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Feel really depressed at the prospect of secondary school.

(15 Posts)
insanityscatching Thu 20-Mar-14 18:35:39

Dd is 11, she has a statement and is really happy in a very inclusive primary. In her school she doesn't need a statement but she's had it since she was three and I've kept it with full support from her school (it's fully funded) for "a time when she might need it"
I'm unbelievably depressed at the prospect of her needing the full support the statement offers in secondary because fundamentally the environment isn't one in which she will thrive and all the effort we have put in to enable her to be independent and high achieving will count for nothing.
The statement gave me the pick of the schools of course but really they are all much the same and so I opted for the one that her friends will attend.
Yesterday she brought home a flyer about learning support in secondary and I don't want that for her. I don't want her met by and sat with a TA, I don't want her having lunch separately,I don't want her segregated and doing arts and crafts because it's easier for them. I don't want any of what they offer for her because in the right environment she doesn't need any of that and she is happiest being fully included with just minor adjustments made to the environment to accommodate her.
So what should I do? Could I home ed her? Would she be happier? Could I meet all her needs?
I never wanted to home ed, I went to tribunal to get ds into independent specialist school but I have no case with which to fight for dd until she falls apart in secondary and I won't let that happen to her.
Have others fallen into home ed this way? Does it work?

FavadiCacao Thu 20-Mar-14 18:48:04

There are a lot of children in HE who have SENs, with and without statements. HE-special is a mailing list dedicated He'ing children with SENs. The people on the list have a wealth of information and experience, and are very welcoming and supportive. I don't know how active it is these days as we moved on a couple of years ago.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 21-Mar-14 07:33:58

dd has no SENs whatsoever, and loved her primary, but the thought of secondary school still depressed me - and her! (Especially in our area.) I put the idea of HE to her a while ago and I have never seen her so excited. We declined the secondary place she got (her 3rd choice, one she didn't really want) and have tons of plans for September. smile

Just thought I'd let you know you're not the only one thinking about it after a successful primary experience, it truly is a viable option. smile

Springcleanish Fri 21-Mar-14 07:42:32

But the flyer probably outlines the support available, it won't be the same for every child. You need to go into the school and meet with the SENCO. Explain what support you think your daughter will need in each lesson. The SENCO will listen to you, your DD's primary teachers and most importantly your DD. just because the offer of separate lunch etc is there, doesn't mean your daughter needs to do it. It's a strategy to support her if necessary. I would say give secondary a go. We have many children with very complex needs who parents and primary teachers thought would struggle, and they have thrived at secondary, pushing boundaries we never thought possible. Try 6 months, review the situation each term and get to know the SENCO, they'll work really closely with you. Good luck

insanityscatching Fri 21-Mar-14 09:19:39

I just think the flyer is indicative of their attitude to SEN and it depresses me. I've had lots of meetings with the SENCo and HT, they thought that I'd be happy that dd would have a TA sat next to her........but why would I? She sits with her friends in school now. They thought I'd be happy that she'd have somewhere to escape to............ what about making the school a place where she is happy and safe to be in? They thought I'd be happy that she would be withdrawn from classes.......she is fully included in the school she is in now, she does everything her friends do and she is as able academically as the top 20% so why should she be removed? It just seems like such a second rate way of doing things to me.
In her school now there are pupils with complex and multiple disabilities and they are fully included in her school. Dd is the most able child with a statement that her school has ever known and yet secondary will have her marginalised and disempowered unless they can change their attitude to SEN for her and I don't really have the faith in them to believe they can tbh. It feels like the last six years will have been a waste if I send her there and I don't think I can do that but I'm not sure I really want to home ed either.

Saracen Fri 21-Mar-14 09:38:48

What an eloquent post, insanity.

I think people tend to get so used to their own particular system that it does not occur to them that bolt-on solutions such as add-a-TA fail to address the fundamental inappropriateness of the whole approach. The provision of such support may seem incredibly generous to people who are aware of numerous kids struggling along without any accommodations whatsoever. Some parents fight for years to get a TA for their child. But that doesn't make it a good solution for your daughter, just a slightly-less-bad solution than no accommodation at all.

You're right, why should your daughter be in such a setting?

However, I can see that this is a difficult decision for you since you don't relish the prospect of home education. Do you want to say more about that? Is it because of your doubts that HE will be suitable for your daughter, or because you think you won't enjoy it, or some other reason?

mummytime Fri 21-Mar-14 09:41:03

You description of SEN support in secondary sound nothing like the help my 3 children have received. In fact they have all thrived.
Ds did get withdrawn a bit for Literacy help and once for a "social skills" group. The only subjects he missed out on were Latin and a second MFL.
In classrooms where I have taught with a TA, the TA has not been sat next to one child, unless they really needed that to access the curriculum in any way. Often the TA has been there for Bob but has spent a lot of time helping control Sam, Jane and Tom; enabling me to spend more time with Bob.
A good SENCO will educate teachers and TAs and enable them to provide support to meet the needs of the individual child.

Have you spoke to the SENCO herself? Do not be fobbed off with assistants who may not "get" that one size doesn't fit all.

My youngest is about to start secondary, and I would complain loudly if they tried to provide her with inappropriate support. She would benefit from help with social skills, but does not need literacy or numeracy help, in fact is going to probably sit level 6 SATs. However she will need an escape if her anxiety levels rise too high.

I would really suggest you go and start to get to know the SENCO at the senior school, and express the worries you have shared here. It might not be as bad as you think.

However you will still have the option of HE if it really does go badly.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 21-Mar-14 09:41:13

Just so that we're fully clear, are the SENCO and HT insisting they put these things in place for your dd? And what provision are you wanting for the secondary school to give her, if anything, and have you spelt it out to them? Surely you don't have to accept the support they're offering if dd doesn't need it? (I'm a little confused, sorry! Though I understand your feeling about the attitude being to exclude her from 'normal' school rather than find ways of including her fully, when she's been so well integrated at primary.)

Nocomet Fri 21-Mar-14 09:56:59

The school may put these things in place, but your DD doesn't have to use them. My bright dyslexic DD hate fed being withdrawn from lessons and ignored any attempts from TAs to crowd her in lessons and loved the one who was happy to chat at break when the world got much.

Over the years she's trained the SENCO that she wants extra time in exams and will come to the learning centre during PHSE, that's it!

How your DDs support works depends not only on what the school wants, but how determined your DD is and how supportive her friends are.

SN departments are really busy, they rarely chase DCs who don't turn up, very hard.

insanityscatching Fri 21-Mar-14 10:24:11

I think what has happened is that I had previously been very critical about the school following an incident that happened there to a child with SEN (the same SEN dd has). I was very vocal in my condemnation of the ethos in a school where an incident could happen and be filmed and subsequently go viral outside of a staff room and not one member of staff bothered to intervene.
I spoke and met with HT who wanted to reassure me that dd would be safe there and so I think I am supposed to be reassured that dd will have a TA or pseudo bodyguard hmm next to her.
Dd is nothing like their stereotypical idea of what a child with autism is like and as such their stereotypical idea of the support she will need is in no way appropriate either. In fact I laughed at some of their suggestions because they were so inappropriate for dd but hey she has autism so that's what autism is like in their mind.
I think that is the crux she doesn't fit the boxes that the support is tailored to and I don't want her meeting the criteria to get the support because we have spent the last six years in school responding to her needs as an individual and not as a diagnosis.

Nocomet Fri 21-Mar-14 11:25:49

Given that, I'd get her name down on the waiting list for another school.

They may forgive and forget and treat your DD as the individual she is or they may be over bearing and impossible.

I think you have to give them until Christmas, but a plan B never hurts.

Lottiedoubtie Fri 21-Mar-14 11:32:21

Do you have a clear idea of what support would best help your daughter? Have you put this to the senco? What did they say?

insanityscatching Fri 21-Mar-14 14:37:19

I suspect the SENCo thinks I'm deluded in all honesty, she speaks of learning support etc but dd will achieve level fives not because as they suspect she has been spoon fed by having a TA at the side of her (because dd is totally independent in numeracy and literacy in fact her TA isn't even in the room then) but because she is as able as the rest of them.
She speaks of a bolthole, somewhere to escape to when dd in fact likes to be in the midst of anything going off. She sang a solo in the latest Christmas performance, she's gone on three residentials (without her TA) and is fully involved in any extra curricular activity going.
She speaks about behavioural strategies when dd's behaviour is nothing but exemplary.
Her current school have said they will emphasise just how able and how independent she is and make it clear I have a secure grasp on her abilities and needs which might improve things I suppose and they know that I will pull out if I don't feel that they can take on board what dd needs.
I suppose it's hard to trust a school when you don't feel that they have a good idea of what is needed which is teachers who are calm and sensitive who have clear routines and a good handle on the behaviour of the other's in her class. A TA who can fade well into the background but is sensitive enough to see when dd is struggling and will support in a way that doesn't make it obvious that she has SEN, one that recognises just how hard dd has to work to cope with being in school and can make life easier for her by keeping her organised and reassured. And lastly a school that will communicate effectively with me and consider my knowledge of dd the key to managing her needs well and one that makes reasonable adjustments as needed without it being a battle beforehand which pretty much describes how dd is supported just now.
My reservations about home ed are dd loves school, it feels a huge responsibility, I worry that she won't achieve academically what she is capable of though she won't in school if she is unhappy either tbh. I worry about the social side her friends and her peers are great source of joy to her and I worry that our relationship might be strained if we are together constantly.

FavadiCacao Fri 21-Mar-14 18:27:45

It is an incredibly hard decision to make.
As a parent to a child with AS (and other bits and bobs), I made my decision based upon what I realistically could we achieve at home vs in mainstream school. The conclusion to HE during the primary years, after two schools, was easy but secondary schooling was a different ball game. I spent hours reading through mainstream autism boards and HE ones (HE-special, AIM-Autism In Mind- and a local HE-SEN). Eventually we decided to continue HE- successfully.

Equally, I know children who have successfully gone through mainstream education.

bochead Sun 23-Mar-14 23:35:35

Socialising with friends has always been important to my son too. Luckily we relocated to an area where the homeschool social scene is a pretty vibrant one, with something within a 15 min drive happening most days of the week. The awfulness of the local groups I investigated back in my old locale was a key reason why I never homeschooled while living there.

Before making your mind up about homeschool - do take a look at what exactly your local groups offer. Sadly some are just an extension of mother and baby groups for KS1 kids, but others hire tutors, act as exam centres and run really cool stuff for teens. It's such a massive variation and yet so, so important I think for a child who needs regular contact with peers in order to feel happy.

Look too at the variations of live online schools, correspondence courses, local tutors and colleges too. 14-16 year olds can do their core GCSE's of maths, & english at further education colleges now for free as the gubbermint wants everyone to have these under their belt - this could be a nice stepping stone to sixth form studies at the same institution if you are canny about it. (I don't know WHY further and higher education seem to have a better culture of individuality and SN's than schools do, but it's a phenomenon I've heard spoken about by friends so many times that I think there must be some truth in it. It was certainly my sibling's experience).

Education at home takes many, many forms - there's no way I could help my DS with his science the way his online school teacher is doing and he's only 9!

Knowing there's a group that run GCSE courses and act as an exam centre just a short drive from my new home was a factor in deciding to stick with home ed for DS instead of going to comp. In our case online school will stagger his GCSE courses over 2-3 years avoiding the big pile up at the end of year 11 that I think could trigger his anxieties and make him underperform. If he can do them 1, 2 or 3 at a time using winter and summer sittings at a friendly centre with invigilators he knows, hes far more likely to get that all important maths and english because he won't feel too overloaded iyswim.

Sorry if I've given you more questions to research than answer. blush

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