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Unsupported SEN pupils taking priority in DD’s class

(91 Posts)
Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 13:24:47

Just looking for some advice please from parents or even better from teachers on here.
My DD is a very young Y4, but even so managing to achieve above average results in maths and reading. Writing, and in particular handwriting, are more of a struggle.
Her class is Y3 and 4 combined, but even so, only 20 in total. There are two SEN children who have most of the teacher’s attention, one of these children has medical/special needs, and several phobias. The second SEN child’s behaviour has deteriorated since the arrival of the first SEN child. Neither child has an assistant.
My DD estimates that her teacher spends 40% of her time with these two children. If any of the middle-ranking children have problems in maths/English, they are pulled out of assemblies and given one-to-one’s. The higher performing children seem to be left to their own devices, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this academic year will have been a write off for my DD. At parents evening, I did say that I thought my DD could be stretched more and the teacher agreed.
The teacher is exceptional and totally in the right profession. She is in her second year of teaching and i don’t want my grumblings to be discouraging for her - I think she is fantastic at her job but has been dumped in the deep end! I went in this week to talk to the principal and feel I have explained things badly! In the meantime, my DD has a couple of instances where she didn’t understand work (unusual for her) and not only was not not picked up, but even when I I pointed it out, it still wasn’t followed up (the teacher just doesn’t have time when coping with these two high needs children). How to approach this and to instigate change for the better? TIA.

irvineoneohone Sat 10-Feb-18 13:40:55

I think only thing is to change school, if you are not happy.
If she is achieving above average attainment, she should be able to do most of work independently, with minimal help from teacher.

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Sat 10-Feb-18 13:45:56

we had something similar over ten years ago - we pulled DD out of school and HEd for a couple of years, then found a different school. The teacher told me that she "didn't see that DD was unhappy, come back to me if she gets really miserable, and I'll see what we can do".

FWIW I don't think anyone in that particular class was being supported effectively, particularly not the DC with SEN/SN of various kinds. But, I could only support DD, and we did what we felt best for her.

Difficult decision though.

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:06:21

How depressing that the only option seems to be to take her out of school. We have experience in our own family where inclusion has allowed an autistic child to flourish, but his parents were on the ball and ensured he had an assistant from reception. Amazing how poorly managed inclusion of SEN children can affect almost the whole class. I’m also concerned how many discussions the class have about the one SEN child and his habits - seems very heavy going for young children. Oh dear 😔

AmberTopaz Sat 10-Feb-18 14:12:09

It’s not quite as simple as saying “the parents ensured he had an assistant from reception”. There is a child in DS’s class with a diagnosis of autism, but the school receives no additional funding for him at all. (Admittedly he’s relatively high functioning.) There’s nothing more the teachers or parents can do (except fund it themselves - not really possible for most schools due to budget cuts).

irvineoneohone Sat 10-Feb-18 14:22:46

I like the way my ds's school works. There are several children with SEN. School/teachers ensure all the children to help them in school. They are very protective of them. Your dd complaining a lot of teacher's time has been taken by SEN children sounds opposite.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:26:27

There is money within the school budget, designated to support children with additional needs initially. The school is expected to show by planning and review, how those children are being supported and what the impact of the support has been. Additional funding is possible, following this intervention and review and with the advice and support of relevant outside agencies. This may lead to an EHCP which will attract funding.

Presumably, neither of these children has an EHCP, but without knowing the set up, it isn’t possible to say. You’ve been to see the Head and feel that you didn’t explain your concerns well enough. It is for the Head of a school to deploy the resources s/he has, to best effect. I’m assuming that you didn’t get the answers you wanted, but don’t wish to put words in your mouth.

As you describe a small class and mixed age year group, I’m assuming it’s a small school, with a limited budget. Is it possible to look at other local schools if you don’t feel that your child is thriving where she is?

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:26:34

Understood. My relations had to fight tooth and nail/hire a lawyer to get an assistant so I do understand how hard this is to come by. The school have told me that because of abuse of the system in the past, it’s now incredibly hard for get extra funding for SEN. The whole system seems a bit broken to me really. I guess the decision for me is whether to bide our time for this year, and hope next year is better, or pull her out now.

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:31:41

Foxyloxy - my school have said they are going through the usual channels to see if they can get extra help but it all takes time. Yes, our school is extremely small with v limited budget (finances of school are a worry).
Irvine - the situation you describe is the one we have experienced in the past - all children muck in together and they encourage each other. This particular child wants to be excluded from a lot of the class’ activities because of his phobias, and I think she feels he isn’t really properly part of the class.

Brokenbiscuit Sat 10-Feb-18 14:32:33

I'm a primary school governor. Our budget simply will not stretch to cover what we need. We know that some children need additional 1:1 support but their needs are not considered severe severe enough for this to be funded. The teachers are doing their utmost to do the best for all of the children in their care, but it is impossible.

Please don't blame the parents of SEN children for not advocating strongly enough on behalf of their children. The money just isn't there. When my dd was at primary school, she used to get regular 1:1 time with a TA because she was "gifted". Now, the same school can't afford that 1:1 time for kids with SEN who desperately need it. Times have really changed.

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:36:31

Broken biscuit - no, no blame - each situation is so tricky/complicated/different that what works for one family doesn’t come good for another. This particular little boy’s family are incredibly invested.

LIZS Sat 10-Feb-18 14:36:32

I'm not sure how reliable an 8 yo would be in estimating time taken for teacher to support other children. In y4 they are becoming more independent anyway. You can ask about your dc progress and how she feels overlooked, but not focus on the SEN aspect. Maybe the school is hoping to get funding for a TA?

Tomorrowillbeachicken Sat 10-Feb-18 14:36:49

The school funds first 6k themselves tbh. My ds has SN but is a high ability so mostly left to his own devices as will hit his targets (this was even written in a report for a clinic to assess him for ASD) and it is very annoying.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Sat 10-Feb-18 14:36:51

What do you think will change next year?
If she is still in a class with the two children with SEN (not SEN children) and just a teacher with no support (presumably there is is no general class TA) how will it be different?

MinnieMousse Sat 10-Feb-18 14:37:31

Sadly, IME as a primary teacher, budget cuts have hit support for SEN children extremely hard. If a school needs to save money, TA's are the first to go. The current mantra from Ofsted and the DfE is "quality-first teaching", which basically translates as teachers should be able to left alone to manage every child's needs without any support by waving their magic wands. My worst experience was in a MAT school. When they took over, they got rid of at least half the TAs. I was left in a mixed age KS1 class with several SEN children, including one with extremely disruptive behaviour, and only had a TA one hour a day.

You could consider looking at other schools. The school I work at and my current school still manage to employ support staff for each class and I have an extra TA in the mornings as I have an unusually large number of SEN pupils.

UnimaginativeNameChange1 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:39:57

How to approach this and indicate change for the better?

Not what you want to hear, but:

Campaign for more funding for education in general and SEND in particular. Think carefully about who you vote for at the next election.

irvineoneohone Sat 10-Feb-18 14:40:58

I have just calculated. So assume teacher has 6 hours a day. 60min x 6 = 360 minutes a day. 360 x 40% = 144 minutes. 360 - 144 = 216 minutes. 216/18 = 12 minutes.
Now, in normal school, they have 30 children. 360/30 = 12 minutes.
In theory, children in your dd's school is actually getting exactly same time as the children in the school with 30 pupils in the class.

Neolara Sat 10-Feb-18 14:42:21

The reality is that school budgets have been significantly squeezed recently. Schools often have very little disposal income after they have paid for essentials. They have to pay to have a teacher for every class, heating, lighting and water. The amount of money left over once these basics have been paid for can be relatively small. They use the rest of the money to pay for everything else, including TAs. If the budget gets cut, pretty much the only financial options for some schools is to cut numbers of TAs. This is rubbish for kids with Sen, kids without SEN and also teachers because what happens is exactly what the OP is describing. It sucks. Incidentally, not all schools will be so financially stretched but the funding of schools across different parts of the country is unequal with schools in some parts of the country (eg Cambridgeshire) getting about half the amount of money per pupil than those in other areas (eg London). It's very unfair.

Balfe Sat 10-Feb-18 14:44:47

It's very unfair and it's going to get worse with more budget cuts.

This is not the inclusion which was promised many years ago and all of the children are suffering.

Squeegle Sat 10-Feb-18 14:45:12

It’s only going to get worse, there just is not enough resource in schools to deal with the SEN children, so they suffer and everyone suffers. Time for us all to protest to our MPs I think, we have a crazy situation for a supposedly rich nation.

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 14:46:21

All pizzas - because she won’t be in the same class next year, but will again for her Y6.
Minnie Mouse - hats off to you, I have no idea how you do it! I really hope you and others in your profession aren’t put off by this lack of funding.
If it were a case of my DD not being stretched quite as much as she should, I would be less worried. What worries me is that when she does have hiccups in her learning, they aren’t being picked up because she is expected to be a high achiever. That really worries me!

Squeegle Sat 10-Feb-18 14:47:20

Have a look on here for your school.!/

Tomorrowillbeachicken Sat 10-Feb-18 14:48:46

Can your daughter not advocate for herself if she can’t understand the work?

Scamp48 Sat 10-Feb-18 15:15:18

Tomorrow - yes that is what we have been doing. But not ideal. A child would always prefer to head out to play at the end of the lesson rather than tell her teacher that she didn’t understand the lesson.

BubblesBuddy Sat 10-Feb-18 17:08:53

I am going to be really controversial here! A few years ago there was a push to get schools to federate. Small schools could merge or work together. They would have one Head and have split sites in adjacent village. The Church of England and Catholic schools won’t work with anyone else so it can be difficult but not impossible. Having a single Head for a school of 70 (3 classes of 20 plus YR) is just stupid. One Head for 140 makes a bit more sense. But it’s like this all over the country. It costs more to run small schools. It does not allow sufficient expertise with SEND children. Larger groups of schools are better and can pool resources more effectively.

Schools are largely funded by Awpu. It will depend how generous the LA can be with the settlement. If a school has two SEND in a class they must use money to support these children and one TA sounds essential but not one each. However the biggest problem the school has is 20 in the class. Funding is based on 30. You have a very expensive set up with one teacher per 20 pupils instead of 30. That is where the money is going. Move to 30 per class and that frees up £ thousands for TA time! Hard to do but that’s the answer! Or merge to have infants only at a neighbouring school and juniors at yours. Bigger classes so more cost effective.

10% of the class with serious needs is high. I bet others have needs too that are not being met. I suspect the nice little school is favoured by parents with SENd children. They are around here until they realise there is limited expertise and difficulties as with this school.

I would ask to see the precise progress your DD has made and what the curriculum is. Have you not been given it? Or had a briefing session on what they are doing?

I would have a look at the minutes of the Finance Committee to see where they are spending the money that is devolved to them for SEND. They need to make savings and spend it where it needs to be spent. How is pp money spent for example? The bottom line is though, you cannot have 20 in a class and have spare cash. It’s impossible.

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