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Which London school would you choose?

(13 Posts)
horsemadmom Thu 22-Sep-11 11:51:42

Friends have recently moved to London with their 14 year old son from the states. He has never had a formal assessment but really seems to be AS/ADS. He doesn't understand the social codes of boys his age at all. Acts more like an 8 year old. No street smarts. He had been doing some special ed in a mainstream school. Unfortunately, all the advice in the world can't convey the truly sick-making amount of fight you need to get your child into school in London.

The LA offered them a completely inappropriate school-far away, very deprived intake, 90% non- native English speakers- the most sunken of sink schools. They are now realising why such a high proportion of the borough goes private!
The current choices are North London International and Portland Place. Which would you choose?
Boarding might be their desperation fallback. Any recommendations?

greenpilot Thu 22-Sep-11 17:21:16

If they can afford to pay, I'd recommend a small independent special school for high functioning students, e.g. Centre Academy, the Moat School, Egerton Rothsay (Herts but school bus goes from N London). These are special schools but they take cognitively able children with higher functioning SEN, such as AS, dyslexia, ADHD etc, and they offer GCSEs. Does he have behavioural issues? If so, these schools might not be suitable.

In principle he should be able to get these schools named on a statement and for the parents to pay, but at his age it would probably take a long time to get a statement as the LA is likely to fight it.

Alternatively, if they can afford it, it might be more cost effective to move close to a mainstream school with a good reputation for SEN. I know Alexandra Park and William Ellis are supposed to be good, I'm sure there are many others. They'd probably have to go on a waiting list but if they moved nearby, they'd get to the top pretty quickly.

greenpilot Thu 22-Sep-11 17:21:58

for the parents to pay for the LA to pay I meant

horsemadmom Thu 22-Sep-11 23:26:31

I'm afraid that the LEA is of no use. They have to get him into a school asap or the mom will go mad. He doesn't do well with disruption so he needs to go somewhere and stay.
Anyone with experience of the above schools?

tethersend Thu 22-Sep-11 23:29:07

Whereabouts in London are they?

horsemadmom Fri 23-Sep-11 13:39:28


greenpilot Fri 23-Sep-11 17:05:57

Sorry, my previous post was a bit confusing. The LEA doesn't need to be involved if the parents are willing to approach the schools I mentioned and pay the fees themselves.

The schools you mentioned might provide smaller class sizes and a more individual approach but there is no guarantee that their staff will be trained and experienced in ASD. It sounds like he needs quite a specialised approach and support with independence and social skills, which non-specialist schools generally cannot provide.

horsemadmom Fri 23-Sep-11 17:24:25

Thanks for the info. He's been in a mainstream school for the whole of his education but with special ed input.
Can they put him in one of these schools and then chase the LEA for funding? They will really struggle with fees and the dad's employer really can't help for a variety of reasons.
NLI has a partnership with a SEN school. Portland Place does not.

tethersend Fri 23-Sep-11 18:45:57

Try Hampstead School- it's a mainstream (state) secondary, but they have (or always did have) a strong SEN dept. I know a few children with ASD who were supported well there.

A mainstream school can apply for a statement of SEN- it doesn't need to be a special school.

If he has been in mainstream up until now, I would think that it would perhaps remain appropriate for him to attend mainstream here. All mainstream schools have an AEN department, and staff to support children with AEN. The training and experience of the staff varies, but most schools in Camden have strong and experienced SEN teachers.

It's really hard to say without knowing the boy and his level of need, but do his parents feel that mainstream secondary schools would be unsuitable for him?

horsemadmom Sat 24-Sep-11 00:21:27

I think he might survive 5 minutes at Hampstead. Maybe less.
This is a boy who comes from a very upper middle class school- in the states, the norm is that you go to your local school and most areas are very economically homogenous. He is very unsophisticated and sheltered.
At the risk of being flamed, I think he just doesn't get the social codes of urban life. He doesn't listen to the music, watch the TV, see the movies or understand the teen-speak. My son is the same age and there is a huge gulf. This is a kid who needs a safe environment and from what I've seen of Hampstead School, it isn't it.

tethersend Sat 24-Sep-11 08:15:43

You wont be flamed for stating his needs!

I have worked with two children whose needs are/were exactly as you describe at Hampstead school, and they did really well; however, this was a few years ago.

Spa school is the best provision i have seen in London for children with ASD- but it's in southwark.

Good luck with the search.

greenpilot Sat 24-Sep-11 09:14:08

Spa School is good but it wouldn't offer a very academic curriculum. Is he expected to achieve GCSEs?

To get funding for a special school (state school like Spa or independent), it would have to be named on his statement. It takes at least six months to get a statement and probably longer in this case, as he might not have enough evidence of his needs so they'd have to go through an appeals process. It's not unheard of for parents to fund a school until the LA takes over with a statement, but they wouldn't get back any of the money they've paid and of course, there is no guarantee that a statement would be given.

The SEN school linked to NLI is Holmewood and I've heard good things about that. If the two schools you mentioned are the only options on the table, I'd be inclined to go for that one.

horsemadmom Sat 24-Sep-11 17:11:43

That's my feeling, greenpilot. I'll see if they have got any further in the search.

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