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Mainstream or special school- experiences please

(117 Posts)
Lazymazy1 Thu 12-Jan-17 18:08:37

I would describe my ds as having mild to moderate learning difficulties. (School is saying moderate - severe) global developmental delay, no diagnosis.
Special school around here is ofsted reg terrible ( I've visited and very chaotic and wasn't favourable).
Anyway, my initial thoughts were to keep ds in mainstream (has FT 121) just for better chance in later life with jobs and less stigma, however, speaking with another parent who says it's like trying to fit square peg in round hole. Child would be unhappy.
Prepared to move away to get a better special school for him.
What are your experiences ?

Aeroflotgirl Thu 12-Jan-17 18:11:41

Is he happy at school. Do school find him hard? Has he got an Ehcp? If he is happy, I would leave him!

Aeroflotgirl Thu 12-Jan-17 18:13:12

My dd has ASD and dev delays and learning difficulty, she goes to a special ASD school which is fantastic, I did visit one for children with moderate learning difficulties, it was very chaotic, so we ruled that out.

PoptartPoptart Thu 12-Jan-17 18:21:04

How old is he op? My personal experiences with children with SEN (I'm a TA) is that they can usually cope in early years and lower juniors with support but, depending on how well geared up the school is and how severe the SEN are, they can sometimes struggle with upper juniors i.e. Years 5&6.

ChristmasCwtches Thu 12-Jan-17 18:21:14

How old is your dc? On what basis are school saying mod - severe LD, what level is your dc working at?
I have a dc with severe learning difficulties and a diagnosis of global delay and autism, he has been at a special school since the age of 4 and it has been the best thing for him.
It really does depend on the needs of the child and the willingness / ability of the mainstream school to provide appropriate support. In my opinion a child with sever difficulties is best supported in a special school or unit but those who are more able can and should be supported in mainstream.

TheTroubleWithAngels Thu 12-Jan-17 18:26:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Christmasnoooooooooooo Thu 12-Jan-17 18:28:43

Look around all special school and fight to get into the one that suits your child . Special needs do travel to right school if local authority agrees it is the best place for child. Special school will be the best place for your child when your child reaches secondary school.

IndigoSister Thu 12-Jan-17 18:30:16

My DC did reception to end of year 6 in mainstream, fantastic 1-2-1, most of school staff very supportive. For high school he's switched to a moderate learning disability special school.

I think my DC did fine in mainstream primary, but by year 5 was starting to really notice the gap and he wa finding a good number of lessons going over his head. Stayed for year 6 as socially he loved it but no real progress academically in year 6.

For high school we looked at both mainstream and special school options. Special school just felt like the best fit in the end. He's gained lots of independence (no 1-2-1 anymore), is now in the middle of the pack so has gained confidence, has been fully included in after school activities. Downside is that he has a longer journey and that his school friends are scattered over the whole borough.

Bumblebee35 Thu 12-Jan-17 18:35:55

I'm a teacher in a secondary special needs school and have been for about 10 years or so. Quite a few children join us in year 7 from mainstream primary and it seems that year on year the number increases due to less funding available for those who remain in mainstream. I have helped in the transition process with some year 6 pupils and have seen pupils with special needs, receiving 1-1, included in the mainstream setting, as much as being sat in the corner with their support but not really included. V. Sad. The school I work in is so inclusive, provides lots of small group teaching and the curriculum lends itself to being much more creative. It really all depends on how your child is coping in mainstream. Are they confident, happy and included? Or are they on their own with support?

Cakescakescakes Thu 12-Jan-17 18:36:18

I think mainstream has become this holy grail for SN when in my experience inclusion is at surface level only and can often be detrimental. My DS is in a small ASD specific setting and it is incredible. The support he gets is light years from a mainstream experience. He is a normal kid there in a slightly different setting instead of being a very different child in a 'normal' setting. I couldn't recommend it enough. We'll cross the jobs etc bridges when we come to them but for now I'll settle for him skipping happily into school everyday instead of head butting me with anxiety and frustration because he didn't want to go to his mainstream placement.

Ouryve Thu 12-Jan-17 18:40:29

Placemarking for when I'm satcatva proper keyboard. I'll be back smile

Aeroflotgirl Thu 12-Jan-17 18:51:49

My ds nearly 5 has just started school, he has developmental delays of about 2 years, and speech and language delays, the school are applying for an EHCP. He is under the paeditrician, and receives speech and language help at school. I am hoping to keep him as much as possible in mainstream, he enjoys it and is happy there, and is making progress but not on the scale they would like. He has learned his letter sounds, and is starting to want to write letters, and can recognise a some words in a book, but they tell me the gap is widening, 80% of his peers are reading and writing, whilst he's still on the basics.

He has some friends and is happy, but I think he will struggle once in yr1 and 2 when the work gets harder. If not, we will look at mainstreams with units or who are more expeirenced with his needs.

beautifulgirls Thu 12-Jan-17 18:52:04

DD1 is at a specialist school with mild to moderate learning delays, ASD and other issues. None of the LA specialist placements were well suited to her level of need but her mainstream place in year 3 was a disaster even with 1:1 support. We fought for an independent specialist school that is a perfect fit for her. She had a statement of SEN (Now an EHCP) and we had to go to tribunal to secure her a place at the school we wanted for her, but the local authority pay her fees and transport as they were unable to offer her another suitable placement and the panel at tribunal deemed that it was the right option for her. I can't even begin to imagine her moving from primary to senior in mainstream with the level of stress year 3 caused. She's never going to fly high academically but she has come on leaps and bounds personally with the right support and is slowly but surely learning a good grounding academically.

I think it is hard to decide until you can see what is available locally to you. Not all SEN schools are the same and some will suit some children well but not be good for others and vice versa. We certainly visited another independent SEN school and came away knowing it would not be the right place for her before we found the one she now attends.

Aeroflotgirl Thu 12-Jan-17 19:00:10

Beautyful girls, my friend is in the same position, her ds 9 nearly 10 has a dx of ASD with behavioural difficulties, and the only best fit for him, is an independent school. The local ASD school which dd goes to is not suitable, as her son is extremly academic, but cannot cope in a mainstream school environment. He was excluded from 2 mainstreams, and has gone into a totally unsuitable special school for emotional and behavioural difficulties, chosen by the LEA. Basically this school is seen is a dumping ground for children who cannot be placed into any other special school in the area, because the LEA do not want to pay for the more expensive independent school. They have been turned down for a place at the independent school and are going to tribunal.

pandarific Thu 12-Jan-17 19:17:19

My fiancé is severely dyslexic and resisted going to a special school. He says he wouldn't have got any a levels had he left mainstream, and he got through ok though it was hard for him.

Lazymazy1 Thu 12-Jan-17 19:18:32

Thank you for your replies. So overwhelming support for special school.

To be honest, I was cynical thinking the schools were trying to 'encourage ' all those less academic to go elsewhere- to not affect their stats.
My ds is 5, on his 2nd go in reception class, very happy , good support. But school feel by year 2 he will be struggling, painted bad pic of being singled out , bullied etc. Would hate that bumble being given left out, sat in the corner.

Paediatrician has said that as more prem babies (for example) are being saved in hospitals ,more dc with extra needs. The special schools overwhelmed, the mainstream are as such taking more and more dcs with additional needs.

It hit home really , maybe im pushing ds to fit in to somewhere he won't fully fit in.

Lazymazy1 Thu 12-Jan-17 19:20:47

Why wouldn't your fiance have got a levels? As you can get gcses at special school?

cheminotte Thu 12-Jan-17 19:22:49

How old is your DC?
My DS is in y2 at mainstream and gets lots of support but the school have recently said they are not sure they will be suitable all the way to Y6.

pandarific Thu 12-Jan-17 19:23:06

I don't know lazy, it's what he maintains rather than what I know IYSWIM? I can ask him.

cheminotte Thu 12-Jan-17 19:24:26

X-post re his age.
Interesting that they are letting him redo Reception. I wanted that but was told it would just cause problems later.

Swippy Thu 12-Jan-17 19:25:59

I am going through sams dilemma. Is your child happy there? I've decided to keep mine in mainstream with a 1-2-1 as he is very happy and has friends, he is very behind (asd and possible adhd) but is making progress. In my head I'm thinking he will probably need to go to specialist school eventually either at yr 3/4 and certainly for secondary. But worth visiting lots and deciding what's best for your child as they all have different needs.
As far as stigma etc I think that so many more children are being diagnosed with Sen and soceity is becoming more accepting and less ignorant so hopefully by the time our children are older views will be different

SaltyMyDear Thu 12-Jan-17 19:27:50

Are other 5 year olds his peers? Or is he socially/ emotionally too far behind them?

His peers may all be at special schools......

A full time 1:1 is often an isolating and not good experience.

AllTheLight Thu 12-Jan-17 19:36:20

My friend's DD with some learning difficulties is at mainstream in year 6, my friend moved her from a special school because she thought she could cope with mainstream. My friend now regrets this, her DD is doing ok but there is some low level bullying because she is 'different'. My friend says definitely special school for secondary.

TheSnorkMaidenReturns Thu 12-Jan-17 19:38:06

Some special schools do GCSEs.

In your position I would look at all the possible alternative schools, both near and far. Including some mainstreams schools which are set up to cope, special schools elsewhere and the independent sector.

Are you in a position to move? He may be fine at this stage of school, but once reading and writing are expected, and everyone around him is able to do this, he may start to feel isolated.

The idea that 'inclusion' is best served by all children attending mainstream is so misleading. If the school can't, won't, doesn't meet the child's needs life is very tough.

I have a child with autism in mainstream secondary, which is the right setting for him (at the moment). Since he was diagnosed I've discussed all our local options with the parents I've met at local autism groups and training, and every parent has had to make a decision based on their own child. Several of them recommended the school my son goes to but even similar 'little professor Aspies' struggle in the wrong mainstream setting.

It can be very difficult to get an LA funded place at the right independent school but if that's the right setting for your child, it is worth the years of grief it would take you to get a place.

A woman I know locally has a boy with autism and a small amount of learning disability. Not disabled enough for our excellent local special school (which specialises in children with very more complex needs) and unable to cope with mainstream even in the year below. She managed to get a funded place at a special independent, including his taxi there and back every day. It can be done.

beautifulgirls Thu 12-Jan-17 19:40:15

Different SEN schools will acheive varying levels of exams in the long run. It was a mental hurdle for me when she moved school but at the end of the day common sense said that she will acheive more where all of her needs are supported and long term she can do GCSEs or whatever else at adult education much much later if that is what she wants and needs and is realistic for her. Education doesnt have to stop at 18.

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