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Would you send your SEN child to a 'middle class' secondary school?

(15 Posts)
AidaN8 Wed 21-Sep-11 14:02:11

Hi all,
I am having great difficulties (understatement) in deciding what the best school would be for my DS, who is a high functioning autistic child (lagging behind academically, but improving rapidly recently).
As he is statemented, I do have the choice of state schools in my borough (Haringey). I always considered Fortismere to be 'stuck up' and leaving SEN children behind, but I am not so sure after attending their open evening yesterday. The new head made some serious changes, bringing the SEN dept into the midst of the school and teaming it up into a LINC. I was reassured by the deputie's head talk and his answers to my questions.
The other issue we have is our DD, currently in Y4, who is a bright child and well ahead academically. Now she has a hearing impairment and wears hearing aids and uses a radio-aid. As the special school for deaf children is located within the grounds of Fortismere, they have links and all teachers are trained in teaching deaf children (Blanche Nevile kids attend Fortismere as much as they are able). DD will not get into Fortismere unless my son is there already. I am forever struggling with teachers being trained and able to teach her, so this would be a great weight off my shoulders.
The question is, will my children fit into such school? The catchment area of Fortismere is tiny and house prices are crazy over there.
Still have the APS to consider, which is by reputation much more inclusive.
Any thoughts? Thanks

onceagain Wed 21-Sep-11 15:28:54

Sorry but what's the problem with "middle class" secondary schools?

soonbesailing Wed 21-Sep-11 15:30:18

Hi AidaN8, I have high functioning ASD child who has just started at Fortismere. Its too early to say if it will work for him or not, I also found the decision very difficult last year.
Many things made me choose Fortismere, the main ones being he has a older brother at the school and lots of his primary school friends were going there. If there had not been a change of headteacher, I would not have sent him there, but I do think the current head has a very inclusive policy, which was not the case before.
On the downside, I know many parents were in the past, very unhappy with the provision (or rather lack of provision) for their statemented children, and they do still have very few TA's (think is it something like 8) compared to say APS (who this time last year had 22).
Some of your decision will have to be based on how much help you think your child may need. Mine is very able when it comes to the work and so needs very little help, but he does need help making sure he gets where he should be with everything he needs (PE especially).
The other good thing is there are many different types of children at Fortismere and they seem to be very accepting of quirky types, so it depends how much your child fits in, or if he stands out as being a bit different.
I do think the more regimented feel of APS would have suited my child, and do slightly worry that he may drift a bit at Fortismere, as I have found this to be the case with my older child who is middle set material, but I hope he will be happy there and is loving going to school with his brother, lots of the older children also know him, so I feel he is safe.

goinggetstough Wed 21-Sep-11 17:06:34

I have a DS with hearing and other issues so I can sympathise with the difficulties in choosing a school that would suit your DS. However, I find it strange for one of your main concerns to be that it is " middle class" - not the main issue in my opinion.
So in answer to your question yes would send my DS to any school that I felt would meet his needs.. wherever it was located.

olddog Wed 21-Sep-11 17:15:38

I would send ds where I thought best met his needs and leave snobbery and prejudice out of it.

SanctiMoanyArse Wed 21-Sep-11 17:24:40

We've just amde this choice for ds1 (AS, with behavioural and otehr issues), he is now at a local ASD Base.

The school nearest to us IS a middle class secondary but that's not why we refused it! I hope ds2 will go in a year's time. There were in total 35 reasons he did not go there, including the operation of a lottery to allocate sen support due to space (even for statemented kids like ds1), the location of the cooking calss by the front door that created a sensory barrier for him that was impassable on bad days, sheer size, insufficieny of cateringt hat emant many kids ahd to go out for lunch which he cannot......

Conversely though I did also not reject a school becuase it was on a big estate, the base ds3 attends is and it is bloody marvellous! They attended a lcoal school that's quite posh and we did find a school that is highly focussed on academic excellence did not have much of a clue about his ASD and that's worth asking about, it has a tiny catchment and we happen to live in it or they'd never have taken him. I think it's just about finding a school that suits your child and ethos. Warm and caring over results every time for me- but that can happen in any 'class' school.

yellowsubmarine41 Wed 21-Sep-11 19:28:07

Do double-check the admissions code re: SEN admissions and sibling priority if your daughter going to the same school is important to you. There was a thread a few months ago from someone whose younger child wasn't allocated a sibling place because the admission for the older child was SEN priority.

I think it should be fine and no idea what the policy is in Haringey, but do check to put your mind at rest.

AidaN8 Wed 21-Sep-11 21:41:31

Thank you everyone for your replies.
Soontobesailing, it sounds encouraging, though my son would know no-one as we live way away down in Crouch End.
Thank you also for the advice on admission criteria, will check that one out.
I should also say that I did not mean the term 'middle class' in any detrimental way, just that we are not really middle class at all, so I am not sure about the whole 'fitting in' issue. But maybe I should just leave the assumptions aside.
Still have the APS open days to come, so we will see.

mummytime Wed 21-Sep-11 23:43:37

Not Fortismere, but my kids attend a "middle class" "high achieving" school, which does fabulously with SEN kids (with a wide range of needs). It also has a special unit in the school. It also has a fair number of "working class" kids, admittedly some who were desperate to do anything to get their kids into that school (eg. exchange council house sight unseen because it was in the right road).

IndigoBell Thu 22-Sep-11 12:40:16

AidaN8 - we are not choosing a 'middle class' school for my ASD ds, and instead choosing a much rougher school.

One of the many reasons being that we felt the 'middle class' school got very good league table results without trying hard, and didn't try hard.

Whereas the rougher school had to try very hard to get the results it got - it couldn't afford to write any student off because it didn't know which were the ones that would get decent grades smile

We moved from a middle class primary (with good SAT results), to a much less middle class primary, and have found it much, much better for my DS. We have found everyone more accepting of him, and the staff far, far better.

But I don't know the school you are talking about. Surely not all middle class schools are as bad as the one we went to smile

SanctiMoanyArse Thu 22-Sep-11 14:40:13

They're IB

BUT I will say it's not an uncommon complaint: faith schools in particular. I guess to an extent it's obvious though given how many genetic components there are to many SEN / SN kids that their aprents are mroe likely (far from guaranteed obviously) to be in the poorer areas so thsoe schools have ahd to adapt faster, whereas ones like ds1'd old primary can exercise choice over 90% of children and have played the non SEN card that way for decades.

VitAL Mon 24-Oct-11 06:59:16

Hi AidaN8,
We have experience both with APS and Fortismere, DS has AS. He was bullied at APS and mind you not only by children but by a TA as well, that person tried to force him to do something AS usually have difficulties with, and DS threatened to commit suicide. When I had a meeting with the person in charge of such cases, I was abused by the authorities as they were trying to cover their back in the incident before the social services etc. They routinely refused to provide DS with a quiet place to eat in and he developed eating disorder as a result. He played truant as he couldn't stand all that environment and bullying. That was a nightmarish experience all in all, and an offer from Fortismere was truly God sent.

He's now at Fortismere for three years and is really really happy. They don't have much resources to provide SEN children with, in fact we didn't get anything at all from them but perhaps we just needed a safe and calm place. DS is very able academically, especially in maths, goes to top sets and is just left to study. Children are more friendly, no one thinks he's quirky because he reads too much etc, he's made some friends, not very close ones but that's only natural for AS.

There are some downsides at Fortismere for us, but it's just our case I think. The school is not very challenging academically and DS is kind of sinking intellectually. Anyway it's much better than most London comps, one can't expect academic achievements from a non-selective state school. The other thing is SEN support is rather lax and DS is left coping on his own, but again perhaps we are not persistent enough when it's all to do with budgets and getting resources others may need more. But if your DC really needs a firm support at school I would suggest thoroughly discussing this with Fortismere.

As for the "middle class" I wouldn't worry about that at all. There are quite a few pupils on free school meals (10% as far as I remember) so it's a mixed environment actually. We are low middle class, uni degrees and skilled jobs but not enough income to own a 1M house and a Porsche but we feel perfectly at ease at Fortismere.

inmysparetime Mon 24-Oct-11 07:34:00

My DS is in a primary school in a very middle class area and they have been great about his dietary needs. They were really helpful when he had bilateral hearing aids, and his classmates are really considerate and kind to him. Perhaps I just got lucky though.

GodKeepsGiving Wed 26-Oct-11 05:54:17

I tried it and DD's life was hell. We have good educations and own our home, but she was bullied relentlessly and the special needs department was terrible. She has now moved to a school which had been in special measures but has tremendous funding for special needs. It is a tiny school which has actually met her needs, unlike the very middle class school which was useless, but had a fabulous reputation for special needs. Sometimes this type of motivation is overrated - I would happily send my other SN children to the less middle class school since I know they'll be nurtured properly. It depends what's available in your area really. If you think she'll be well supported then it could be worthwhile.

goinggetstough Wed 26-Oct-11 09:54:37

Godkeepsgiving sorry your dd had a really bad time at her last school. However I would suggest that the reason for the awful time was not due to in being a "middle class school" but because it had a weak head teacher and as you say a terrible special needs department and your new school a great special needs department and a strong head.
I hope she continues to flourish.

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