This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Will my daughterdo better in a school with smaller classes(25 Posts)
DD is in year 2 at an Infant state school. She has always been a bit behind at school and has been assessed by an EP; some of the things that the report mentions are : don't fully process the content of the work, passive learner, moderate working memory difficulties, slow processing speed when understanding language, lack confidence as leaner, benefit from 1 to1 teaching, benefit from an environment without distractions needs to have all the information in front of her before starting a task and activities to be broken down in steps.
The current school have supported her as much as possible but since she has to change school for year 3 I was wondering if she will be better in a small, nurtering private school where there will be less distractions and perhaps more 1 to 1 support.
Any advice from people with experience of moving schools for similar reasons will be greatly appreciated. I know private does not always mean best but I can't help thinking that smaller classes will be a good thing for her.
You need to be careful about sen provision in private schools, it will vary greatly and they may charge extra for one to one support. If she doesn't keep up you may find that she is managed out later on, leaving you to find an alternative at short notice. Also others' behaviour can be distracting even in small classes.
I think you have to look at the particular school in question. I know people who have moved from state to private for the same reason only to realise that the smaller class size and support did not make any difference to performance. You need to make sure that what the new school offers, addresses your DD's actual needs, not what you believe are the needa.
Sorry meant "performance" as in studies and well-being.
No experience with larger classes but know that very small classes can cause friendship issues as if child is not fitting in they won't have many choices of play-mates.
I think she would benefit from a good, smallish non-selective prep, yes.
My DS goes to a school like that and I teach in a good state primary school, so I have something to base the comparison on.
However, be aware that going into Y3 in a traditional 3-13 prep will mean moving round classes to lots of different teachers, changing for sport every day with eleventy million different combinations of kit for different activities, long days and a lot of independence during those days and probably Saturday school. It adds in a lot of requirement for personal organisation.
Maybe the school you are looking at has the regular 1 class: 1 teacher set up throughout.
The structure and how it will suit your DD is worth considering carefully.
Private schools all vary enormously, including super-pushy selective prep schools, "alternative" granola schools, school which specialize in SEN and so on.
The evidence that small class sizes really help children is very weak, especially for kids from Y3 onwards. You say that your daughter needs 1-1, but the thing is that even if she is in a class of 16 students rather than 30, she is still going to be getting almost no 1-1 time during class. If it is 1-1 time she needs, I would invest in some private tuition outside school rather than paying private school fees.
However, a private school which specialized in providing support for these kinds of issues could potentially be worth it.
The key part of your question is "perhaps more 1 to 1 support".
A private school doesn't necessarily guarantee this (my private school my nephew attended expected everyone to work at the same pace, for example).
If you are considering moving school be very clear what you actually want - is it more 1-1 support/better differentiated work/working in small groups with SEN adult ...? Some schools are better than others - regardless of whether they are state or private.
Thank you very much. This is very helpful.
The school I have in mind is a small, nurturing, private school. As everyone suggested we need to ask all relevant questions to see if the school will support my daughter needs before I make a decision: what the sen provision is like, do the classes have TA or only one teacher and whether we will need to pay more for the additional support.
She does not need 1 to 1 on a permanent basis but does benefit from it so the other option is keeping her in the state system and getting private tuturing which still will be cheaper than sending her private.
Thanks a lot
My dd was struggling with one particular subject and lacked confidence in it. We brought in a private tutor for one hour a week for this subject; it made an enormous difference...it boosted dd's confidence no end...may or may not be related but dd is now at one of the top grammar schools in the county now (Y7) but it was well worth the investment to see her confidence and self belief grow. I wouldn't hesitate to do the same again for dd2 if necessary. We weighed up the (rather costly) option of local smaller class independent school vs. outstanding primary (larger classes) for dd2..we are going for the state primary (see above re friendship issues) and hence will employ a tutor if necessary further down the line.
Some private schools really don’t do special needs. Even ones that appear accommodating can be poor.
Small and nurturing is not the same as 1:1 attention. It will depend so much on the quality of the teaching and support staff. Many private schools also ask your child to go to catch up lessons and you have to pay for them. Personally, I think you are clutching at straws and I also am aware that smaller classes are not a determining factor in progress. Excellent teaching is what matters most.
Private schools sell you an image but many are poor at SEN and don’t really want them without you paying extra and certainly not in large numbers because it puts other patents off.
Thank you very much. This is very helpful. So far she has been very well supported at her state primary and the school even paid for the EP report and put a plan in place so I can't fail the state system. I hope her junior school is as good but even if it is not I am concluding with all your opinions that it will be better to get a tutor than going private as even if she goes private we may have to pay for all the additional support.
Completely agree with Bubbles. We used to live in the same county as Bubbles and actually left that county because the local village school wasn't working for my DS1, who has complex SEN, even with full-time 1:1 support. None of the private schools in the area would even consider meeting us due to the complexity of DS1's needs
and they were too expensive for us anyway.
We moved south to a fabulous, very nurturing,
cheaper lovely small private school which does welcome children with SEN. However even there he had to have 1:1 support and for a while we paid for it until our LA picked up the bill (not without an almighty fight, I might add, and I gather that this is unusual). Other pupils in the school with milder SENs have extra lessons and these are paid for by their parents in addition to the usual school fees.
Eventually we and our LA moved DS1 to a specialist residential SEN school. DS2 continues to thrive at the lovely mainstream private school, where he is a name not a number (we really felt he was a number at our previous school). However it really is about getting the right school for the child rather than about private vs state.
Agree with all of the above about it being the particular school rather than a private vs state thing. Would also urge you to really look into it this year as our experience has been a big jump in the school's expectations of independence and responsibility in year 3.
I wanted to share my experience of a similar situation. My ds2 is in year 2, and had 'not met' his end of year 1 expectations - his writing was particularly delayed and there was talk of assessing him for dyslexia, although in y1, he was too young. He also struggled to stay on task, although he was negatively influenced by a disruptive friendship in class (a 50/50 affair, I'm not blaming the other child !). We did look around independent schools and he is on the waiting list for a couple. However, we invested in a private tutor in September and that, combined with a much more proactive y2 teacher, has literally turned him into a different child in a very short space of time. The difference between his ability at the end of y1 and now, a term later, is staggering (even by half-term it was very noticeable). Although his tutor was for only half an hour week it gave him so much self-belief and motivation. Because he loves going, he is much more interesting in practising his writing during the week. By making progress, and getting praise, it's turned into a positive upward self-fulfilling prophecy - worth an awful lot more than I thought 30 minutes a week would. I would try tutoring, because it's easier and cheaper to do that first, and then if it still doesn't work out, then by all means try an independent school. Your dd does sound like she has more extensive needs than my son, but my experience of tutoring has been very positive.
Another bit to keep in mind regarding 1 on 1 expectations - were your child demanding/taking up too much of teachers time, it will be frowned upon by other parents as it'll be seen as slowing the class down or monopolising on teacehers time that should be shared equally amongs all students.
Thank you for all the advice.
I think we are going the tutor route. So far I can't complain about the education and support my children are getting in the state sector and I am always impressed on how much teacher and schools have to do with limited resources. Two friends who send their kids to private schools had to pay for the report themselves and they had to pay for tutors as well despite sending their kids to private school.
Even though the report does sound a bit negative it did mention other positive things like she enjoys small groups and working closely with a teacher, focus is specially good in a 1:1, able to direct and sustain attention on her teacher during whole class, very neat hand writting, excellent presentation at all times, advance non verbal reasoning skills. So I am hoping with the right support at school, at home and with a tutor once or twice per week she will catch up as she is making progress but perhaps not at the same speed as her peers.
OP has your daughter got an EHCP, or did the EP report refer to getting one?
The tutor route is a good one. Sometimes there is a total block for a while and a good tutor can focus specifically on her needs. Even preparing up ahead for whats coming in school will give her confidence and thats the most important thing.
She does not have an EHCP and the EP did not suggest one. She suggested things that would help improve her learning and the SN person put a plan in place with the teacher for what is left of the year.
I guess an EHCP will be the next step depending on progress. Not sure if she needs one or whether it will be an advantage to have one.I believe is quite difficult and needs approvement from the council and once kids get one it is the Council's decision to which school they go to. At least that's what's happening to a friend whose son has bigger needs and the council is paying for him to go to an special school for Autistic children; she was thinking on moving him back to a mainstream school later on but she said it is not her decision anymore.
Depending on your child's level of special need, I'd be interested in what type of EP assessment and report she actually received. You said that her infant school paid for hers but that two of your friends whose children are in private schools had to pay for theirs privately. It may well be - and I suspect - you and your friends have received different types of report.
An LA EP report - which I suspect is what your infant school has had done for your DD - is a fairly short report, usually as a result of spending a couple of hours with the child, and is funded by the school/LA. The educational EP works directly for the LA. LA EP reports don't go into much depth and generally only recommend support that can be provided on a very small budget!
A private EP report is much longer, much more in-depth, and will be put together by a private independent EP following spending a full day or two with the child and carrying out various different tests. These reports are always very expensive (£600ish absolute minimum, often up to £1,000) but usually give a far more in depth understanding of the child's needs and what support could benefit them in what ways. I am guessing that this is probably what your friends have paid for for their children. These reports can be used to challenge the school/LA if you feel that your child isn't receiving sufficient support.
My son has an EHCP. He's had a Statement since he was 4 years old, which was converted into an EHCP a couple of years ago. Last year he started attending a specialist residential school for pupils with complex ASD.
You are absolutely correct that anyone wanting an EHCP assessment has to go to the LA for their approval. The LA then decides whether or not to carry out the assessment, and ultimately whether doing the assessment will result in producing an EHCP for the child. LAs frequently refuse to assess on the parents' first attempt but may then agree to assess on appeal.
Regarding whose decision it is re which school the child attends, the decision should be made mutually by the parents and the LA and the parents' preference should be taken into major consideration. The decision should never be completely taken out of the parents' hands, although often there is a fight between parents and LA regarding the most appropriate provision for the child. Parents can go to tribunal to challenge the LA's decision. We had a huge fight to get my son into the setting he's now in, but it's perfect for him.
I hope I haven't stated the obvious in what I've written above and I hope it's all useful info for you.
From my experience with my son at a small prep school, they have been fantastic the classes had a maximum of 16 but they do not have the facility or resources for SEN. Any extra help needed is extra and a lot of parents struggle as they send their children to our school then realise they can't be supported.
So check this out first and ask what SEN is included or offered.
School got an independant EP. I went to meet her for an hour and she spent the rest of the day with her, assessing her in clasroom and outside the classroom. We received a very comprenhensive report of 10 pages. I can't tell it is the same my friends got but it seems to be for what they said. They paid £500
Thank you for the information. This is very useful.