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So worried about the dd's (mainly dd2) starting new school in september.

(19 Posts)
Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 09:46:13

Both dd's are starting a new school in september, we moved house a year ago, i planned on keeping the girls where they were (lovely small village school) but due to the price of fuel and not being able to get any help towards travel costs we have had to move them to the school in this village (which is a lot bigger), luckily we are taking dd2's TA with us (which is great), all was fine until i spoke to the TA last week and she informs me that her hours will be cut and she will not be woth dd2 for all the 30hrs on her statement. Dd2 will have use of the other class TA which worries me a bit, dd2 needs constant supervision and eats her lunch with a TA in the classroom, because her TA will be going home before lunch on 3 days this means dd2 may not have anyone to sit with her at lunch time and will be forced to eat in the hall (which she can't handle). The school did not inform me of this (only heard it from TA because we went to her daughters party at the weekend) so i have not had time to discus this with them.

Dd2's statement states 30hrs of TA but this can be used in small groups or 1:1, basiclly they are saying they can cover this by using the class TA but surely the class TA is for the whole class? my friends boy is in the same class and has behaviour issues so the TA has to do a lot with him (how can the TA watch dd2 when she's sorting out other children with sn's?).

I am worried sick as dd2 has so far been getting 30hrs 1:1 from her TA and now she will be getting almost half that and will have to share another TA for the rest of the time.

What can i do? the statement is a bit vague so i think they are following the statement but i don't feel dd2 will be getting the help she needs, she needs someone sat with her to explain work to her and to calm her down when she has meltdowns (which is a lot). The TA is worried but said 'she will do her best to make sure dd2 gets the correct help if she needs it', apparently the school can not fund her TA for 30hrs (only the hours they have applied for funding for).

Is there anything i can do?

The school is a lot bigger than what she's used to (old school was 80 children, new school is 180 children), i am worried about how she will cope sad, i want to be able to enjoy the summer holidays without worrying about september but how can i?

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 10:24:36

Of course you're worrying, and the kids are probably worried and stressed as well. It's very hard not to worry. But it really should be OK.

Her statement specifies a TA in small groups or 1:1 - so if is the whole class TA, she won't be looking after the whole class - only at most a small group. ie probably working on DDs table with her and all the other kids on the table.

I don't know what DD is like - but this might be good for her. The TA will still be keeping a very close eye on her, but won't be hovering the whole time....

30 hours covers lunch. So again, she will have to have a TA with her at lunch. If she can't handle the hall - then the TA will have to be with her outside the hall.

A bigger school isn't necessarily more chaotic or harder to cope with. I have found a big school much better for my kids than a smaller school - much better.

The playground won't necessarily be busier or more chaotic - depends on the size of it. I would expect they'll def have a sep infant and junior playground - so at most 90 kids in one playground.

Are the kids going to no longer be in mixed classes? That should be an advantage. Should be easier for a teacher to teach 30 6-7 year olds, rather than 30 5-8 year olds.......

There will be more kids for your DDs to make friends with.

SENCO should have more hours allocated to being a SENCO then she would in a smaller school......

Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 11:14:25

Thanks Indigo, i'm trying to calm myself down sad

I'm just worried as the TA has been great with dd2 but has been giving her constant 1:1 for the past year (apart from the TA's lunch break which has been covered by another TA), dd2 needs help with toileting, eating, needs 20 mins of physio each day (this is on her statement), needs constant reminders, cant dress herself for PE, puts everything in her mouth, falls over a lot and has 3 or 4 meltdowns a day due to small changes in the classroom or routine (i could go on), i can't see her being able to cope in a group or as a class unless it is free play. She doesn't really interact with other children (but will happily let them drag her around), at school she is almost non verbal and uses PEC's when she can communicate. I do want her to have some independance, i know it will be good for her but i dont want it to effect her work (she's doing great with reading, writting and maths) and i don't want it to effect her happieness (increase in meltdowns will likely cause her to refusse to go).

I have phoned the LA and they were totally unhelpful, our case worker is on holiday and she told me that its up to the school how they use the 30 hrs TA, apparently they wont speciffy lunch times on the statement hmm.

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 11:28:35

Yes, but there aren't 30 teaching hours in a week - so therefore 30 hours has to cover almost all of lunch time..... ( What are your school hours? 9 - 3:30 = 6.5 per day = 32.5 per week )

You're going to just have to give the new school a try and see what they're like. They don't know her yet. Once they realise what she's actually like I hope they'll be able to adjust towards her needs.....

I remember how scared you were of her starting MS school at all. Absolutely petrified. But by and large it's been excellent for her, and probably better for her than a SS would have been.

You're just going to have to trust this new school as well. You had excellent reasons for moving them. They'll have each other, and they'll have her old TA.

Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 11:49:39

School hours are 9-3.30

I know i will have to give it a go, she has done great in MS (better than i ever imagined), TA is being great and said she will fight for extra hours if DD2 needs it, just worried about the lack of cummunication from the school, i have hardly spoke to any of them, have breifly met her teacher and SENCO and have not seen the head at all.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 04-Aug-11 11:50:23


Have the school issued a revised statement naming the new school?

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 04-Aug-11 11:59:24

Indigo, I don't disagree with what you are saying, but given the variability of schools in ther application of statements that aren't properly specified and quanitified, I can see why Marne is worried.

That doesn't mean that the school won't come good. They well might. But she is already feeling a bit let down by the way they have not at least started with what was a working model.

30 hours of TA time can be used in many ways. Indirect time can be included, such as lesson prep, tidying the classroom to avoid too much visual stimulation, attending training about dd's condition taking a group of children to the hall to give dd less people in the playground that might overwhelme her. In short, it can be interpreted any way and justified to be for her dd's benefit when she might not agree.

In reality, I have found that all but the cleverist anti-SN schools are that contriving, and they do really try their best to give the hours to the child. But Marne is right to ask questions and sensible to have some concerns about how it will pan out.

Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 12:17:40

The statement (revised statement for new school) was sent out to me 3 weeks ago, this was just the draft, i had 15 days to relpy, i didn't reply because at the time all was staying the same in the way of 1:1, the SENCo from the new school was at the review meeting and agreed that all would stay the same with her TA and funding would be fine.

Phoned LA this morning and the case worker is away until next week, she will phone me when she gets back to see if i can make any changes but i was told that they can't state how the support will be used (thats up to the school), i want it on her statement that she needs support at lunch times and break times, i'm not as worried about the lack of support (use of another ta) in the classroom as she can complete some activities without the help of her TA and some of this time will just be child initiated(sp) play. I'm more worried about lunch times and break times.

IndigoBell Thu 04-Aug-11 12:19:26

Of course Marne's worried. I stated that in my first post.

But at this stage in the holidays worrying won't achieve anything (or at least I can't think of anything it will achieve)

The school might be awful. But equally it might be wonderful. Or it might start off a bit poor, and as they get used to Marne and her DDs improve dramatically, or any other combination.

Surely it's best to start a new place with a positive attitude and hope in your heart?

And then react to the school as things pan out....... There will probably be teething problems at even the most wonderful school. So start at the school, plan lots of communication, and do your best to worry about actual problems not distant problems that may or may not happen.

Now, I don't follow that advice. I have spent far too many hours worrying about my kids. And a fraction of that worry was useful. And I hate it when people tell me not to worry - so I never said that to Marne.

What I did say (or mean to say) is it's unlikely to be as bad as you're imagining. There will be some problems. But there's every chance that they'll mostly be over-comeable.

The best thing you can do to make the school work for your kids is to make them feel really positive about it. Make them feel they're going to the best school in the world and that is why they moved school.

We hear a lot of negative stories on here. And a lot of fighting and complaining stories on hear. And sometimes that fucks with our brains. This is not a representative sample. People who are happy tend not to post here. It is possible that this school will be as fine as can be expected.

starfishmummy Thu 04-Aug-11 12:22:42

Try not to worry to much. I think the first couple of weeks will give your daughter a chance to settle in and the school to work out what is best for her in the terms of support; different does not mean it will be worse - it could be better.
One thing I think could be better is that your dd will get some time with a different TA - if this one has been working 1-1 for 30 hours a week over the last year then a change will be good for DD as you don't want her to get to dependent on one TA (also will be good for the TA as well!)

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 04-Aug-11 12:23:37

Okay Marne,

Put your concerns, and reasons for not replying to the statement within 15 days in writing to the SEN officer.

Say that you were happy with the previous schools 'interpretation' of dd's woolly statement but that you have some concerns at the feedback you are getting from the SEN officer and the new school and feel that the statement would be better quantified and specified now as is required to be by law.

Ask if they can tighten up the wording to reflect this, but if not could they please finalise the statement asap so that you can appeal. If it is already the final statement then you have 2 months from that date to appeal.

You don't HAVE to go through with the appeal. The appeal form is very easy to fill out and the lack of specificity is enough for them to agree to a hearing. But it will get your concerns taken seriously, and there is a lot of help on this board with the process. Please don't be afraid of it.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 04-Aug-11 12:27:46

My DS's statement does specify 1:1 TA for lunchtimes. Your statement already includes all but 30 mins support in the school day. That must therefore, include at the least 30 mins of a hour long lunch break. I think you will be able to easily argue that the 30 mins lacking should be during structured time, i.e. a lesson or even assembly (if that's appropriate) She obviously needs unstructured and loosely supervised time like lunch and playtime to be part of her 1:1 time. Be strong and get this explained and in writing properly in Sept.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 04-Aug-11 12:28:10

Indigo, it is always better to be positive and work to foster good relationships with the people working with your child.

The trouble is, if it DOES go wrong Marne has no way of fixing it for a whole year.

If an appeal goes in, the school and LA will do their utmost to make sure that they can meet her dd's needs with their interpretation of the statement and collect evidence of this. The very least this will do is provide Marne with reassurance.

A good school will see what the appeal is about and haul Marne in quick smart in to explain and reassure and set up communication systems and transition etc etc.

Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 12:31:56

Thank you,

Her TA will be staying with her for the 30hrs for the first 2 weeks (whilst she settles), there is a chance the school will then get to know DD2 and see that she needs the 30 hrs support including lunch time support.

I know there is not much i can do now as its the school holidays. I am a worrier and no school will ever be good enough, we were lucky that the last school where great with both dd's (not perfect but dd2 was happy and the communication between me and the school was good), i have concerns about this school, they have no expereance of ASD and when i spoke to the teacher she told me that she had never taught this age group and was a little nervous as she prefers older children hmm. Both the girls like the school (from when they have visited) ,all 3 of my step children have been to the school and done ok. I know i'm going to worry until i can see that theres nothing to worry about, dd2 has done great in MS but the first few months were not easy, i was hoping we wouldn't have to go through all this again.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 04-Aug-11 12:47:55

Good luck with the transition. Even with the best will in the world, the transition is bound to have a few hiccups. But, hopefully, small ones. smile

auntevil Thu 04-Aug-11 14:52:15

Marne - remember that most staff are back at the school before the school starts back - usually the week before at least. Why not try to clarify things with the HT/SENco then and express your concerns. That way you might have less to worry about on the day that the girls start as you will have enough normal parental worries on that first day at new school.

Agnesdipesto Thu 04-Aug-11 15:02:20

Marne I agree with Starlight
Even if you are outside the 15 days write and say you want the wording on the statement to reflect 30 hours of direct 1:1 support with your DD only, not shared with other children - which as you say has been what is in place for the past year.
I am not sure if the 15 days applies in school holidays anyway, but if they haven't issued the final yet then just write back
Even if they issue the final with the same woolly wording you can appeal and they can issue a new better worded statement any time they like eg a week later
If the review which led to the revised statement did not identify that the level of support needed to change / be reduced, then you already have good evidence that level of support was needed.
There is govt guidance on wording statements and stuff in COP.
But I would insist on the wording being changed so they have to keep the TA for the full 30 hours.
They should only reduce support if your DD needs have reduced.
As presumably no-one has said at review that was the case there is no basis to change the support.
Star is right if you do not challenge it now you will have to wait until annual review.

Agnesdipesto Thu 04-Aug-11 15:03:38

Oh and say lunchtime cover as well. Say you want this written in.

Marne Thu 04-Aug-11 17:57:36

Thank you Agnes- i will write a letter tonight and sent it tomorrow, i should have had it changed a long time ago but as the school was providing her with full time 1:1 then i felt no need, i will try my best to get it changed. Her needs have not really changed apart from the addition of OT and a diagnosis of hypermobility and low muscle tone (so if anything she needs more help as she need physio as stated on her new statement). Further down in the statement is states 'dd2 needs a high level of care' (surely she can't have a high level of care if she is just being kept an eye on by the class TA?).

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