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12 yo has severe anxiety because of school, how to change school?

(17 Posts)
MakAttack Tue 04-Feb-20 13:46:43

Good afternoon everyone!
My 12 yo son has always had quite a complicated personality. We always struggled with his outbursts and aggression towards me and my 13 yo daughter as well as panic attacks. NHS doesn't seem to be willing to get involved much, we were sent to CAMHS some time ago, who said he is definitely not on the spectrum, but never tested him.
My son started secondary school in Sept 2019 and is massively struggling. He came in with second best SATs results in Y7, now slid to set 2 and never passed a Q exam well. School is quite strict, but my daughter loves it. Instead detentions give my son horible anxiety to a point where he cries himself to sleep every night, can't sleep at all and can't eat + has upset stomach. We went to GP and back to CAMHS but they quickly said that it's probably because he's bullied a bit, will go away, he's just adapting. My child has circles under his eyes, complains of depression and is losing weight. I put him on a waiting list to another school, but after 6 months there are still 120 people before us.
I just wonder whether there is ANYTHING i can do to push him forward in the waiting list.. No-one seems to care. School constantly complains about attendance, but he keeps getting unwell because he's physically not feeling good due to anxiety. He keeps getting colds, horrid migraines, all sorts!... He asked to be home schooled, but it's expensive and he's such a brilliant boy, I don't want to lock him up in 4 walls.. I only wish council could be a bit more understanding and move us up the list seeing this is having a massive psychological and physical effect on my child's health..
If anyone has experience with this kind of issues - please do let me know how you went about it. Our school is in Ealing Council.

Thank you in advance!!!

OP’s posts: |
Namechangerejsjs1239 Tue 04-Feb-20 13:52:32

www.gov.uk/children-with-special-educational-needs

I would go back to the docs Op and also push for an EHCP - as sounds like your DS is suffering from mental health needs.

You need a good school with good provisions for those with SEHM needs ( social emotional mental health).

Once an EHCP is granted you can chose the school you would like to apply for, they can say np - for example if they don’t think they can meet his needs (ie not enough resources for SEMH pupils) however EHCPs are at the top along with looked after children when it comes to allocating places.

Malmontar Tue 04-Feb-20 14:49:17

It is very unlikely your son would get an EHCP so as much as I sympathize with you, I think that is bad advice and even if he did it would take months and he needs support now. Have you spoken to the SENCO? As he is one of the y7s they are normally high up on the pastoral care radar. If you haven't already I would get a meeting with the senco and tutor asap to see what they think is the cause of this. They are often much stricter on y7s so letting the school know about this will help. He should be getting classes as a school refuser in which case the school need to be putting things in place to make school more enjoyable for him. Some schools have a pupil passport for children that need extra support and at my DDs school, children like your son get a 5 mins card which they can give to their teacher and go outside for 5 mins, no questions asked. There's lots they can do but nothing if you don't tell them exactly how it's been.

The sad thing is y7 is very very difficult for a lot of children, especially those that push boundaries.

MakAttack Tue 04-Feb-20 15:33:35

Thank you both!

@Namechangerejsjs1239 I have emailed Ealing EHCP just in case, you never knowsmile

@Malmonatar, thank you for advice. I have spoken to school extensively. Trouble is it's a new school that is currently squeezed into a tiny temp site and I have a feeling staff is not coping or is not trained for these kind of situations. They said that there is absolutely no exceptions made for anyone (I have a feeling it's because they really need to keep pupils in order seeing the tiny space and all Y7, Y8, Y9 & Y10s cramped into it, they were meant to move 2 years ago). My son is struggling to make friends there, but that's an issue we can deal with. He fairs much better when he connects with the form tutor, but the one he has is very passive and uninvolved (I heard same complaint from other parents) and just doesn't work for him. School however said they cannot move him to another form. He gets detentions for forgetting a ruler or taking off blazer without asking and started having trouble sleeping because he's petrified of going back and may be forgetting something tiny and getting detention again. I can't force breakfast into him in the morning, he's so stressed he just can't eat. Fridays are okay-ish, by Sunday he's in tears again and has this pre-panic attack breathing like he can't catch breath.

I keep trying and trying, but both school and NHS don't seem to be of much use.. I just thought may be others had similar experiences and to see how they went about it.

I am not sure that moving him to a different school will 100% solve the problem, but I NEED to get him out of this one. And all waiting lists in our area are horribly long.. Tbh I have only seen him like this when a family member passed and he first had panic attacks, this is not right..

OP’s posts: |
Lightuptheroom Tue 04-Feb-20 15:38:47

You can make an in year admission application, but I think you would have the same problem with waiting lists. It may be worth contacting the admissions team and asking about the fair access protocol for your area, each council is different so ask whether he would fall within this if you apply to move schools.

Malmontar Tue 04-Feb-20 16:17:07

Have you made sure to have all of this in writing? Schools have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and what they are doing is illegal. I dread to think how children with more severe SEN are coping. You cannot have a blanket formula for all children as much as you want to instill discipline in a new year.
I would urge you to put this in writing to the school and explain just as you have now, how it's effecting your child. Please PM me if you need more advice, I volunteer for a SEN charity and give legal advice to parents and could signpost you to some extra information you can include.

LIZS Tue 04-Feb-20 17:16:44

Is he physically well? Why is he getting detentions?

AtomicRabbit Tue 04-Feb-20 18:11:45

If it's that bad I would suggest home-schooling for the rest of the year while you work out your options. He's clearly failing to thrive and it's damaging him.

interhigh.co.uk/interhigh-secondary-school/ this school has been advertised a lot recently and looks well organised.

Join Facebook and search online for home-schooling groups near you. There are some very successful home-schoolers. It really suits some children.

I'd also suggest an educational psychologist be asked to go and observe him at school. I believe this is possible but you need to ask.

Otherwise, go and get a private diagnosis.

AlunWynsKnee Tue 04-Feb-20 18:17:18

Presumably you've applied to the other school to get on the waiting list. Did you consider appealing for the school. You would need to figure out some reasonable grounds and gather evidence as to why that school would be best if you do want to appeal.

AtomicRabbit Tue 04-Feb-20 18:52:04

Also the very high SATS plus outbursts of aggression, being bullied and huge anxiety etc all speaks to me of high-functioning autism. He may be only slightly on the spectrum but to me these are big red flags. Also being forgetful/having problems with executive functioning is another class hallmark of ASD. Teachers think you are doing things deliberately - when you aren't. Having trouble making friends as well - another hallmark.

I'd definitely push CAMHS much much harder and get a diagnosis. CAMHS have had their budgets slashed. They don't want to diagnose any kids further because it means more budget to be allocated for special needs. So their budgets have been cut to prevent further diagnoses of SN. The SN government budget nationally has gone through the roof in recent years and many local councils been taken to court for failing to provide a decent standard of education.

www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jun/26/families-fight-government-in-court-over-chronic-underfunding-for-special-needs

Please read.

For this reason I cannot see how you will ever get a decent level of care and education for your DS in a secondary setting if he has SNs.

Home schooling is the only option. Not an easy one but if it was my DS I would be seriously considering it.

crazycrofter Tue 04-Feb-20 19:48:22

I would also seriously consider home schooling. It’s hard but there’s a big community out there and lots going on. And colleges now put on some GCSEs for home educated students when the time comes.

We did it for years 5 and 6 and I’ve always said we’d do it again if school was damaging.

BackInTime Tue 04-Feb-20 19:55:29

While I am all for rules getting a detention for taking off your blazer in Year 7 is just excessive and unnecessary. Would you have to ask to take off your jacket in the workplace? I take it this is an academy?

BackInTime Tue 04-Feb-20 19:57:50

I would also suspect that your DS is not the only kid in that school who is utterly terrified of doing something wrong.

ittakes2 Tue 04-Feb-20 20:13:55

My daughter was similar when she started a grammar that was over the top strict. It completely triggered anxiety about getting dentition even though in 12 months she was never even close to getting it. It was even just listening to teachers threatening other students with dentition for the silliest little things. She had bags under her eyes and we had her assessed for high funcitioning autism by a top london specialist. She didn't have it - just what they call a spikey brain pattern. Her english was in top 2% but her maths and working memory a lot less so suggestive this part of her brain didn't develop. Specialist said while academically she could cope with grammar school she needed to be a more nuturing environment. We put her in a nuturing private school and within 2 days she reverted to her personality before the grammar school. But that year in a strict grammar traumitised all of us especially her and she is now having therapy for it.
I would advocate moving him if you can - have you looked at schools maybe a bit further away?
I am very sorry you are going through this.

MakAttack Wed 05-Feb-20 10:47:36

Thank you all SO MUCH for all the great advice!!! I think I will try to get my son tested privately and see what that shows. If anyone knows of a good specialist - please do drop me a line!
I am weary of home schooling as I have a very demanding job and work around the clock. I am not sure I would be able to support him enough.. I imagine he would need a grown-up to supervise him most of the time.
Re private school - unfortunately we cannot afford it, otherwise I would happily have moved him!
Our school is not an academy, it was meant to be a regular new public school when I signed my daughter up, but same year the headmaster had to resign due to illness and school was taken under the umbrella of a large West London CoE trust that are famous for their strict rules.
May be if I get my son diagnosed I can use that to appeal or for the school to take a slightly lighter approach with him.

Thanks again!!!!

OP’s posts: |
AtomicRabbit Wed 05-Feb-20 13:52:11

I'm don't think a diagnosis will help you get him into the school of your choice however it will help you work out how to help him more which is a good thing. Definitely worth doing.

We went through the NHS - Cahms referred us but it was before the budget cuts - some time ago now. You could still go to your GP and ask for a referral but expect to wait months - possibly years.

Home-schooling may not be as bad as you think. It may be that you need to find someone who can supervise him from say 9am - 12pm three hours every day. Then he is on his own for a bit until you come home. It may be through home-school you find lots of other children in your area who are also being homeschooled.

From what I understand - many children do just 3 hours work a day. Because it's so intense and one-to-one they learn much more quickly. They are on a timetable too and log-in to the computer to take the classes.

Then the rest of the day is free - so he can the day with activities locally with other home-school children. I would look into it more before completely giving up. It may be the home-schooling company can connect up local children. other parents may not be working and may be happy to help out.

ellsybells Thu 06-Feb-20 19:24:09

Hi there, I really sympathise with your situation. Have you considered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? The Mind charity has a section on its website and shows you how to find a therapist near you via the British association of clinical psychotherapists www.Bacp.co.uk. You have to pay per session but it’s usually not more than £60/hour and a couple of chats might help him deal with his anxieties and stop them overwhelming him. Many have extra qualifications in the area of kid/young adults. Just a thought. Good luck! flowers

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