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Anyone got any advice on how to tackle this with school tomorrow? (sorry its long)

(32 Posts)
moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 13:37:24

Hi lovely people

Desperately need your advice here. Following Friday's maths lesson incident (mentioned on the Friday night thread) I am going in first thing tomorrow morning to demand ask nicely to see the SENCO.

Have been on it all morning and am getting nowhere. To me, I'm making perfect sense and they are contradicting themselves, treating ds appallingly, failing to differentiate for his SENs and generally being well out of order - but - I am not feeling very clear headed or logical and am worried I'm not going to get my point across effectively.

Basically, the teacher/s are saying (and shouting at ds) that unless he produces more written work in class, they are going to move him down into the lower set for maths. They said, unless he produces a greater quantity of work, they cannot/will not keep him in top set, because they can't assess his ability properly - yet they also told me that the papers he was working on last week and got 17/20 on were level 4 papers (he is 9 years old in year 5). He tends to average answering roughly half the questions set, but in most cases gets 90/100% of the ones he does answer correct.

He suffers from low-confidence/low self-esteem around maths as it is, is more than capable of doing the work, but needs some extra time to process the information and needs adult direction to stay on task.

We had the same issue last year, but the teaching staff felt his place in top set was appropriate and only suggested moving him down if it would give him a boost to see how much more advanced he was than the lower set. In the end, the decision was taken that it would be seriously damaging to his self esteem to move him down a set and in his case, would not work as a motivator, as it had for one or two other children in the past.

As I see it, they have failed to take into account the following:

1. EP report states that he suffers from ASD related 'zoning out' episodes, particularly when stressed and that these episodes were witnessed first hand by her during her assessments. She was, at the time concerned that she had witnessed 'absences', as were we and the final assessment of the episodes as 'zone-outs' was backed up by the Paediatrician who saw him in January of this year to rule out epilepsy related absence seizures.

He zoned out and failed to mark his test paper (which he actually completed faster than the rest of the group) on Friday and was yelled at in front of the whole class, told he was 'choosing not to work', 'opting out', didn't deserve his place in top set and was letting all the other children in his group down. angry

2. The EP also stated in her report that testing had shown that ds has a slow processing speed and that given long enough, he will complete a task and usually perform to a high standard. They provided evidence for this in terms of his WISC IV test results. For this reason is is supposed to be allowed extra time for tests and examinations.

3. His WISC results highlighted that he is actually highly capable in mathematics and this should be seen as an area of strength for him.

3. The OT who assessed him in February this year, sent a report to the school stating that ds suffers from hypotonia, with particularly low tone in his core, upper body and arms. The report states that this means writing at a desk is painful, arduous and tiring for him. The report also mentions his fine motor difficulties, which make it doubly hard for him to write for longer periods of time and affect his handwriting and drawing skills.

So we have a stressed out child, trying to cope with transition to new year - made worse by being yelled at and humiliated by his maths teacher twice in two days (bearing in mind he only has her two days a week, so this was only the fourth time she'd taken him) who zoned out as a stress response and despite having actually completed the work, was screamed at in front of the rest of the class, told he was lazy, choosing not to work and didn't deserve to be in the top set.

This came two days after his other maths teacher and I had discussed his lack of confidence and distress around maths and she agreed that based on ability he absolutely deserves his place in the class, so I then went home and spent a few hours doing my best to convince him of this. angry

In addition to that, the teacher either hasn't been informed (although the school says she has) or is choosing to ignore his other SENs which require her to differentiate her teaching style and offer him additional support. AFAIK, there is only one other child with a SEN in that group - he has dyslexia and actually sits next to ds, so in theory, this should be possible.

This morning I have been scanning SENCOP and reading a few other bits. Have typed up a report based on several things that have not gone well across transition and things that still aren't being done to support ds two weeks into term, but I am struggling to sound like a calm rational person who just wants what her son is entitled to, rather than a very angry and over-protective parent.

The only positive I can see about this is that it is more evidence for SA that they are not able to provide him with the level of teaching support he needs to access the curriculum effectively.

In my report I've pointed out that when working 1-2-1 with me, I have to make sure I get him on task, encourage him to read through the question/s, give him time to process and then spend the rest of the time prompting him to stay focussed and on task. I do not need to help him with the 'actual maths' as he is more than capable of doing it himself - what I need to do is make sure that he stays focussed, gets through as much work as he can in the allotted time and manages to get pencil to paper effectively. The only other support he requires from me is occasional help with using a ruler to draw tables and diagrams. Even with me doing all this, he still only managed to complete half of his maths homework this week, but every single question was correct and he understood totally what he was doing and why. (He completed 12 out of 24 questions, plus drew and filled in two tables in 45 minutes.)

They repeatedly argued with me last year and insisted that they were confident that he is making good progress and achieving well, despite there being little on paper to back them up. His teacher this year has told me he is able to do the level 4 worksheets they are currently working on, but she also said he needs to produce more work to protect his position in the clas. So how on earth can they be suggesting moving him down to the lower ability group, where they are working on the same things he covered last year? confused

So, does anyone have any ideas as to how I can approach this? I feel like I'm going round in circles. sad

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 18-Sep-11 16:51:36

Any public humiliation is wrong. sad I think you've explained it quite clearly, moose. He is capable of doing the work and has the ability, but his slow processing should allow him 25% extra time on any tests (which isn't that long unfortunately, only 11 minutes extra on a 45 min average length SATs maths paper.) He needs the class TA or teacher to make sure he is staying on task during any assessment until he gets his statement. Try not to slag off this one teacher if at all possible, the teachers may close ranks if they feel you are attacking one person. Try to make it a more general comment about his lack of confidence and the need for supportive, positive language and less personal criticism, etc. Unless you feel you need to complain about this one teacher, of course.

Agnesdipesto Sun 18-Sep-11 17:46:37

He's more likely to improve if they praise him for what he has achieved than criticise him for what he hasn't

Are there any adjustments they could make eg could he type the answers more easily than write them? Or give the answers to a TA to write down for him?

Or could he drop something else so he has extra time to spend on maths?
I know schools don't like to do this, but I do believe if our kids shine in something it should be encouraged, nurtured and viewed with the possibility of turning it into something which makes him employable - even if that comes at the expense of not doing something in the curriculum which is less useful.

Under govt guidelines all children are expected to make 2 levels of progress in each key stage - so the progress should track previous attainment. So if he was level 3 at age 7 (end KS1) he needs to be hitting level 5 by year 6. Its their job to make sure that happens. If they start expecting less of him then that is not adequate progress under SENCOP and as you say evidence they are not supporting him. LAs and OFSTED are going to have to pay alot more attention to SEN progress as its going to be one of the key value added factors.

So you could look back at his end of year 2 scores and see if he is on track to meet the 2 levels progress in all subjects.

cornsillx Sun 18-Sep-11 17:54:19

'They said, unless he produces a greater quantity of work, they cannot/will not keep him in top set, because they can't assess his ability properly '

so the issue here is not his attainment, as that is recognised to be high - it's that the teacher feels she can't assess his ongoing progress because he doesn't produce 'enough' work in his book due to his disability?

You could suggest that the teacher uses another method of ongoing assessment of ds's progress. Perhaps she could assess him by questioning his understanding of a task at various points during a lesson.

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 18:08:47

Thanks for wading your way through my mahoosive post - sorry should have previewed and tried to cut it down.

Ellen, there is no TA in either his literacy or numeracy class, because he's in the higher set for both and the TA helps in the lower group - she also has her time taken up pretty much exclusively by one particular child, who although not statemented, without constant supervision will disrupt the rest of the class and get up to all manner of things he shouldn't.

I haven't mentioned the teacher concerned in my report - just that he was shouted at in front of the class, told he is letting the group down and doesn't deserve his place in the class and will be moved down - despite me being reassured by his main maths teacher less than 48 hours previously that she has no intention of moving him down - at present, but we need to address 'quantity of work produced' - as if we weren't already aware of the problem. hmm

I have highlighted his need for supportive, positive language etc, but this has been gone over a thousand times already with the school and having spoken to ds again today, I do get the feeling that this teacher has pretty much singled him out from day one and had a go at him every single lesson. Which explains him suddenly getting very distressed about maths the evening before he was due to have her again and refusing to go into school the next morning. angry

Agnes, he types in literacy lessons and anything that requires a lot of handwriting, but not in maths as he only has an Alphasmart which isn't the best tool for maths really and the school is keen to keep him doing at least some pencil and paper work.

There's no way the school would let him drop something else to concentrate more on maths and to be honest, the way he feels about maths at the moment, I think he would see it as a punishment anyway.

He does do MathsWhizz at home, loves it and generally (with one or two exceptions) gets 100% on his tests on there. I often sit with him and watch, so I know he can do the maths itself.

I already know he's not making his 2 sub-levels a year and when I raised this as a problem at the end of year 4, I was fed a load of codswallop about it not being relevant at KS2 because the work is different and children progress differently. hmm According to records, he has barely made 2 sub-levels across two years - none at all in year 3, yet they insist that his progress is 'good enough' because he is within government guidelines for achievement for his age. angry Yes he is, but he's not where he should be based on previous performance and achievement.

Of course their records showing his progress don't marry up with the fact that he is completing level 4 work in class and I think they might be getting worried about that - especially as we are now going for SA and they will be asked to provide evidence.

My argument is - and in fact its mentioned in SENCOP - that they need to find other ways of recording his progress (ie differente for it), if their current system relies heavily on quantity of work over quality. If he does ten our of twenty questions and gets them all right - surely they can extrapolate the data from that to assess his ability levels? confused

I accept that some of the KS2 work is more complex and abstract, which means he might not race ahead like he did in KS1, but to drop from top of his year to barely any movement is totally unacceptable. Yet they still won't admit there's a problem there. angry

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 18:10:20

Oops another massive ranty post - sorry!

Cornsilk I cross posted with you there - yes that's exactly it. They need to adjust their assessment process, not expect ds to suddenly be able to produce more work.

cornsillx Sun 18-Sep-11 18:13:22

Focus on that as the main issue then. Make suggestions for how they can assess him e.g. through questioning, observation.

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 18:24:19

I think you're right cornsillx (apologies for misspelling your name in my previous post).

The crux of the matter is that in order to meet the requirements imposed on them for assessment, they seem to be expecting ds produce more work for them to assess than he is able to do. When in fact, as stated in SENCOP wink (I know I found a clause about this in there this morning - so will find and quote it) they need to be differentiating their assessment process to make sure they are able to adequately assess ds's abilities and progress from the work he does produce. Will suggest, questioning, observation and extrapolation of results from smaller amounts of data as possibilities.

I will try to bring it us with the SENCO in as positive way as I can - but I will have to raise the shouting/humiliation issue, as I can't just let that ride and wait for it to happen again at the end of this week. I have told ds I will speak to the SENCO about it early this week and he needs my reassurance that it won't happen again if he agrees to go back into this teacher's lesson on Thursday and Friday this week.

I also think we need to discuss the fact that he is not getting any support in class whatsoever to help him overcome his difficulties though.

Its not going to be an easy meeting is it? Not helped by the fact that, probably as a direct result of all this flipping stress, I have had a neuro episode for the first time since May and am really struggling to think clearly. sad

cornsillx Sun 18-Sep-11 18:36:24

good luck - you know that you are only asking them to do what they should be doing anyway to support your ds.

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 18:54:30

Thank you, I really appreciate you all ploughing your way through my rants and helping me get my thoughts in order.

smile

Lougle Sun 18-Sep-11 19:42:06

Thinking about the subject itself, is it possible that the work is graduated in its difficulty? Ie. the earlier questions are easier, and then get progressively harder? In that situation, could it be that he isn't getting to the harder questions which demonstrate his abilities?

If so, could it be suggested that he is given a reduced paper, so that he is, say, doing questions 1-4, 10-13, 16-19, rather than 1-12 out of 24?

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 19:55:59

That's an interesting thought Lougle, thank you.

Last year there were both easy and hard questions on each sheet and each table was told which sections they had to do. So eg, the top and second (ds's) table would do sections A and C and tables 3 and 4 would do sections B and D. Not sure if that's still the case, but certainly for the whole of last year, he was still doing the harder work sections than at least 50% of the set.

Its definitely worth asking the question, as if you're right, all they need to do is specify which questions he has to be sure he's completed.

Agnesdipesto Sun 18-Sep-11 20:00:35

Well clearly he needs his own TA to keep him on task etc.
Have you requested the SA already?
The support he needs sounds like support the school would be expected to provide from their own resources so would you be likely to get a SA / statement? Whats the threshold locally.

It depends how you to want to play it. If they moved him down and you were able to prove by way of home learning his ability level was high that would be excellent evidence they were failing him

The lack of progress as per his previous level of ability is also key

It sounds as though the school need someone to go in and read them the riot act eg outreach, EP or LA SEN quality and assessment team (yes apparently such things do exist) and explain that they need to be doing more eg using some of their delegated resources for dedicated 1:1.

In our area you would not get SA or statement for this level of support but hopefully the LA would send someone into school to give them a bollocking because our LA would see it as an inappropriate request for SA and tell the school they should be sorting this themselves

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 20:21:53

We were just about to send the letter in, when the school announced that their crap SENCO, who had recently retired, had failed to keep any records relating to ds through school action and into action plus. They had no evidence of any support, but knew there should be some if they had a dig and asked his old teachers and TAs. So, the ASD Inclusion Team Leader had a look at our case and said, if we applied there and then, without a doubt our LEA would just throw the request out until the school could prove they'd already tried everything they could. Cue a massive admin effort by the lovely new SENCO to locate all the necessary information and evidence and a rapid turnaround of very specifically designed IEPs to suppor our case. I have also had to provide them with some evidence from my own files that was missing from theirs.

We are now planning for the SA request to go in at half term at the end of this IEP. I am making the request myself, but both the SENCO and I have put a case together, which is going to be assimilated into one (hopefully watertight) request at the next meeting.

I think the local threshold is 10 hours, but I could be remembering that wrong - my memory is a bit rubbish today.

The inclusion team have been brilliant - up until the last two weeks of term last year, when they suddenly couldn't see ds due to meetings and again were unable to see him until this coming week of the new term. As a result he's been completely unsupported through school year transition and hasn't coped very well (although admittedly better than last year and the year before). They did spend some time with him updating his passport and came into school on transition day (when they get to spend an afternoon in their new class and meet their new teacher) but haven't seen him again since.

That said, they have been a really good support to both ds and I and have worked hard with the school to improve the way they handle ds and made him a priority pupil so that he will continue to get support from them for at least the first term this year.

The statement we are asking for is basically an ASD statement. The team leader said historically they have been nigh on impossible to get, but that they have got a few through recently with weaker cases than ds. He doesn't just need support during literacy and maths, he also needs meet and greet in the morning, debrief in the afternoon, a lot of emotional support and support around self-organisation etc, the OT also recommended some exercises etc that someone needs to do with him daily and there is apparently no-one to help him with at present. Their estimation is that he needs a minimum of 15 hours of support and they're hopeful that he would get it based on the evidence we have managed to collect, but who knows, as we all know, LEAs are a law unto themselves sometimes, so we will have to wait and see what happens.

I understand what you are saying about moving him down proving our case, but unfortunately, his emotional state is so fragile I'm sure it would be far too damaging to his self-esteem and we would be back to school refusing and awful physical symptoms brought on by anxiety.

Its so frustrating. Sometimes it feels like whatever we do its going to end up making things worse.

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 21:02:32

Found it in the SENCOP.

Its part of section 5:19 on inclusion and clearly states:

Thus all primary schools should consider the kinds of options and the variety of activities available within the class setting to enable children to access the National Curriculum.

Teachers’ planning should be flexible in order to recognise the needs of all children as individuals and to ensure progression, relevance and differentiation. The National Curriculum Inclusion Statement25 emphasises the importance of providing effective learning opportunities for all pupils and offers three key principles for inclusion:

• setting suitable learning challenges

• responding to pupils’ diverse needs

• overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils.

I knew I'd seen it somewhere this morning. grin

Agnesdipesto Sun 18-Sep-11 22:01:32

Sounds like you have got it in hand
Our threshold is 20 hours here and rising!
Is the SENCO going to be involved tomorrow?

I'm not suggesting you should let him be moved down, just sometimes the way the system works you have to let your child fail to prove what they need, but I agree often the fall out is not worth it

Can you get your concerns about moving groups leading to school refusal noted on file?

Is he getting 10 hours 1:1 already? Because if the school have not put this in for a reasonable period the SA will be knocked back unless its obvious the 10 hours would never be enough

moosemama Sun 18-Sep-11 22:43:05

I'm really not sure on the threshold, they are pretty cagey about it, am thinking the Inclusion leader might have said 15 hours now and if that's the case we are going to run into trouble.

I don't have anything set up for tomorrow as yet. Ds only told me about this at tea time on Friday, after he came home from school agitated. He's been a nightmare all weekend since.

I intend to call the school at 8.30 as soon as they open and ask for the SENCO to either call me or arrange for me to come in for a quick meet. I only live across the road from the school, so its not a problem for me to go in at short notice and I rather deal with it face to face if possible.

I have typed up a set of notes relating to all the things that have gone awry since he started back to school two weeks ago and this includes the moving groups stuff. I am going to ask them to put a copy on file and will obviously keep a copy myself.

He doesn't really get any support at all at the moment. He is supposed to get 45 mins with the his inclusion teacher once a week, plus 3 sessions a day with his teacher to complete a feelings diary and raise any worries or problems. In addition, they are supposed to be starting the BEAM programme and doing that with him daily, but nothing has happened with that yet.

He gets no support in class, despite us actually requesting 1:1 for at least Literacy and Maths in writing. They keep coming to us, saying he isn't producing enough work during these lessons, but they still won't allocate him any support - which in my book, means they are clearly failing to meet his needs and be properly inclusive, as without 1:1 support he is unable to access the curriculum effectively and its them that's telling us this.

Its like some sort of nightmarish merry go round at the moment. They won't help/support him, so he can't complete the work and achieve his potential, so they complain that he's not progressing or proving his ability levels, so we ask them to support him properly and they don't, so then we as the LEA to support him and they won't do it either, because the school hasn't already done it.

... and the worst thing is that none of it is about my child and his education or potential - is all down to bloody money!

Aaargh! I feel like my head might explode!

coff33pot Mon 19-Sep-11 00:19:12

oh gosh moosemama! Dont let your head explode it would be just more cleaning up smile

You can do this. Its really late now and I wish I was on MN earlier to lend support. Keep strong and stay on track to what you want. Thinking of you tomorrow x

moosemama Mon 19-Sep-11 09:21:14

Thank you Coff33.

Have phoned the school and asked for the SENCO to call me in the first instance. Typically, I've woken up ill this morning, so am not even sure I can get to the school to discuss it all face to face.

Dh and I had a row before we went to bed, because he read the document I've prepared to be put on file and criticised it at 11.30 pm, despite me writing the bulk of it on Saturday morning and spending hours tweaking and adding to it. He also said I should try not to be so angry about it all, as it comes through in the text! hmm

He then proved my point about not being involved or knowing/understanding enough about what's going on with the boys and school this morning, by going to speak to the wrong teacher about a minor issue with ds1 that needs sorting.

All he had to do was tell ds's class teacher that I've put a note in his diary for her, but he approached a teacher from a completely different class/year and told her instead! No excuse - he's there every morning for drop off, so should at least be able to identify the boys' teachers by now. He has a distinct advantage with ds2's teacher, as he's one of only two male teachers in the school - but I'd like to bet he could even manage to go to the wrong one of those at the moment. angry

coff33pot Mon 19-Sep-11 12:00:47

ooops silly Mr Moose grin Late at night I cannot take criticism at the best of times. I tend to just "do it" then tell DH after the fact what is happening it seems to go down better lol

Hope you are feeling a bit better now its lunchtime. Did the school phone you back?

moosemama Mon 19-Sep-11 17:52:59

Hi Coff33, you think he'd know better after 25 years together wouldn't you! hmm

Well, the SENCO called me back and what a difference it makes having a good SENCO.

It went really well, we had a really positive conversation, were in agreement about everything and in fact, she'd already come to some of the same conclusions as me about needing to get some 1:1 support in before he SA request to provide evidence that it will work for ds.

She's speaking to the inclusion team and requesting that ds's inclusion teacher sits in on his Thurs/Fri maths lessons for a couple of weeks, as both an advisor to the teacher and 1:1 support for ds. She's hoping that this will provide a professional opinion as evidence to support our SA request as well as improving the teacher's understanding of ds's strengths and limitations.

She is also going to speak to ds's school year teaching team about alternatives to the way they assess his ability and progress, which will hopefully give them a clearer picture.

I am so relieved.

Thank you everyone who posted with advice and support.

cornsillx Mon 19-Sep-11 17:54:37

good news smile

signandsmile Mon 19-Sep-11 18:11:47

really good news, been wondering how it went, smile

coff33pot Mon 19-Sep-11 18:36:06

Oh I am so glad you had a positive outcome smile

Finally things are moving in the right direction for DS and maybe that maths teacher might just learn a thing or two along the way hmm

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 19-Sep-11 19:12:41

Good news indeed Moosemamasmile.

This all has happened ultimately because your son's needs at school are not being met by school. Am late to this thread and I am bloody cross with them because it need not have happened (would like to deliver kick up backside to that maths teacher). Hopefully now, things will improve for him there with a more calming effect on your own family life at home as a result.

I think a Statement will work very well for your DS as it will hopefully give him the extra support he needs. Also such a thing is legally binding so his legal rights are protected as well. Although evidence is required the only criteria for a statement is infact need of one. Don't forget as well a statement won't come into effect for another six months at least even if you start making the application now.

I just wonder though when this statement request will finally be made either by yourself (preferably as you can appeal if the LEA say no) or school (who hopefully won't sit on such an app for ages on end).

Good luck to you both in the meantime.

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