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Independent Schools - autism

(34 Posts)
clpsmum Mon 08-Apr-13 14:58:03

Hi wonder if anyone can help. Do any of your children with autism go to an I dependant school and have the fees covered by the local authority?

If yes. Could you please let me have an idea of the annual fee for the school and the percentage (if any) paid by the LA

Thank you

maxsanta Wed 10-Apr-13 15:44:09

It is good that there are lots of different places but they are so expensive that it must be very difficult to obtain one unless your child's behaviour is very difficult to handle. As you say, those children with high needs who do not demonstrate challenging behaviour are left to it.

Flappingandflying Wed 10-Apr-13 14:09:03

Ihaveissues, we also wouldn't have got a statement even if DS hadn't been so extreme when in Reception. It was hell at the time but in a way showed his needs. You are right, the poor kids who fall thru the net are the ones who haven't made a fuss. Interestingly I have moved to an all girls environment now and its made me realise how many girls in mixed schools must just be coping and yet no one knows because next to the boys they cover it up so well. I'm now dealing with girls who wouldn't have even been on the SEN register at my last school but to whom I'm abe to give one to one support to.

Lovely to hear that your daughter is doing so well. You are right, the therapies available and the staffing are why these places are so costly and why they work although I also agree with Moondog's point that some confuse expensive with good. As all our children are so different its good that there are lots of different places.

ihaveissues Tue 09-Apr-13 23:49:25

DD goes to one of these six-figure specialist independent residential schools, she has asd but is bright and academically able. We had no real choice as her behaviour meant that no local schools could offer her a place. They have SALT & OT there but she doesn't engage with 1:1 therapy, so it's embedded into the curriculum for her, so adding on a therapy package in mainstream wouldn't work.

We viewed a lot of schools, both state and independent, before naming this one. I don't think our views were coloured by the costs, there were a few schools which cost a similar amount but which I didn't feel was right for DD. But it definitely wouldn't be able to work well with DD without charging those fees - it all goes into the high staff ratios, training, facilities and expertise.

I know quite a few other parents whose dc have fallen into the gap where they're bright but they don't display behaviour which would mean that mainstream isn't appropriate, but nevertheless can't cope with mainstream because of sensory/social difficulties. They are either home schooling, have moved house to go to the most nurturing mainstream they could find (but it's not working out well atm), or have paid for a small non-specialist independent. I must admit I feel almost relieved that DD had such violent meltdowns, because we wouldn't have had a chance of getting this placement otherwise - and she has improved now to such an extent that she doesn't have those behavioural issues any more.

Flappingandflying Tue 09-Apr-13 20:16:02

We had the same thing by year 5 in mainstream. He just deliberately cut himself off and just spent his time spinning in the playground. Other kids were kind but patronising and I didn't want that for him. Perhaps I'm beating myself up unnecessarily as its not like he makes an effort to keep in touch with people.

ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 20:08:29

Flapping - the reason we've persevered with our local mainstream for DS1 has been friendships. The only problem is, he doesn't really have any, now. He's in year 4 and has never shown any interest in any of his peers outside of school time - he completely blanks them and will bolt if I stop to talk to their parents. Even the kids he used to spend time with in school don't interest him, any more and they all have friends they prefer to be with, as 8/9 year old boys do.

Flappingandflying Tue 09-Apr-13 19:57:33

I have to say that there are some special indie schools who charge a phenomenal amount. Flying boy and I visited quite a few. One, very expensive school talked very openly about restraint which shocked me. The pupils they had there were very similar to the ones I had every day in a mainstream classroom of 30.

Flyingboy has done well but had he stayed in mainstream he either would have had a hellish time and landed up refusing or would have got more qualifications. Whether I did the right thing or not I don't know but I think I did for the sake of the therapy alone which has been lifechanging. You do seem to have to give something up in going to special school. In our case its local friendships and he has no friends to hang out with.

Another very expensive school had more staff than pupils. I do wonder ho places can justify charging £110,000 per year. There were some students who clearly needed the very therapeutic and specialised psychological specialist support but I turned down their place on the basis that I didn't think Flyinboy's needs justified spending tax payers money on that when £33,000 woulddo the job just as well. I feel very grateful that he has had that money spent on him for seven years and that it is up to him and us to make sure that money isn't wasted. What went to him didn't go to another child. His placement was worth several statemented places in mainstream school. Therefore morally we are obligated to show that money was well spent so that the council doesn't think 'oh that's pointless' the next time they are faced with a desparate parents of a complex child. Our next move now is to find the right support to help flyingboy into adulthood as he moves towards hopefully the workplace. We might just have found it and he has interviews lined up.

ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 19:18:42

Moondog: I'd argue that for most staff, the strongest reinforcement comes from them seeing pupils make measureable progress. That's the intrinsic reinforcement of the work.

You know, that intrinsic reinforcement that so many of these people say the kids must have for themsleves without resorting to bribes.

I don't always agree with you on everything, but that one did make me snigger grin

Flappingandflying Tue 09-Apr-13 17:15:51

In non specialist independent schools asd understanding varies but there are a few lurking. TA provision is not a given. For example I don't have any TAs working for me so if my aspie has a moment I have to drop everthing and go running. I have found that generally in the classroom all is well. Where the sen students have problems is with the organisation and amount of homework demanded of them. Staff are understanding (or at least my lot are lovely) but a child is only going to be able to cope if there is an excellent home structure and support as well. The problems my asd one faces are to do with friendship issues, flashes of oppositional behavior and frankly a disfunctional family background. Basics that should be happening , ie, not sending a child to school with vast sums of money to buy sweets and crap, fall on deaf ears, the posession of the sweets then causes arguments which then escalates. It could all be solved in a trice by the family but no...

There are children in indie schools with statements but often these are for medical needs that have been acquired once schooling started.

moondog Tue 09-Apr-13 14:00:22

Of course.
The failure of the state sector means the private can take up the slack and such is the relief of parents at finding a refuge (and the releif of the LEA at getting said parents off their back) that noone really then bothers to scrutinise what these places which cost £££££ are actually up to.

The fact that it costs ££££££ somehow becomes synonymous with it being good.

I'd argue that for most staff, the strongest reinforcement comes from them seeing pupils make measureable progress. That's the intrinsic reinforcement of the work.

You know, that intrinsic reinforcement that so many of these people say the kids must have for themsleves without resorting to bribes.

Schmedz Tue 09-Apr-13 13:59:52 in a similar situation with my DD who is academically able with Aspergers but because she is 'coping' in a mainstream setting apparently does not meet criteria for statement or any specialist support. Very concerned as she starts senior school this September that things will go a bit pear shaped because the secondary school will not be like her junior school, which is nurturing and very supportive and very small.

We pay for an independent school with smaller classes/cohorts about half the size of a mainstream state school but we have no chance of any LEA funding! It is academically selective so her intellectual capacities are catered for very well. Most independent schools have no particular special skills with ASD ...hopefully you will find one that is able to offer proper support.

The NAS suggested schools do seem to cater primarily for boys and also those who seem more severely affected than my DD. I will be watching this thread eagerly to see if anyone has any good suggestions as I have been unable to find anything wholly suitable for her.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 13:38:01

I know Moondog. I suppose investment in the welfare of the staff is considered justified on the basis that they will then do a better job.

data anyone?

Perhaps they can attract better quality candidates that way. No idea.

Though the school is an indpendent one and not particularly set up to get taxpayer money. It's just that LAs are doing such a shoddy job that these places are the only places offering adequate education. It's not really their fault, but LA's who have such poor evidence-base for what they do, even it some of it IS good.

moondog Tue 09-Apr-13 13:25:33

Free yoga and massage Star? shock
NOt so much as a free cup of tea for me (as quite rightly it sohuld be, being tax payers money an' all)

ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 13:22:56

maxsanta Tue 09-Apr-13 13:22:09


ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 13:21:19

Purely by chance! Turns out it's in the list of approved schools given to us by the LA when we went through SA, anyhow, but it's listed as an SEBD school there.

There is an online directory, somewhere. I'll see if I can track it down.

maxsanta Tue 09-Apr-13 13:16:30

Bit far away for us! How did you find it?

ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 13:13:26

Maxsanta, the school we're after fits that bill. It's in N Yorks. It's a boys only school, though and starts at year 5.

maxsanta Tue 09-Apr-13 13:10:04

How do you find an independent specialist placement that suits an academically able child with Aspergers who can't cope with school ?

All the schools I have seen here are SpLD but seem to have no guaranteed understanding of ASD.

Either that, or they are for children with extreme behavioural difficulties.

googlyeyes Tue 09-Apr-13 12:58:23

Yes, in our case it's the one to one for each pupil and the individualised curriculum that cost so much. And there is SALT and OT on site.

I agree it's ludicrously expensive. Significantly more than Eton (and that's a boarding school too)

MareeyaDolores Tue 09-Apr-13 09:07:05

It's the specialised independents which cost lots.

An ordinary private school is more like £10k but then any SEN provision is on top, as said above

ouryve Tue 09-Apr-13 08:55:50

The independent special school we're looking at is £54k pa for day pupils. We know there's nowhere in the LA that will fit the bill, but we're still going to have to put forward a good case. There is precedent, though with several kids from our area attending this school.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 08:55:38

'It's the expertise and the ratios that makes it expensive.'

And in my ds' school there is a lot of 'support' as well as training for the staff. So they get perks such as free yoga, massage, counselling etc. supposedly to help them work with more difficult children!?

insanityscratching Tue 09-Apr-13 07:55:57

In Ds's class there are 6 pupils and four members of staff, he has speech therapy twice a week and OT weekly. He follows an individual curriculum which is delivered 1 to 1 much of the time, sometimes 1 to 2 and occasionally 2 to 3. It's the expertise and the ratios that makes it expensive.

clpsmum Tue 09-Apr-13 06:51:13

I am totally speechless I can't believe the cost.

googlyeyes Mon 08-Apr-13 22:54:22

Ds1 goes to an independent school, £50k per year plus transport (shares taxi with one other child)

We were incredibly fortunate not to have to go to tribunal as we managed to prove pretty conclusively that nowhere in borough could meet his needs

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