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School (independent) seems unable or unwilling to accomodate ds, 12 with SEN. When wld you decide to change school?

(27 Posts)
kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 11:19:34

Ds has dyslexia, processing and handwriting issues. His teachers all acknowledge is he is far from reaching anywhere near his potential because he canot keep up in class. We chose this school because we hoped the small classes would be of benefit.

These things piss me off:

-Ds dropped French as he was struggling with learning both French and Spaninsh from scratch. The 2 free lessons a week were meant to be used to revise spanish but he just sits at the back of the french class daydreaming.

-He hates team sport (possibly mildy dyspraxic) and they do 5 hours a week of it!

-As he is slow to get changed for PE, he now has to get changed alone in the disabled toilet.

-He has remained on the same level/sublevel in English for a whole year yet school havent intervened at all.

-The school day ends at 5 pm with the last hour being unsupervised prep. A total waste of an hour a day for ds who needs direction and supervision.

All things considered, I do wonder why we are paying for ds to feel increasingly stressed and to suffer increasingly low self esteem.

The thing is, he has some good friends there, the teachers are mostly lovely and the school is the only one near us so changing school might mean moving house.

Is it time to change?

LizT123 Mon 12-Nov-12 21:39:20

Hi Kiss
We put our dyspraxic son with considerable sensory problems in a very small private school for primary, which was brilliant to start off with as the small class sizes and individual attention was exactly what he needed, but as he got a little older (9), the school decided they could not cope with his related learning difficulties and we had 3 weeks in which to find him a new primary before they all closed for the summer break. It proved to be the best thing for him as we moved him to a local state primary where they had excellent special needs support. Devon finally agreed his statement and support funding (kicking, screaming and being taken to appeal but gave in under considerable pressure from the new school) and he settled in amazingly well despite me worrying to bits over the summer. He is now in mainstream secondary (in a different county now, fortunately still with a statement and lots of support) but doing really well. A good state primary has many more SEN resources and training generally than private schools and if you can get a good SENCO who really cares about the kids, your son will get the chance to feel valued and do well. He will also have the experience of coming across other kids with similar problems, so may not feel quite so isolated or different. The one DS went to were fully aware of his sensory problems and dyspraxia, were very caring and organised things so he felt safe in crowded situations and could concentrate despite the much larger class sizes.
You get silly situations arising when your kids are in the private sector. For example DS's language therapist was not allowed to visit him in the private school (although she would talk to the staff on the phone...) but in the state sector he has a language therapist who goes to the school regularly and works closely with his TAs. Makes you mad really!
It does not sound as if your DS is statemented (we had major problems getting a statement because DS was in private education) but if he is, you can make a case for him to go to the school of your choice, not the one which is simply in your local catchment area. Our LEA wanted DS to go to a particular school but both he and we wanted him to go to his current school which has a very good reputation for both "normal" education and for its special needs dept. and the LEA had to accept our decision as the school were prepared to take him. The only thing the LEA said was that they would pay for transport if he went to the school they suggested but not if he went to the one we wanted, so bit of a no brainer really, we just act as taxis, no change there!
Do try to find out about state schools in your area who have a good reputation with special needs and go round as many as possible to see if you connect with one and a particular SENCO. Good luck!

Narked Sun 04-Nov-12 18:06:52

Upheaval is never ideal, but, if you're going to do it, it's better to do it this year, so he has a year to settle before GCSEs (or whatever the government have introduced by then!)

shushpenfold Sun 04-Nov-12 18:03:07

Kiss - lots of good states schools in Dorset and some decent indie's who are also more suited to SEN. If you're looking at indie for senior level, have you considered moving to a prep which then has a senior to reduce the change factor?...lots of his new friends would then be moving on to the senior too, which would lessen the shock of moving again in his final prep year.

We're in Dorset too - mine are in a fabulous prep school currently and we're looking for a senior school to suit our ds (who has LS but is blossoming because his school is brill) We travel a fair distance to get them to it....sadly necessary in this part of the world.

The benefit of state sector for your ds of course would be less sport (and of not having to find the fees!) which might make him happier than any senior indie....they do sport and then some, although the more forgiving and sensible ones make sure that the non-sporty kids get to enjoy it too with far less pressure and more emphasis on joining in rather than achieving.

Good luck with the decision,

Savonarola Sun 04-Nov-12 17:49:08

Thanks. I'd assumed he was newer to the school, and had a vague hope that some of it might be settling in problems combined with ascertaining the right level of support.

As that's not the case, then I think you probably do need to be looking to move to a school that will support him more appropriately. But take your time - you don't want to go from frying pan to fire.

In the meantime, you do need to work on improving his lot in the current shambles school. Do have a think about getting the unproductive sessions timetabled for French turned into touchtyping sessions, or at least times with structured work, not just vague 'Spanish revision'.

Chandon Sun 04-Nov-12 16:32:12

I have a similar boy, a bit younger, and moved hm to private a year ago.

I think unsupervisd prep is pointless, can you pick him up at 4?

Cam he sit in the front of French class instead of the back?

During football, can he be in goal?

I would have a calm, no guns blazing, meeting with the head or tutor to discuss these points one by one and find a solution. Private schools should be a bit more accommodating

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 16:16:32

Thanks for all your messages.
Onedayup, we are in Dorset. There are no viable alternatives locally as far as I know but there are schools a few miles away, several of which have very good Ofsteds and could probably be travelled to by bus.

Savonarola, ds is in Year 8. At my request he was assessed a year ago when he started in year 7. I asked the learning support department teacher to assess him for possible dyslexia. She did a full assessment and said he wasnt. On friday, he saw a private educational psychologist who's tests concluded ds has dyslexia, processing and handwriting issues.

My gut feeling is the school is ill-equipped for SEN and ds would fit in better somewhere else. The upheaval involved makes my heart sink tho!

Narked Sun 04-Nov-12 14:28:38

I'd move him. It doesn't really matter what type of school it is. What matter is how well it caters for this particular child's needs. Could you investigate what support your DS would be entitled to in a state school and find out if any of the schools locally have a good reputation for dealing with your DS's issues? Maybe look in to independent schools in the wider area that he could get to by train/school coach service?

Savonarola Sun 04-Nov-12 14:27:21

Am I right in assuming he's in year 7 (having just moved schools)?

As the Ed Psych report reached you only on Friday, the the recommendations in it are new to you and unknown to the school. I think it is worth going back to the school, discussing it with them and seeing if there is a viable way forward.

I'd be looking for support for a move to laptop, specific individual or small group work focussed on identified gaps in his English (NB: some, but not all, private schools make an additional charge for this, find out which yours does before he starts - external tutor might be cheaper); proper use of the free periods rather than just sitting in the back of a French class (doing a touch typing programme might be a far more useful use of time).

Depending on what they say and, more importantly, what they do, you will have a better feel on whether you stay with the school. As they'll probably have the usual clause about one clear term's notice (or pay in lieu) you may as well have your best shot at fixing it where he is as you'll have to pay up until Easter anyhow.

Onedayuponedaydown Sun 04-Nov-12 14:19:24

Are there other indies in your area?

Would you mind sharing what area you are in, as others maybe able to help you?

shushpenfold Sun 04-Nov-12 14:09:43

Gosh - it's a no brainer....move him...the head sounds awful!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 04-Nov-12 13:37:09

I would move your son now as his additional support needs are not and will not be met in this particular establishment.

Unfortunately they may have smaller class sizes but that is of little matter if the additional support is not either there or up to scratch. This school seem unwilling and unable to meet his needs.

Toughasoldboots Sun 04-Nov-12 12:29:42

Well your boy is never going to feel valued there then. A school will pull out every child's strength and nurture good self esteem.

Sounds a huge decision though if it involves moving house.
Are there any schools that do weekly boarding or would that not be a viable situation for him?

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 12:17:52

Tough, the head at ds' school is a self-important arse who is determined to get the school in to the country's top-10 schools. He is very focussed on the sports and the accolades awarded to students. This serves to make ds feel even worse as he never wins anything, is never chosen for anything and is in "thick group" (his words ) for everything. Poor sod. sad

Seeker, girls go to an all girls school (which is good), grammar or all girls indy. Its the boys who are really badly catered for here.

Toughasoldboots Sun 04-Nov-12 11:49:10

So yes, I would move him.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 11:48:27

Cross post -again! Where do girls go?

Toughasoldboots Sun 04-Nov-12 11:47:39

I moved dd2 from state to independent for SN reasons. She is in an academic prep school which on paper wouldn't be a good choice for SN.

I went to several different schools and was upfront about issues and chose from there.
It all depends on the head and how they run things, dd's is warm, kind and will not have anyone left out at her school.

I wouldn't want to be my child to be at a school that is not trying to get the best out of everyone.

It might be state or private- having tried two state schools, in my area, it's private, but some state schools are better than private in other areas.

shushpenfold Sun 04-Nov-12 11:46:18

How near are the other independent school who might be able to support him better? Are they hours away?

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 11:44:48

Sorry, cross post.

I think you should make an appointment with his form tutor and whoever is responsible for AEN. And put the point you make here to them and ask what they are going to do about it. (I wouldn't make too much of the sport thing, by the way- not liking something is no reason for not doing it, in my harsh opinion!)

Then go and ask the same questions at the state school. Then decide. If you decide to move, you could always use the money you save on some specialist extra help for him.

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 11:43:29

Seeker, the catchement school is boys only - a boy got killed there in a fight last year. Its rough and locally has a terrible reputation. There is also a catholic school (we are staunch athiests here) and a grammar school (no chance of that!). Most of his year 6 friends moved to better catchment areas.

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 11:40:00

He has a recent Ed Psych report (done friday) identifying mild dyslexia, processesing issues and very poor handwring (hard too read and sloww at 6 words per minute). Would the report be enough to base an appeal on? All the decent schools are oversubscribed. Our local school is a boys school with a very poor reputation and he would be eaten alive there.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 11:38:54

When you say it is the only school near you, what do you mean?

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 11:37:22

State schools are fine - our other children attend state primary. It's due to ds' SEN that we chose a small school with small classes. I thought it would benefit him but it clearly doesnt. He needs more targetted help, ironically probably provided better in a state school.

LynetteScavo Sun 04-Nov-12 11:33:06

I too would be pissed off.

I wouldn't expect what you have mentioned to be happening in a state school, and I would be angry if I were paying for this.

Would you consider a state school?

If you are going to move house for a school, I would look for one which is dyslexia friendly.

ArthurandGeorge Sun 04-Nov-12 11:25:33

I would move him now. You are paying for "Brand X" education. Your son needs "Brand Y" and the school can't or won't meet his needs.

A waste of your money and your son's education.

kissmyheathenass Sun 04-Nov-12 11:25:32

We never moved his primary because he had friends and didnt want to move. In hindsight moving him to a better primary amy have made all the difference. I dont want to make that mistake again. When did you move your ds?

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