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Reduced timetable ... advice needed!

(33 Posts)
NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 22:52:42

Reposted from behaviour and also primary education as it was suggested there might be people over here with experience of this.

DS1 has been having behaviour problems at school. He started school in Sept aged 4.1 and since then things have been getting steadily worse. He's rude, disruptive, aggressive and violent to his teacher and the headmaster, although he has been doing well academically.

The school have now brought in a range of professionals to help, both at home and at school. Of course, we have been fully co-operative with all of this, as we are keen to see DS do well and get on at school.

Last week we called a meeting with the headmaster as we had not actually spoken with him about DS at all. This was scheduled for Friday. On Weds we were approached by the class teacher and asked to come in to "discuss what we were going to talk about" on Friday.

We did this, and they told us that since DS's behaviour had gotten so much worse since he has been doing full days, they were considering a reduced timetable for him. The headmaster said "I think probably afternoons". We readily agreed to this.

On Friday, they had drawn up some papers with the reduced timetable on, along with three objectives that DS must meet before he is allowed to proceed to the next milestone, and more time at school.

However, far from being afternoons, the first two weeks consist of Monday, Weds and Fri 9am to 10.45. If he meets his objectives, this will increase by 15 mins, and so on. If DS meets his objectives on target, he won't return to full time school until July.

We were assured by the headmaster that this strategy had worked with other kids, so we agreed to it. They said they would send him some work to do at home that would tie in with what the class are doing, but all that came back with him in his bag were two extra reading books.

The reduced timetable started on Monday, and DS had a bad day, mainly because I made a mistake and told him we could go to the local park, take photos and put them in a scrapbook. I thought it would be a good way to get him looking at nature and writing about things and drawing pics of the things we saw.

The SENCO lady at school told me I should not have done this as it made him uncooperative at school and just want to go home. Lesson learned, I thought I will not tell him of anything we will do during his home time.

However, tonight we were visited by the home school liaison officer, who is helping us to learn new ways of managing his behaviour at home. She informed us that it is in actual fact illegal for DS to leave the house during school hours while he is on the reduced timetable!

I was amazed. No one had told us this during either meeting at the school, and it essentially means that me, DS1 and his little brother, who is 18mths, are under house arrest for all but 5 1/4 hours a week! I can't go shopping, I can't take DS2 to playgroup, I can't visit my sister, I can't even take him out for a walk when he needs some exercise.

If I had known this I would have been much more reluctant to sign off on the reduced timetable. We live in quite a small flat and having two kids alone all day, particularly one with challenging behaviour, is going to be extremely tough. I am feeling daunted and a bit depressed.

Has anyone else had this? I feel like I need a little support from someone in a similar position.

Oblomov Wed 06-Mar-13 23:03:15

Saw your original thread and was quite horrified. Welcome to the SN section. You will get great advice and be supported here.
You mentioned that you thought/someone has suggested Aspergers, but that he was too young to diagnose.
well this too is codswallop. Along withe HSLink-worker who says illeagl to go to park, dentist etc. utter drivel. You need an urgent referal to a pead. Must go to bed.......
Take it away ladies. You are so very good at this ......

PolterGoose Wed 06-Mar-13 23:15:04

Firstly do have some wine and flowers

I assume you are in UK? I'm no expert but my first thought is that he isn't even 5 so doesn't even need to be in school (or otherwise) yet anyway.

Is all the assessment, support and provision coming from school? Just wondering who is involved because I never experienced anything like you describe when seeking assessment of my ds at that sort of age confused

My ds is 9 now and was diagnosed with Aspergers at 6 following GP referring him to a developmental paed who got supplementary assessments done by speech and language and occupational therapy.

If you are thinking Aspergers then there are plenty of us on this board with similar children. The advice I wish I'd received when I was where you are is to treat ds as if he does have an ASD as the earlier you start using ASD friendly techniques (there are many to try) the better, and they will do no harm if ds is NT or has another condition.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 06-Mar-13 23:22:39

My goodness. I am so sorry you are getting all this stress. It must be so upsetting for you and your son.

An education authority has a duty to provide full time education from the age of 5 and you have no legal duty to have your child in education until he is 5.

The woman is talking bollocks. Please contact IPSEA who are education experts in special educational needs.

I know this sounds like a scary term but it covers behaviour issues as well as academic ability.

You have had this timetable thrust on you and you are certainly not obliged to stay indoors. You are being forced to keep your chid at home.

Ask the school to refer to the education psychologist. Are you aware of any difficuties which might cause you to be concerned that he has something more than difficuties settling to a new environment? I'm thinking routines, eating problems, coordination problems, problems sleeping or managing change? If you do, you could ask to discuss with your GP

I hope that helps but keep posting and let us know how you're getting on

bochead Wed 06-Mar-13 23:25:14

It's illegal to be out and about for the first five days of an exclusion. There is NO restriction of movement associated with flexi or home schooling - this in effect is what you are doing. You would be totally within your rights (though I don't think this is best for the child) to drop the child off at 9 and pick up at 3.30 & at the moment you are doing the school a favour.

Most sensible HCP's also recomend at least 60 minutes of running round in the fresh air for a child of this age every day for their general well being. It still gets dark & cold quite early at this time of the year. (You can all technical about vit D levels and bone density in growing children but really it's just common sense!). In school the kids get the lunch hour & play time to run around as four year olds need to.

If you want to cover your own back then mention this woman's dictate to your HV next time you see her. (Ask for a home visit!) I'll be shocked if you aren't told to ignore the woman and take your kids to the park forthwith wink

LOTS of the Key stage 1 science curriculum is best done in the garden, park or veggie patch if you wanna be pernickity with the daft woman if she repeats it.

On a more serious note - it's time to ask your GP to refer you to a neuro pead and perhaps an OT with knowledge of sensory issues.

magso Wed 06-Mar-13 23:26:00

Hi. I am surprised that a young 4 year old who is on a reduced timetable is expected to be locked up at home when not at school. Surely this is for older excluded pupils. Many 4 year olds do half days adapting to school, before full time. My son came home for lunch (to miss the playground) and missed school trips as demanded by school, and no one mentioned any legal obligations to me. However it did delay getting the support he actually needed and a statement and this is my worry for you.
I think you need to get help on what is best for your child. If the short hours are trully in the best interests of your child, then surely he will need to learn along side formal school, by playing and out in the field. I would ring SOS SEN but cannot find the number as yet. I think the school need to look at how they can support your child to settle into school and manage the school day. Will ds be getting TA support, assessments to see how best to support him ( such as visual timetables)?

NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 23:35:55

Thank you so so so much. I am feeling so confused, as I suppose everyone does when they first come down this road.

Yes, we are in the UK and yes, everything so far has come from the school. This has all happened very quickly over the last week and tbh, I'm reeling.

His behaviour has been in a steady decline since he started school and has been much worse since he has done full days after Christmas. It is worse when his teacher is not in the classroom and uncontrollable if she is off for the day. The Friday before half term, he ran out into the snow without shoes on after being told off during PE and later kicked the headmaster and had to be restrained.

He is, I should add, like this at home, particularly towards DH and always if he is told to do something. He has an extremely good vocabulary and is very florid in his descriptions of how he would like to kill people who deny him his own way. He is devoid of a sense of danger and has no respect for authority. Consequences, good and bad, have no meaning for him.

Having said that, he makes friends easily and seems well-liked. His academic progress is fine and when his black rages are over, it is as if they never happened.

I have no real knowledge of Asperger's at all, it has been mentioned in hushed tones twice, but no one seemed to want to elaborate on what traits they were picking up on in DS that might suggest this.

They are getting the school doctor to talk with us, would he likely be a paediatrician?

Thanks again for posting, I really appreciate the support from everyone on MN tonight.

PolterGoose Wed 06-Mar-13 23:59:29

Personally, I would advise treading your own path to assessment, independent of the school and education system. My initial referral was engineered by my lovely health visitor who had words with our GP.

Of course, none of us can diagnose (if only!) but maybe do a bit of reading on the autism spectrum, the National Autistic Society has some good online info and lots of leaflets that I found really useful in the beginning. Also, when you find time, have a look at other conditions that can cause these sorts of difficulties in children, eg ADHD, PDA, sensory processing disorder, and other difficulties like dyslexia and dyspraxia can cause increased anxiety and frustrations that may contribute to anger. Don't read too much, have a wander round the web or on here and see what sounds familiar. It can really help dealing with professionals if you can talk the same language.

NaughtyDolly Thu 07-Mar-13 00:04:15

Thanks PolterGoose, I was just thinking about calling the health visitor tomorrow, she is very nice and has been very helpful with DS's behaviour over the summer before he started school.

I think it is definitely time I started pushing this forward myself, explaining the problems to people on my own terms rather than letting the school do it for me.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 00:07:33

Sounds like a good plan

Good luck and keep posting thanks

AgnesDiPesto Thu 07-Mar-13 00:12:40

Next time someone gives you 'advice' about the law ask them to show you / tell you what law it is and the section so you can check it out!

Trust your own instincts, most mainstream staff have no training in SN or behaviour and you are much more an expert on your child than they are. Do get legal advice, this could be disability discrimination. You might want to think about asking for 1:1 support in school.

Look on Dept of Education website for guidance on reduced timetables, exclusions and SEN eg SEN Code of Practice.

Think about contacting local SN parent groups and asking about other schools. Excluding your child does not bode well especially when they have not exhausted other options like 1:1 support, behavioural interventions etc. You may want to find a school with a better attitude to SEN. There may be a school with a behaviour support unit attached or specialist staff on site.

Consider asking for a multi-agency meeting with school and all professionals (Parent Partnership services may support you) to discuss the suggested timetable / plan for intervention. Just because you have signed it does not mean you cannot change your mind.

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 07:12:46

Hi again, glad you found us smile

Your description is pretty extreme, in that you seem to have experienced all of this at home. Did nobody raise concern at preschool?

All the time you accept the reduced timetable, your DS won't be a priority for the school -he's out of their way.

You can tackle this two ways -take him to school, tell him you don't accept the reduced timetable and if they can't cope with him they'll have to formally exclude him.

Or, remove him from school, saying that you want to defer his place until year 1.

I would do the first, because from what you've posted, this isn't going to change with age.

You also need an emergency appointment with the GP for referral to a developmental paediatrician. Tell the GP that his behaviour is so extreme that he is being excluded.

NaughtyDolly Thu 07-Mar-13 08:08:30

DS did 9 hours a week at preschool and got on pretty well while there. His personal assistant told me that he "knew his own mind" and that they sometimes had difficulty making him join in with the group, but it was never pulled up as a serious concern.

Because he is one of the youngest in the year, everyone I have asked for advice before school started just said that he was young and it would settle down. As I said on one of the threads, I have been talking to the HV about it on and off over the past year, looking at strategies to cope at home, but this is the first time it has been brought to our attention just how bad his behaviour is compared with other kids.

Everyone just told us that school would sort him out! How ironic.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 08:14:16

NaughtyDolly Yes! I remember being told that too, that ds would calm down with the extra stimulation, would enjoy the social life of school and would copy the other children hmm Err, no, he didn't.

There is something wrong with a school that can't support a 4yr old imo, whatever his difficulties.

I suspect the issue is more that they don't want to.

Take him back. Insist they meet his needs. When they whinge that they can't/don't know how to, get it in writing and use that as evidence for more support/better placement etc.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.

NaughtyDolly Thu 07-Mar-13 08:37:33

I have just spoken to the headmaster, who said he didn't know whether or not it was illegal to take him out of the house during school hours, but that I should just trust the HS liaison worker.

He reiterated my mistake with DS on Monday, my telling him we would be going to do things in the park, and said it had been disruptive to other kids in the class. He said that I should be making things as boring as possible for DS at home so that he will want to come to school and that he will be giving me some school work on Friday that should help pass the time.

He told me that there were truant officers around in the town who would probably stop me if they saw me with a school age kid.

I told him I was intending to get DS a developmental check and he said that the school doctor will help with that.

Definitely getting the feeling I am being fobbed off now. If they suspect special needs then surely boring him at home won't change the problem? I feel as though I am being blamed now for my mistake and that this is being used as a scapegoat.

Going to give Parent Partnership a call at 9am.

sazale Thu 07-Mar-13 08:49:18

To say they will only increase his time when his behaviour improves is shocking. That is putting all the responsibility on your son and none on the school. What are they doing to help him access the curriculum? He is being denied the education that is on offer to the other children his age so is discrimination.

sazale Thu 07-Mar-13 08:52:12

When my daughter was on a reduced timetable (which was a easy to get her back into school) we were never told it was illegal and the school gave us a slip everyday to say she was on a reduced timetable so we could show it if stopped anywhere.

Please do take advice hun x

dietstartstmoz Thu 07-Mar-13 08:57:39

OP what a terrible situation for you and your son. I agree with Starlight, I would also have concerns about a school that doesnt want to support your son. I hope you get some good advice from parent partnership. Ours was very helpful. Our DS2 is also an august baby and has high functioning autism. Whilst the Statement was going through the school wanted him to start school mornings only, as they were very concerned about what he would be like as he does have significant support needs and we had painted a bleak picture. Mornings only was impossible for us as I work PT and had changed my hours so I could do the school run every day both times and we have no family support to help out practically. Anyhow, we had a meeting and we said we didnt want this and our parent partnership supported us at the meeting and made it very clear to school that they were treating DS differently due to his disability. This and other support from agencies meant that he did start FT and has remained FT ever since.
They obviously dont know what they are talking about, take your DS to the park and do stuff with him. you cannot be trapped in, thats ridiculous. You should also go to your GP, and explain whats gone on and ask for a referral to a developmental GP and mention aspergers. If the school doctor wants to also refer then let them, although I have never heard of a school Dr where I live.
The school should be putting support in place for your DS to help him to access school and to support him emotionally.
Welcome to the MNSN boards-these boards were a lifeline to us when issues were raised with our DS.

magso Thu 07-Mar-13 09:00:53

Yes we got told that too - but it was not so! The additional pressures and added confusion and anxiety made things very much worse - much as you describe.
You must be reeling and I sympathise Ds was also unofficially excluded in his first term of FT school. He got very panicy and explosive and fearful soon after starting school. Some of the (undesirable) behaviours that he developed in those early months of poor support - to avoid demands and getting into trouble have marred his schooling for years (ds is 13 now).

On the face of it if a very young child is not yet mature enough for FT school a regular reduced timetable is sensible- but I would agree with others that urgent advice and support are needed - from both the schools route (behavoural support team, Ed Pysch,) and via your GP to a developmental paediatrician (or community paediatrician with experience of developmental disorders). You do not want a reduced timetable to just be a delay.

School need to be putting in support and documenting every thing.(keep copies of everything) Unofficial exclusions are actually a bad idea because of the lack of documentation - and the out of sight out of mind attitude that can arise.(The paper trail is needed if a statement of education is neede because some LEAs need proof that all levels of support below a statement have already been tried and further is required before they will commit to the costs of supporting a statement).Each area is a little different.

Strongecoffeeismydrug Thu 07-Mar-13 09:05:21

DS was on a reduced timetable for quite awhile (mornings only) however it really was a joint decision with school and DS really benefitted.
I was actually encouraged to take him places in the afternoon so school could share what he had done so they could pitch work around his interests... Had I been told I'd be under house arrest five afternoons a week he would defiantly have been at school!
Looks like their deffinatly trying the easy option and the cheapest!

NaughtyDolly Thu 07-Mar-13 09:20:01

I have just called the HV and Parent Partnership, neither of whom were available. Left messages so I hope someone gets back to me.

bjkmummy Thu 07-Mar-13 09:27:20

My son been on half time timetable since June last year and had no education since January. I just take him out and about with me, my life goes on and it would not be healthy for him to be stuck indoors all day long. My ewo has come nowhere near me, not heard anything at all. The not taking hidout I think stems from a child who has been officially excluded but this is. It the same situation with your son.

As he is under 5 and therefor legal not yet entitled to a full time education, I think e school are fobbing you off. Please either see your HV or GP and get him referred ASAP. The school do not sound like it is the school long term for your son as they clearly are doing things to make their life easier not what is in your sons best interests. Please keep posting on here as there is so much know,edge and support here that everyone will help you through this

amistillsexy Thu 07-Mar-13 10:01:55

Op, was in exactly the same situation with my little boy, who is now 9. He was diagnosed with High Functioning ASD at the age of 6.

I thought I was working in partnership with the school, and I thought they had his best interests at heart, so I did everything they said and took him in to school for an hour here and there, keeping him at home the rest of the time (although without the 'keep him in/keep him bored' nonsense, which I think is extremely damaging and will only serve to ruin your own relationship with him).

By the time he started in Y2, his little brother was due to start in Reception, and I realised I couldn't continue taking Big brother out of school, and leave little brother there. I would be up and down to school all day, and Little brother wouldn't understand why he had to stay at school.

So, I told them they had to find a way of keeping him full time from the start of term in Y2.

What they actually did, was to make things so unpleasant and difficult for him that he was in almost permanent meltdown, and being excluded regularly, so he was at home anyway. I have since found out that this was a deliberate ploy on the part of the Head Teacher. I can't give more details as I am currently taking legal advice.

My only option at the time was to remove DS from the school, and find a school that did want him, and was able and prepared to meet his needs. It was hard to find, but his current school is wonderful. They work very, very hard on DS's behalf, so that he can take part and engage with school, and he feels very much a part of the community there. His behaviour improved almost immediately, once he realised that they actually wanted him, and if he engaged with them, he would have a good time!

His previous school is currently making the same moves on a friend's little boy, who is a 'spirited' child. Instead of trying to engage with the child where HE is at, and bring him along gently, they are simply introducing more and more sanctions, and increasing the pressure so that the poor child is ready to blow. Then, when he does, they will exclude and blame the parents/child. They parents will remove him, and the school will once again be full of 'good' children. It is sickening.

If I were you, OP, I'd get my little boy as far away as I could, keep him at home and give him all the love and attention you can, whilst putting strong boundaries in place. Seek out an assessment through your GP asap, then look at finding a school with a good solid kind, caring ethos that will welcome your little boy and help him along without excluding him and pressurising you.

Good luck and keep posting, OP. thanks

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 10:15:22

Based on the response of the HT this morning shock I too would be looking at escalating this. You have to do what you think is right, in my view a lot of the extreme behaviours our children exhibit are anxiety related, so I would advise making your time at home a combination of fun and calm, certainly not boredom. What a ridiculous suggestion.

dietstartstmoz Thu 07-Mar-13 10:45:02

I agree, the school should be offering appropriate support for your son to help him with any difficulties he is having. It wont be the first time the school has come across children with additional needs, they should know what they are doing, and they should be able to support him more adequately.

AgnesDiPesto Thu 07-Mar-13 20:41:10

First of all he is not 5 yet and legally does not have to be in school until the term after he is 5, ie Sept so you can go out as you please. Even after that you can home educate if you wish.

If anyone stops you (unlikely as he's 4) refer them to the school who have excluded him! My son is 6 and (officially) not in school fulltime and I have never been stopped.

Find another school. You will save a lot of heartbreak and wasted effort that way. The only point of keeping him in this school would be to prove his needs are not being met and make it easier for you to get a statement, at which point you take your statement and go to a new school which does care.

A long established poster on here (thanks Justa grin) wrote a blog for a while and this quote from a support worker she met really stuck with me so I just tracked it down for you, and is very true of the stories I have seen on this board for the past 3 years.
"If they are even slightly half-hearted about taking your son, if they even refer to lack of resources, walk away. It doesn't matter how highly the school is rated, how convenient it is, it doesn't matter the fact that they are obliged to take him. Just walk away. I have worked with hundreds of families, and I have known so many families who pushed their way in, and it never, ever works."

Its very rare than schools with poor attitudes change. Apply for a statement on basis your child has been excluded and a school cannot meet his needs from their ordinary resources.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 22:00:35

Wot Agnes said

Absolute shock about calling a park trip illegal
You're a better woman than me... I'd have told her to try calling the police

lyingeducators Thu 07-Mar-13 22:12:32

amistill
We had a very similar situation. School carefully plotting to get rid of a child that they didn't want and eventually permanently excluding after a TA deliberately provoked the child. LA is full of praise about the school stating how inclusive they are hmm. These people are very devious unfortunately and it's very hard to get justice for your child. Hope your legal action gets results. I am about to throw the towel in now and give up hope of any justice.I feel that even if we went to tribunal they would just lie and provide fake evidence to con the court like they con everyone else.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 22:46:14
bochead Sat 09-Mar-13 09:54:52

The before and after of my son at a school that goes the extra mile compared to his previous one is so shocking it's amazing that they have the same professional titles. He's a different child in the best sense of the world and has made so much progress it's incredible. NOT all schools are as dodgy as this one by a long chalk - some are very caring, hard working positive places where children of all abilities can learn.

Please go to your GP and ask for a referral to get a full neuro assessment (to check for conditions such as sensory processing, ASD & ADHD). While you are waiting for that please, please look around for a school that has staff that care about and understand children who differ from the norm in any way. He doesn't have to be in school at all until the term after he turns 5, so use that to home educate while you wait for proper medical assessments.

To keep a four year under house arrest in a small flat is just plain wrong, and very, very damaging to your quality of life for the WHOLE family. Noone would suggest punishing a child like that if they needed a wheelchair to access the classroom. (I hope though there are days I wonder about the mentality of some people).

I find the HT's latest comments rather disturbing, and a sign that this is NOT the right environment for the nurturing support ALL four year olds need. To openly admit that you cannot handle a four year old as this school has done is a very, very poor reflection on their skills at working with kids. (how on earth do they think teachers of 6 foot 2 sixteen years olds cope ffs?). To then deflect the blame for their own inadequacies back onto a baby like this, is morally reprehensible.

MareeyaDolores Sat 09-Mar-13 12:50:30

Wot boch said. With knobs on

However when/if seeking statutory (ie statemented) educational support for a dc who needs it in later primary, it can be useful to have a couple of well-documented episodes of previous 'epic fail' tucked away in their school file.

So illegal exclusions like this are something to shout about and make official, rather than to necessarily try and avoid at all costs.

amistillsexy Mon 11-Mar-13 19:03:08

LyingEducators
Unfortunately, that is what I'm realising. They will have created enough 'evidence' to show that they did everything they could, so it will probably just be a waste of our time and money as well. I just keep thinking about other children coming through...sad

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