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Independent asperger schools

(22 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 09:39:27

I have started visiting some independent schools -Cambia, Priory. I wondered if anyone had a child that went to one or goes to one or who knows someone who goes to one.

Although they suggest they are AS specific, they have seem to have much broader intake. I wondered how they were academically too.

Any information much appreciated.

I'm in the south.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 09:44:27

I visited loads of schools. My overall impression was that ALL of them were either in denial or simply not quite doing what it said on the tin in terms of the profile of the children they take.

I found that the children always had more difficulties than they appeared to say they took iyswim.

Not that that makes them bad schools of course. Also, parents have high expectations of their children so perhaps they have to say they cater for the kind of child the parents believe they have!? confused

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 09:49:21

Mmm. And of course they are getting shed loads of money for each pupil!

One school I went to asked what the LAs attitude was to placing DS which surprised me as I thought no one got Indy provision without the mother of all battles. So I questioned this and apparently some LAs do approach them to try and place kids which at £130k a year I find astounding. Then I thought maybe it was desperation as literally no one else would take them.

Having DS introduced to the black padded 'chill out' room as he was asked 'do you get angry' was a bit uncomfortable too!

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 09:52:07

Blimey. And I was cross that ds' school take him out for a massage or bounce on a trampoline when he gets frustrated.........

Perhaps I just don't realise how good his school really is on the comparative ladder.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 09:58:51

I did find it disturbing as it is not DS's profile at all.

There are only 4 in a class (although they can take 8) which demonstrates under capacity but if two of the children had very challenging behaviour, it could be a very tricky experience.

Flappingandflying Sun 28-Apr-13 11:21:10

I also visited and felt that the cambian and priory schools delt with children with far greater behavioural and emotional difficulties than flyingboy had. He does have his moments but i met a couple of pupils who were very very extreme and flyingboy felt this too on his look round. We went for a school which took a range of difficulties and has fab therapy. He took gcses and they have a sixth form. Pm me if you want details

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 11:25:01

Thanks - have PMd you.

newregard Sun 28-Apr-13 12:38:35

DS goes to one of these schools and I visited pretty much all of them when we were viewing schools. We needed tribunal to get his placement, but I know from talking to other parents that not everyone has been through tribunal: sometimes the LA pulls out ahead of the hearing, or in a few cases the LA has approached the school, as you say. And yes, it's often because the child's needs are so complex that they've been turned down by every other school in the locality.

All the students have a diagnosis of AS or HFA, but most have additional dx as well: often ADHD, SpLD, dyspraxia, some have epilepsy - very common co-morbids with ASDs so not surprising at all. AS is the main obstacle to their learning though, and it has a knock-on effect on all aspects of their education and independence/social skills.

Academically, it very much depends on the student. Almost all the students have above average IQ, but not all of them can demonstrate this through academic work. So some students fly through with A grades, but others take vocational qualifications. The small class sizes means that teaching can be modified according to the needs of the student very well. There is a general ethos that life skills are more essential than academic qualifications though - so the number of GCSE subjects is less than you'd take in a mainstream school. The HT said they often have to pick up students who have gone through grammar-type systems where they've survived due to the highly academic structure, so they come out with strings of qualifications but absolutely no life/social skills and then fall apart with poor mental health, so I'd be very careful about looking at schools like that.

DS had challenging behaviour when he started at the school but this has dropped to almost none at all now - most students with AS only display that kind of behaviour when they're in the wrong environment. I'd say that behaviour is excellent in the school, but it obviously takes time to manage it. But not all students start off with challenging behaviour, sometimes it manifests in extreme anxiety, or self-harm, or inappropriate behaviours. But all of this comes from having unmet needs due to their AS, it's not something that can be separated from that dx.

£130k sounds like a shedload but it really does go on the staff - keyworkers dedicated to each student, TAs, lots of direct therapy, highly qualified staff, ASD training for all the staff (even the gardener/cleaners), access to psych services, and activities off-site (which has a social educational value, not just for fun). They don't have luxury facilities or unnecessary extras.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 12:42:10

Thanks. Would you be prepared to PM me to let me know what school that is?

ouryve Sun 28-Apr-13 13:44:23

I'm on the northeast, so that's no good to you, but our nearest priory school caters for lower functioning kids and only offers vocational qualifications. The indy school we're after is for boys with aspergers and ADHD who are capable of GCSEs, but is down on lists as SEBD because that's the reason the boys they take end up there. They simply cannot cope with mainstream and need a lot of help with social skills.

Our LA does place quite a few boys there because they have nothing specifically for them. All they can offer otherwise is SS who will send them to nearby mainstream schools to take GCSEs, which is a whole extra level of stress as far as kids like DS1 are concerned.

It's cheap in comparison, though. IIRC £55K for day pupils and £62 for weekly boarders.

blueraspberry Sun 28-Apr-13 14:05:39

It is a minefield having to try to find the right school. Ds is
HFA with challenging behaviour and is now in an independent school where he appears to be the least challenging child there.

As newregard said, a lot of challenging behaviour is due to needs not being met. Now ds is in the right sensory environment, with a small class size and understanding staff he is much less anxious. I would have preferred ms school but they couldn't, or wouldn't, supply what was needed to support him.

We also struggled to find a setting which could offer GCSE's and as a result he has to attend on a weekly boarding basis as there is nothing suitable close to home. I think all you can do is try to find the best fitting school - it will never be perfect.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 14:12:08

I know but if you have to fight(at substantial cost) to get a child in to a school in the first place (and are corrupt, useless, incompetent LA will make you fight for everything) you want it to be right!

I completely understand what you mean about problems abating in the right environment but anywhere with a padded room makes me worry to be frank!

ouryve Sun 28-Apr-13 14:19:52

I'd be hmm about a padded room, too. It's a bit extreme as quiet rooms go, isn't it?

blueraspberry Sun 28-Apr-13 14:20:46

We didn't have to fight - the LA offered a few independent alternatives but they were for EBD not ASD so these were refused. They knew that there was no suitable ms placement and he was about to be permanently excluded so had to quickly come up with something.
I understand the need to get it right but what if you can't find anything just right? What will you do if that happens?

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 14:30:19

Well that is what I thought ouryve. Blueraspberry what would your view be if your saw that? Is that standard?

I understand your point but my son is a different personality - he copes with problems by school refusing and the schools I have seen don't seem to cater for that profile.

Perhaps, this is because children who get excluded become problems for schools and LAs. Children who withdrew and refuse are likely to have their parents blamed for not taking them to school. I bet many of them end up HEing.

blueraspberry Sun 28-Apr-13 14:42:52

I haven't seen any padded rooms, just quiet rooms or quiet areas to go to. I did see quite a severe outburst by a child recently but the staff managed to calm the situation without resorting to the removal of the child which I felt was good.

I do appreciate that for children that internalise their anxieties rather than lashing out it must be so much harder to get a placement as ms schools don't see any issues. I have said to dh that we were 'lucky' (if you can call it that), that his behaviour meant there was an urgency to get a placement simply because there was nowhere else to put him.

I sympathise with your predicament and it does seem that there are very few schools out there that would be 100% suitable your ds. I don't know the answer but I do agree that a lot of parents probably do have to HE and this is not something that we could ever do because of our personal situation. I hope you can find the right school.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 14:53:10

Thanks blueraspberry. I appreciate your insight.

I agree about HEing. I have had to give up work and freelance and even that is going to pot at the moment. So we have had changes to our personal circumstances forced on us sad

At least there is no argument with our school about his level of need but it does seem that the LA are only prepared to fund places without Tribunal when forced to because a child has nowhere else to go and that is hardly 'meeting need' under the Education Act!

blueraspberry Sun 28-Apr-13 14:58:09

I know - it is so wrong. I had said that I was happy to go to tribunal if necessary but records now obtained show that they decided a long drawn-out tribunal was not 'in his best interests'. It is not in the best interests of any child!!!
They really meant that it was not in their best interests as they knew there was nothing suitable and that they would have had to provide an education somehowsad.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 15:04:01

LA's still force a parent through the tribunal system even when they know they haven't a case because:

a)it postpones funding
b)it increases the chance that the parent will give up and find a way to HE or pay privately
c)it gives them a high drama day away from the office
d)it gives them tribunal practice
e)it sends the message to parents behind that they may as well give up
f)it may due to luck/certain panel members actually result in a win for the LA
g)It justifies expenditure on a legal team/contract.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 28-Apr-13 15:04:24

and significantly

h)there are no repercussions

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 28-Apr-13 15:10:29

Too true Star, too true

Flappingandflying Sun 28-Apr-13 17:08:01

Star, couldn't agree more. I am on both sides parent and professional and taught in a unit several students who should have been in special schools but their parents were just not up to going for tribunal.

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