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Please tell me it will be ok

(9 Posts)
disappointed101 Sat 01-Feb-20 13:24:43

My son sat an Entrance Exam for a Private School and failed to get a place. We chose this school because of pastoral care/small class sizes. He has emotional /social needs but nothing diagnosed. I was so sure he'd get a place. The next best option imo is the local state school where quite a few children go from his Primary. I am worried sick about his future. How can I practically move on from this? Any success stories of such children doing well in mainstream? He is not severe enough for a specialist school

OP’s posts: |
DinkyDaisy Sat 01-Feb-20 13:59:07

Hello, have you tried for a diagnosis of any sort? An assessment?
Actually, state schools can help with this. Perhaps talk to primary about their contact with Sencos at your feeder secondaries.
My nephew has some processing issues but no EHCP. My SIL met up with secondary senco before he started the school for a chat about how he might be supported. She was very worried and had tried for private but like your ds he did not pass entrance exams.
He is in year 7, with his friends and seems happy so far. He can cycle to school in 5 minutes and has joined football clubs etc.
Don't panic and good luck.

disappointed101 Sat 01-Feb-20 16:44:51

Thank you. We are trying for a diagnosis but it is such a slow process. I think the key is good links with the Senco of the new school. Glad to hear your nephew is doing well

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Malmontar Sat 01-Feb-20 17:08:06

Breathe, it'll be ok and make sure your son knows this. We were in this exact position this time last year, and applied for a small non selective private. I feel like I have PTSD from the process but it'll all fall into place in the end, I promise. We ended up in a state about 20 mins from us with the most amazing SEN department. I looked at schools within an hour of us in London and this was the one school I didn't look at. We have an EHCP so we had to choose 3 options. I chose one and was prepared to fight tooth and nail for it so put the two others that had an ok reputation but I was determined she would go there. She got the one we didn't even go see. I decided to meet the senco and didn't even bother appealing the decision. She couldn't have gone to a better school for her and she is a completely different child now. Has grown two reading years since sept and is just about to come back from a skiing trip. She loves school now and the school is big enough to put her in tiny low ability classes so now she feels clever for the first time. She is slowly going up to more difficult work and is finally doing age appropriate maths work. For context, she got in the low 70s for her sats. I was so sad to not get the private but Im now very glad as it wouldn't have been able to help her this much. I completely sympathise with you, but it will be ok. I know not all stories end like this and there's plenty of bad days, but you wanted a happy story and so far in my eyes this definantely is one.

mimbleandlittlemy Sat 01-Feb-20 17:53:01

My ds has ASD and ADHD. He goes to the local bog standard comp. I really worried how he would cope in mainstream school and we tried for a couple of local private schools but I always told him it was unlikely to happen as we would have needed 100% bursary and though he did well in the exams he didn't do well enough for any of them to want to fund him (and why should they? Absolutely no beef with that). I always bigged up the local school and said he'd be happy there and lots of people from his school were going so that was fine.

I can't say he has always flourished at his school but the pastoral care has always been excellent and the SEN department really good. Whenever we've had a problem, HoY, form tutor and SENCO have all been fantastic - I really couldn't have wished for better. He did very well in his GCSEs, is on track for doing very well in his A levels and the end is in sight in terms of being at the school and I think it's been mostly great. Just at the moment he is very anxious and suffering panic attacks (pre A level stress with the ASD and ADHD) and the SENCO has immediately got the school's Mental Health Welfare Officer involved and he was straight in to counselling.

Sometimes small isn't always better. A friend's ds went to a very small private school because he suffered from anxiety and they thought small and nurturing would be best - class sizes of 15. He has hated every minute of it and they've finally pulled him out in Y9 and put him in their local comp and he is like a different boy. The larger class size means he can find some like-minded people and his anxiety, rather than being fuelled, has markedly reduced plus the SEN department is better and he is getting much better support.

We always want to do what's best, but sometimes what's best isn't what we think it is. Why don't you ring the state school and ask if you can meet with the SENCO? They might well be able to help you and let you know, most importantly, how they will help him.

disappointed101 Sat 01-Feb-20 17:58:25

Thank you so much for your experiences. It has made me feel so much better. I think I will definitely build bridges with the SENCo. Malmontar I’m so glad you have such a positive story x. Mimble I’m glad the pastoral care has been good; this has been so important to me.

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Malmontar Sat 01-Feb-20 18:37:14

I would also second the pastoral care we've received great care too. For eg DD has been racking up good behaviour points and they had a ice skating trip planned for kids that had over a certain amount. She was sick and didn't get the letter on the day everyone else did. I gave it in on the day of the deadline, rushing to the school as DD texted me from the toilet that it needs to be in today, and paid on parent pay. The day before the trip I called to find out whether she's going as we hadn't heard about timings and they said she wasn't on the list. They weren't planning on telling me even though I'd paid and frankly were kind of rude saying it's DDs responsibility to check, not even realising she has a severe language disorder. Once I got through to SEN dept and explained the situation, they were annoyed at the finance team and the teacher running the trip and sorted it out. She went and all was well. I would say we have found at times the 'normal' part of the school can be dismissive of kids who aren't visibly very SEN. The school is big and kids get forgotten. The SEN team have always stepped in and been lovely though and other times DD has learnt to go talk to teachers and stick up for herself which is something she would never have done before and I don't think would've learnt to do for a long time in a small school. I just wanted to share this recent situation with you because I imagine these are the sorts of situations you will be dealing with. Although so far we haven't had many situations like this and love the school, it's not always rosy and I would be pulling my hair out without the SEN team.

dietcokeandwine Sat 01-Feb-20 19:55:25

@disappointed101 breathe and have a large glass of wine smile

It will be okay. And the state secondary may very well turn out to be the best and most supportive option for him. Even private schools that claim to be nurturing with small classes aren't always great at dealing with SEN.

I totally second @mimbleandlittlemy, I have a 15yo with diagnosed ASD/ADHD who in Y6 was so immature and so vulnerable, and we too wanted a small independent school for secondary (same reasons as you, small class sizes, nurturing etc etc). He did obtain a place but it wasn't right for him and we ended up taking him out and putting him back into the state sector - back to the school where lots of children from his primary school went.

I won't say it has all been absolute plain sailing because it hasn't but the state option has worked far better for DS because
- he felt comfortable being back amongst his friends/other peers he knew at the state school
- he was actually much happier in a class of 30 - small class sizes freaked him right out (felt like a bunny in the headlights)
- the private school was very sporty with 3 double sports periods a week and he hated it, he was much happier in the state system with one bog standard PE lesson a week!
- he does far, far better self-esteem wise in an environment with a natural spread of ability - the private school spooked him because it was academically selective and he felt as if everyone was much cleverer than him - in his state school he is top or second set for everything and feels much happier
- the "small school, small class size" thing can offer a disadvantage that we hadn't thought of at first. To be blunt, 90% of any year group will see DS1 as weird, the remaining 10% might be similarly quirky/immature/socially vulnerable and therefore be a potential friendship pool. In a small school that friendship pool is by definition very very small indeed. In a larger one, far more potentially quirky children and a much larger potential friendship pool.

DS sits GCSEs this summer, got great mock grades (we are just hoping he does as well in the real thing!), has a lovely group of similarly quirky friends and has a place at his chosen sixth form to study A levels. But most importantly he is happy! I have not regretted, not for one moment, taking him out of the private school. Don't get me wrong there have been stressful moments and difficult moments but school are very supportive. I do genuinely believe that on the whole the state sector is better at looking after DC with SEN.

averythinline Sun 02-Feb-20 12:26:37

I would a also not give up but from a different path... ds didn't get into any of the 3 private schools he applied for so went to local state ... the sen/inclusion team were fab , he is dyspraxia and quirky but not a geek

But he found it all very stressful and the Sen team tried but resources stretched and he doesn't have an echp. So was bottom of the list ...

We moved him for yr8 to a school I'd looked at but dismissed as all boys he went and saw it and loves it..,. It's not tiny in private school terms and has a massive financial impact on us ....
The sen is not as up to date as the state one but he's needed less support as the teachers are more consistent and know them more...and although there are still behaviour issues the quantity and volume is less

So maybe have a look at some others as a back up plan...(don't tell him)

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