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To expect a school to welcome visits from prospective parents esp when their child has additional needs

(32 Posts)
TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:27:03

So i called the school that we were thinking of for DD. She is in year 5 and is severely dyslexic. I also think she needs general support as she lacks confidence and is very young for her age. She has an official diagnosis of dyslexia but no statement.

The Senco (or Aenco) was extremely dismissive when I asled what strategies the school have to support children with dyslexia. She proudly told me that they have different colour backgrounds for the smart board and different colours hmm and that she can take a lap top if we provide it. hmm My daughter doesn't have Irlen's syndrom, you can have the paper blue and pink spots, it wont help. When pushed on what individual support she would receive the woman was vague and said she wouldn't receive any LSA support as this is not their policy. I asked if we could visit, but was given a telephone interview where the woman told me the above.

Am i expecting too much? My DD isn't stupid but she struggles in class due to her dyslexia and it does affect her self esteem. She gets a reasonable amount of support in year 5 but we have to supplement this with private tuition but its breaking us financially at £40 a week shock for an hours tuition - i'd look elsewhere but my dd has gone from being a non-reader to a free reader this term and it isn't to do with the school!

To me, if a school can't accomodate visits from parent with specific needs, it tells me that they are not going to be able to provide my DD withthe support she needs.

Here's the problem though - as well as being dyslexic my DD is quite "ocd" about things (apologies to those with OCD as she doesn't have this but she can be very worried about change etc) and has been to a taster day at the school, loved it and is convinced she wants to go there and wont even entertain the idea of an alternative. Other schools in the area don't offer taster days but the two i have called are open to visits. One is a difficult commute and the other we might not get into as its CofE and we are caltholics, albeit non practising.

I feel really worried that once DD goes to secondary school she is going to be in at the deepend, A - in class with children who don't acheive as they don't want to learn and have behavioural issues and B - just left to flounder and become the child who disengages with education because she can't access it.

Would you expect to be able to visit a prospective secondary school in year 5 or AIBU?

TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:28:15

* this year, not this term

Rivercam Wed 01-Jul-15 19:31:48

I think it's important to visit in hear 5, because it's too much to take in in year 6. Does the school,have open evenings where you can visit? Most schools local to me will accept visits from parents.

StarlightMcKenzee Wed 01-Jul-15 19:33:01

Your DD has visited but you want to visit too, for a personal tour with a chance to ask questions or get some reassurance, or make sure they know stuff you think they need to?

Is that right?

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:35:22

I don't know any schools that offer taster days to year 5 students. At this time of year they are busy with days for the children moving up this coming September. DD is moving in September and spent several days there, even though they visit regularly for events.

At the beginning of the next school year, there will be opportunity for you to visit, speak to staff and look around. Before the Applications open.

Do you think you will be able to change her mind and what will you do if you cant and you do not like it.

cariadlet Wed 01-Jul-15 19:38:41

I'm surprised that you were only offered a telephone interview, but not at all surprised that your dd wasn't offered a specific time allocation of TA support. Even statemented children are not usually funded sufficiently by the Local Authorities to cover the cost of the 1 to 1 support that schools might be providing.

School budgets are extremely tight and there isn't money washing around to give individual support to children. Having said that, I really think that the SENCO should have met you to discuss what strategies help your dd and how the new teacher and any TAs working in the year group can help her in class. There might not be money for 1-1 support, but there are obviously resources and strategies that could be employed and you need to work together to find the best outcome for your dd.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:39:41

A bit of both Starlight, I don't pretend to know what they should know but i expected a little more than just coloured paper as this only really works for children with irlen's syndrome as far as i know, it doesn't help dd. It is mostly the reassurance really.

The school has its own application form that has to be completed by october of next year so that doesn't give much time for us to make our minds up.

Noeuf Wed 01-Jul-15 19:41:20

Tbh I don't think the senco has time to meet prospective parents who may or may not send their child there in over a year. Too much going on for the newbies in Sept, end of term, moving up for existing ones, etc.

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:41:56

Can you speak to the SENCO at the school she is at.

DDs senco had regular meetings and conference calls with the secondary school senco, to ensure what needs to be in place is.

I am imaging that by September they will start thinking about the children applying, but at the moment they are concentrating on the children that are moving in September

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:43:37

All the visits to schools were done in the first couple of weeks of the September term. So you will have enough time.

Have you checked that she has a high chance of going?

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:43:51

Sorry I mean a high chance of getting in

TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:44:00

Well, the two other schools are happy to have a face to face meeting. It just bothers me that the feeder school, the school my DD has expressed a preference for and the one that would be the simplest commute for her (has a bus straight to the school) and the one that would have been my first choice has been so vague about how they can support my DD.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:45:44

NRomanoff - yes, we have been told that as a catholic she will definately have a place even though we aren't praciticing. That is the other worry as the other two schools (one CofE) have a stricter criteria in terms of entry and one is out of catchment area. So the school that is vague is the one she is most likely to get a place in .

TheoriginalLEM Wed 01-Jul-15 19:46:42

Have arranged to have meeting with SENCO at DD's school yes.

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:48:11

Imo, you won't know until you go. The fact is that its a busy time of year and the current years 6s may be taking priority. I wouldn't be worrying too much regarding whether they can or cant support your dd.

I am thinking that if they are a good school and you want her to go there, they have a good reputation for helping children who need it. What attracted you to the school in the first place?

There are a lot of things that could affect the time for face 2 face meetings. The current year 6 may have a lot of pupils going in september who need support (or are currently there) and that is using up all the available time.

Can you ask when the school will be having an open evening?

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 19:50:10

Can I ask who told you that?

I am asking as I have only just got my dd a place at our chosen school (after an appeal), even though we were told she would get in by both this school and her current school.

Do you have it in writing?

StarlightMcKenzee Wed 01-Jul-15 19:53:37

Well, I think you need to be flexible and 'outcomes' focussed in your approach, and persistent, and make your requests in writing explaining the reasons for them.

However, I would not send my child with additional needs to a school that would not meet with me to discuss his/her needs prior to selection. How do you know what you are selecting? How do you know what the choices really are?

But then I'm a serial school remover and not planning to ever place my child in a school again that tells me to 'trust them' as the sum of their differentiated provision.

SchoolTripNot Wed 01-Jul-15 19:58:13

It's not you or your dd. schools don't want kids who need extra help! money spent on them. <cynical>

(So as not to drip feed I removed ds and he is now home ed as I am so sick of promises being broken)

PtolemysNeedle Wed 01-Jul-15 20:07:39

It's likely to be difficult for them to tell you definitely how they are going to support your dd before they know anything about her, and so much seems to be changing in schools so quickly they barely know where they're going to be at next term, let alone next year.

Tbh, I wouldn't have expected a personal visit especially at this stage, they have open days for that sort of thing. Our local secondary holds open days and open evenings, and parents can make appointments with the SENCO at those if they want to discuss individual things, which seems sufficient to me. Only when places are confirmed do they start paying any real attention to individual students who have SN.

NRomanoff Wed 01-Jul-15 20:09:02

You can't say that about all schools. Dds primary and the school she is going to have been amazing with her particular needs.

We did however move her twice before finding an appropriate settings for her.

She was home schooled for a while. Until we found a school we could actually trust, rather than being given the line 'trust us'.

I assume since this school is the ops first choice she has already done a lot of checking in regards to these things

BackforGood Wed 01-Jul-15 20:30:13

As a general rule, then no, I wouldn't expect a secondary school to have time for individual tours and interviews. That's why they put on open evenings (and often mornings or days).

I rather hope that the SENCo and his/her team would be focusing on transition for their Yr11s and prospective Yr7s at this time of year, and possibly for their current pupils moving between years.

Does your dd have a Statement or EHC Plan? What does it state about provision in that?

PolterGoose Wed 01-Jul-15 20:38:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LokiBear Wed 01-Jul-15 20:42:06

My boss has done over 90 personal tours this year. Exhausting, time consuming but every parents right. YANBU. Phone the head if the senco won't help.

Tryingtokeepalidonit Wed 01-Jul-15 20:42:26

We are currently running taster days for Y5, let's face it you have to apply so early in Y6 that this is the time. Where I work the HT does regular school tours and if this is not convenient will arrange for another member of SMT to show people around. This is not because we are desperate, this year we had at least two applicants per place. Why is this impossible to organise? We run an open school and the staff are used to people being escorted around. In fact we had a Y5 Taster day today and I was really impressed how bright they were!

Finola1step Wed 01-Jul-15 20:58:29

All the secondary schools in the LA in which I teach hold open days and evenings from the very beginning of September. Individual visits are very rare. The exception would be if the child has a Statement and the visit was part of the Year 5 Annual Review process AFAIK.

WRT support for your DD, I would have thought the most appropriate response would be that as all children with dyslexia are different, only a general answer can be given. The school can tell you about current provision but would not be able to give more specific ideas until they have read the assessment report.

So to answer your original question, yes YABU (a tad) to expect anything more at this point in the school year.

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