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in thinking that refusal of a Special School place for your SEN child is totally mystifying?

(138 Posts)
notanumber Sun 04-Oct-09 00:07:46

I read this article about the growing numbers of children exluded from primary school in The Telegraph today.

It is absolutely beyond me why some parents are so hellbent on keeping their child in mainstream education when alternative provison would clearly be so much better for all involved.

"Then the head teacher called to say that she had found a place for George at a most excellent school – a special school for children with moderate to severe learning difficulties. David was 'appalled'. Not only had the school negotiated a place without consulting them, but also 'it showed a complete misunderstanding of George,' David says. George, he stresses, 'is a mainstream child."

How is a child who bites and scratches, lashes out when asked to hold a pencil and bolts from the classroom "a mainstream child"?

I'm not saying that they are wrong to question and be critical of the way the school handled their son. Mainstream education is, I think, often woefully inadequate for (some) children with SEN.

But if they are so disgusted at how mainstream school is handling their child's needs, why the blazes are they doggedly keeping him there and not jumping at the chance for him to go to a special school?

I'm a teacher and if my child had SEN that were causing him the horrible difficulties that the family in the article describe and he was then offered the chance of a specialist tailored education in a Special School I wouldn't think twice.

This is not an attack on all parents who have children with SEN. I know there will be lots of posters who are desperate for their child to be offered a Special School place but have to work with the mainstream system as best they can.

I also know that inclusion has worked really well for many children. Please don't think that I am airily saying that if your SEN child is in mainstream education this is automatically the wrong place for them, or that you don't care about their wellbeing.

I am just genuinely bemused by this couples' attitude. Do they really think that they are acting in their child's best interests by refusing the Special School place he was offered?

valhala Sun 04-Oct-09 00:14:04

No ruddy idea why they should act like this. A lady I know has severely Autistic twin lads, who needed a residential college placement and was offered the councils local one although it was clear even to me, a layman, that it was grossly unsuitable (and to their health consultants etc).

She had to fight like beggary to get the out of area residential place which she had identified, including going to the press etc and was messed about by the LA fromm asshole to breakfastime... all this on top of the fights over the years to get her boy into special schools as mainstream failed them and couldn't cope.

But she did the right thing, taking into account her DCs needs... what IS it with the parents in that article?

ramonaquimby Sun 04-Oct-09 00:33:24

i think unless you are a parent in that situation you don't know what you'd do. I too work in a special school and so many of our parents are still in denial about the abilities of their children (expecting them to go onto university let alone complete GCSEs) It must be a terribly hard thing to accept and come to terms with.

(havene't read the article sorry)

nooka Sun 04-Oct-09 01:02:13

Given that they say that he is doing well in another mainstream primary school the issue might have been more that the initial school wasn't managing his behaviour terribly well.
Some schools are much better than others when it comes to SEN. I think that the initial school were very wrong to have lined up a place for him elsewhere and not to have discussed that as an option with his parents, and if it was a school for learning rather than behavioural issues then it probably wasn't very appropriate. My niece is at a school for moderate-severe learning difficulties and the children there are really fairly severely disabled. It is a fantastic school, but they work on life skills with very little in the way of academic teaching. If your child was bright but incredibly badly behaved then a school like that would not be right, because it would in no way be tailored to his needs (and indeed it probably would not be good for the children at the new school either).

herjazz Sun 04-Oct-09 01:12:30

yabu - behaviour, academic potential and social factors are seperate things and priorities, even if interlinked

Its the parent's choice. ANd if the child is statemented, they should be going to ms placements with correct level of support. Course it shouldn't fall on the the teacher and rest of the class

Also dunno where you have the idea that there are plenty of sn schools. Loads have been shut down - partic the mld / behavioural ones. To make way for inclusive education, or specialist units based at ms schools. I'd be loathed to send a child that had academic potential to a sld school that's more about children following their individual track / sensory stuff / basic life skills like holding a spoon / using the toilet

I say this a a parent of a child who is in sn school btw. It is the most appropriate place for her needs. But not everyone with sen

SomeGuy Sun 04-Oct-09 02:55:58

OP you do omit this bit

'It is a fantastic school, but it's not appropriate for our son. The majority of pupils are not reading, not writing; in some instances not able to communicate.'

FWIW, I think that there is a definitely a middle class pushy parent thing at work as well. They will feel judged as parents, that their child's behaviour has resulted in him being excluded. And of course all their middle class ambitions for their child, which seem in reach as long as he is in mainstream education, grow very distant upon excluded.

And on that note, we can't know why this boy is like this. All we have is basically the POV of a pushy parent. Perhaps they did parent inappropriately - we'll never know.

It's not really reasonable to say that the parents should be able to choose - if a child is disrupting the education of others to the degree that's being described, the other parents should be very angry. "Since starting nursery at the age of three [he] has barely done a full week at school." That for me spells out that a lot of other children's education have been damaged. I don't think parents should have a right to do that at all.

Deemented Sun 04-Oct-09 07:52:27

My DP's son has SEN. He was in a SEN class at his previous school, and his mother has recently moved to a new area.

When speaking to her social worker, she was assured that son would get a place at the loacl SEN school, which caters for children from primary age to nineteen. Would have been perfect for him.

However, 'powers that be' decided that it wasn't suitable for him after all, and said he had a place at the local primary with a support teacher three days a week. Really not suitable for his needs at all - and to make matters worse, next year, when he reaches an age to move to secondary school, they are going to send him in a taxi 30 miles every day to a SEN facility in a comprehensive...

borderslass Sun 04-Oct-09 08:29:18

We had to fight to get our Son out of mainstream school the head teacher and ourselves knew it was totally unsuitable he was there 5 half days and special unit 5 half days and we pleaded to have him removed for the sake of the other children and the fact that my daughter would go into the same class and worry more about him than herself which happened it took them another 6 months to get him a full time placement at the unit and my daughter learnt nothing until he left.
We then had to remove him from the placement we were getting phoned to collect him at 9.15 the day I removed him he was being pinned down by 2 adults and another was stood over him all because they decided he didn't need his TA who he had been used to since 4 years old and he was to share the TA with 4 others and the fact it was a new teacher every week for 6 weeks we eventually got him into another class at the unit the same one he had been in at P1 level and a placement 18 miles away at a behavioral resource he was only 7 and the youngest there.He now goes to a school for autistic children 30 miles away and is thriving learning at his own pace he only has 2 years left he's 15 and will hopefully go on to life skills courses at our local college.

thumbscrewwitch Sun 04-Oct-09 08:45:13

Someguy has a very good point.

When my mum was on an under-5s education committee for the council several years ago, a "middle class" professional couple (one a doctor, the other a lawyer) with a child with low-functioning Down's Syndrome were trying to keep him in mainstream. All the experts were saying that he would do better in a special school that would be able to cater for his quite severe needs but the parents wouldn't hear of it. They seemed oblivious to what might be best for their son's interests and determined that he shouldn't be "singled out" in any way but should go to mainstream school, regardless of how this might affect the school/ other children (in terms of the amount of time taken out to cater for this child).

I do believe that people should be able to have a level of choice regarding whether their child should be mainstream or SEN school, but they should also pay attention to the professionals' opinions and at least be guided by them.

TotalChaos Sun 04-Oct-09 09:08:52

yabu. the special school placement offered may not be appropriate. and sometimes simple measures and advice from professionals such as ed psych/behaviour advisory team can really help with behaviour issues.

sarah293 Sun 04-Oct-09 09:12:19

Message withdrawn

cory Sun 04-Oct-09 10:48:55

It totally depends on what is on offer. Dd's headteacher suggested that we should move her to a special school because she is physically disabled and his school was not wheelchair accessible. Dd is g&t and in top set in all subjects. The only special schools around here cater for children with severe learning difficulties. What would she be doing there?

Many children with autism are very bright but have social problems; if the local special school is set up to cater for children with learning difficulties and not for social difficulties, it's hardly going to be an ideal match, is it?

And if the child is disrupting mainstream education- why don't we care about him disrupting the education of the other SN children in the specialist school? As he almost certainly will do if they are not equipped to deal with his particular problems. Or doesn't it matter if they get their education disrupted as long as it doesn't affect the rest of us?

OF course, if a specialist school for autistic children can be found- brilliant! But how easy do you suppose it is going to be to find such a school for most parents?

It is not being pushy not to want your child transferred to another place where his problems will not be dealt with, but where his kicking and biting will simply affect children less able to defend themselves.

If I were a parent in this situation, I would want to know what the school does, rather than just that it is a "specialist" school.

cory Sun 04-Oct-09 10:55:49

In the case of "George", if it so happened that his parents knew that he was unusually gifted- can you not understand that they might not want him transferred to a school that catered for "moderate to severe learning difficulties"? If George happened to be one of those incredibly gifted children (not rare in children on the ASD spectrum) who is far ahead of all his mates in mainstream, do you not suppose his biting and kicking would increase if he was placed in a school which specialised in teaching basic reading and counting to children with learning difficulties? A Special School is not a magic wand.

We were turned down in our application for secondary school for dd because the school she applied to was not on the LEAs list of schools suitable for disabled people. We found out later that the reason for this was that they did not have the right colour coding for children with impaired vision. Dd has excellent vision! But because she is disabled, it was assumed that only a Special school would be right for her. Never mind that it had features that she did not need, and lacked other features that she did need.

pagwatch Sun 04-Oct-09 11:07:22

The Op and some ofthe following comments show what an absoloutely staggering but unsurprising level of ignorance there is a special school provision.

Special schools are bloody difficult to get places in. When my son left his nursery ( a very rare SN nursery) there were 11 children with him all of whom needed some specail school provision. Two of us were lucky enough to be offered places.

The suggestion that middle class parents are only making image based decisions from a position of denial is a nice Daily Mail style cliche but I am unconvinced that it is often true.

I would refuse a SLD place for my son if that is what was offered because whilst he has severe ASD he is also very bright and excels in some areas - he would not cope in SLD. Equally a particular child needing SLD support may well struggle to be surrounded by children with ASD as their behaviours can be very challenging.

No doubt had I refused the SN option offered becaused it was deeply unsuitable for his needs I would have been a target for the 'middles class mum in denial' accusation.

The notion that parents of SN children are waftily turning down numerous offers of suitable specialist care is hilarious.
Of course it will happen occasionally but I doubt that many outside the childs family know exactly what the issue is.It sounds to me more as if there are many people who think that SN just means one thing and the nature of the provision , whether helpful or not doesn't matter - just stick them in a special school.
The quality ofthe proviosion provided to my son is the difference between him being happy and safe or being confused, frightened and potentially in danger. But it sounds as though many think that 'special' just covers all our children?

But I think it is pretty easy to look at a child who is different and has complex issues and just want him away from NT kids. Easy when it isn't your much loved child of course.

borderslass Sun 04-Oct-09 11:13:11

We don't have any form of special schools here only units attached to 2 schools, there was no where here for my boy he is bright enough especially at maths and computers and has a fantastic memory for facts which compensates for his severe dyslexia. but we have only one high school with over 1000 kids it would of set him back years, he is terrified of crowds of people especially other children. my youngest goes to the local high school and has a physically disabled girl in her classes but school has a lift for the disabled kids.So is fully inclusive for them.We didn't find his school the educational psychologist did he was the first from the borders to go and there are now 3 others who go but if he had been offered a place at one of the other schools we visited we would of refused it, it was basically a computer suite for excluded kids.

borderslass Sun 04-Oct-09 11:18:11

pagwatch every child is diffeeret and has different needs and most parents of these children understand that. I didn't realise our local one was as bad as it was until my son went there, it primarly catered for children who were severely disabled and would never talk, walk or learn.

franklymydear Sun 04-Oct-09 11:37:51

i think inclusion doesn't work for the majority of children with SEN / SN and for the children who are affected by them

I think it could work if there were trained, mature one-to-one staff but that's utopian ideal

i think that SN schools also didn't work as a catch-all

but its a money-based equation - you can't be all things to all people and some children get let down by the system

i do like the concept of inclusion in mainstream but it clearly doesn't work

notanumber Sun 04-Oct-09 11:44:37

I really wish people would read OPs properly.

I said:

"...I know there will be lots of posters who are desperate for their child to be offered a Special School place but have to work with the mainstream system as best they can.

I also know that inclusion has worked really well for many children. Please don't think that I am airily saying that if your SEN child is in mainstream education this is automatically the wrong place for them, or that you don't care about their wellbeing."

I am well aware that places in Special Schools are hard to come by. I am also aware that mainstream school works well for some children with SEN.

I said this in my first post. I find it irritating that people are now sniping that I have an "..absoloutely staggering but unsurprising level of ignorance there is a special school provision [because] Special schools are bloody difficult to get places in."

The very fact that places are so hard to come by indicates to me that this child has been assessed as being in real need of one. I know places aren't given out like sweeties, so if he has been offered one it does indicate that he has been assessed as having very real needs that could be well served by the Special School.

Therefore I am taken aback by his parents' refusual to contenance that the school, the LEA, the Special School might be trying to do the best they can for their child. That they are offering him a precious place because they really think he'll benefit from it.

blueshoes Sun 04-Oct-09 11:48:21

I get the sense reading this thread that special schools for SLD are not suitable for very bright kids with challenging behaviours linked to ASD/autism.

Is the solution for such children mainstream with one-to-one support or a special school for academically gifted children with such issues? What do parents of such children think?

curiositykilled Sun 04-Oct-09 11:51:15

My aunt who has cerebral palsy was sent to a special school. She spent all day being asked to do colouring. Her disability was physical there is absolutely nothing wrong with her mind, she has just gained a 2:1 degree in social work as a mature student. They did not teach her to read, they did not teach her anything in fact, they wanted her to colour pictures which was in fact a rather torturous expectation of a person physically disabled with cerebral palsy!

For some children it is much more appropriate for them to be mainstream educated than for others. I think it is hard to criticise a parent's decision if you have not met them, some decisions they make may be inappropriate but it is not for us or a newspaper to judge. Special needs children are just the same as other children - they need the school that is right for them.

The argument "but the child has special needs so should be in a special school" is rather lame. I agree with pagwatch.

alysonpeaches Sun 04-Oct-09 11:54:48

I have a son with SEN (Autism and ADHD). He is statemented and in mainstream. He has recently moved schools. Whilst at his last school I was considering a special school. They claimed to be giving him one to one support all day and still having problems. I looked into the special school thing and found that there may be one that's suitable, but from Y3. He's Y2.

We moved house. He is now in another mainstream school and he gets less support than at the last school but is far better behaved and manages much better, because some of his support is from a specially trained worker from behaviour support who specialises in autism and not just the classroom assistant. I am now happy for him to stay in mainstream. In the area we live in now, autism seems more widely recognised and staff trained to deal with it.

So in my opinion, the needs of the individual and also the provision available locally in mainstream and special needs to be considered and the best match for the child made.

2shoes Sun 04-Oct-09 12:00:44

IMO inclusion means exclusion
what is the point in sending a child who cannot access the world to a ms school....
surely better for them to be in a enviroment where they can access everything.

2shoes Sun 04-Oct-09 12:02:00

curiositykilled that doesn't happen now, children with cp who are able to learn are taught in sn schools

curiositykilled Sun 04-Oct-09 12:19:26

2shoes - it might not happen now. That wasn't really the point I was making. The attitude 'statement = special school" still exists.

curiositykilled Sun 04-Oct-09 12:20:45

did you mean 'not'?

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