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Pre Prep won't confirm they'll accept DS until September? Agh What do we do?

(21 Posts)
IDremtOfManderley Wed 05-Feb-14 10:37:49

My Ds is three and a half, a july birthday. This week he went in for his trail day at school. He has had it early as we are going abroad for 4 months with DH work so he won't be able to have it in the summer term before starting in September in preprep1/ reception.

Before we picked this school we asked about admissions and their selection process (apparently they are non selective) and were told "so long as he's not still in nappies or strangling other children, he's in"

Anyway, here is our predicament. At the end of trail day the teacher told my dh that ds had been very social, settled well and enjoyed lunch but that she thought he might have speech delay as she couldn't understand everything he was saying and that he seemed uncoordinated. This morning they have asked if he can go back for another trail day at the beginning of September to see "If he's ready". The teacher told my dh that in the mean time we should work on getting him to thread beads, use scissors and practice walking down the stairs one step per foot. They expect him to be fine but what do we do if not? We can't just hang about hoping they'll take him. They have got a nice get out claus if he's not ticking boxes and we will be left with no school place for our son. We didn't apply to our local state because we thought he'd go to this school, especially as they said they were undersubscribed and non selective. So now we don't have much time to sort anything out as we go abroad in two weeks time and not home until the summer. Are we stupid for not anticipating this? What can we do?

I called my ds preschool this morning and they told me they don't think he has delays but sometimes struggles with concentration. He is certainly a social and well behaved child.
I'm not sure this school is going to be the right environment for him anyway if they look at three year olds and asses them like this and reject them if they don't fit a pigeon hole. He is a carefree, happy child. I don't want him in a high pressured environment but it didn't seem to us as though the school was like that. That's why we chose it. Maybe he has delays and the preschool have missed it? I've made a dr's appointment in any case as I wouldn't want to miss an issue that he might need help with but at the same time he's only 3.

My main problem now is how do we find a school that will take him?

Sorry for the long rambling post, and thanks in advance for any advice!

Unexpected Wed 05-Feb-14 10:47:26

Well, I would run a mile from a school which described themselves as non-selective "as long as he's not strangling other children"! They either do or don't have an admissions policy and this kind of dilly-dallying won't feature anywhere on it. Yes, it was a mistake not to apply to other schools, either state or private. It is not too late to make a late application for both but you may well struggle with getting a state place which you are happy with. Honestly, I would try other private schools which may well end up with some spare places.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 05-Feb-14 10:53:00

I don't think it sounds like it will be the right school either.

Boys develop late. My ds entered first nursery & then pre prep hardly talking with toilet ing issues (nursery actually told me they were no longer allowed to refuse entry based on being in nappies as it was discrimination under the disability act (might have been because they accept Early Years funding.

It doesn't sound very nurturing or child centres to me.

LIZS Wed 05-Feb-14 10:54:00

Have you discounted the school on this basis ? tbh if you still want him to go there I would try very hard to find a date to revisit in the summer term, even if it means a special trip back and work on the areas highlighted in the meantime. At least then you would have a chance to apply to a state school before the long holidays or could you do a late application now . Would the preschool take him back in September allowing you further time to look for another school and defer his start?

IDremtOfManderley Wed 05-Feb-14 11:05:36

Thanks for your responses! I think we're going to apply to other schools but how can I tell if they will have the same process for selection? We don't have a tonne of choice in our area (Bucks/oxfordshire) for other private schools. They all seem highly academic and full. I am a bit clueless, being state educated myself. My dh went to very academic private schools but even he didn't see this coming or his sister, who was head of early years at her last teaching job.
I'm guessing our local state school is full now too. God I'm so stupid for not applying there too!

ChazsBrilliantAttitude Wed 05-Feb-14 11:11:12

Their motor skills advice is good. He will need fine motor skills to hold a pencil and things like scissors and bead threading all help with that as does play doh, lego and other fiddly toys.

Is his speech indistinct? DS2 had unclear speech because of chronic tonsillitis. He needed speech therapy as people outside the family couldn't understand him. Have you had his hearing checked?

I am not sure I agree with the idea that it is a pressurised environment to suggest that there are a few things you can work on to help him get ready for school. What ever school he goes to, working on these issues will be a good thing to do. I wouldn't worry too much about them either. Its amazing how much difference a small amount of work with a child of this age can make. DS2 didn't need a huge amount of speech therapy to get him to a point where he could be understood. A child playing a walking up and down the stairs game or squishing playdoh doesn't realise that they are also helping their motor skills.

Go and check out a couple more schools if you are worried and perhaps check in with this one next term to see how the lists are shaping up.

beanandspud Wed 05-Feb-14 11:13:48

I would question whether you want a long-term relationship with this school if this is their approach before you have even become a 'paying customer'. Why did you choose them in the first place? Do the reasons still apply despite this situation? Where else did you consider?

You still have some time so I would get a late application in for a state school place - you never know what you might be offered and at the very least it would be some contingency for September.

Look at other private schools and start ringing today to see which have places for September. I know it's another thing to add to an ever-growing list but you still have time to visit before you go abroad (and before the schools close for half term).

As a PP said, can you plan a trip home in the Summer to re-visit this school as a lot can change for a 3yr old in a few months? Will he be in a pre-school abroad?

hellsbells99 Wed 05-Feb-14 11:17:53

My DD had 'unclear' speech when she started at her state school. The school just said she was immature for her age and no problem. She actually did have a problem but it was sorted with a few sessions to the nhs speech therapist. Something to do with her 'S's being pronounced in a 'hissy' way due to incorrect shaping of the mouth.
I would speak to your health visitor - probably based at your GPs surgery.
I would also do a late application to your local state schools.

IDremtOfManderley Wed 05-Feb-14 11:49:08

He pronounces V as B as in Billage instead of village and he does say things like "Where we going?" instead of "Where are we going?". People don't usually struggle to understand him though. He holds a pencil well and you can tell what it is that he is drawing such as a car/ tree/ person. He does struggle with the things mentioned in my original post though. Anyway, my point is we need more options incase they refuse him in september. I think the school is perhaps more selective than they let on. We chose it because the children seemed happy, they have excellent outdoor space, it seemed diverse, not just focused on academics. Good sports, art and music etc.
Perhaps i should have prepped him but I really had no clue he'd have to tick boxes.

sittingbythepoolwithenzo Wed 05-Feb-14 14:08:43

I would run a mile, to be honest. The school have not been straight with you, and I wouldn't trust them.

Your DS will be fine. My eldest had unclear speech at 3 and a half, and probably couldn't thread a bead now (he's 10 years old). Very bright, thriving at school, plays the piano, sports etc. I think it's all perfectly normal, but talk to the health visitor (rather than the gp) and see if you can get an assessment for speech if necessary.

Unexpected Wed 05-Feb-14 15:26:17

I agree that they may have given you good advice about improving his fine motor skills etc before starting school but they cannot hold you ransom over whether he gets a place or not based on that! If you had other school options, by September you would have been expected to already pay a deposit and term's fees, have bought uniform and actually had your child start at another school! Do they think they are so special that you can afford to, or are prepared to, do all this only to then put him into this school if they deem he has advanced sufficiently for them to accept into their "non-selective, although not strangling" school?

clarexbp Wed 05-Feb-14 16:18:36

Oh you poor thing - it sounds very stressful. But don't beat up on yourself - the only crime you have committed is to take things at face value and to be relaxed in the face of the choosing-a-school-hysteria that takes over large swathes of the parent population at this time of year.

If the worst comes to the worst (i.e. come Sept they still won't take him), you can keep him home/nursery until the term after he turns five. Obviously this isn't ideal, but it can buy you a few weeks to make alternative arrangements. So, for instance, schools, esp larger ones, almost always have a few 'no shows' on the first day of term. I think that they have to wait a few days to see if they turn up, but if they don't, then the places are available to those on the waiting list (which should be short or non-existent by that point).

I wouldn't personally dismiss this school purely on the basis of this incident. Schools really only get a snapshot of a child at these assessments, and if he was having an off-day/feeling a bit shy etc, he could have come across as just not ready.

On a side issue, my DD is several months older than your DS, and also says 'billage' and 'where we going' and by all accounts her language is fine/advanced.

Good luck.

IDremtOfManderley Wed 05-Feb-14 17:48:17

Gosh, thank you ladies. Your replies have helped me to rationalise this and get things in perspective. I'll come back and update when we have a solution.

Unexpected, I think you've hit the nail on the head tbh!

Now for a mad panic applying to state schools and other independents!

mary21 Wed 05-Feb-14 18:01:28

You can apply for state schools as a late applicant. The LEA does have a responsibility to find you a place but doesn't have to find you a place at a good school or your nearest school.
With regard to their assessment. Do lots on playing . Park for gross motor skills, needed for fine motor. Monkey bars, climbing up the slide etc. Animal walks eg like a bear.
Help with cooking stirring cutting , rolling pastry. Threading, shape sorters. Finger painting .Lego all sorts.
Talk to him lots, blow bubbles. Have fun.
If you are concerned ask for a speech and language assessment and an OT assessment.
Btw my nephews older hopeless at fine motor as pre school er. Very bright just got Ms. Younger. Great fine motor. Always struggled at school.Just not that academic. Hey ho!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Wed 05-Feb-14 21:27:09

As other posters have said, you can apply as a late applicant. They will consider your application after everyone lses, but they do have to find you a place. As he's a July birthday, you can defer his reception place untl the summer term, so if you are not happy with the school given, you can sit on the waiting lists of others for a couple of terms.

I would run a mile from this school. Unclear speech and less than ideal fine motor control should be easy for a school to deal with and provide support for. They are far from uncommon in reception classes even among children who have no long term issues. The fact they won't offer you a place because of this suggests they either can't or won't deal with it. I'd be worried that if something else came up the school wouldn't support you or will end up trying to manage you out.

springrain Wed 05-Feb-14 22:59:32

I would check out the previous cut off distances for your local state schools (per council website). If you are applying to ones that in a normal year you would have got into and apply now, you only need one applicant to turn down a place for private after offers are out and I think you should be fine. You could check this with your council (or someone more knowledgable will come along and tell you) but I think that once the offers are out, the fact that you were a late applicant is irrelevant, as the wait list is then ranked by distance (or whatever the cut off criteria is) and not whether you are on time or not. You can also ask your nearest state schools how many first preference applications they have had which they will know by now, plus whether they normally get a few places declined or not. This info verses the PAN is a good guide to whether they will be full and hence how much of a chance you have for a place. Do a little ringing round then fill the form in this week. Keep looking at the other independents too, but at least then you will have some choices.

rabbitstew Thu 06-Feb-14 07:59:22

Your ds sounds like an utterly normal 3.5 year old. Did the teacher making the comments realise how young he is??? She was clearly hoping he would present as a child already entirely school-ready, which is just ridiculous.

IDremtOfManderley Fri 07-Feb-14 14:47:46

We're now in the process of applying to state schools and we're going to a view another independent school. DS Pre school have been very supportive and even though they think he is fine for a boy his age, they have arranged for the sen co/psych to go in take a look at his file and asses him.

My sil who as I mentioned above (primary teacher and head of early years at her last job) is outraged that the teacher used the term "Delay" in her report. She said they should never make a guess at diagnosis. It's not their job or expertise to be diagnosing children, especially after one day and very bad form apparently.

Another point to add is that it wasn't actually the teacher who passed all the info on to my dh about my ds "failed assessment", it was the school secretary. I wasn't aware of that in my original post, highly unprofessional imo. There are other things, but I won't mention them now as wouldn't want to identify the school on here. The school have agreed to see him again so long as the pre school can provide a detailed report but they made excuses for the apparent changes in admissions policy since we looked around (although their website still says they are non selective). They blamed "difficult" parents of other children in the pre prep for this sudden change and I have a very odd feeling about the place now.

They were disingenuous with us and what they proposed originally (to send him in for a few days in sept then decide they might not want him) shows that they do not have my ds interests at heart. Poor kid to get his uniform and start somewhere to then be told no and not have a place anywhere else. They must know that would not be an option for the majority of parents.

I do wish we hadn't just taken them at face value and had planned better.

CharlesRyder Fri 07-Feb-14 20:33:40

Not Davenies is it??

If you were prepared to pin down the area people will probably have some useful recommendations of places that would genuinely fit your requirements. Do you want 4-11 or 4-13?

Karoleann Sun 09-Feb-14 22:39:39

My ds had very unclear speech (also July birthday) and had some intensive speech therapy before starting school every week in the summer holidays and then weekly at school. He also had a slight stammer.
He's now in year one and his speech s pretty much on par with the other (younger) children in the year.
He had similar speech patterns to your DS ie five was fibe, words missed out of sentences and I think he was speech delayed.
School was very supportive, incidentally it was the school mentioned above!

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 10-Feb-14 11:12:43

I think you need to speak to the teacher directly to find out what exactly they are querying. it sounds very jumbled to me. I would read what you have said as them saying that they actually don't think he is ready to start school in September but are they saying this because they have the provision for him to start say in January when he will be a little bit older? now I am not excusing any of what has happened or saying that they will suddenly become the perfect school but I do think you need to find out what exactly they are trying to say.

He will need to work on those skills anyway, to be honest any school would love it if kids all came in to reception able to thread beads, hold a pencil correctly, write their name and so on but they aren't allowed to specify it or ask parents to ensure the child can. doesn't mean it won't be in his favour to practice those skills before the autumn.

I don't like the sounds of their 'selective but non selective' approach. what i sounds like they mean is they aren't academically selective but they will pick and choose based on behaviour and development. I would expect this is partly driven (if there was a comment about other parents) by people who think as they are paying a lot of money for their child to go to school they shouldn't then end up in a class with lots of children who may be disruptive or whatever. of course it shouldn't actually work like that and I am not sure they are allowed to discriminate although I don't know what sort of allowance they get for splds compared to a state school so perhaps there is some leeway for them there?

I would say start working on the skills anyway - have fun doing threading, picking up peas and so on, someone on here has a list of different games and activities for fine motor skill development and I would ask to speak to them properly to find out exactly what the situation is, at the moment it doesn't all make sense and you want it in writing what they actually mean. Then I would start looking at other schools, both private and late application for state schools. AND remember he is young in the year so doesn't HAVE to start in September.

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