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Advice on selective school for bright dyspraxic boy SW London

(30 Posts)
DaffyDodo Mon 22-Feb-16 23:38:50

Hi all,

My ds has been diagnosed with hypermobility and DCD (Dyspraxia) and I'm trying to narrow down schools for him.

He is bright - top sets for English and Maths at a non-selective private school here in SW London (with extra time for writing in English) and only got his diagnosis recently. He is also on an Art Scholarship scheme which means extra Art classes to build up a portfolio for potential scholarships.

He is dreadful at sport and isn't allowed to do contact sports like Rugby and to be very careful with football and running, so a very sporty school isn't great. He is also very friendly and smiley but very shy indeed and prefers to stay out of the limelight, and tends to stammer under pressure (he had some speech therapy but he is currently busy with physio and OT for his other issues so we stopped speech therapy). Based on this I think a hothouse uber competitive school wouldn't suit him.

I want him to go somewhere nurturing but equally somewhere that suits him academically as he is bright and is currently dreaming of working in animation some day. He is a very gentle, kind, bright and well-behaved and smiley boy but my concerns are that a very competitive or aggressive environment won't suit him, but equally somewhere too laid back won't be ideal as he is bright and needs to be challenged.

To add one more thing - he is mixed race - it's not a huge deal right now but I would prefer him to go somewhere he doesn't stand out as the only non-caucasian.

Thanks in advance!

Noitsnotteatimeyet Tue 23-Feb-16 06:23:46

Do you want him to stay in the private sector for secondary? As state schools often deal with the kind of issues your ds faces much better than most private schools

Chestnut Grove in Balham has a fantastic art department and doesn't have a big focus on sport - it's ethnically and socially very diverse and I know several families whose children have had additional needs who're very happy there (it's a VERY different school to ten or so years ago but its reputation hasn't quite caught up yet)

Graveney would also be worth having a look at if he's very bright - not too much sport unless you go looking for it and again, plenty of mixed race children

If you're thinking of the private sector then I'd have thought you'd be better to concentrate on co-ed schools as the boys' schools do tend to have a big emphasis on rugby etc

There are lots of quirky, artistic boys at Alleyn's and it's not as monochrome as MN likes to think

I'm personally not a big fan of Emanuel but I know lots of people are - there's also Ibstock Place and Harrodian which may be easy to get to depending on whereabouts in SW London you are but I only know one child in each of those so not enough to get a real idea of what they're like

sayatidaknama Tue 23-Feb-16 09:12:09

We had extremely positive experiences with DS, who also has dyspraxia and sounds very like your DS OP, at KGS, KCS and St Paul's. I think it's wrong to assume that if your DC has any SN they must only go to a co-ed or less academic school. Ime, the more competitive entry schools like St Paul's and KCS lead the way in their teaching and experience of SN. They certainly have a lot of interesting profiles on their books!

Ibstock does famously not support any SN however bright your DC is. We also had negative experiences at Hampton. Latymer also worth considering if your DS is very bright but be warned that it is extremely over-subscribed.

Agree with pp that most state secondaries are just as able if not better equipped to deal with SN. Depends on where you are in SW London for actual state recommendations.

Greengagesummer Tue 23-Feb-16 09:24:38

Consider St James's Ashford. Definitely good with SEN and lots of diversity. Not top academic and quite sporty (rugby & rowing but sport haters manage ok there) but v hot on drama and art. Don't know about music.
You/he would need to be OK with compulsory vegetatian hot lunches & thrice daily 'pauses' - meditation or daydreaming - & San skirt plus Latin at least y7. Background links with SES but I'm not aware of it being a problem for decades now.

Greengagesummer Tue 23-Feb-16 09:25:36


AnotherNewt Tue 23-Feb-16 09:32:06

Have a look at Dulwich College. Which entry point are you thinking of?

It's great all round, and its learning support department is good (and can cope with mild and moderate dyspraxia). Art department is good. It's a big school, and so the arty, nerdy, thespian, musical and many other 'types' can all find like-minded friends. It's also one of the more diverse schools (visibly and mixed heritage white).

Also, although all boys play rugby in the autumn term of year 7, it's differentiated so if not in a team squad it'll be a relatively gentle experience. It's hockey or football in the spring term. If not in a team squad, team sports can be given up after year 7 and there is a good range of other sports to chose from.

It's in an SE postcode, but easily reached from much of SW London.

(Rugby is compulsory through much of Emanuel, so probably one to scrub).

4whatthatsworth Tue 23-Feb-16 09:53:41

From what you describe, I would look at smaller, more nurturing schools such as Kew House or Radnor House (Twickenham). He sounds as though he would thrive in the type of school where every teacher knows your name. These schools also do not have playing fields on site, so no pressure to join in with the ubiquitous football every day. Although both are new schools, with a developing or unproven academic record, there is no reason why a bright child should not do very well there.

DaffyDodo Tue 23-Feb-16 09:58:48

Thanks so much for this! I actually was very pleasantly surprised when I met the rep for KCS who came to my son's school. I explained ds's difficulties and she was quite reassuring about how he would not be alone and there are a fair amount of kids similar to him. On that basis and your advice I'll definitely consider the more academic schools although still wary of anywhere too much of a hothouse as he's quite a worrier too (hence excellently behaved, too scared of getting told off!) so I wouldn't want him to be anywhere too competitive.

The school with meditation and Sanskrit sounds amazing. DS is now 9 and has taken to playing meditation music while he does his homework, currently obsessed with finding inner peace and has started a philosophy club at school with his best friend. The vegetarianism wouldn't be an issue either so will definitely look into it.

And also encouraging to learn re the state schools - at the moment OT and physio is costing us a lot plus we will need to go back to speech therapy one of these days which all costs money. I suppose my only worry with state schools is that my own experience wasn't great (also dyspraxic and quiet at school!) and I worry that because he is such a timid chap he will get lost in a bigger classroom. Will look into it though as in the right school it could build confidence.

We are in Southfields/Wandsworth so all these schools doable.

Thanks all!!

DaffyDodo Tue 23-Feb-16 10:02:36

Also thanks re info on Dulwich College - ds absolutely forbidden to play any contact sports by physio as he has had many injuries in the past and really lacks the co-ordination to do it anyway so any schools with compulsory rugby are out as he will probably have to just sit watching everyone else play which would be rubbish!

Ds's class teachers kids are at Whitgift and the Whitfgift reps who came to our school were very interested in ds due to the 'well behave and art scholarship' side of things but it seems like an extremely sporty school. Any thoughts very much appreciated!

DaffyDodo Tue 23-Feb-16 10:05:24

Also was considering Alleyn's for the same reasons you suggested Noitsnotteatimeyet! Thanks for that.

AnotherNewt Tue 23-Feb-16 10:20:25

You perhaps need to ask Dulwich what they offer for boys who mustn't do contact sports (accessibility policy shows commitment to inclusivity, and lists recent examples of particular requirements they have been able to meet).

Also, worth looking at all schools which have boarding houses. Not because I'm recommending boarding, but because they have much better medical centres on site than day schools. Which could be useful if frequent injury and need for painkillers during the day is a feature of your DS's condition.

DaffyDodo Tue 23-Feb-16 10:54:55

Thanks AnotherNewt will give Dulwich college a shout!

Ybaby Wed 24-Feb-16 13:54:52

I have a very dyspraxic DS in the U6 at Radnor House and the school have been great with him. He can't play contact sports either which hasn't caused any problems at all. He uses a laptop for all exams got great GCSE's and currently has 5 offers to read History at Uni. It a small and nurturing school where he has been very happy - not sure how far it is from you but it might be worth a look?

Peaceandloveeveryone Wed 24-Feb-16 13:59:50

Radnor house might be an option but I agree with the posters who say not to write off the academically more pushy schools. I have a nephew at Ibstock and they make it very clear that they do not support or accept pupils with SN- I think that's very wrong but there you go.
I have a dd with sn who is similarly not sporty but very bright and she is at an academic independent school. We have tried all sorts, including the state sector and are happy with the school she is in now.

AnotherNewt Wed 24-Feb-16 14:14:41

You'll probably need to look at several schools, so you can compare (and get your eye in, IYSWIM). Both those which sound promising, and long shots.

And try to collar the relevant staff members (learning support, games department, Head of Year) and ask some very specific questions about how they would meet your DS's needs (ideally with examples of what has been provided before).

I've praised Dulwich's written policy as published, but you need also to satisfy yourself whether they actually live up to it.

Also, it might be worth talking to your LEA about their procedure for assessing exceptional medical and social need, as this is a permitted entrance criterion for a number of state schools, and if it is accepted that he falls into this category then your chances of securing a suitable state school offer could increase quite a bit.

DaffyDodo Thu 25-Feb-16 23:06:11

Thankyou all - Ybaby will look into Radnor House and agree with Peaceandloveeveryone on not ruling out the academic schools.

Schools talk today made Alleyns, Kings and Kingston Grammar sound like distinct possibilities but as you say we need to take a look!

Thanks for the tips AnotherNewt will be sure to address them on the tours.

Thanks all very much!

Michaelahpurple Fri 26-Feb-16 08:52:01

Quite a lot of non sporty boys at westminster under,as well as jocks. If you are in the lower soccer groups you can, as ds2 amply demonstrates , just stand around. Plus in year 7 and 8, which would be his entry point, you can choose to do ultimate frisbee, badminton, table tennis etc instead of soccer and Cricket.

DaffyDodo Sat 27-Feb-16 00:11:36

Michaelahpurple I looked at Westminster because ds is quirky - at 9 he's decided he's a humanist, likes listening to mediation music and spends a considerable amount of time discussing things like how we don't all really exist etc. His reception teacher described him as having the air of an eccentric professor which made me think somewhere like Westminster could be a possibility but my concern is that ds is very gentle and timid, chatters away at home but is intimidated easily and I get the impression Westminster is a school for boys who are really strong in all areas - not just bright but confident too. How has your ds found it? (The standing around sounds just like my boys style!)

Tricky10 Sat 27-Feb-16 09:17:28

Hello - don't mean to change direction of this too much but I too have a bright dyspraxic / hypermobile girl so this thread is very much of interest - if anyone has any recommendations in terms of girls that would be very much of interest - similarly sports a challenge but loves art / drama / reading / music. She will need a nurturing environment. Thanks very much in advance.

Tricky10 Sat 27-Feb-16 09:18:08

Should have said - same area - SW London

AnotherNewt Sat 27-Feb-16 21:37:10

Alleyns if coed ok for you DD. Look at JAGs (on the getting your eye in principle) - don't know how much difference the new head is making.

I'd think of S&CHS for pastoral care: it's one of the smaller GDST schools and has a lovely atmosphere with a serious musician as head. Otherwise, the other GDST schools are all likely to be fine, and worth looking at Francis Holland, Sloane Square too.

AnotherNewt Sat 27-Feb-16 21:39:04

Also Graveney if you're near enough, and possibly Burntwood too (second round offers stretch quite a distance, or at least did a couple of years ago).

GooseberryRoolz Sun 28-Feb-16 08:53:38

The SENCO at St Olave's is fantastically knowledgable and good at what she does and it's reflected in the school culture (obviously that is very selective and in SE London so that one will depend where you are). Also Graveney, which has a partially selective intake plus a very well-resourced SN hub.

Elibean Sun 28-Feb-16 18:12:05

Another child-centric, inclusive SW school - Kew House School. They take a range of academic (and sporting, and creative) abilities, but this does include some very bright kids. It is small still, as new, so less options than a big school, but all the boys I know there are very happy - and some are decidedly quirky smile

wheresthebeach Mon 29-Feb-16 08:43:40

Hi Tricky - Take a look at St Catherines in Twickenham. Small classes, strong pastoral care, good Senco. Strong, very strong music.

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