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School Difficulties - - - - I'm so confused and disappointed

(18 Posts)
daisywoo Fri 12-Sep-08 14:57:31

I am in desperate need of advice! This turned into a bit of a rant, so I apologise in advance!!

My son has just started Yr 6 and would really like to get through the 11 plus. He had a serious illness when he was younger (a brain tumour) and now he is slower at processing some information than other children, and is slower at reading but his spelling is excellent and he's in the top set for maths. He is also very friendly with everyone, helpful, clumsy, trips up, skips and generally very, very happy!! He lost part of his sight due to nerve damage, but just his right peripheral vision. However, when talking to the headteacher and asking for her support I felt like she was talking about a different child, not mine. Not only could she not say his surname properly, she wasn't too aware of how he performs in class, but felt she had the right to say that he wasn't naturally bright and the way she spoke about him made his difficulties and quirks sound so much worse than they actually are. I found that she talked in riddles a bit too, and wasn't too aware of what she was getting at, but knew it wasn't good.

He really tries when he wants to do something and sitting the 11 plus was his idea. However the school are not being all that supportive, basically saying he's got no chance, rather than applauding his willingness and dedication. We would like him to go to the Catholic School, and the head is all for that, and will write a letter of support. She also pointed out in a general parents meeting that should a child get through the 11 plus and she doesn't believe they should have done, that she can have the decision reversed - and of course we will never know. She also seems to take great delight in telling everyone that she will know the results 3 months before we will be notified.

What is bothering me the most, and this is where I REALLY need to hear what other people think and what they think I should do, is that she has told us that we should not make the Grammar School aware that Joshua has special needs because they will not take him. Surely that's not legal?!?? He is only on the first stage of special needs (School Action). What on earth is she doing? What is going on? She also insists that if we put the Grammar down on the selection form that the Catholic School will not take him, and I have received two letters from the Local Educuation Authority saying that this is no longer the case. I feel like she's doing everything she can to put us off, to make things difficult, or for it to appear to us that things are difficult... My son may not be the brightest in his year, but he's nowhere near the bottom, even with his difficulties, but I think with the right preparation and love and support it's worth a go at the 11 plus, especially when he wants to give it a go. How many kids would really go for something challenging when it comes to education! Not many!

Phew, rant over, ha ha!!!

marmadukescarlet Fri 12-Sep-08 15:12:30

Surely your DS should be getting extra help at school ( a Statement of Special Educational Needs) if he has these challenges?

I think you actually get told your score, so I would doubt that a head can overturn a decision. I would take that up with the LEA.

I don't know where you live, but competition for places in G school near me is so fierce, I may not put my dd in as she would be devastated to not pass/get a place.

Good luck, you need to get more support from head and LEA.

chopchopbusybusy Fri 12-Sep-08 15:17:30

The first thing I'd do is find out from the Grammar School which practise papers you should buy for the 11 plus, then sit your DS down and give him a practise run. That should give you a good idea if he really is capable of passing. It depends on the school, but although we don't have Grammar schools in our LEA, a couple of the neighbouring LEAs do. One needs a recommendation from the current school head teacher before sitting the 11 plus and the other offers places to pupils who pass 3 out of 3 of the papers, but will contact the head teacher for a recommendation if the pupil only passes 2 out of 3.

Can you find out how many pupils normally apply and how many places the Grammar School has. In some cases they only take the top 5%, but in others in can be the top 25%.

I suspect she is wrong to say that the Catholic school can refuse if they are not placed as first choice. I know this often used to be the case, but I think that's not usually true now.

daisywoo Fri 12-Sep-08 15:34:33

Thank you for the quick replies!

My son is on the lower level of Special Needs at the moment. But i'm starting to doubt whether he's getting the help he should be.

The head told me the other day that she will find out the results in December and we will get them on 2nd March. Don't know whether she really has the power to reverse an offer of a place but that's certainly what she said!!

We're in Warks I think this year there is 1400 children going for 90 places at the school my son would like to go too! But he's desperate to have a go - i've got to support him!

The head is definitely wrong about the Catholic School selection process thingy - I have 2 letters from the LEA saying that it is now longer first selection first - the head would not have it though.

There are no papers for the new Warks tests, no one has any idea of what to expect this year! We put him in for the 11 plus in July but it's just the total lack of support from the head, it's shocking! It's not like my son is comepletely stupid, he's just a little slower at processing things because of the removal of the tumour and surrounding brain tissue. He's achieving average scores in his English, because of the reading and comprehension but is doing above average in maths. I honestly feel like she's got no idea who he is.

bagsforlife Fri 12-Sep-08 15:58:48

You should put your son in for the Grammar school test. It is probably better in a way that the Warks test is unknown, means it is a fairer playing field. (I think there was some problem last year with alleged cheating or something). You should be able to find out if they are verbal reasoning/non verbal reasoning from the LEA or ask the school directly. You can buy practise books from WH Smith.

Grammar schools DO accept children with special needs and I am sure it is not legal not to do so. You should ring the school directly and speak to the headteacher explaining what you have said here, especially about your son's health. He sounds like just the sort of boy they would like, determined and bright.

Some primary school heads are notoriously anti grammar schools and ignorant of the whole 11 plus process (probably deliberately) but if you feel your son has a chance you should go for it. You have nothing to lose. I am sure she cannot reverse a decision. I suggest you find out all the facts independently and sort it all out yourself. Don't be put off by the headteacher at your son's school. Good luck

bagsforlife Fri 12-Sep-08 16:03:46

Also I think it sounds as though the 'First preference first' system has been stopped in Warks, it has in our area too. So you are right, your son won't lose his place at the catholic school, should be not get into the grammar school. You should also be aware that there is great competition to get places at some grammar schools so if your son is likely to be very disappointed if he doesn't get in, that may be something to bear in mind but the way the system works now, you do have nothing to lose by having a go. If he doesn't pass the test he should then be given a place at the catholic school by the sounds of it, but check with the LEA that this is definitely the case!!

tallulah Fri 12-Sep-08 19:24:52

daisywoo your story sounds horribly familiar I hate to say that your HT is right. She can block his admission to grammar school, even if he passes the 11+. That is exactly what our HT did to our DD1.

In our case we insisted that DD take the 11+ and the Head said to our faces that she would put the school recommendation down as borderline. What she actually did was put her in as High School and we found out later that means you can't get in angry

We went through 2 appeals that were a farce and I don't believe they even took any notice of anything we said. The Head certainly blocked us every step of the way. We were told we would have had more chance at appeal 3 as you actually get to go to that and speak to the panel, but we'd given up by then and (very luckily) found DD an Assisted Place at an Independent school- they took her on the strength of her 11+ scores hmm

We were also told by a grammar school in the next town that once we'd finished the appeal procedure they would take her as they had spaces and their own admissions criteria.

So it is worth your DS taking the test but you do need to be aware that if the Head is going to fight you she does have the power, and be prepared to fight.

Incidentally my DS2 who has dyspraxia and ADHD passed the 11+ (we took him out of that primary school PDQ) and went to grammar school and successfully passed a string of GCSEs with A*s, and As. He is off to uni next week. It is a myth that grammars don't take pupils with SEN.

critterjitter Fri 12-Sep-08 22:58:04

Hi Daisywoo
Just trying to get this clear: your son is currently in a Catholic primary and the Head of this primary is OK with him going to the Catholic secondary, but not with him going to a Grammar? And she is misrepresenting your son's abilities to you?

Sorry, I got a bit confused reading through!

daisywoo Sat 13-Sep-08 08:30:49

Hi everyone,

my son unfortunately isn't at the Catholic Primary School, the head there wouldn't take him because of what she was meant to tell the other children should he have died. I should've complained at the time but I was in much shock about what she said that I didn't. So, he's at the C of E Primary School. The other issue is that he's not Catholic, but my whole family (me, my brother, dad, my many cousins, many aunts and uncles...) all went to the same Catholic School where I'd like my son to go! It's only a small town so I didn't think there would be a problem but that's not the case now!!

I shall definitely ignore the heads advice of not mentioning my son's difficulties to the Grammar School. Our last option is the local high school which is where he will have to to go if he doesn't get into the Grammar or the Catholic school.

I'm note sure exactly what the head was doing, I found the experience so totally confusing and definitely like she was talking about another child and part of it seemed to be in code, hidden behind attempted humour while she nodded and grinned. It's so difficult to explain, sorry!

sarah293 Sat 13-Sep-08 08:57:18

Message withdrawn

marmadukescarlet Sat 13-Sep-08 10:26:12

I know my local G.School (one of the top in the country) take children with SN, as I have seen the adverts for LSA and SENCOs in the local press.

I would mention his difficulties, you get extra points awarded if you are young for year (July/Aug birthday) so I'm sure they will take a brain tumor op in to consideration.

Agree Riven, obviously has issues - I removed my DS from a school after 2 terms due to the negative unsupportive (towards children with SN) head, which cascaded down through the teaching staff.

Good luck.

undercovercat Sat 13-Sep-08 10:31:24

Is this for the 11plus next week? In kent you had to register by July for testing.

daisywoo Sat 13-Sep-08 12:09:55

It does sound like she has issues doesn't it - i'm so glad it's not just me!

On the face of things she seemed like a good headteacher, but they are all going a bit nanny-state down there too, which i'm not fond of. The most recent parents evening we attended, we had to take our child (as did everyone else!) and the teachers spent the whole time discussing things with the child and completely ignoring the parents!! We did find out, through the teacher talking to our son, that our son had been to detention a lot during schools hours for consistently not taking his homework in on time, and they just kept giving him more and more opportunities to do it - we of course had no idea about any of this. Again, while we sat there the teacher let our son know that he would be given even more chance to complete his homework because another teacher had said he could go to her class early to complete it. What rubbish! I think they must've really jumped to conclusions about his homelife, that he has no support or something! We should have been told that he had not been handing in his homework so that we could ensure he did, and we should have been informed that he was having to attend detention. We expect there to be consequences for his actions at school as well as home, otherwise he's going to get a shock and a half at senior school, instead they're all being carried through school, it's all nicey-nice and the children must not get upset. He has his difficulties and he is incredibly forgetful but he's not an idiot and we are supportive parents but anyone would think we weren't they way they go about things down there!! At a meeting about our concerns about Joshua's forgetfulness and how we weren't happy with how they were handling things, the head told us that she thought our son didn't like homework because his step-dad didn't do paperwork at the table!!! What year is this woman living in?!?!?!?!! He doesn't have a job where he needs to do that! That doesn't mean we're rubbish parents!

Gosh this is really turning into a rant now!! Oops!!! I obviously have more to get off my chest than I realised!!!! blush

Anyway, back to the 11 plus!! We sent the form off back in July, so he's registered for it, it's just been the head's attitude surrounding the whole thing since she told us all that the exams were taking place on the 4th October 2008... at the end of JUNE 2008!!!!!!

And breathe!!!

Twiglett Sat 13-Sep-08 12:21:53

I have to say that whilst I applaud your DS's determination, if he does pass the 11 plus and secure a place in Grammar School he will no doubt move from being a bright kid in his class to fairly near the 'bottom of the class' due to his SN .. the pace of Grammar School is fast and if his SN result in him processing information more slowly he may end up struggling .. which would be a huge demotivator

I think she is clumsily telling you that your desire for the 'catholic school' may well be the best path to maintain your son's motivation but yes I'd be narked

clam Sat 13-Sep-08 13:08:17

Have you checked out the 11+ forum website? sorry can't do links but google it. There is loads of advice on there, for each of the different local authorities, as rules differ in each.
This all sounds very confusing, and more than a bit dodgy, but I'm sure there'll be an expert on that site who can help.

daisywoo Sat 13-Sep-08 13:27:29

Hello Twiglett - it is a concern that should he get through the 11 plus that he will find it harder than he thinks he will. We were only talking about how he would do at the Grammar yesterday. I don't personally have experience of going to a Grammar School, but his step-dad went to KES in Stratford-upon-avon and he seems to think that with extra help he would be able to keep up and actually said he certainly didn't think he'd be at the bottom of the class! He could get through and might hate it and really struggle or he might get through and love it and do well! I don't know how much of a quicker pace Grammar Schools work at?

daisywoo Sat 13-Sep-08 13:29:38

Clam - I think I know which site you're referring to! I have posted on there also to ask for advice!

I agree that it is more than a bit dodgy, but until you hear other peoples opinions you just never know whether it's you, being paranoid, or you've got your facts wrong...!

critterjitter Sat 13-Sep-08 20:23:03

I think you should apply for the school that you think is right for your son. And include on any application forms that your son is/ has SEN. I think the fact that the Head is telling you not to, says more about her views of SEN than it does about any prospective school.

I'm very curious about why the Head is telling you not to include this information on the application form. hmm My main concern would be where you would be left if she decides to write your son a not so great report (as she has already told parents she has the right to do etc.) and he is not offered a place on the strength of this report. If you then decide to appeal and use the SEN issue as a basis for your appeal, the G school would quite rightly point out that no mention was made of his SEN in the initial application - which they used as a basis for their decision.

You might also want to ring the G school and ask their advice on this issue.

TBH, I think the sooner your son is out of this school and into his Secondary (Grammar, Catholic or otherwise) the better. This Head sounds odd!

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