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AIBU to feel frustrated with school, re SEN issues?

(47 Posts)
Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 09:19:37

I've posted previously, regarding some issues we've had, regarding exam access arrangements for DD.
In a nutshell, she is in year 9 at a selective indie, diagnosed with ADHD with related executive functioning and working memory issues. School assessed her for extra time in exams, which she qualifies for.

Following a GCSE exam where other agreed access arrangements didn't happen, we had a meeting with the head to discuss this and other issues to do with Dd's SEN.
One of the main issues DD has is that she can't do 2 things at once, eg copy from the board while listening to the teacher, or write down dictated notes. This was recorded by the SENCo following an assessment last year, but some teachers continue to make DD copy from the board and it's become apparent that her books are littered with misrecorded info and incomplete notes. As such, we asked the head if she could be given class notes or maybe a printed outline of lessons. The head's response was that that just would not happen, as the GCSE courses are too demanding and too fast-paced, and they are "not a special school".
Now, I realise that the school is selective and their SEN policy states that the needs of the minority will not take priority over the needs of the majority, BUT they knew DD had a diagnosis and SpLD when we applied, and they selected her for a place, whilst assuring us that they were committed to SEN issues.

Does the head's assertion that DD can't expect the kind of support we've asked for seem reasonable, and are GCSEs really so fierce that students with any kind of SEN have no chance of coping?
The suggestion the head made was that DD should drop a subject so that she has free periods in which to try to tie up loose ends left over from lessons. Are we being unreasonable to think that a better solution would be to simply support her in class; in the subjects where this is happening, she is doing well.

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ReservoirDogs Tue 05-Jun-18 09:49:40

My friend's son is given a printout of the lesson plan with bullet points of what is being covered and he can pad the notes out either in class or after.

I am.sorry you are finding the school your dd is at is not as accommodating.

TeenTimesTwo Tue 05-Jun-18 09:58:38

This may be drastic, but maybe you should consider finding a school that is more accommodating to her SEN? Maybe under the circumstances (the school saying they can't accommodate her needs) they would waive the notice period?

I don't think dropping a subject will enable her to make up lost notes. It might help for other things (such as revision load, and amount of time in exams for final exams), but not that.

I was thinking the other day about my y8 DD2 who qualifies for extra time. She needs it for revision as well as exams, so really 8 GCSEs for her is the 'same load' as 10 for other pupils.

BubblesBuddy Tue 05-Jun-18 09:59:07

The big problem is that you have chosen an independent school. The word that's important is "independent". They can do what they want. It may not be reasonable but what can you do about it, I would suggest, is very little. One assumes they have a policy about notes being provided throughout the school. ReservoirDogs does not say if her friend's DS is at an independent school. I have known numerous independent schools that talk the talk on SEN but in practice they are woeful.

I do not know what to say about what you should do. However, I do not envy you having the argument with them. If DD is doing 10 GCSEs, then she could drop one. It cannot be that fast paced, or highly academic, if they are doing GCSEs over three years either!

GreyCloudsToday Tue 05-Jun-18 10:08:15

It would be good to work with your DD on note-taking skills, as every educational level she rises through will require more independent working.

Taking notes verbatim on a laptop is shown to be the worst for information recall, compared with writing longhand or drawing your notes. Maybe you could look at some techniques together?

TeenTimesTwo Tue 05-Jun-18 10:14:01

Grey I don't know about the OP's DC, but my DD1 (dyspraxia but only diagnosed y11) found note taking (by hand or on computer) combined with listening more or less impossible. Her exercise books were more or less hopeless for revision purposes. Luckily most subjects had good revision guides available to purchase.
So trying different techniques might help a bit, but is unlikely to solve issues sufficiently, especially in a school with a fast-paced teaching environment.

BubblesBuddy Tue 05-Jun-18 10:20:12

Could DD photograph the white board? Would they allow her to do this? I do agree that finding a way to improve note taking is useful for the future.

Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:22:54

We moved her from our local comp in year 8 because the local comp refused to acknowledge her diagnosis. They too "talked the talk" about SEN but we soon found that it was just that - talk.
Surely, even an independent school has to be mindful of the Equalities Act? We are not asking for 1 to 1 support, just a few simple accomodations.
Bubbles, they are not doing GCSEs over 3 years; they simply take a single short course GCSE in year 9 "for practice".
DD is adamant she doesn't want to change school, but she is equally adamant that she doesn't want to drop a subject. We are doing everything possible to support her learning at home, but patching up knowledge in subjects we aren't expert in is proving stressful.

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itchyknees Tue 05-Jun-18 10:23:23

I think you may need to utter the words “Equality Act 2010” and “Reasonable Adjustment.” Independent or not, they are still subject to the law.

Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:26:34

Teen, ditto! DD has end of year exams approaching and we have had to resort to online revision material as some of her books are a car crash.

Bubbles, yes, it was initially suggested that DD could photographer the board at the end of the lessons to record homework details, but this was immediately retracted on the basis that phones were banned in school time.

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Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:30:28

Itchyknees, that was my thought. The issue seems to be that schools are allowed to decide what they deem reasonable; so dropping a subject - reasonable; requesting printed lesson notes - not reasonable.
I'm not sure how to argue that with them. It seems that whatever help we request, they offer an alternative that puts the onus on DD rather than the staff.

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itchyknees Tue 05-Jun-18 10:33:11

I think you maybe need to be that blunt, and remind them gently of their duties. They’ll moan but if you are very clear about what you want them to do, they won’t be able to argue.

Heratnumber7 Tue 05-Jun-18 10:34:33

What itchy said. they can't ignore the law, independent school or not. They have to make accommodations "within reason" for your DD. One of these may be dropping a GCSE - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. You don't say how many subjects she's studying, but, for example, 8 good grades is better than 9 not-so-good grades.

SailorGirl3 Tue 05-Jun-18 10:42:06

I think a photograph would be the easiest option for copying from the board. If they do not allow phones in school, would they allow a digital camera or even a tablet (iPad or similar).

Bigfathairyones Tue 05-Jun-18 10:43:27

Flootoot, I would second mentioning the Equality Act and reasonable adjustments as allowing her to photograph the board is an entirely reasonable one. I think they would be on a sticky wicket here if a case was brought....not that you would, but a demonstration of your knowledge of the laws regarding it would help. I would also refer to: assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/638267/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions.pdf

as this refers to Governor duties too.....which you should also consider if you get nowhere - a to the Governors.

In your conversation with the Head I would also ask whether SENCo and supporting pupil medical or other needs are inspected by ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) as you may ring them to see what they found out last time they visited your school. The ISI can nip in and visit/inspect a school with no notice under certain circumstances and the Head may suddenly find him/herself feeling more inclined to make some thoroughly reasonable adjustments. Good luck.

Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:43:45

She was hoping to do combined sciences, maths and English, plus 4 others - a language, drama and 2 humanities.
In theory, we have little issue with her dropping one, BUT if this is all the support that the school offers, it rather feels like treating the symptom, not the cause. She could still get 8 average ( or worse) passes if she doesn't get help with note taking, for example.
Last year, her exam results ranged from 93% to 52%, the higher scored in subjects where the teachers recognise her needs, the lower scores in subjects where teachers refuse to accommodate her.

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Bigfathairyones Tue 05-Jun-18 10:44:19

A letter to the Govs....stupid phone!

Bigfathairyones Tue 05-Jun-18 10:45:13

Blimey, from your last post they’re lining themselves up to be sued!

Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:47:45

bigfairyones, that is very useful to know, thank you. A friend of ours is actually governor at the school ( recently appointed) and we have mentioned our concerns, but she simply suggested talking to the head, which is what we've tried to do.
I will try to find out about the ISI, thanks.

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TeenTimesTwo Tue 05-Jun-18 10:48:38

I can see why you don't want to change schools again, that makes things harder.
Can you go back to the SENCO? Maybe target the subjects where notes are the biggest issue (English & Humanities?). Revision guides for Science were very good, and languages are more about vocab and grammar than anything else.
If phones are banned in school, how about a small camera, for use only in class with the understanding that if she abuses it she won't be allowed to keep it?

Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:48:52

Sorry, that should have said bigfathairyones!

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Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:55:53

Teen, we had a joint meeting with ALNCo, SENCo and HOY prior to the meeting with the head, discussed all sorts of things, agreed various things...and then, nothing was done.
Following the GCSE exam issue, we sent an email asking why access arrangements weren't implemented and voicing our frustration at their apparent lack of understanding of DD's SpLD; ALNCo responded that they are "committed to making reasonable adjustments" for DD. Not sure whether the careful wording was to cover themselves, legally, or whether the inference was that our requests were unreasonable.

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Floottoot Tue 05-Jun-18 10:57:05

I hadn't thought about the iPad suggestion for class notes, only for homework info ( doh!), so I will ask, thank you.

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Fireinthehold Tue 05-Jun-18 10:57:31

This is utter crap on the part of the head. I am always astounded at how many schools are totally unreasonable when its comes to SEN. My DD1 has dyslexia and we often had to fight the poor attitude of certain teachers to make allowances or even just to be aware. At one meeting I was told the teacher concerned who pretty much bullied my DD was 'just not the kind of teacher who can deal with a non straight up kid'! Luckily the current SEN team are badass and happily have open shouting matches with teaching staff who don't prove to be helpful. However those early years mean that my DD always considers herself to be the stupid one and when it came to GCSE choices, it was creative heavy! I don't know if you can engage the help of a SEN teacher to help persuade other teachers to find a solution. Can your DD take in a Dictaphone and record dictated notes (if teachers are worried about what is recorded, they can be given them so they have control)?
Those GCSE revision guides are useful if you need to fill in gaps.

Bigfathairyones Tue 05-Jun-18 10:58:02

grin

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