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Has anyone put their high IQ child through GCSEs at a SEN school?

(19 Posts)
toohot200 Mon 17-Aug-20 21:18:46

Just trying to work it how to make it work for the best.

Ds10 is nearing the end of primary so need to make decisions. He's autistic and profoundly gifted on assessment. He's had a crap primary time. Reduced timetables, isolation, bullied, repeated exclusions followed by a year at home waiting for EHCP and diagnosis etc.

He's now in an amazing, supportive, nurturing and utterly fabulous autism school. He's literally a changed child because his needs are being met. I've realised how much a mainstream environment was damaging him. He can stay until 16 and they do 8 GCSEs.

How do we make it the best we can? There's no options. Learning ability is generally fairly low so I wonder if they can cater for his ability long term. He absolutely needs to stay there and he wants to but how do I make sure we give him the best chance academically too.....

OP’s posts: |
MyShinyWhiteTeeth Mon 17-Aug-20 21:41:19

I've only got direct experience of one SEN school and I was very impressed with what I saw and heard. They are taught in key stage groups rather than year groups. I think they also had additional specialist staff come in part-time for certain subjects for GCSEs. The children then went onto various college courses but with extra support in place. Some of the specialist staff seemed to be involved with the college too.

There is another school nearby that has mainly has autistic children and I've heard the level of teaching is also great. The children can attend other schools or the college for some of their GCSEs as a way to help their transition beyond school.

toohot200 Mon 17-Aug-20 21:49:41

MyShinyWhiteTeeth

I've only got direct experience of one SEN school and I was very impressed with what I saw and heard. They are taught in key stage groups rather than year groups. I think they also had additional specialist staff come in part-time for certain subjects for GCSEs. The children then went onto various college courses but with extra support in place. Some of the specialist staff seemed to be involved with the college too.

There is another school nearby that has mainly has autistic children and I've heard the level of teaching is also great. The children can attend other schools or the college for some of their GCSEs as a way to help their transition beyond school.


Thanks for this! I wondered if specialist teachers / tutors might be brought in...we have been thinking about getting tutors ourselves but they need to teach to an autistic way not a NT way which can be difficult.

Interesting you say about using schools and colleges...I had wondered about that as a way of opening up more options. For example, our school doesn't do a language or music at GCSE. Not the end of the world but if ds wants to do those, I need to find a viable option that isn't the mainstream way!

OP’s posts: |
MyShinyWhiteTeeth Mon 17-Aug-20 22:37:50

Our local college and the Adult Education Centre run various GCSE language courses during the day and in the evenings. That may be an option.

I've not much experience of the college courses - I've heard the day courses tend to be all younger students and their evening classes have a broader age range.

The adult education classes tend to have a much wider age range but there are some younger students that enrol. I know one female 18 year old student with autism who preferred the AEC over the college because she felt like she was treated like a child at college.

10brokengreenbottles Mon 17-Aug-20 22:45:22

Look at what SS are available within travelling distance. You could also consider residential if there isn't anything locally. Some SS are better at catering for high achieving pupils than others. Usually independent or non-maintained SS will be more likely to be able to meet DS' needs, some offer A levels too.

A couple of ones to look at are Breckenbrough in N Yorks, Alderwasley Hall in Nottinghamshire, Wilds Lodge in Rutland (this is more of a SEMH school but does have pupils with ASD who do well), Helen Allison in Kent, Egerton Rothesay in Hertfordshire. Also some of the Priory and Witherslack schools. I'm sure there are others too, but those are ones off the top of my head.

Other than that some schools will bring in outside tutors for individual students or complement their teaching with online provision for specific subjects. You would need to get this specified and quantified in his EHCP though. I have known for some SS to take 1 or 2 pupils to a nearby MS for specific subjects if you think DS may be able to cope with that in a few years.

Haworthia Mon 17-Aug-20 22:52:11

Your OP made my heart sink @toohot200. My son (autistic, hyperlexic and hypernumerate) is just about to start school, and I feel like you’ve just described what’s ahead for me - not that I didn’t know that anyway sad

Kids like these seem to fall through the gaps because there just isn’t any suitable provision for them. Too autistic to cope with mainstream, but too academically able for SEN schools. I know some parents opt to homeschool which doesn’t surprise me one bit.

So I’ll be watching this thread with interest smile

10brokengreenbottles Mon 17-Aug-20 23:00:23

Haworthia I completely agree, there is a dearth of provision for academically able DC who need SS.

My DS1 doesn't have ASD but he does have other additional needs. He isn't in school because there isn't a suitable school, it looks the same for secondary too. He has an EOTAS package that includes home tutoring and therapies.

I would recommend considering that rather than EHE because with EHE the LA doesn't have a duty to provide provision.

PurpleDaisy2114 Mon 17-Aug-20 23:08:51

My DS is 15. Survived through primary. Diagnosed with ASD at 11. All fell apart in mainstream secondary as they just wouldn't make small adjustments. He didn't need 1:1 support but the large school and lack of pastoral care meant he was out of school for months with emotionally based school refusal/anxiety. He has always been very bright.
Got an EHCP and he is in a SS. It has really helped him recover from the trauma of masking and he is a flourishing member of the community. However, some of the behaviour isn't great and his GCSE choices have been very limited. However, with mainstream I feel he may not have been taking his GCSEs at all. It is really hard. Look round the schools and talk to as many parents as you can.

PastMyBestBeforeDate Mon 17-Aug-20 23:08:59

I agree the provision for very able dc with ASD is poor - even worse for girls IME. If you are applying for an EHCP then you need to focus on his needs, both for his autism AND his academic needs. Maybe not initially but at review stage.

Boscoismyspiritanimal Mon 17-Aug-20 23:15:42

I wonder if there is an option for online opportunities through Interhigh or similar?

toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:25:04

Boscoismyspiritanimal

I wonder if there is an option for online opportunities through Interhigh or similar?


That's a good thought too. I think you can take just 1 subject rather than a full curriculum etc. Would need a fair bit of supervision and support from us which is fine.

OP’s posts: |
toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:27:06

PurpleDaisy2114

My DS is 15. Survived through primary. Diagnosed with ASD at 11. All fell apart in mainstream secondary as they just wouldn't make small adjustments. He didn't need 1:1 support but the large school and lack of pastoral care meant he was out of school for months with emotionally based school refusal/anxiety. He has always been very bright.
Got an EHCP and he is in a SS. It has really helped him recover from the trauma of masking and he is a flourishing member of the community. However, some of the behaviour isn't great and his GCSE choices have been very limited. However, with mainstream I feel he may not have been taking his GCSEs at all. It is really hard. Look round the schools and talk to as many parents as you can.


This is very similar. His school has let him become him and have really helped him to understand who is, there's nothing wrong with him and that he can have friends and a good school life. It's excellent. But GCSEs are limited both in subject and depth. But like you, if he were in MS, he probably wouldn't take any at all!

OP’s posts: |
toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:28:12

10brokengreenbottles

Haworthia I completely agree, there is a dearth of provision for academically able DC who need SS.

My DS1 doesn't have ASD but he does have other additional needs. He isn't in school because there isn't a suitable school, it looks the same for secondary too. He has an EOTAS package that includes home tutoring and therapies.

I would recommend considering that rather than EHE because with EHE the LA doesn't have a duty to provide provision.


Yes, this is what we had for over a year as no school could be found (his current one was full). There is a definite void for children in both camps.

OP’s posts: |
toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:30:12

Haworthia

Your OP made my heart sink *@toohot200*. My son (autistic, hyperlexic and hypernumerate) is just about to start school, and I feel like you’ve just described what’s ahead for me - not that I didn’t know that anyway sad

Kids like these seem to fall through the gaps because there just isn’t any suitable provision for them. Too autistic to cope with mainstream, but too academically able for SEN schools. I know some parents opt to homeschool which doesn’t surprise me one bit.

So I’ll be watching this thread with interest smile


I hope your journey is a good one. Plenty of people do have them. But what I've learnt is that MS school is set up to teach, educate and socialise a NT child. Autism schools do the same for ND children and the difference is startling. The tricky bit is that most of the children in autism schools are the ones who can't mask but really, lots of autistic children would benefit from this education.

OP’s posts: |
toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:31:46

10brokengreenbottles

Look at what SS are available within travelling distance. You could also consider residential if there isn't anything locally. Some SS are better at catering for high achieving pupils than others. Usually independent or non-maintained SS will be more likely to be able to meet DS' needs, some offer A levels too.

A couple of ones to look at are Breckenbrough in N Yorks, Alderwasley Hall in Nottinghamshire, Wilds Lodge in Rutland (this is more of a SEMH school but does have pupils with ASD who do well), Helen Allison in Kent, Egerton Rothesay in Hertfordshire. Also some of the Priory and Witherslack schools. I'm sure there are others too, but those are ones off the top of my head.

Other than that some schools will bring in outside tutors for individual students or complement their teaching with online provision for specific subjects. You would need to get this specified and quantified in his EHCP though. I have known for some SS to take 1 or 2 pupils to a nearby MS for specific subjects if you think DS may be able to cope with that in a few years.


Thanks for this. I did look at some further away schools but he just wouldn't cope boarding. It's just not an option. His current school is the only SEN school in the county that do GCSEs. Thankfully it's an autism school and he could go as I'm not sure what we'd do otherwise.

OP’s posts: |
glassbrightly Tue 18-Aug-20 06:32:01

Have you considered applying for a private school place funded through the ECHP? Private schools can have that smaller more nurturing environment. A friend of mine has successfully applied for the place plus a full time TA to be funded by the ECHP, on basis that none of the large sprawling local secondaries could cater for her gifted but autistic sons needs ?

toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:33:24

MyShinyWhiteTeeth

Our local college and the Adult Education Centre run various GCSE language courses during the day and in the evenings. That may be an option.

I've not much experience of the college courses - I've heard the day courses tend to be all younger students and their evening classes have a broader age range.

The adult education classes tend to have a much wider age range but there are some younger students that enrol. I know one female 18 year old student with autism who preferred the AEC over the college because she felt like she was treated like a child at college.


I'm wondering if a mix of different settings doing a range of courses even across a couple of years (he's so bright, he can do GCSEs maths papers now) gathering qualifications rather than the traditional route at the end of year 11. I think school will be on board and they are very pro giving him what he needs to succeed.

OP’s posts: |
toohot200 Tue 18-Aug-20 06:34:47

glassbrightly

Have you considered applying for a private school place funded through the ECHP? Private schools can have that smaller more nurturing environment. A friend of mine has successfully applied for the place plus a full time TA to be funded by the ECHP, on basis that none of the large sprawling local secondaries could cater for her gifted but autistic sons needs ?


It's a thought but the nature of his difficulties means he needs the right environment and support with social interactions. And he's still quite volatile and I can see the other parents already. He'll be an exclusion risk in private school and I'm not going back there.

OP’s posts: |
Boscoismyspiritanimal Tue 18-Aug-20 08:44:46

This is stuff that needs to be addressed early in and in his annual review - how will the LA meet his educational needs if the level of the cohort is different?
No reason why they couldn’t ‘buy in’ tutoring for him. They do it all the time for EOTAS provision or kids on a part-time timetable.

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