearly has the ability but there is something getting in the way of her showing it in the 'usual' way and the school has said she needs to learn to do that better...'in the way we need her to'.
Would it be unreasonable to hope that the school should be having the attitude that it is their job to get the best out of her?

She has not had an educational psychologist report but clearly the difference between pen/paper testing and online interface testing made a huge impact on her exam results. I am now concerned she will be 'left behind' a bit in a 'one size fits all' approach and the attitude of the school that she would need to 'fit in' a bit better has left an uncomfortable niggling feeling in my mind that it may not be the best place for her....

Am I worrying too much? (I am hoping for lots of responses to tell me to stop being ridiculous and get a grip!)

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