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Getting the school to help

(18 Posts)
hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 13:44:13

Has anyone got any thoughts on how best to approach the school to get DD help if she needs it (and I think she does)?

I posted this in special educational needs btu I've just realised that I should have come here instead!

I have an appointment with DD2's teacher soon to ask the teacher if she thinks DD2 has a learning disability. I don't want it to be true, but I think she might and I would rather face up to now and get the help she needs, instead of let it go on undiagnosed and watch her struggle.

Without going into it, I have good reason to strongly suspect the school will be resistant to help. I even had to ask twice to see the teacher just to get this appointment because she knew what i wanted to talk about.

The SENCo is beyond useless, but she's leaving at the end of the term. I thought of leaving it until September, but this has been bothering me since last September, and I don't want to have to wait until Christmas for the next teacher to feel that she knows DD sufficiently well to comment.

Any tips about how to approach this meeting? If the teacher really thinks there is no cause for concern, then I want her to be able to say that, but DD is in the bottom of the bottom group for this and top set for everything else, so it sticks out like a sore thumb.

crazeelaydee Wed 19-Jun-13 14:48:56

Hi Hillian, So you have already spoken to the SENCO? and she is leaving soon, do you know who is replacing her? and your waiting for the meeting with the CT? Do as you were already going to...make a note of your concerns and discuss these with the CT. Make a note of everything that is said during the meeting (I use a dictaphone in my pocket to be sure I don't miss memory is shocking and I can't write, think, and talk at the same time blush), start creating a paper trail. This will help in future if your Dd's CT is less than helpful. From now on write down anything at all that the CT may say which could be supportive of what your concerns are, you would be surprised how much info you can gather from the CT's especially if they are having a rant or a boast about something wink

As I don't really know much info I'm not too sure what to suggest if the school doesn't listen to your concerns.

RippingYarns Wed 19-Jun-13 14:52:39

going to talk to your DDs teacher is a good start, but what specific things are you concerned about, you mention a learning disability, but this has to confirmed by careful and professional consideration - how old is your DD?

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 19-Jun-13 16:22:53

What are your DDs difficulties?.

Teachers though are generally not trained or skilled enough to spot children with additional needs. SEN is not a big part of their teacher training at all. This person may therefore say to you that they have no real concerns.

If school are totally resistant to helping then you may want to start looking at other schools.

I would actually ask your GP to refer your DD to a developmental paediatrician as such a person can make diagnosis although this process can take a long time.

hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 16:49:21

My older DD was diagnosed with the learning disability a few months ago and the school were incredibly unsupportive. Think aggressive behaviour from the SENCO, long, long delays in answering communications, "forgetting" to schedule meetings until the third reminder etc, and then minimizing all the concerns the school had raised when they'd thought DD1 just wasn't trying hard enough. Overnight, the CT's appraisal of DD1s work throughout the year went from "could do a lot better" to "within expected levels, so what's the problem?".

In the end, I gave up because DD1 is moving up to secondary school and only had one term left anyway.

On a personal level, I was rattled that DD1 could have had a learning disability throughout her primary years and even though it is described in all her school reports, i never stopped and asked myself if there was something wrong, rather than just something that she'd get better at eventually.

Then I began to slowly realise that DD2 is gradually falling behind the class in exactly the same way as DD1 did. Just like DD1 she is generally at the top of the class, except for one thing (the same thing as DD1) and that one thing is beginning to have a bigger and bigger impact on her school work.

So, I know, through personal, recent experience, the SENCO's attitude to being faced with extra work, and its not good.

hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 16:52:06

I'm just back from seeing the CT. She said that possibly DD2 may have the same thing as DD1 but she advised that the school would not arrange testing because it isn't having a big enough impact yet.

And if I pay for the testing myself, I should hold any report back until next September.

(I got the impression that she was aware of how the current SENCO had reacted to me).

LIZS Wed 19-Jun-13 16:55:02

tbh by the time you have an assessment done and a report in hand it will be the next academic year. Good EP's are booked up well ahead.

RippingYarns Wed 19-Jun-13 16:56:45

i'm confused, your DD1s issues weren't recognised at her school but your DD2s CT says DD2 has the same thing?

what specifically are the issues that your DDs share? not the name of whatever you think a medical person might call it, what do they struggle with?

RippingYarns Wed 19-Jun-13 16:57:11

*may have the same thing

hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 16:59:08

The issue last time was that the school were refusing to accept the EP's report findings (or even read the report) - and it took 4 months to obtain.

EllenJanesthickerknickers Wed 19-Jun-13 17:14:02

Hillian, if the school are ignoring the EPs report, (this is the LA's EP, not a private one?) then they sound really rubbish. It might be the SENCo being defensive about why they hadn't spotted this sooner and trying to minimise it as you said, but it sounds like your relationship with this SENCo has completely broken down. It's so close to the end of term, you should either get straight on with the new SENCo and/or consider and alternative school. It may be the SENCo isn't the whole problem, the school's ethos could be at fault. Could you talk to the HT and bypass the SENCo, using the reason that she's leaving soon anyway!

hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 17:52:42

It was a private report and yes, the relationship has completely broken down.

The SENCO and I have not exchanged angry or unkind words, but its clear from the way she treats me that I've migrated from being a face in the crowd who meant nothing to her, to a royal pain in her neck!

However, its not just me who the SENCO appears to have a problem with. Anyone whose child presents her with SEN work seems to be on her bad side.

Its hard to say whether the school's ethos is at fault. The HT inherited the SENCO and the teacher taking on the SENCO role next year is known for being open and going out of her way to help the children, so perhaps things are in hand to fix a long standing problem??

hillian Wed 19-Jun-13 17:56:39

Is it true though that a problem has to become severe before a school will arrange testing? DD was at the top of her class in year 1 but is gradually drifting towards the bottom for this one thing. Each year it gets worse (and I think she has fallen to the bottom now if her description is anything to go by).

If you squint really hard, you could say that she's simply at the bottom end of the normal range, but surely, its odd to be really weak at one thing when everything else is so good??

EllenJanesthickerknickers Wed 19-Jun-13 20:48:24

If it's dyslexia or dyscalculia, some teachers still don't 'believe' in it. Others just don't know how to help so ignore it. If only one area is problematic it sounds like a specific learning disability to me.

MumuDeLulu Wed 19-Jun-13 21:26:19

Local practices may be that, to get help, they have to be
x years behind,
or below 0.5th centile,
or behind in 2 or more unrelated areas,
or have started to sprout blue feathers as a result of the problem
Or whatever.

Blanket policies simply aren't legal though, regardless of what reasons they have, or which misleading training the school has been given. It's the SEN code of practice which sets out your child's rights. And those rights include the support necessary to make 'adequate progress', which, in the first instance, probably includes school pulling their socks up.

MumuDeLulu Wed 19-Jun-13 21:26:50


hillian Thu 20-Jun-13 11:08:37

thanks. does anyone know what a maintained school is?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 20-Jun-13 14:23:44

Maintained schools are funded by central government via the local authority, and do not charge fees to students. The categories of maintained school are: community, community special, foundation (including trust), foundation special (including trust), voluntary aided and voluntary controlled. There are also maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units.

Most maintained mainstream schools operate within a two-tier education system. These are primary, which includes infant and junior, and secondary. Some schools operate within a three-tier system of first, middle and upper schools, while others are known as ‘all-through’, and provide for both secondary and primary age pupils.

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