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Any advice appreciated...

(13 Posts)
ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 00:17:23


My daughter is starting secondary school in September and the school asked to see me as they had some concerns over her academic levels (it is an independent school) because the entrance test results did not match up with her primary school assessment levels. The tests were much lower than her school reports.
It is quite an academic school and my daughter has some SEN (HFA) but is obviously capable of achieving very well because she is above average at her current school in many subjects and achieved an outstanding mark in another school which did an online test, rather than one using pen/paper. She was offered an academic scholarship on the basis of that result.

My concern is that she clearly has the ability but there is something getting in the way of her showing it in the 'usual' way and the school has said she needs to learn to do that better...'in the way we need her to'.
Would it be unreasonable to hope that the school should be having the attitude that it is their job to get the best out of her?

She has not had an educational psychologist report but clearly the difference between pen/paper testing and online interface testing made a huge impact on her exam results. I am now concerned she will be 'left behind' a bit in a 'one size fits all' approach and the attitude of the school that she would need to 'fit in' a bit better has left an uncomfortable niggling feeling in my mind that it may not be the best place for her....

Am I worrying too much? (I am hoping for lots of responses to tell me to stop being ridiculous and get a grip!)

2Retts Mon 15-Jul-13 03:05:19

I would say, go with your instincts. If you feel this is not the best fit for your daughter then you need to rethink.

I'm only saying this as my DC's both had issues and it took some effort to find the best schools for them but it was well worth the effort.

cory Mon 15-Jul-13 07:46:06

"My concern is that she clearly has the ability but there is something getting in the way of her showing it in the 'usual' way and the school has said she needs to learn to do that better...'in the way we need her to'."

This would be a red flag to me. Suppose the next few years show that she does have some form of SEN that needs targeted help- the school has already told you that the onus is on her to meet their needs, not on them to support her. As the old saying goes "When people tell you what they are like, listen".

IDK Mon 15-Jul-13 08:48:38

It's a bit daft to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. If you are prepared to pay thousand of pounds in private fees for the next 5/7 years, then why not pay a few hundred for an assessment? Then you will have some scientific information to give to the school to hope that it might guide them.

Would it be unreasonable to hope that the school should be having the attitude that it is their job to get the best out of her?

Yes. All schools are sausage machines which work on the assumption that the masses will conform to The System. No school does one-to-one, individually tailored to needs. There may be some tweaking round the edges but no one will turn the world upside down for your pfb (or mine or anybody's).

eatyourveg Mon 15-Jul-13 09:15:16

May be far off the mark here and I apologise if I am but you should also bear in mind that as your dd has hfa, the anxiety of doing any entrance tests just reinforces the upcoming change which is a pretty major thing and I would be very surprised indeed if it did not reflect itself in some way on her test results.

The school will be aware that some children don't perform on the day as they might usually and would normally factor that in when looking at results but you might have to press the point that hfa might be playing a bigger role.

I would perhaps suggest that she is doing particularly well at her primary school because she is settled there, knows the routine, knows what is expected and at secondary school it is all an unknown at this stage. She doesn't know them and they don't know her.

If you are absolutely sure that is the best school for her particular needs (not just academic but social and emotional needs too) then go along and ask them straight out what can they do to help your dd - as others have said, you are paying them for a service and you need to be sure that they can provide the service you want/need

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 14:03:36

The problem with HFA is that NOONE seems to know how to deal with it. Specialist schools are usually for those with more severe symptoms on the spectrum, and as HFA girls in particular seem to learn coping mechanisms much better than boys, it is often difficult to appreciate their educational issues.

If someone could tell me the name of of any school that could properly support HFA I would love to hear it.

Benefits of this particular school are that she is excited to be going with some very good friends, the cohort is reasonably small compared to other schools and she feels reasonably familiar with the environment there. They are also very inclusive with their music, sport and drama which she seems to enjoy and be quite good at.

I can see the LS teacher and I becoming regular correspondents though....

Will try to organise an EP assessment also - if it were only a matter of a few hundred pounds that would be great, but the cheapest I have found is £700 for a 'basic' assessment - open to any recommendations from those who have used a good EP for less than that!

niminypiminy Mon 15-Jul-13 14:29:23

One of my children has AS/HFA and he is brilliantly understood and supported at his maintained primary school. I expect him to be understood and supported at the maintained secondary school that we will send him to -- because they have the experience and expertise to do so.

I'm not saying I never have to take anything up with the school, but on the other hand because they are there for every child (and don't pick and choose as selective private schools do), and want to do their best for every child, they want to work with me to do the best for him. It's not 'my way or the highway'.

A private EP assessment is extremely expensive. When I looked into it I was told £1500 for a full assessment. However, if you are planning to spend thousands on private education I should have thought it was worth it. At the least it will give you a complete picture of her strengths and weaknesses and what kind of support she needs to do well. Mind you, if the school thinks they will have to do extra to support your child, they may well suggest that 'here is not the best place for her'.

eatyourveg Mon 15-Jul-13 17:42:07

ds3 (15) has hfa and his small independent school have been fab - they seem to bend over backwards to help if there is ever a query. It is in their interest to keep the parents happy, the parents ultimately pay their salaries. Ep's are expensive but their reports are usually well worth the money. We have been lucky and ds3's 2 EP reports (one for primary one for secondary) have both been done by the LA

I asked the primary school to get the EP in for secondary transfer - could you ask your primary school to do the same?

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 17:47:11

£700 is probably the going rate and tbh I'm surprised this ahs been raised so late in the day. Who diagnosed her HFA ? Why did you turn the other school down as a matter of interest ? I fear you may have an on-going battle ahead.

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 19:34:58

We had to turn down the other school because it was far too long a journey for her to make on her own. When we applied we hoped there would be other classmates to travel with but there is not even one. Current choice is where many friends will be and is very close to home...she should be emotionally happy and secure there which is so important for her anxiety levels on a day to day basis.
When she is older and a little more aware of how to travel on her own etc.. she may be able to travel without support but a Summer birthday and HFA do not a mature, thoroughly independent secondary school student make!
Diagnosis made around 2 years ago by clinical psychologist and NHS CAHMS services. Both professionals advised she was not severe enough for statement. LA refuse to provide EP because they don't consider she has issues as she regularly achieves over national expected averages.
I have no concerns she will continue to make reasonable progress, it is just a matter of what might be possible for her and if she has the ridiculous potential as revealed on this one particular standardised test, I am curious as to why this doesn't seem to translate to regular school work.
I shouldn't worry too much because she does seem happy and that is the most important thing. Definitely have to investigate EP.
Thanks for all the good advice above.

AlienAttack Mon 15-Jul-13 20:45:19

IME, if school is telling you that their ethos is your DD needs to "fit in", which they seem to be saying, I would be really questioning whether I was content this was the best school for my DD. I fully appreciate you can ensure various assessments are done but I have no confidence, from what you have posted, that school is prepared to adapt.

ChocolatesAreTheOnlyFruit Mon 15-Jul-13 20:56:08

If I felt I had any better alternative I would grab it with both hands. I'd love to know where all these fabulously supportive schools are...very pleased for niminy and eatyourveg that they seem to have hit the jackpot. Please PM the names of your DCs schools so I can look at them should fears about inadequate support be realised over the next academic year?...
The school fees are a real stretch for us but worth it in comparison to the dreadful secondary school she was offered..most recent OFSTED for the school she was offered reported that students with SEN made less than adequate progress. Also the pass rate for GCSEs was under half of the students... I am quite amazed at how many people seem to think we have a few spare thousand pounds lying around on top of the fees for the EP, but if we do manage to find them I hope any recommendations will be implemented, or at least it may prove her need of a statement..

Time will tell.

creamteas Mon 15-Jul-13 21:21:45

My DCs school is also brilliant with HF ASD. It is a comp in a non-grammar school area so has good experience with children on the spectrum. We live in the midlands.

We also have an regional educational service specifically for DC with autism. They make an individual assessment of each child and advise the school on how best to support them whether they are in MS or special schools. They also offer some 1-1 and/or small group work in each school. This is state school only, as it is an LEA service.

But despite this support, the transfer to secondary was extremely difficult, and it took nearly the whole of Y7 for DS3 to settle (DD was a bit better).

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