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Give me the good things about special schools

(15 Posts)
chickensaresafehere Thu 27-Sep-12 07:30:44

Looks like dd(5.5)will have to transfer to special school next September following a recent dx&having to retake reception year.
I am having wobbles about it (even though I know it's for the best),so tell me the positives about transfers from MS to SS.

CwtchesAndCuddles Thu 27-Sep-12 09:25:37

DS 5 goes to special school and has done for a year now. It's a fab school and they focus very much on the individual child - no one is the "odd one out" or doesn't fit. No ignorant MS parents to deal with, specialist teachers and a family atmoshpere.

Have you visited any schools yet, you really need to see more than one to get a feel for the place. It's not always about facilaties, focus on interactions between staff and pupils and ask lots of questions.

She will have peers, and the opportunities to develop real friendships at whatever level she can manage. My son has been in SS since he was 4..(ASD MLD) and is now 15 and I can honestly say that the majority of the children there..with a massive range of disabilities find ways to be friends with other childrensmile I work there now and it never fails to delight me to see children who have been 'the odd one' at mainstream blossom when they find other children they can relate to.

Small classes... can you beat being in a class of 7, 8 ,9 kids with a couple of TAs and teacher, tailored to your child's needs, and concentrating on stuff they haven't time for in mainstream..be it communication, self help skills whatever.

From my own view..both as TA and as a parent, the outstanding thing about SS over mainstream (and I have been a TA in both) is the relationships that can be build between the children and staff, staff and parents. Our school sees educating the children as a TEAM effort.

Do have a look at several schools.. and find not the most attractive, but the one where the staff and children look like they are having fun togethersmile

Pagwatch Thu 27-Sep-12 17:41:53

Ds2 is at special school and is now nearly 16.

The school is brilliant.
They understand him and have a massive amount of expertise and experience in helping him develop at his own pace. He is able to manage all sorts of situations that he wouldn't otherwise. They help him develop independence, self help skills - things that help him function outside home.
He has the opportunity for equal friendships. They are helping us transition through to adulthood. He has opportunities for things like a residential learning programme where he stays in a flat with other boys doing things like shopping and cooking for themselves.

It is hard to accept. Moving away from mainstream feels like such a big step. To me it felt for ages like I had failed him.
But he is HAPPY there. HAPPY.
That is what it came down to ultimately - not my reasonable sadness that he was not heading to a regular school.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 27-Sep-12 18:08:37

You don't have to deal with so many professional or go round in circles, listen to so much bollocks or police provision you are being told is in place but isn't.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 27-Sep-12 18:11:58

Transport is a big bonus too.

Inaflap Thu 27-Sep-12 18:17:59

They will include her in everything rather than you having to go through that head on one side ummm type meetings and times that you get at mainstream. TA will be properly trained and not local mummies that think being a TA is easy and fits round school hols, the pack it in and gossip about your child with their friends. All the other parents will be in the same boat as you so you don't have to feel embarressed when your child does something quirky in an assembly, prize giving, etc. you don't have to tell anyone that it is a special school. People at work think my son goes to a very exclusive private school!

bochead Thu 27-Sep-12 18:46:49

My sibling and best mate both spent time in SS's as part of their childhoods. Both came away with real life skills and qualifications (yup genuine employer recognised bits of paper!!!) that they wouldn't have had a hope in hell of getting coasting along in mainstream. Both have gone onto higher ed as adults and had "proper" jobs as opposed to a life on the dole (harsh this one, but true).

Expectations - oddly there are often far higher expectations of what it's possible for your child to achieve than when they are babysat in the bottom set in mainstream. Your child will be given the opportunity to achieve their true potential - at whatever level that may turn out to be.

Educated educators, I'm just so TIRED of explaining DS's difficulties to the unitiated. A safe environment free of the taunts that are so easily thrown in the direction of the SN child as they go further up the mainstream age range (teens esp can be just plain cruel). A sense of belonging rather than becoming increasingly isolated as the ability gap widens.

Quick access to specialists - many SS have SALT, OT etc onsite at least some of the week, every week rather than the one day per half term so often seen in mainstream. More support for you as a parent - no running the gauntlet of the judgeypant playground clique parental tuts the day after a meltdown.

One though - SS can vary in quality just as much as mainstream, in some LA's they risk becoming a "dumping ground" so do go see for yourself to ensure your choice is really a "centre of excellence" for your own child's specific issues iykwim. Not all the benefits above apply to every school, but the possibility is certainly there.

chickensaresafehere Thu 27-Sep-12 18:51:37

You're right Pagwatch - Moving away from mainstream feels like such a big step sad
Her MS school are fab as is her TA & it will be heartbreaking to leave them all behind,but I don't think they can support her for the long run.
Finding a SS is proving difficult,our local one has an 'outstanding' OFSTED report & everything on site,SALT,OT,dentist etc but it was the first one we went to look at & I think that threw us abit.TBH I came home & cried!!
We have seen 2 other SS's,but they are not in our LA & the one I got a lovely warm feeling from was more for PD children.
DD needs lots of S&L input as she is non-verbal & will probably never speak.
2 SS's wouldn't even make an appointment for us to look round,because she has a mild/moderate LD & they only take children with severe LD.
Think we will have a second visit to the local one & hopefully we will be more prepared second time round!!

ohmeohmy Thu 27-Sep-12 19:58:28

They have the expertise to reach your child as an individual wherever she is educationally. The teachers will work to adapt their teaching to your child. They are very nurturing and caring on the whole. Small classes makes a huge difference.

Strongecoffeeismydrug Thu 27-Sep-12 20:22:57

My son started at his special school this week and I totally rejected the school last year.it was the first one I visited after it was suggested ss would be best for him.
I cried buckets after that first visit and even said over my dead body his he going there,I even told all the profs involved in his education that they were wrong and he was too able to go there, however I made a couple more visits,spent lots of time with the kids and staff and got over the shock of seeing the kids more severe than my son.
Seeing him around all the other kids this week has made me see he should have gone there years ago, he loves it but more importantly he's exactly where he should be and blends in instead off standing out like he did at mainstream smile

BackforGood Thu 27-Sep-12 20:33:25

I used to work in special school.
I wish I had a £ for every parent who said "I wish we'd got him/her in here earlier" I'd be a rich woman now. smile

CwtchesAndCuddles Thu 27-Sep-12 20:42:47

It's normal to cry after your first visit - I cried my eyes out and yet I loved the school!!! It's the blinding realisation that your child is different that is upsetting, there's no pretending anymore once you accept that special school is what is needed.

Go back and look at the first school again with fresh eyes.

Pagwatch Thu 27-Sep-12 21:27:39

Yes. Crying on the first visit is almost compulsory.
Sad but true.

This is not what any of us envisaged when our children were born. It is an enormous adjustment. Dh wept. We have been together for 25 years. I have only seen him cry three times and that as one of them.

Go visit again. Give yourself time.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 27-Sep-12 22:13:00

I came away from visiting DS's special pre school, sure that it wasn't right for him, he was too able, he wouldn't fit in with those other disabled DC. blush

It was perfect for him, he made friends, I made friends, I felt supported and safe. He made loads of progress and I came to terms with his DX. He got invited to parties. I can't tell you how much that small thing meant. It felt like a partnership, parents were recognised as their DCs first educators and we were welcomed to spend time at the school, with a well stocked parents' room and welcomed into the classrooms as well to observe and join in. Not all SS are the same, but this one was wonderful.

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