Which school?! Agghh!(21 Posts)
I could do with some advice, I have a very bright but quite shy almost 4 year old only child with a severe speech delay - were under SALT and he's improving every day but at least a year behind his peer group, socially he's suffered due to lack of speech but is suddenly playing with other kids at nursery and has a 'specia' friend so everything going in right direction.
We're selecting primary school for 2018 admission.
We're narrowed down to two which based on previous years he stands a 90% chance of getting into...
One- school attached to current nursery he attends, I went there, parents went there (so strong emotional attachment!) 300 kids, village school, great facilities, good OFSTED.hell be in an intake of 45.
Two) small village church school, just got outstanding OFSTED, facilities ok but not amazing, grounds much smaller, no pool, small playground etc. He'll be in an intake of 15.
Agghh I always thought he'd go to choice 1, but 2 has thrown spanner in works and wonder if given speech/ language delay being in a smaller quieter environment where he's one of 15 not 45 might help?
What would you do? I don't know if I'm blinded by emotional attachment to School one? Or if actually bigger school = more opportunities and e pwriwnces long term?
Ps appreciate I'm lucky to have two great options! 😊
Have you visited both schools, figured out travelling time, spoken to staff to see how they approach additional needs? I assumed DD would go to a certain school near us, but as it turns out she has verbal dyspraxia and suspected autism, and that school is far too rigid in approach and views on behaviour and attainment. She will be going to a slightly more 'scruffy' school where she will be (we believe) supported properly rather than struggling with expectations she can't meet.
See the senco at both places and ask difficult questions. What’s their attitude to inclusion, disability, special needs, additional funding. Then find parents who have kids there with special needs and see what they say. I can’t over emphasise the importance of this.
The larger school may be more likely to have someone trained in speech and language therapy. One of the TAs in my sons class is a SALT specialist.
Go for a larger school, they are much more likely to be used to helping children like your DS and he will have a much larger cohort of peers to play with. 15 is miles too small in terms of friendship groups, imagine being stuck with the same 15 children for your entire primary school years its too stifling.
He is unlikely to stay in a class of 15 because no school can afford a ratio of 1 teacher to 15 children so it will change.
I would go to the school you trust to support him with his special needs. If he is not deaf, then I would think being with more children is ok, especially if he knows some of them. More choice of friends in a bigger school and you do know the school with the nursery. If you have been happy with this, and by the sounds of it, he is improving, why rock the boat for one perceived advantage?
Additionally a larger school may have more sport and other activities he can enjoy. So, in my view, stay where you are. Small is not always best and some small schools don’t have a good Sen track record because of the restricted intake. They just don’t see that many Sen children.
Which school is his friend going to? FWIW I sent DD to a tiny school (5/year intake, 22 in class across 4 years) partially due to her social and speech issues (selectively mute). Haven't regretted it for a second, and a few years on she is still a bit shy, but firmly on the normal spectrum of shy... And recently volunteered to sing alone in front of the whole school! So small can be good for the shy kids, I think.
I’d be surprised if the small school keeps them in a class of 15 tbh, most schools of that size will have composite classes. That’s not intrinsically a bad thing but it’s worth bearing in mind. The other school also won’t have a class size of 45, most like they also use composite classes. They might have class A 30 YR class B 15 YR 15 Y1 class C 30 Y1 or they could have all theee classes as 15 YR and 15 Y1. Or some other configuration.
I went to a primary school the size of school B (14 in my year). I didn’t find it stifling, especially considering I was often in composite classes. It was nice to know everyone in the school. Out of 8 girls in my year we ended up in 2 groups of 4 close friends, it could’ve been horrible if 1 or 2 had been left out though, or with slightly fewer girls in the class.
But a bigger school may be better placed to support a child with SEN. And it gives a larger peer group to play with, which gives a higher chance of finding friends.
Visit both schools, speak to both SENCOs. Are both oversubscribed or would it be possible to move later on? I’m not suggesting that as a plan, but it would be reassuring to know if you find that you regret your choice in a few years, you can change it
Intake of 15 = 7 other boys only in his year group. Too small imo.
School 1 - it's big enough. School 2 will have financial difficulties, there will not be any TAs, too few children, and limited experience of special needs.
Thanks everyone it's so useful to get outside perspective.
Yes your all right the small school goes to 30 a class for Y1 & 2.
Special friend is going to big school but can't guarentee same class as they split them.
Both equal distance from home.
No other special needs identified except speech delay. Although your all right till he's in a learning environment difficult to tell.
I am taking on board the 'one of 7 boys' thing, you are right- maybe in a bigger year intake he'll have a broader mix of loud/ boisterous/ similarly shy kids to play with.
Personally I agree that speaking to the special needs teachers at the schools should help you decide. My kids went to 2 primary schools each with a 15 child intake in composite classes. Both had plenty of TAs. Interestingly we moved ds from school 1 to school 2 due to bullying by boys. In school 1 his class had 12 boys and in school 2 4 boys and he was much happier. So while I agree in principle about more kids giving them a better chance to find friends it was the opposite for us.
Personally I would also ask about bullying policy and run a mile if they say they don't have any bullying or are unclear about how they'd manage it.
I'd go for the larger school. Only 15 children in a year group is very small. My children would probably have struggled with such a small friendship pool. They are in year groups if 60 and that has been good for them. I'd also expect a school with a bigger intake to have more SEN experience and resources.
I would speak to the SENCO at each school and ask directly what provision they have for speech and language issues
I'm my LA area the funding for this has been hugely cut back - the school has invested in some software for screening, TA's have had training, they have this language rich environment thingy going on and obviously set aside some budget for paying for experts.
Other schools might being doing more, less, differently but I guess the response will be quite telling
I have to say, I think the inclusion culture has nothing to do with the size of the school. Either the head values kids who are likely to cost more than the average or above average child, or they don’t.
Ask the head what is the most severe level of disability they routinely take. The answer will tell you everything, especially if it includes things like “they had an older sibling” or “other environments might be a better fit.” Anything like that, put your coat on and go.
You need to look around the school and ask the questions really. DD2 has a speech delay (it's improving rapidly but there are still some clarity issues there) and we actually changed her school choice at the last minute (like last week of the previous school year) to start Reception.
Original school - good on paper, Good rated Ofsted, the larger local school which MN likes - but meeting with her future class teacher and hearing comments like "we won't bother doing any SALT referrals until at least the end of year 1 as they won't do much till then" were ringing mild alarm bells.
Looked around another school at short notice and they were discussing, even before I'd really mentioned DD2's speech - that they had a high focus on identifying and starting intervention work on speech issues and that was pretty much me sold to be honest (that and the fact it was just gorgeous). DD2's absolutely thrived there - school have been honest with me about developmental concerns they have (which are the same things I have had in mind for a good year or so) and are backing me as much as they can from their end in terms of navigating a path to a diagnosis (in our case it's screaming dyspraxia with a strong element of verbal dyspraxia as well).
There were other factors behind the change in school choice (I would never have considered we'd get in out of catchment really but there's been a really odd shift in the school lay of the land around here as the academies are really expanding very pushily freeing up space where we'd never previously have got in) - but the total contrast in culture and attitudes was one.
Def go and look round, talk to SENCO at both schools
I have one with extra needs (anxiety, possible ASD) and I sent him to a school similar to your option 2 for reception and Yr1. On the one hand it was good for him to be in a small cosy environment and a small class (20 in his reception class) and he was happy there. BUT there was no dedicated SENCO (headteacher covered it) and resources were limited as school so small.
I moved him at the end of year 1 to bigger school (2 form entry primary) and not only is he equally as happy there, but he's also getting loads more support as the resources are there
Small schools do have their advantages but worth thinking carefully if it's primary as what works for a 4 yr old may not be so great for an 8,9,10yr old (especially in terms of space and overall resources)
Definitely speak to the Sencos and also parents of children already attending. Find out their support for Sen children and their attitude. My DCs go to a 15 intake composite class school and it's great. There is not as much of a Ptolemy with feeindship groups as there are still 30 in the composite class.
From my experience small schools are not good for shy children. My shy boy never made friends new throughout his time there (intake of 15)- there just wasn't a big enough pool of children for him to find a quiet friend like himself.
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