Keeping quiet about ADHD to get into year 9? Or spilling the beans and asking for services?(20 Posts)
We're moving to London, well, now (just found out, it's for work!), coming from Berlin and we are keen (read: desperate) to get our bright-but-with-garden-variety-ADHD 14-year old American boy into a good school in the current year 9, as year 10 is apparently just impossible. As I understand the SEN rules have just been changed this year and his ADHD is not severe enough to go through the LA to get statemented (also that would take 10 weeks). So far we're simply cold-calling schools pulled from the Ofsted reports and asking to speak with Admissions and head of SEN- because there is no funding coming from the LA for extra services should we keep quiet about ds's ADHD? We're afraid that even if we're in the catchment area this will make him an undesirable pupil...
HE's mainstreamed now and doesn't get extra services but he WILL need a lot of pastoral care and they're bound to pick up on it once he's in! We have a week to find a school and an apartment.. I know, right? Madness! We're looking in East Dulwich but are open for other neighborhoods..commuting to Saint James and can't go private. Ideally we need a spot with a cluster of good schools where we sign the lease and hope for the best..
If they have a place they can't discriminate anyway. But a space now may not be available when you actually move.
We know.. We're int hat terrible Catch 22 of trying to find out where there are spaces available, and then simply renting a place in the catchment area to get on the waiting list and then ..praying? Doing voodoo? Offering my hunky husband as a boy toy? We just don't know how to swing this.
Some of the private schools discriminate, but the state schools aren't allowed to. Selection criteria are clearly stated and usually involve distance rather than any sort of value judgement by the school (thank god, or my two would have sunk without a trace!).
The only difference would be if your DS had a statement, but that would usually help you get a place rather than hinder you.
Yup, voodoo might swing it or a house next door to your school of choice!
The big danger with not being upfront is that he ends up constantly in trouble if he has problems with organisation meaning that he might not always remember his homework, or equipment he needs for school, or even if he has executive functioning difficulties that mean he forgets to tuck shirts in, or does his buttons up wrong. Is he impulsive, eg with a tendency to shout out if he has an idea?
If he's absolutely fine with medication or has lots of unobtrusive coping strategies, then fine, don't mention it. If he can't concentrate without a fidget toy (highly likely to be confiscated) or needs extra support to make sure he's recorded homework correctly, then you would be making his life harder by not mentioning it. Some secondaries can be very unforgiving of kids who don't quite toe the line exactly as they've drawn it.
Most good schools tend to be over subscribed but I would ring the la for the borough you are interested in probably Southwark and they can tell you what schools have vacancies. Depending on how far you want your son to travel you can also ring la on other boroughs to see what schools have spaces to.
Okay you are moving to London. How old is your son? When are you moving?
The bottom line is that the LA where you move to has to find your son a school place "within a reasonable amount of time". In London this can be quite some distance away and in another London borough, and the transport issue is covered by the Free London travel.
However: you may have strong grounds for appeal if you (and preferably medical professionals) believe he cannot travel long distances, cope with complex transport changes or reliably travel alone. If this is an issue, then get a medical professional to provide a letter along the lines of "Little Evaexpat cannot travel unaccompanied in my medical opinion as his inattention to detail means he unable to follow complex instructions..."
A state school cannot discriminate against a child with a diagnosis, but then unless you had a statement (and they don't issue those any more but the new health plan things) there is little point in mentioning it until your son has a place at the school; unless you want to find out how helpful and willing to help the school is.
State schools can be forced to take an extra pupil by the LA, even if full, even if it is in year 10. My DDs school took a pupil at the beginning of year 11, it caused them devising a special timetable to enable her to get GCSEs in one year (she is studying 5 rather than the usual 10+).
As LIZS said, the schools are not allowed to discriminate.
There is a selection of good schools around E Dulwich, and especially if you then go on the waiting lists for schools in Lewisham (Hilly Fields) and Lambeth (Elmgreen and Dunraven would be reachable on the bus).
Get yourself on the lists and then hope for the best. The Londin population is highly mobile and places do come and go, but there won't be vacancies in any. Just places coming up as and when.
Mummy time makes a good point: you won't get a statement but social and medical need can be grounds for appeal. As can any specific talent or commitment he has: is he a keen classicist who really wants to do Latin GCSE, or a top trampoliner who needs a school with a trampolining club, for example.
Once you get an offer, ask to speak to the SENCO or inclusion team.
Thank you all, you've been so helpful! What a great forum. We've fallen in love with a place near Underhill Road, so that would put it is in a "Quite Likely" category for Harris Boys East Dulwich and very close to Kingsdale Foundational School, but THAT school seems to be a total lottery to get into, and I am not sure how to even go about the aptitude, given that my stepson is in Berlin right now.
Kingsdale does admit on lottery. I'm not sure you can apply for one of the scholarship places as a late or in-year applicant. Put down for Charter and Harris Crystal Palace, too.
Applying in Y9 is different to applying in Y6 for Y7. I think you would need to ring each school directly and check on their process and what chance he stands of getting in.
You need to think about the size and ethos of the school as well as exam results as these can vary quite widely between the schools you mention - I live in ED! Do you feel a very clear and consistently enforced Behaviour Policy would suit your DS? Or do you think a more flexible approach might be better. Would you be able to visit the schools?
I know nothing about South London and my kids are a lot younger than your son but I would just say check out the policies of any Harris or other Academy schools you're looking at. Some of these schools have very strict discipline policies as part of an ethos of being tough and enforcing all kinds of standards and exclude far sooner and more often than other schools. They can be quite ruthless in order to present a particular image of the school turning things around and driving up standards. Our local Harris primary, never mind secondary, is known for some rather sneaky tactics when it comes to pupils who want to transfer mid-year, just never returning calls about some children, offering interviews etc on Saturday mornings.
Look at The Norwood Scool. I reckon they are more likely to have places in year 9. It's a small school with a strong SN department, and beautiful facilities. Not too far from East Dulwich.
My ds has SN (autism) - Harris Academies would be the last schools on god's earth I'd send him to.
Also try Forest Hill Boys - another school with a reputation for providing good support for children with SN.
A second vote for Norwood School. A friend's DD goes there and they have great pastoral care and have been very good with communication, support etc. Seems like a nurturing environment and also on the up academically. Agree that Harris may not be best for your DS, the Crystal Palace one in particular gets good results but has a poor rep for comms/pastoral care. Kingsdale is, as you say, a lottery. Best to ring around and see who helps, then look into finding a home close to the most promising schools. I know Underhill Rd and it's v nice but so are lots of streets in the area from Dulwich to the borders of Norwood and the transport is similar from each station.
Just be aware that the diagnosis criteria for ADHD is different in US, and Uk, falling in that category in the US school system does not mean he will here.
( sorry if this has already been mentioned.)
The first £6 or £10000 budget per child for SEND is now part of the school budget though not ring fenced for a particular child. I would contact all the local schools ask if they have space in the appropriate year. Ask for a tour. Get a feel for the place. Ask to meet the head of SEN . May be called head learning support. Ask lots of questions. Get a feel how flexible they are. You do not need to go to your closest school. Indeed the nearest may not have space. Catchments only really apply to year 7 entry. If you like a school further away and they have space they should offer it.
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