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trying to pre-empt a possible issue with school (long sorry, lots of background)

(9 Posts)

DD2 is in Y11, she has EDS (hypermobility) and POTS (main symptom of this which is a problem at school is fainting).

Up till now her (school written, with guidance from me) care plan says she's to be accompanied at all times, as they don't want her fainting in an out of the way corner, spraining something and then not being found for hours. We're all happy with this, she tries to make her loo runs at breaks and between classes, but sometimes has to go during class, so a friend goes with her (she has to drink loads and loads of water, so many loo runs). Her friends know to stop over zealous staff crowding her as she comes round, only calling matron if she's properly ill (after about half her faints she's fine within a few minutes), and will sit with her if she feels wobbly and needs to sit down to recover. As far as I know her friends are still happy to be doing this (they are all 15/16 so would have made it clear by now if it was too much of an imposition).

But, her tutor (who is widely known in the school to be totally rubbish) feels that it's not fair to be expecting her friends to be looking after her, and is trying to decide "how best to keep her safe" on a forthcoming school trip. DDs response was to please make sure she's in a group with X or Y, tutor thinks that's not appropriate, and has always thought it wasn't fair.

So, we also have a new head who will be cracking down on everything (according to mums mafia), and I'm concerned that our semi-official, trust DD to know her limits approach could be hijacked by a zero-tolerance policy. So if the tutor starts trying to throw her weight around and stopping DDs friends helping her, what are my rights/options for insisting that the school provide the 1 to 1 care they're saying she needs? For background she gets mid rate care DLA, as I do need to have an awareness of where she is and what she's doing all the time (eg so that she doesn't fall asleep/faint in the bath, or collapse at the top of the stairs and bump all the way down --thankfully she has a tough head--). I'm concerned that the tutor's voice might have more sway with the new head, as tutors are supposed to be the main point of contact for parents, and do all the liaising with other staff - in our case I go straight to the Head/Deputy Head of House, or matron, but the new head won't necessarily know how rubbish the tutor is. I've talked to the tutor about DDs condition exactly twice in over two years, she didn't even seem to be aware of DDs care plan yesterday when talking about this trip to DD.

Can I counter any moves on her part with a "well, you fund a 1 to 1 person" then, so that we end up with carrying on as we are, as the school won't want to pay for a TA to go with DD to the loo, and walk her from class to class? And surely a teacher can't stop friends being friends and looking out for each other?

I know i'm flapping a bit, but the old head was happy to let us work it out on a day to day level, and this new one seems determined to "bring up standards", and I'm worried we'll get caught up in it all. Thanks if you've made it all the way through grin

BeeMom Tue 10-Sep-13 13:30:18

If the school is demanding that a friend can't be "held responsible" for your DD, then they need to provide a responsible person. There is really not a lot of argument.

With that said, I might have a word with the Matron or Head of House, as it seems to me that this tutor needs to get their nose out of where it does not belong. Tutor is academic, your DD's medical issues are not. The line needs to be clear.

like that phrasing BeeMom "responsible for her", thanks.

Sadly tutor is pastoral so this is exactly the sort of thing she's supposed to be in charge of, tutor is supposed to be the first point of contact with the school, and they cascade out from there. Will have a chat with HofH though, see what the feeling is re zero tolerance and how that's actually going to impact day to day.

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Tue 10-Sep-13 16:28:34

You're probably not going to like this response but here goes. blush

To be honest with you, I don't think it's fair that a friend has to accompany her to the loo during lessons and therefore potentially miss crucial bits of the lesson. Y11 is pretty important as you know.

I also don't think it's fair to them and more importantly your DD that they are expected to look after her after a fainting episode. I know that she's always been fine up until now but what if she ever hits her head or takes longer than normal to come round? Are her friends first aid trained? At the very least it must sometimes be a bit frightening for them.

At that age friends are everything. They may not want to speak out about something they're uncomfortable with for fear of not seeming like a good 'BFF'!

You say the school wrote the care plan, well it's time to put the ball in their court and say they need to re-write the care plan to provide appropriate supervision for you DD. And they need to do so before this school trip.

Sorry not to agree with you but I hope you can use this as an opportunity to secure more appropriate care for your DD.

Nerfmother Tue 10-Sep-13 18:48:36

Is it a private school? Changes the legislation a bit I think?

Nerf - state comp

Bluebird - thanks for an opposing view, helps to see where the tutor is coming from. To clarify though, what her friends do when she faints is to move people away from her, reassure what may be a panicking teacher that it's OK, it happens all the time, and remind them about the care plan, which does set out when first aid/an ambulance is needed. The friends are never expected to make that kind of decision themselves, they just step in when an over zealous member of staff decides that they know best how to deal with faints (no she doesn't need the recovery position, no she doesn't need mouth to mouth she'll freak out when she comes round if you do that).

I do agree with the going to the loo thing, and we are working our way round that (some teachers are happy that if she's not back in 5/10 minutes (depending on where the loos are in relation the the room) they'll send someone to find her (which is what they do if someone is off having a skive). And she's trying hard to juggle the timings of the water intake to coincide loo runs with breaks.

They say they're not frightened by it, they know it happens, they know what is "normal" and what to do if it's not - at school get a member of staff to get matron, if not at school call me, if they're worried and there's no responsible (as in knows about her) adult around, call an ambulance. They're also furious that the tutor is trying to tell them what they can and can't do - as they said to DD this afternoon - if you were being a nuisance, we'd have dumped you by now! And I do believe them - two in particular are not backward at coming forwards.

Her doctor is adamant that she should be getting on with life, and won't support full time 1 to 1 provision, and has been very forceful in her views about "over protective mummies" (thankfully she says I'm not one), and I'm inclined to agree, as I see her condition more like someone with diabetes or epilepsy who can collapse, but if someone around knows what it is, then it can stop inappropriate actions (like calling ambulances - I've had some very pissed off paramedics before sad).

I don't mean to sound defensive about it, so apologies if I come across like that, but this particular group is and has supported a massive variety of issues - serious illness, depression and self harm, all manner of sexuality issues, one girl is about to be thrown out by her parents - DD keeling over every so often is the easiest thing to deal with sometimes.

Nerfmother Tue 10-Sep-13 21:26:51

Well I second the need to rewrite the care plan ASAP. I think that the responsibility definitely needs to be on the shoulders of the school and not her friends. There some guidance from feb 13 that replaces 'access to education for cyp with medical needs' on the DfE website. LA should have a medical officer if you get stuck. That's in the guidance.
Nothing to stop the friends looking out for her, but I do think the school need to shape up. Call a meeting, get the school nurse, dd and you involved as well.

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Wed 11-Sep-13 12:04:54

what her friends do when she faints is to move people away from her, reassure what may be a panicking teacher that it's OK, it happens all the time

The friends...step in when an over zealous member of staff decides that they know best how to deal with faints

Midnight, I'm sorry but I just can't agree that a 15/16 yr old is better placed to deal with this than a teacher, who may well be first aid trained.

I'm afraid the very fact that you say they have a default reaction that no, she doesn't need the recovery position shows that these teenagers really are not the appropriate people to be taking care of your DD. What if one day she actually - God forbid - does need the recovery position? These girls don't actually sound like they're able to make the distinction. I can completely see the tutor's point of view.

They're also furious that the tutor is trying to tell them what they can and can't do

Of course they are, they're 16! grin

There's another thread on here about a school recruiting untrained, unpaid support staff. I'm afraid that's exactly what these friends are.

It's great that your DD has such great friends and you are clearly a great mum who wants your DD to have as much independence as possible and who is encouraging her to not let her condition hold her back. I really respect that. But I do agree with the school on this.

Sorry to disagree! Hope it all gets sorted to everyone's satisfaction. smile

youarewinning Wed 11-Sep-13 18:22:42

Another who feels that your DD needs a careplan which the staff must action.

Although extremely empathetic to a 15/16yo who needs supervision due to a medical need what happens when it's not a simple faint (god forbid) and her friends make the wrong call - it's not fair to put that on them.

I had an epileptic girl in my school and we as her classmates did help when she had seizures but we would call for staff support immediately. We were all as a year group 'taught' how to recognise signs and how to put her in the recovery position. We were also told about how difficult it was for her and so reminded to be understanding of her feelings.

Would the school be happy with a walkie talkie system that your DD carries on her and matron has the other so that when your DD moves class to class her friends can use to call for help and if your DD needs to leave the class to use the bathroom she can let matron know she's leaving and where to and let her know when she's returned to class.

I hope a satisfactory outcome is met for you all.

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