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Need to start looking at senior schools for ds with ASD (Oxfordshire)

(20 Posts)
FedUpWithCovid Sun 19-Jul-20 15:50:11

One of the only positive aspects of this pandemic has been that I have managed to delay having to think about finding a school for ds1 to go to next. He has just finished yr5 in a independent prep that goes up to yr8; ideally he would go elsewhere from yr9 but could be earlier.

DS1 has ASD, but doesn't have challenging behaviours - just very anxious and copes badly with change, pressured situations and if he thinks he is lost - but does have dyslexia. His work is very erratic, but aside from spelling I don't think he is behind and his potential ability is certainly mainstream level, IQ was about 120 I think when the educational psychologist saw him a while back. He has friends and is not that eccentric, although I think if he might be perceived as pretty odd in a normal comprehensive of the type I went to!

We are in Oxfordshire not that far from Oxford itself and don't really want to move as have jobs here etc, happy to consider boarding/weekly boarding though for the right school. I'm a bit skeptical about that due to the ASD, but the SENCO at his school said that worked in a boarding school previously and they had quite a few similar kids on the spectrum who were fine. His school have made suggestions, but it seems like they have just listed all the schools within about 40 miles that not uber-selective...

Anyone else had to choose a mainstream secondary for a child with ASD? What has worked? Or not worked?

Any suggestions for those with knowledge of Oxfordshire/Bucks/Berkshire/other surroundings would be good too. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
ArtieFufkinPolymerRecords Sun 19-Jul-20 15:53:09

Are you looking for private schools?

FedUpWithCovid Sun 19-Jul-20 19:23:50

@ArtieFufkinPolymerRecords I kind of assumed that was our only choice really, as I just can't see a big comprehensive working for ds1. Quite happy with anywhere that suits though.

OP’s posts: |
Zodlebud Mon 20-Jul-20 08:01:34

Shiplake and Bloxham are the “go to” schools for boys from our prep who need a little extra support. I know boys at both with ASD and they are thriving.

AvengingGerbil Mon 20-Jul-20 08:07:46

Leighton Park. Can be a bit hit and miss in some areas, but a lovely supportive school that actually embraces difference rather than just claiming to.

FedUpWithCovid Mon 20-Jul-20 09:13:45

Thanks. Bloxham certainly looks a possible.

I managed to find another similar thread last night which also mentionned shiplake. I wasn't aware of it so will investigate that one.

I'm so torn about the option of boarding. In one way I think the routine could be very helpful for ds, but in another I worry about lack of downtime, not to mention how he would adapt to sharing a room/not being able to go somewhere that wasn't full of other people. This could just be because I have no experience of what boarding is like though. I have a few friends looking at senior schools at the moment, but they all seem to have super bright kids without any difficulties so are just going for the most academic high flying options and don't seem to know about anywhere else!

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Zodlebud Mon 20-Jul-20 14:38:14

I honestly think that boarding only really works when the child is choosing to do it (the exception being military families etc).

I had never even considered boarding for my DD but we went to see a school where she could be either a day, flexi or weekly boarder. Our intention was she would be a day girl but the more we visited, the more we considered boarding and she will start as a weekly boarder in September. She is beyond excited about it and it was a decision very much driven by her.

I would encourage you to visit schools with your son and keep an open mind. It might send you running to the hills, but you might actually both see it really working. There’s a lot to be said for the routine and not having the stress of getting to and from school each day. He might actually find it suits him better.

But nobody knows your son like you do. So many parents focus on “the best” and are blinkered against what “is right”. There are some amazing schools out there that some consider backup schools but very bright children do just as well there as those who need a little extra support.

My tip would be to go and see as many schools as possible that work in terms of location, logistics and ethos and then eliminate them until you get down to a couple. Consider all options, including state, and I honestly believe you’ll find the right school.

Zodlebud Mon 20-Jul-20 15:11:22

Oh - and I like the Muddy Stilettos website for school reviews. They always seem to pick up the vibe of a school accurately.

houselikeashed Mon 20-Jul-20 19:35:36

My dd weekly boards and it works really really well for her. We were a bit sceptical, but it works very well. She shares a room, follows what the others do in terms of getting up/going to bed/showers/laundry etc, and there are bells for everything!
She goes to a girls school so can't help you there, but thought I'd let you know that boarding is successful for us.
Good luck.

HPFA Mon 20-Jul-20 19:39:01

All the kids I know at Our Lady's Abingdon seem happy and are a diverse bunch (one of them I'd say definitely has some emotional issues although I have no idea if he has a diagnosis).
If you imagine a very small comprehensive in a "naice" area that's somehow the vibe it gives off.

CarribeanPizza Mon 20-Jul-20 19:40:39

Have you looked at Sibford School?

FedUpWithCovid Mon 20-Jul-20 20:02:11

Thanks everyone.

I totally agree with the boarding thing needing to be driven by the child, that is a big concern - especially given that schools where ds might start in yr9 (when he still has 3 years to go in his current school) have to be applied for so ridiculously early that it is hard to know what it will want.

I haven't heard great things about Sibford. I have a couple of colleagues who live nearby and sent their kids to it for that reason, one thought it was 'very academically lax' and moved their child and the other reports it was very nuturing (good in our case) but her son complained endlessly about the minimal selection of clubs/ sports/activities/subjects on offer and they struggled with some of the Quaker-ness. I think I need to visit it to form my own view though!

Right, I need to email lots of schools I think. I will try and visit Bloxham, sibford, Shiplake (now discovered that is rather a way from us though) alongside D'overbroecks, cokethorpe and goodness knows where else!

I think we were super lucky that we kind of fell into the school ds is in now and it has been great, so I'm anxious about the next move even this far in advance.

OP’s posts: |
CarribeanPizza Mon 20-Jul-20 20:50:46

People either seem to love or hate Sibford, it's a bit marmite. Horses for courses and all that...

CarribeanPizza Mon 20-Jul-20 20:50:59

People either seem to love or hate Sibford, it's a bit marmite. Horses for courses and all that...

CarribeanPizza Mon 20-Jul-20 20:51:09

People either seem to love or hate Sibford, it's a bit marmite. Horses for courses and all that...

houselikeashed Tue 21-Jul-20 02:19:08

Oh yes - Shiplake - I have a friend who's son went there and weekly boarded. They loved it.
Kingham Hill?

sendsummer Tue 21-Jul-20 22:02:36

Bradfield College may be a possibility if he wants to weekly board.

NeedingCoffee Tue 21-Jul-20 23:05:43

Where is he at prep school? Usually the headmasters advise on next schools.

I presume he is too academically able for the Unicorn in Abingdon? It now goes up to 16 and does GCSEs.

FedUpWithCovid Wed 22-Jul-20 20:42:41

Thanks for the other suggestions.
Bradfield looks a bit scarily out of our income league - i don't mean in terms of the fees but financial background of other kids families. We are very much two working parents who live in a semi. I will look into it though.

Unicorn i have looked into, looks great place but yes he is too able when paired with severity of his dyslexia.

OP’s posts: |
NeedingCoffee Wed 22-Jul-20 21:57:33

Cranford House would not feel out of your league at all but you might need to move him ASAP to be guaranteed a Y7 place. It’s increasingly over-subscribed because it is not academically selective but gets very, very good value-add.
They’ve committed to classes of no more than 15 anywhere in the school for this coming year due to Covid, but to be honest classes weren’t often much bigger than 18 anyway.
Main issue is I suspect it’s a long way from you.

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