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Ellen,Bigcar,Lostinwales etc-can you advise on secondary transfer please?

(31 Posts)
Penneyanne Sun 23-Sep-12 15:41:08

I have been re-reading the wonderful threads you lot had going in 2011 when your dcs were on the cusp of secondary transfer and have found them brilliant as a reference point for things to look out for/preparations that can be made in advance/things to ask school etc.
I am wondering ,seeing as you are all in your second year now, if you could feed back a little as to how it all went,was it as scary as you had feared,how did the dcs cope.what would you do differently if anything etc etc.
Ds is in his final year of primary and we have decided on a school-funnily enough we are not going for the one thats all geared up for SN but for another one that most of his friends are going to ,just feels right for him etc.But I am starting to get very anxious about the whole thing and how he will cope etc.
Thanks in advance ladies as I think I would find this really helpful.smile.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 23-Sep-12 19:49:24

Hi Penneyanne.

Glad you found the thread useful. It really helped me at the time. smile

My DS has been really lucky and has settled well with fantastic support. He's been reset this year in set 3/5 for English and humanities, dropped down to set 4/5 for science sad and in set 2/5 for maths. Apart from science I am delighted with his progress and feel he's correctly set. He gets full time support still which is 6 hours over and above his statement. The school also do a lunchtime and breaktime 'club' for SEN which he enjoys.

Issues have been the bus journey home which is unsupervised and me struggling with the vastly reduced communication between school and me. The use of a laptop has been a bit hit and miss. I don't think he's been getting any extra time in assessments either, but TBH, so long as he gets extra time for his external exams, that's ok. Because he always has a TA, there haven't been any problems with teachers not remembering to make adjustments.

He had 2 main TAs last year plus a couple of others for French and PE. This year he has lots of different TAs, which has meant a bit of a learning curve for them to get to know him and his needs, but further up the school it requires more subject specialist TAs as his main one couldn't cope with level 6 + maths for example.

The TAs write in his h/w diary, which is my main means of communication with them. Their notes about h/w have been variable, sometimes I find it hard to interpret them!

TBH, DS2 isn't an anxious child, he blows up quickly is frustrated but forgets it almost instantly. He doesn't share any worries with me so I may be in blissful ignorance, but he is always happy to go to school with just a token, jokey resistance. This is not the case for all DC with ASD, obviously, and so I haven't had any experience dealing with school re anxiety.

Perhaps you should start a support thread for DC about to start secondary in Sept? Moosemama's DS1 is also in Y6 and they have chosen the comp his friends are going to rather than the one that is supposed to be good with ASD as they thought it would suit him better. smile

moosemama Sun 23-Sep-12 19:54:37

I second Penneyanne's post.

Same situation here, final year and have chosen the local secondary where ds's friends are going, rather than the one everyone was keen to push for ASD. The school we have chosen just felt right, whereas the recommended one didn't sit right at all when we were shown around and this was then reinforced when we realised how overstretched the SENCO is.

Just like Penney I am getting very anxious about it and would welcome experience, tips and advice from those of you who've been there, done that.

coppertop Sun 23-Sep-12 21:18:34

Ds (ASD) is now in Yr8.

Yr7 turned out to be much better than I thought it would be and ds seems to have matured a lot over the past year or so.

He's done really well in the academic side of things. He did well in his CATs, so was flagged early on as being a child with a lot of potential. This was helpful as he finds writing very difficult, and it's a choice between a few sentences of illegible handwriting or one sentence of legible writing.

He enjoyed being able to study his favourite subject in much greater depth than at primary school. His teacher realised early on that he was very good at the subject, and set him extra challenges which he loved.

He also discovered that he actually liked some of the subjects that he had found difficult at primary school.

He is very rule-bound, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this was actively rewarded at secondary school.

There were a couple of incidents of attempted bullying, but the staff were very quick to put a stop to it and took it very seriously.

Ds has found group-work difficult to get used to. If he knows the answer to the question the group is meant to be discussing, he gets very annoyed if the rest of the group insist that the answer is something else. Even more so when they submit their wrong answer to the rest of the class, only to be told that ds' answer was in fact the correct one. grin

Ds still isn't all that interested in the social side of things. Even at the end of the school year, he still couldn't name more than a couple of the children in his classes. I still have absolutely no idea which groups he is in for any of his subjects. confused

Advice I would give:

- If you have a child who finds writing difficult, push very early on for access to a laptop.

- If possible, check through the homework with them before they hand it in. Ds needed to be shown how to answer questions fully, as he has a tendency to think, "Well everyone knows that, so there's no need for me to include it in my answer."

- If the school offers it, sign up for Parentmail. Especially if you have a child who either loses letters or puts them in their bag/pocket and forgets all about them. Check the school's website regularly too.

- Don't be afraid to e-mail the school if there are any issues.

- If there's a school trip, check what level of supervision will be available. This one is from personal experience!

- Make sure that the school are aware if your child is likely to find it difficult to make a note of their homework.

- Make sure your child has a "What to do if...." list, so that they know what to do if something goes wrong. Halfway through Yr7 I had to add "What to do if you suddenly feel ill on the journey to school" as it hadn't occurred to ds that he could turn round and come straight back home (he walks). He knew that he was supposed to go straight to school, so did so even though he was sick halfway there!

moosemama Sun 23-Sep-12 22:56:08

Thank you coppertop, those are really good tips.

Ds already has access to ICT in his statement and we are hoping to get a laptop written in at AR before he goes to secondary - even if we have to provide it ourselves. It sounds like he has similar issues to your ds around handwriting.

He also struggles with group work for similar reasons and does the short answers thing, because he can't believe the teachers need him to include things that are so obvious to him.

He already has it in his statement that he has to have someone to help him record, bring home and take in homework.

I love the idea of a "What to do if ..." list, although I'm not sure if ds would remember to use it.

Penneyanne Mon 24-Sep-12 00:36:01

Oooh thanks girls-this is exactly what I am looking forthanks . Moose,same here-I like the 'what to do if..' idea but ds would definitely lose it.He would then need another note to remind him 'what to do if you lose the 'what to do if...list' and so onconfused.I think anxiety is going to be a big issue for ds initially sad but these pointers are great.
Its really good to hear your ds's have settled in and are both doing well. Sounds like it wasnt as traumatic a transition as you had feared.smile.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 24-Sep-12 08:43:44

Thanks Penneyanne. I see I crossed with moosemama and she has already found you!

Worst issue for DS was when he caught the wrong bus home and I was very, very glad he had a mobile phone and knew how to use it. So don't leave giving him one until next Sept, get it earlier so that is isn't a novelty, less likely to be playing with it and getting it nicked. Not that DS actually phones or texts anyone but me!

Like coppertop's DS, mine hasn't made any friends, but he is quite happy with that. He finds group work tricky and is better in paired work with a suitably chosen partner.

I only know how he's set as the sets are numbered on his timetable. As I said, communication is minimal. He actually does quite well in CATs, but can't do sufficient writing or thoughtful analysis to get set any higher.

I have the SENCos email but I usually email one of the lead TAs who is very experienced (more so than the SENCo?) if there are any issues I need to discuss, but, TBH he's had a good year so I haven't felt the need to be on their case as I had to in primary school. The advantage of a bigger school is that they will have dealt with DC like your DS before and if you have a good school, they can be trusted to do things well.

He has found the rigid structure of the timetable and lack of unstructured time to suit him well! Lunch is only 45 mins and he spends most of it in the learning skills 'club.' If that wouldn't be suitable for your DS, try to find out what other clubs run, as they have Warhammer, Astronomy, Choir, all sorts going on that might suit at lunchtimes. Anything is better than them roaming around the school getting bullied. DS won't do any after school activities as home time is home time!

I still do all his homework with him, which is a bit of a pain, but he needs lots of support despite being of above average IQ. Sometimes I type as he talks or he writes or types as I dictate. I put a note on the h/w saying he was supported. He needed lots of support with revision at the end of last year.

I've talked before about the pupil passport they have. It's a summary of his main issues which comes up automatically on the teacher's laptop when they take the lesson register, (which they do for each lesson in his school.) In a big school good communication between the SEN dept and all the many teachers needs to be automatic, or at least, very well organised. Some teachers only teach DS for one lesson a week, so by the time they get to know him it would be Christmas!

moosemama Mon 24-Sep-12 10:26:32

That's so weird. Ellen, we obviously crossed on my first post, but then your post didn't show up on my computer at all last night, so I've only just seen it. There was only Penney's, mine and Coppertop's posts on here when I posted last night. confused

Off to read it now.

moosemama Mon 24-Sep-12 10:47:11

Thank you Ellen, lots of reassurance and tips there.

The school we have chosen has a relatively large SEN/LS department but don't have masses of children with SEN (mainly I think because it's a high achieving school and people are under the impression that there dcs will be under too much pressure). We were very impressed with their set up.

We were shown around by the Director of LS, who had only been in post for 1 year, but was very well up on the sort of support pupils with ASD are likely to need and able to give examples of what they do with/for other pupils, which is very similar to what we expect ds to need. There's free access to the LS department and always someone there if a pupil needs help. There's no formal lunch club, but the door is always open and most of the kids with ASD tend to spend their lunches and breaks in there when not attending clubs. Not sure ds will want to go there though, as he will want to spend the whole time with his beloved best friend.

Ds already has his heart set on a couple of clubs, in particular the Science one where they enter competitions and built gadgets etc. His friend is very much a 'joiner' so I envisage them both attending lots of clubs together.

The school has before-school, lunch-time and after-school homework clubs as well, so I am hoping to get ds into the habit of attending those, rather than bringing it home and refusing to do it. If it doesn't work, then so be it, but it will also be dd's first year of full-time school and I feel she deserves to get the same amount of help and support the boys got from me at that age, which I won't be able to do if I have an hour+ a night of work to do with ds1.

As for getting to and from school. I am planning to take my driving test between now and then, as there's no way he'd get there on his own. There's no bus and the safe-walking route is through a complicated housing estate where all the houses look the same. Also, ds knows the green-cross-code, but would blithely step in front of a car while distracted. In theory he could walk with his best friend, but then I feel it's not fair to expect his friend to supervise him and keep him safe, iyswim.

I'm expecting anxiety and problems with transitions to be the biggest problems. Also, since our visit the school has gone over to a fortnightly timetable, which isn't great, as it will make it harder for ds to know where he is and memorise the timetable, especially if he can't remember what week he's in.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 24-Sep-12 14:46:51

That is weird, moose. I just assumed we'd crossed and then you didn't spot it. I was ready to be all hurt and offended! wink

The walk to school sounds a bit tricky. I'm lucky that DS2's bus stop is halfway along the route to his primary school, so he knows it really well and has DS1 with him 90% of the time.

The 2 week timetable sounds a bit of a pain, but I'll bet he will surprise you and have it all off by heart really quickly. I think clubs at lunchtime are the way to go. My DS is oblivious enough to be happy in the learning skills area, but your DS is higher functioning, I reckon, and may find that it's not 'cool.'

Do you reckon 'Learning Skills' is the new PC term for SEN?

BigBoobiedBertha Mon 24-Sep-12 15:04:07

I think I was on that thread. Funnily enough I was thinking about it the other day.

I have to go and get DS1 in a mo so I can't say too much but I think the most important thing for us was to make sure that you chose a school with good communications, especially between you and the SEN department. DS1's rocky start to school was all because the school were crap at communicating and I wish with hindsight that I had trusted my gut instinct on the SENCO and asked more questions. For someone who is supposed to have empathy and understanding and be approachable she is a steely face old battle axe imo. Thankfully DS's tutor had worked in a SEN school and was much nicer so we went to her with problems.

Of course asking questions is easy to say when you know what the question should be, which of course I didn't back then. I don't think it would have made us change schools but I might well have gone for an IPA when it was suggested in Yr 6. The juniors were all for it but the secondary weren't. With hindsight I would have pushed for it.

Apart from that DS had a great year. He did really well and had no real problems. He isn't in the top set or anything but that's fine. He is probably in the right place. He also can't tell me who is in his class. Well, actually to be fair he probably could tell me most people but he couldn't tell me who he had to work with during the day or what they did. He still has no friends but he is as happy as larry spending his breaktimes in the library so if it doesn't matter to him I suppose it shouldn't matter to me. It still does but that is my problem! smile

<glances at clock to make sure I shouldn't be out the door> As I have a spare second, I would also say that from the point of view of dyspraxic/ASD child, secondary school is in some ways easier than junior because the rigid timetable makes it easy for them to know what is coming up and where they have to be and when. It can be a bit more relaxed at juniors and they tend to mix up subjects together when it is topic based which probably didn't suit him. Less danger of that in secondary.

Oh and he joined the Scrabble Club which I am pleased about. Mainly because they have biscuits and snacks mind you, but at least it is sociable.smile

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 24-Sep-12 16:50:32

Bertha! (Neicie?) How the devil are you? It's like a school reunion. grin

Glad Y7 was successful for your DS, too. I like the sound of scrabble club.

moosemama Mon 24-Sep-12 17:32:27

Oo ds would love Scrabble club!

Forgot to say earlier, but we are allowed to call the LS department directly with any problems and apparently they are used to getting calls in the morning before school to forewarn them about something that is worrying certain children or that 'X is wobbly today because of Y' or 'X has already had a major meltdown this morning, so tread carefully' etc. There are two lovely ladies there who 'man' (woman?) the phones just for the LS department and are really helpful, so I found that really reassuring.

BigBoobiedBertha Mon 24-Sep-12 17:55:36

Hello Ellenjane! Nice to see you again. I did try and resurrect the old thread sometime after Christmas but nobody saw it and I forgot about it so didn't bump it enough!

Sounds like your DS is doing well. When you think back to this time last year and all our different worries it is good that they are settled now. I don't know about you but it is amazing how much my Ds has grown up this last year, emotionally and physically. He isn't the same boy at all. He is still socially immature but that isn't surprising and in a way that is a bit of a blessing - he isn't being side tracked by friends and girls and all the other stuff they start to get side tracked by as teenagers.

I like the sound of the SEN being flagged up on the register. I have no idea how they do it at DS's school although all the teachers seemed to know, understand and make allowances for DS when we spoke to them at parents' evening. Some of them even seemed to enjoy having him in the class becuase of his enthusiasm which is nice. I think he is perhaps a nice change from the average teenage boy who wouldn't want a teacher to know he is interested but if DS intersted in something he is full of questions and keen to learn - perhaps another advantage of his immaturity. He is like a big puppy dog really.

I think that is perhaps a useful question for Penneyanne and Moosemama though - how do you make sure that the teachers know and remember what SEN they have in their class?

I would also ask about extra settling in sessions. DS went 4 times in the summer term of Yr 6 instead of 1 and that helped. They also sent his timetable early both in Yr 7 and this year. He didn't really need to know this year but it was still nice of them to remember.

DH still takes DS to school and I pick up so DS is sort of protected from the bullies a bit. I sort of imagine they would hang out on the bus - don't ask me why! I do try and make him walk part of the way home, for the exercise as much as anything and he has walked all the way home a few times. I keep thinking I should let go and leave him to get on with it, despite the moaning but in the end, I have to be home to let him in (we have a very difficult front door that I struggle with let alone a dyspraxic child) so I just keep getting him. I would be happier if he had a friend to come home with as well but it doesn't look like there will be one any time soon.

BigBoobiedBertha Mon 24-Sep-12 18:00:03

Oh and our first point of contact is the personal tutor not the SENCO but I am very happy with that as I don't like the SENCO and neither does DS. She seems to see him as a list of SEN, not as a person who is actually quite bright. Thankfully we have nothing to do with the sour-faced battleaxe woman and DS has a social comms session with a LSA.

His form tutor is really nice and 'gets' DS so she is a good person to talk to. I don't suppose it matters who it is so long as there is somebody you can email or phone.

Penneyanne Mon 24-Sep-12 18:20:57

Thanks Bertha-another one with a success story! Its all very positive I must say listening to you lotsmile.I hope we will be feeling the same Moose this time next yearwink.
What a great system to have the SEN details come straight up on the register-not sure yet how this works at our chosen school, but failing all else,I will do a cribsheet/list of bullet points etc about ds's strengths and needs and laminate it and do copies for all the teachers-I think it was Goblinchild who did this last year on your old thread.
Ellen,funny you mentioned the mobile phone,because I was thinking we will get him a mobile phone at the end of school year,but might be worth doing it sooner for the reasons you mentioned.Might get it for christmas instead now.Mind you, I can see him using it only to play games on ithmm.

moosemama Mon 24-Sep-12 19:12:40

Right, am gathering questions:

1. How do they ensure all teachers are aware of ds's SEN and what to do/how to handle him. (Having on an automated register system sounds fantastic.)

2. What are there rules around mobile phone use in school.

His transition is being handled via his outreach teacher, who has already told me about extra visits and also a friendship group for children who are going to the same school. They get to meet each other a few times over the summer term, discuss what they're looking forward to and any worries and hopefully make some friends. Apparently it's been very successful over the past couple of years.

The Director of LS said they will make sure he meets and knows key staff before he starts and they will have him for a special day visit where he will do a mini project in his favourite subject . For example, last year a girl went and baked some cakes in food tech, for ds it will probably be something in the science lab or ICT suite. They dress it up as them going to gather information and feed back to their friends, so - providing they're up for it - they do a little presentation or question and answer session when they get back.

Penney, yes it's lovely to hear positive stories of how it's been for other people.

I'm so grateful to you all, Ellen, Coppertop and Bertha. smile thanks

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 24-Sep-12 20:26:49

In DS2's school mobiles must be switched off in lessons (or more likely switched to silent!) so they can only be used in breaks, lunch and before and after school. Really useful for the journey there and back if this is independent. DS2 has sent me texts before now checking on any out of ordinary arrangements, like picking him up early for an appt etc. He has also texted to say, 'Where's my French book?' not really getting that I can't drop everything at work and go take it to him!

The friendship group sounds fantastic. DS had quite a few extra visits but the extra ones were all him alone. He also went on a few whole year inductions, but only 4 went there from his school, they were full of people he didn't know. His TA from primary accompanied him on the whole year group days.

BigBoobiedBertha Mon 24-Sep-12 22:51:25

All phones are completely banned in DS's school. If they are seen they are confiscated. You aren't allowed to use them on the school site basically and they must be switched off at all times. I have no problem with it personally. I think it must stop the whole oneupmanship thing of who has the best phone and stops the inevitable bending or re-interpret the rules. It is also a lot easier for DS. He doesn't have to worry about whether he should be using the phone or not and it gives him a break from fiddling around with electronic devices (his phone is very cheap anyway because of this). He just can't use it until he is outside the gate at the end of the day. He phones me if I am running late or if we have a different pick up time for some reason and he wants to make sure I am not going to forget him!! As if?!! smile

Penneyanne Tue 25-Sep-12 00:25:14

Yes,mobiles are also banned in ds's secondary school-its for use after school really,in case of emergency on the way home/running late /change of plans etc. As Ellen reminded ,I must ensure he is completely familiar with it and that the novelty has well worn off by september. Mind you,our biggest problem will be getting him to remember to always have it with him and switched on after schoolhmm-he tends to lose or forget almost everything[sigh]!

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 25-Sep-12 00:34:07

Zipped inside pocket in his blazer! And I make sure it's charged. TBH he leaves it on all the time, but no-one ever rings him smile

BigBoobiedBertha Tue 25-Sep-12 09:15:37

DS leaves his in the pocket of his school bag. Probably not the best idea as the screen has been smashed. Probably somebody trod on his bag whilst it was lying on the floor somewhere. Perhaps I need to knit a little phone sock for the next one - ruin what little street cred he ever had. grin

I was worried about DS losing things and not taking responsibiity but part of that new found maturity is that he has, for the most part, stepped up and really got on top of this sort of thing. His tutor helped by reminding him to pick up things every morning and being the collection point for things he left in class rooms but it hasn't happened that often. He did leave his phone on once but found it wasn't charged when he wanted it and didn't do it again - thankfully he only phoned to chastise me for being a nanosecond late so it wasn't an emergency and it was a valuable lesson without being a disaster. He very rarily actually speaks to me on the phone as I am usually in the car on my way to collect him anyway and can't pick it up.

On the other hand you've reminded me that he has lost his summer rain jacket thing this term and seems unable or unwilling to track it down.hmm He says he has asked in all the right places so I suspect he dropped it somewhere between the school gate and the place where I pick him up and it is long gone into a hedge or something. Thankfully it was cheap, only the kind of thing to stop him getting soaked but it still cost and it is the principle of the thing more than anything.

alison222 Tue 25-Sep-12 09:31:00

Coming to this thread rather late. DS has just started year 7. Teething problems that you might want to pre-empt so far are:

He was promised a locker. In practice it took 2 weeks to get it.
They have ignored the statement as far as I can tell as he seems to be getting very little support.

It took me 3 weeks of badgering his key worker ( which was changed from when we were initially told - but DS says the new one is nice) to make sure DS knew her name to go with her face and that she was who he should go to for help if there was no TA in class or if it was not related to a particular lesson topic.

There is still no sign of any OT as per his statement. We has annual OT review and apparently because there is also OT in part 3 this has to be commissioned specially and extra and the school have not done it yet.

BUT it is a nice rigid timetable ( if a confusing 2 week one), he is starting to get to know people ( not our catchment school). He is managing the journey by himself ( after leaving his but pass at home some days and having to walk to his disgust!).
And one added bonus, he has decided to go to auditions for the musical today after school. - Something he would never have done in primary school

moosemama Tue 25-Sep-12 10:48:39

I have a feeling it's a blanket phone ban at our secondary as well. To be honest, I would be ok with that, as it means ds would have to go to LS for support instead of just getting himself in a state and phoning me in a panic, when there's very little I can do from home to sort things out for him.

I will get him a cheap phone though, same as Bertha really, so he can be reassured if I'm a couple of minutes late picking up etc.

Hi Alison. smile

No lockers in our school, just pigeon holes, but they can leave their stuff in a dedicated pigeon hole with a box in in the LS department if they struggle organisationally. Good thing about that is that there's always a few members of staff in there, so things are less likely to walk. (Unlike ds2's entire uniform that was missing after swimming yesterday. hmm)

How does he cope with the 2 week timetable Alison? That's one of my concerns for my ds.

I think we're very lucky that his best friend is going to the same school and we have already been told they will be put in the same form group. Not sure if they'll be in the same sets. They are at the moment, as ds is in top for everything, but I'm not at all confident of how ds going to cope with SATs in terms of proving his ability to the new school. His friend is an absolute super-brain - top of everything, plus a million and one extra-curricular activities that he also excels at. I do worry that ds will get left behind by him very soon after starting secondary. sad

I'm still panicking that they might not take him. Spoke to LEA and we definitely won't find out until February 15th (dh's birthday hmm) and by then he will have it set in his mind that that's where he's going. I think if they refuse to take him I will homeschool, rather than shove him in the next-best thing, which really isn't right for him. That way he can do more vocational stuff - computer programming etc - and we'll enroll him in some of his friends clubs to makes sure he carries on mixing socially.

alison222 Tue 25-Sep-12 18:15:35

Hi moose -The 2 week timetable seems fine to be honest. The school website shows which week it is and you can count them up in the homework diary. It is just a case of making sure that you read the right one.

We have lost a PE sock so far, but thankfully no books smile.Oh and he has lost the lunch card they give them so there is no money carried around - thankfully no money on it but it will cost £5 to replace.

Again the school has a blanket ban on phones, but DS has one in his bag for calling me on the way home if he needs to or to tell me he is staying late in the library to do homework etc.

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