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To think that this teacher's attitude to inclusion needs challenging? (Sorry long)

(42 Posts)
Firebell5 Thu 20-Nov-14 16:42:10

Should I take it up with the Head or keep trying to get her there with my (limited) charm?! Would be interested in views of "typical" children's parents too...
My son, who has Down's Syndrome, attends the local (outstanding) mainstream school nursery for 15 hours per week. He has a 25 hours pro-rata Statement because of his learning difficulties and a range of medical conditions now largely resolved. There are 1 teacher and 3 TAs for 38 children in the class. The TAs take turns to work with him and all seem very warm towards him. He is still in nappies but does say "poo" when he is about to poo or have a wee. He is 4 years old but has the functional speech of a 2 year old, though he understands a lot more and uses a lot of Makaton signs. He is very mobile and settled well into the nursery; was happy there from day 1 and learnt the new routines within a week.
Teacher seems a reserved woman by nature, but I am beginning to wonder if her attitude to inclusion is off and it's effecting her work with him -
When I went to collect him today she gave me details of the school panto trip in 2 weeks time. Although the panto is aimed at 3-6 year olds, last year apparently quite a lot of the children got frightened and ended up on the teachers' laps. It was fine 2 years ago. I know she is a bit worried about his reaction because a couple of times he has got up and moved away when the children have screamed in class. The whole trip takes place within nursery time, including a bus for the 20 mile round trip. There is a £5 charge and no option of nursery if he doesn't go.
So...she basically made it obvious she didn't think he should go...can't remember the exact usual I get a bit flustered during these conversations. First it was because the other children were frightened last year. When I told her I have had my DBS done and could come she told me there was no room on the bus for me. She has already given the 2 seats to a student and another mother who apparently asked ages ago. The letter states "We do not require parent helpers on this trip but don't worry there will be other trips later in the year!". When I said I could meet them there she expressed concern about the bus trip. I told her that he had been on numerous bus trips without me; both to and from his previous nursery (SN travel provision) and also a day trip to a farm about 20 miles away last term. He is quite happy about it. She didn't seem convinced. So she had lined up 3 reasons that he couldn't come without discussing it with me first.
We agreed that I would think about it overnight. My attitude is that he should be presumed to be included rather than not. Obviously I don't want to put him or her staff in inappropriate situations, but he needs to be given a chance to try these things. This just seems to be the latest in a pattern...
The school do a staggered start to term, but when I turned up on his orientation day I was told that his start date had been put back to 4 weeks. This was because she was worried about settling all 38 all children. Apparently there would be at least 10 in tears at anyone time. Or perhaps to do with birthday (he is in fact the oldest.) Or perhaps because his name wasn't down (they have known he was coming since last November.) Also there was no changing mat. Also they needed more training (the SaLT and OT been having meetings or going in since last May.)
On parents evening she told me she was "worried that the other children wouldn't accept him." This is his fourth nursery and no one has ever said that to me before. Was staggered. "Of course he doesn't share..." He can share and even if there was reluctance in a new settling, surely it's their job to facilitate this especially as it's on his Statement and SaLT and OT programmes. When asked if they were able to fit in his exercises was told "we do our best" end of discussion. It emerged that they weren't doing all that the SaLT had instructed. And if they were it was with the only non English speaker.
Other background is that we moved here earlier in the year for my husband's job, 300 miles from friends and family so I need to make these relationships work. Also have a lively 18 month old and am 30 weeks pregnant with gestational diabetes so probably v sensitive!
It is a steep learning curve for all of us and naturally I would rather she came willingly, but does she need a kick up the bum?

ChimesAndCarols Thu 20-Nov-14 16:52:09

My son had autism and was included for about 4 years. It was chaos. HE himself caused chaos and needed extra help all the time, sometimes to the detriment of other children. Life became MUCH easier once he was out of that school and into a special school that was geared up to deal with his needs.

There were times when my son wasn't included in everything, and with good reason (he couldn't be watched constantly, would run away, etc.). It didn't worry me that he was being 'excluded' because I understood the difficulties of looking after him.

Of course they 'do their best' but they have 37 other children to deal with as well.

I am sorry if this sounds harsh but no school or nursery can be expected to deal with every child's specialisations. It is just not possible without specialist help. (I quite often found my child's one-to-one doing the photocopying or looking after another child).

I do not believe in inclusion for every single child. It is to the detriment of some of these children, as I found out.

Finola1step Thu 20-Nov-14 17:02:09

If she does need a kick up the bum, it shouldn't be from you. It should be from the Head or Deputy. If it was one of the teachers in my school, it would be me having that conversation. A parent wading in actially makes it harder. Sorry if that sounds harsh. I think she probably is a bit overwhelmed. But you are right that this isn't in the best interests of your ds.

I think you are going to have to tackle this another way. Wrt the Panto trip, ask the teacher if a separate risk assessment for your son has been undertaken. For your son to be denied access to this trip, a risk assessment ideally carried out by the Inclusion Co-ordinator should occur first. It would be this that would identify the reasonable adjustments possible and what is not possible. You then work from there regarding the key issues.

There may be times when reasonable adjustments can't be made and other provision will need to be made.

If your ds is in the Nursery, is this the school you will be naming first for his Reception place? If it is, I would concentrate on building bridges with the Inclusion Co.

If its a 38 place nursery, I'm assuming that this is made up of part time and full time places. That there are not 38 children in at once. In that case, if they have 26 children in at anyone time and your ds has 25 hours support time then their ratios are adequate. If all 38 children in at once, very different story.

I will be blunt. You will meet some teachers who will bend over backwards and go that extra mile for your son. You will meet some who do the bare minimum to meet their basic obligations.

It could be worth having a discussion with the Inclusion Co wrt longer term, regular LSA support because having a number of TAs supporting may not be best as he goes up the school.

aprilanne Thu 20-Nov-14 17:02:09

i have a child with high functioning autism .and he hated trips .so just staid at home with me .BUT that was my choice .it does sound as is she wants a the day to go perfect .no fuss no bother .so lets only take the ,,,normal children,, well tough i say .if you think your son would enjoy it i would insist .they can always tell the other mother she can,t come unless of course her child also has SEN .if no bus place just tell them you will meet them there if she still being arsey report her to head mistress .or education board .sorry but inlusion is inclusion not just when they feel like it

Lymmmummy Thu 20-Nov-14 17:02:49

Aside from the specific issues of the trip which may or may not be suitable for him The line "the other children wouldnt accept him " concerns me - I think you should raise this with the head and ask for a meeting not as a complaint but more of a it would be helpful to have a chat way - I only have one child and he was a "suprise" so am not a child expert but my son is 3.5 and he accepts everyone boys, girls, old ladies in the street, the bin men, the doctor, all treated exactly the same by him etc children of a very young age just accept everyone and it seems strange almost as if the teacher is uncomfortable - perhaps she is struggling herself or perhaps your son has additional needs which cannot be met within the setting he is in or with the current staff etc

Lymmmummy Thu 20-Nov-14 17:06:12

Just to clarify meant you should ask for one to one with head for an update /feedback on your sons progress is not including his teacher

Stampysladygarden Thu 20-Nov-14 17:09:52

Pantomimes are a bugger for scaring children. They can be very loud. Would ear defenders help?

redexpat Thu 20-Nov-14 17:10:50

It sounds as if she is very nervous and inexperienced, and unsure of how to include him. I think volunteering to go on this trip should have sorted it, so not sure why she didnt take you up on the offer. Children do behave differently in different environments so she may see a different child than you do.

I think I would go to her superior and phrase it in a 'I think this teacher may need more support in including my son' way. There are issues here that havent arisen before.

ouryve Thu 20-Nov-14 17:11:22

Um, Chime, if your DS had 1:1 specified in a statement, then said 1:1 should have been with him, rather than photocopying.

Firebell, it does seem worrying that you're offering valid ways of helping and avoiding the bus journey, yet the teacher is still reluctant to want him to join in. Mine have missed trips that have been utterly irrelevant to them (DS2 has no interest in museums, but loves farms, nature walks and pond dipping, for example), but there's always been an effort made to include them or to ask me what I think if there's an element of uncertainty.

As for the comment about the kids not accepting your DS, I've found that kids are wonderfully accepting of kids with disabilities, even if they're quite challenging to be with, so long as they see adults doing the same. i thikn that particular remark is the one that rings most alarm bells for me.

I'm guessing your DS is starting school, next September, in which case he'll probably be transferred to a EHCP, rather than a statement at transition. You are going to encounter a lot of reticence and reluctance, unless you have a wonderful school for him and I think you'll need to make sure that provision really does match needs and that, if he needs a lot of supervision and help, he gets his own 1:1 support. I would also look carefully at a variety of settings and ask a few awkward questions.

x2boys Thu 20-Nov-14 17:20:19

No.advice but my son has ASD and learning difficulties in.mainstream nursery last year he wasn't included in his nativity as he can t speak they wanted him to one hour a day for an indefinite period as they felt he couldnt cope with three hours, he coped just fine but he needed one to one ,he on w goes to a wonderful special.needs school.and is including in a even rthing!

LL12 Thu 20-Nov-14 17:22:02

My daughter has Autism and we never had any problems like this either in her mainstream nursery or when she was in mainstream infant school.
Her statement was issued after about 6 months in nursery but they provided a 1-1 support worker for her from day 1.
Does you son have it written in his statement that he must have actual 1-1 support?
When we looked at mainstream schools you soon found which one's actually wanted you child and which didn't (the one's that came up with excuse after excuse).
I agree that saying "The other children wouldn't accept him" is concerning, in infant school the children were all told about my daughter before she started and were wonderful with her. When she left for Special School at the end of Y2 the school thanked us for choosing to send her.

tobysmum77 Thu 20-Nov-14 17:22:31

she probably had no experience at all with children with downs syndrome. I would approach the school and ask to speak to the senco (who is meant to be supporting her)

Marmiteandjamislush Thu 20-Nov-14 17:25:21

She is excluding him and discriminating against him directly, and you indirectly. Please don't let this go. I work in the field and will help if you pm me.

madwomanbackintheattic Thu 20-Nov-14 17:25:25

25 hours 1-1? Or 25 hours funded placement per week?

The 1-1 should be the primary key worker, not the 'teacher' (sorry, I am a bit confused by the setting) - you need to discuss the entire set up with the SENcO or nursery manager, it all sounds a bit odd.

Dd2 had 1-1 in nursery for similar reasons (comms/ physical stuff - she has cp not downs, but her provision sounds similar)

We did have a few ups and downs with trips (the first year she lasted about a minute in the pants and the 1-1 had to bring her out) but they worked on it a lot, and the second year was way more successful. She continued to need extra support for public performances for a few years - she was freaked out by the dark, sudden noises, voices coming from nowhere etc etc

The 1-1 should be the one meeting up with the SLT etc to discuss progress and get tips for targets/ what you are working on next. Have they sent the 1-1 for makaton training?

I am a bit lost as I don't quite grasp the set up, but it doesn't seem ideal. I may be tempted to get a bit more direct, although I am firmly of the belief that you catch more flies with honey in these situations. Use lots of 'we are all working together to give x the best chance at' etc etc. keep her on side, but work on changing her mindset for sure. She sounds phenomenally irritating. And I'do be polite but firm abiut what inclusion means - and it doesn't mean exclusion - either from trips or the first half of the term, unless it is in the child's best interest and is mutually agreed.

LL12 Thu 20-Nov-14 17:25:34

Forgot to say, in Infant school they also gave her a lead role in the nativity play as one of the kings. It was a non speaking role as she was non verbal but it meant a lot to us that they wanted to include her so much.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 20-Nov-14 17:26:15

Please can you clarify what support he is supposed to get? For eg, if he has a statement, does he have one to one included? Also, as a pp has said - not 38 children at once, surely???

But from what you've posted, yes, she sounds rubbish. The presumption should always be that he is going on the trip, then they work back to find out what's needed to make that possible. And if that means asking another parent (of an non-SN child) to give up their place on the trip, so be it.

madwomanbackintheattic Thu 20-Nov-14 17:36:38

Just reread and realised that they are sharing the 1-1 hours between TAs. This is fine, but if it isn't working, you should discuss with the senco. Dd2 had dedicated 1-1 to start with, but we did eventually request that this be shared out, as she was becoming very reliant on the 1-1 (in terms of the 1-1 removing independence and increasing isolation, rather than fostering independence and promoting integration with the wider group). We did request that it was always the same key worker that provided specific SLT and met with therapists though, for continuity. For general support in the classroom, it was shared around.

ChimesAndCarols Thu 20-Nov-14 17:38:04

Um, Chime, if your DS had 1:1 specified in a statement, then said 1:1 should have been with him, rather than photocopying. said ouryve

Do you think I don't know that. Doesn't always work in practice, though.

rumbleinthrjungle Thu 20-Nov-14 18:11:19

YANBU, you're absolutely right and she needs to get a grip. Completely unacceptable attitude towards inclusion, and to a child in her class.

I would approach your LA Parent Partnership Service, and talk to the school SENCo, this needs to be raised with the teacher by managers, leading with under the Code of Practice and the Equality Act, this kind of attitude is not only seriously old fashioned but also discriminatory.

Firebell5 Thu 20-Nov-14 18:17:17

Hi thanks for replies, getting caught up in tea time so response may be slow! It all helps rather than going round and round in my head.

Firebell5 Thu 20-Nov-14 20:47:37

Chimes. Of course I don't want his behaviour to be detrimental to other children. It's so difficult to know what to do as I don't have a crystal ball and can't be with him all the time. We have to rely on advice from the specialists. Also makes these difficult conversations harder because I am often uncertain about the right choice, but have to sound convincing! And not cry / swear! First school we looked at when moving was Special School, +5 mainstream in area. SS and his therapists, Ed Psych etc all advised that mainstream is best bet at this stage. We want him to be in the best place for him, SS or MS so will be looking at this every year. Glad to hear your son's needs are being better met now

Finola. Thanks for this, I will ask questions, but I do find it hard to know where to pitch it. First child at school. Has been incredibly tough with health issues already. I really don't know the ropes. There's been no mention of reasonable adjustments. That's what bothers me, that there was just a list of barriers. The Head has asked for anything SaLT and OT says to go through her and she will "make sure it gets done." Her attitude seems v positive. Interesting suggestion to go round nursery teacher to SENCo and Head. My thinking so far is to be transparent with everyone. SENCo didn't light my fire as she couldn't see what was wrong with him having to wait 4 weeks to start. Head got it changed to 2.
- He has a SSEN since July this year as he will be 5 in January. Was held back a year because he spent 8 months in hospital in his first year. It says 25 hours "Special Support Assistance", but he only goes to nursery for 15 hours a week.
- Headteacher (new last April) told me that I shouldn't appeal as this was basically full time support
- Also said that she would have taken a member of staff out of nursery this year if he wasn't there as the the ratio is 1:13 at this age. ie they could have 39 children with 3 staff not 4.

Lymmummy. Yes, the acceptance comment was a doozy. Children I know his age do ask questions like "why doesn't he talk to me?" We explain that he is learning and he can talk with his hands. They often like learning a few signs. He also loves playing generally and is never happier than when chasing around in a group. Or can crawl onto teachers lap which he has been doing!

Stampy - Agree pantomimes can be frightening. I remember recurring nightmares myself. He can be a bit nervous at live performances to start with and then usually settles down and gets absorbed. Think I will try and take him for a dry run beforehand. Has anyone seen the Northern Stage Christmas Grump? Is it scary?

Red - Teacher is in her 50s and has a lot of experience. Given her the benefit of the doubt so far that she is nervous of getting it right + worried about resourcing as they didn't get any "extra". However I am starting to wonder.

Ouvryve - There were a number of reasons we settled on this school, although we recognised that this teacher isn't the warmest ever. V small, nearest, v good reputation, have had some other children, though not many, with SN before. Previous and current Heads were actually most welcoming of all we visited. Previously he was going across the borough to nursery with 30 mainstream & 4 others with Down's for a 1:3 ratio.. So he should be getting more help for his exercises here. School have started filling in the EHCP as we have had meetings about his health plan. Had hoped they would transfer the Education side, but should probably brace myself then. Is there a big difference?

x2 - can't wait for the nativity conversation! He has in fact done 2 before (cow and sheep), he was a lot more engaged than some of the others as he loves singing. Am not expecting a leading role here though. Glad to hear your son is in a happier situation now

LL12 - Yes he has 1:1 in the Statement. I hope that they do talk about how they are all the same but different. It's in the Statement that his social interactions need to be facilitated. Other schools I know of have done assembly on Down's. I was looking to them to know best how to approach it..he's a little boy, not a "Down's Syndrome"

Toby's - nervousness yes, trying to avoid the issue I don't think is professional. The OT and SaLT are very responsive and have made themselves available

Marmite - beginning to think that. I don't want to shout discrimination at this early stage, but legally how far can this go? I thought the SSEN was binding. Of course all these comments are verbal - what she actually wrote up at Parent's evening was how well he had settled in, is caring, learnt routines quickly. He has actually been less of a handful than some of the other children who are still getting used to it, SN or not

Madwoman - Yes it's written a bit weirdly because he is school age now, so he has 25 hrs 1:1 pro-rata over the 15 hours he attends. He has a keyworker, but they are sharing the time between the 3TAs which I agree with at this stage. Keyworker is more experienced with SN and knows Makaton. The other 2 seem keen to learn and teacher - can't really tell! Yes the slipperyness is very, very irritating. SaLT has been in about 4 times already. She is the senior one, sees all the kids with DS in this area and is by far the most helpful he has ever had.

Lonny - Yes 1:1 and 37 other children. Reception is 30 intake. It's a First school so only goes up to Year 4

Rumble - I suppose my worry is that she seems to assume he can't do things before he has tried and I can't ever seem to pin her down on why. Some of the language has been clumsy to say the least. The children will follow her lead to an extent and as we are new here I don't have friends to fall back on yet

Any thoughts on if an alternative should be provided if "there's no room on the bus"?? He may well freak out at the panto, but I had hoped for an approach more like what madwoman describes. And he wouldn't be the only one by the sound of it. As I said, probably bit hormonal. Really don't want to have a fight everyday. Want to be singing their praises....thanks for different perspectives

Purplepoodle Thu 20-Nov-14 21:05:32

Seems like a very nervous teacher who isn't handling things very well. I would have a meeting with the head and teacher to express your concerns. Since he has 1:1 surely if there is a problem his 1:1 would take care of him. Perhaps they need a.more definite rota of who is his 1:1 and when as sharing doesn't seem to be working. Perhaps they could do a week as 1:1 each

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 20-Nov-14 21:07:32

You need to start a diary to record all your interactions with her, that's the first thing.

I am shocked at the class size tbh and find it hard to believe that's the best setting for any child - isn't it just chaos? Is that a normal class size? The HTs comment about ratios is I think telling. Remember, that TA isn't there to bolster her ratios, that TA is there to provide 1:1 care for your child and your child only.

I think this needs to start being your fall back 'I appreciate you're concerned about ds at the panto, but surely if he is upset his 1:1 will take him out till he calms down?' 'DS is usually fine on the bus, but if you are worried why don't you sit him next to his 1:1?'

And I think it's a good time to meet formally with the teacher and SENCO and/or HT to review now ds is settling in. You are his only advocate and it's time to start holding the school to account.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Thu 20-Nov-14 21:17:30

I think she sounds shit OP. I also think you need to go in there and inform her that he WILL be attending. Don't invite any conversation regarding it; tell her you will meet them there. And then leave.

I just feel pissed of on behalf of your DS! angry

hollie84 Thu 20-Nov-14 21:25:21

If he has 1:1 then there is absolutely no reason he shouldn't go on the trip or have all of his exercises done - no "we do our best" about it.

I wouldn't definitely speak to the SENCO and find out how his needs are being met.

A child with some developmental delays should be absolutely no problem to include in a mainstream school/nursery.

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