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LVS Hassocks

(19 Posts)
jussi Wed 19-Mar-14 12:01:33

Anyone had any experience of or visited this specialist school in West Sussex. If so, just wondered what your opinion was and why.
Thanks

haleheart Fri 16-Jan-15 10:51:26

LVS Hassocks school in West Sussex. Some mums have asked about this school and I felt a responsibility to place a message here for anyone considering this school for the child with an ASC.
The school has been going for 5 years and has had major issues with staff training - no specialists and no effective asc training for exisiting staff. The school has had issues with teachers being sacked for gross misconduct - one child who was pulled off a wardrobe and broke her arm - the child had huge issues with control and the school had no idea how to deal with her due to untrained staff and no procedures in place to support this student resulting in her eventiually being excluded permanantly and the teacher left the school only to appear before the Teaching council and be found guilty - personally I do not feel that the teacher or the child where guilty but that the management of the school and board of trustees were and still are at fault. The school appear to be set up as a money making machine to quote another parent " similar to a nursing home" a cash cow with no experienced staff and the ones who suffer are the children and parents. Unfortunately most parents find this out too late as the school has consisitently misled parents by telling them they can categorically meet the needs in teir childs statement when they absolutely cannot - if there is no asd specialist teaching or support staff then obviosuly this is impossible and until the school either changes all of their staff or makes it madatory to commence and complete asd training in a specific timetable and on a ongoing monitored for results basis this school has no hope of turning around.
The staff and board are busy extending the school to be able to increase their student numbers by 50% - with no trained staff and existing problems! The previous head of he school is now Director od SEN overseeing the exisint school and its extension and recruitment of new students; a brand new ASD??? school in addition to LVS Hassocks with a capacity for as many students and she is also overseeing SEN at the LVS charities mainstream school - all when they have not managed to get LVS Hassocks functioning in a way that can supoprt the existing children's needs.
LVS Hassocks has a closed communication culture - parents are seen as a nuisance and not taken seriously - again a clear sign of inexperience with ASC and the needs of the children and their families. Staff while all very good people on the whole are not at fault - but all you parents out there with asc children will know that if you have no experience you cannot spot the signs of ocd; overwhelm; meltdown; inability to process auditory, visual and other sensory information; the difference between bad behaviour and inability to cope - etc etc etc. Staff cannot be blamed - but the management and trustess should.
LVS Hassocks was sold to us with all that we needed - they just have never delivered and I am so dissapointed to say that at this stage, with all that they are involved in and hte lack of focus on the needs in hand - ie supporting existing students before concentraing on bring more in and building the business - as it is begingin to look like - a business, not a specialist school, then the future there for us does not look good.
Parenst please speak to other parents at LVS Hassocks and really do your research before you place your child here.
This is not a disgruntled parent speaking but one of many parents who have experienced very similar cisrcumstances at LVS Hassocks

haleheart Fri 16-Jan-15 10:58:53

I have seen parents ask about LVS Hassocks when considering a specialist placenment for their child. In this day and age where every school has a website and a budget for advertising and marketing and particularly when they are an independent school building an empire - it is very easy for parents to be misled by the gloss. I have recently met a group of parents who like myself are having issues with this school and which have been longterm unresolved and ungoing. The reason I wanted to post a message is becuase there is no where for parents of children with ASC's to really find out about specialist schools and their quality. The school looks great on the website and online information - bu please dig deeper. get facts and figures about success - they have only one or two children who have left the school and successfully went on to employment - get them to tell you how many succeed.
The photographs on their web site actually show more than 3 children who left by being excluded and they are still presented happilly on the publicity material! LVS Hassocks is not all it seems - unfortunately.

ouryve Fri 16-Jan-15 12:32:57

I see that they've already been on OFSTED's radar because of similar concerns. I guess that all can be done is for parents to keep on flagging up anything that really shouldn't be happening or that is dealt with inappropriately to the relevant authorities because the marketing is pretty slick and a lot of parents will be at the point where their educational choices in the state sector are becoming increasingly limited.

newname22 Fri 16-Jan-15 13:05:56

Unfortunately I don't think this is an uncommon problem . My DS is at a different school and although not primarily an as school many pupils have this as an additional problem .At least 25% but no residential staff have any training and aggressive outbursts are purely seen as poor behaviour. Bullying is rife. Tell tale signs of stress aren,t picked up. Ofsted outstanding for care!
You really need to do your due dilagence prior to picking residential schools.

LVSHassocks Tue 20-Jan-15 11:11:24

I am sorry you feel you have had a bad experience at LVS Hassocks. The feedback we have received from our parents suggest that they and their children have had and are having a much happier experience at our school. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to you to find out more. Please feel free to give me a call 01273 832901 Kira Brabenec, Head of Centre LVS Hassocks.

haleheart Thu 12-Feb-15 15:23:16

"I will be the first to publicise that my sons school is the best - I am hoping that day will come soon"

Thank you Kira for your response. We are not unhappy at the school but unhappy that my childs needs have not been met as promised - obviously this causes problems - thats the whole reaason you chose a specialist school because they need specialist help. There is no experience of negligence or uncaring staff - the exact opposite is true, but due to there not being the needed specialist staff within the school time has passed and needs not been met. There has been no specialist teachers, support staff or LA's employed at the school to enable a provision to start with that would make meeting his needs possible.

Autism expertise is of paramount importance to parents and their children with autism and when we move them to a specialist placement - this is what we think they will be getting - a placement to meet their needs.

Despite being told this categorically at the time of chosing the school - it has never been the case as there has been literally no trained staff besides perhaps the one qualified teacher Mel who left and a Teaching Assistant - who also left. And without autism expertise meeting the individual needs its impossible as the children are not understood to begin with. Any parent of a child with autism will confirm this

We have had many telephone conversations and email correspondence - Im not alone and know of at least 10 parents who have a very similar experience to mine.

I have reams of paper and email communication - all about the same unanswered issues.

I can post these here but that serves no purpose. I just want things to improve and I hope we are heading that way.

The fact is, things hint at changing. We are 3 years down the line. I hope that the resources are available to help you make the changes I know you are committed to - time will tell. Alreaady we have additional staff - one with asd experience and more parents vocalising their concerns. I hope that helps bring things to light so that they will be more likley to be acted on.

I am aware that there are parents who are happy with the school. Please reread my post above. The school is perfect for some children at points in their life - but children grow up and mature and their needs change - especially if they are high functioning and you need the expertise to meet those changing needs. But we were told it could meet the need as it was - and it couldnt and it took a very long time for this to be not only clear but clear that it was going to take more time to make the improvements needed - all while we wait. I am hoping we will soon see this happenning as things change and new staff are able to take up some of the workload and implement what is needed.

I will be the first to publicise that my sons school is the best when it is - whatch this space.

Meantime, If anyone thinks I am the exception to the rule please see Wmake school make sense" a report carried out with the collaboration of parents of children with autism and their experiences of finding a placement to meet their childs needs. Poignantly is the part where they cover not have to make a compromise between social communication and academic progress

ouryve Thu 12-Feb-15 16:33:53

Is that the NAS report, haleheart?

We're lucky that we have DS1 in one of the few schools in the country that provides both social skills and good academic opportunities for children who find it impossible to access mainstream education. It's not primarily an ASD school, though - it's actually listed as BESD/SEM. There's a few schools for AS dotted around, but they make it clear that they can't deal with challenging behaviour.

Ironically, the HT says he's beautifully behaved. That's the difference being in the right environment with the right support makes.

halenheart Fri 13-Feb-15 00:04:47

Yes, I just mentioned the report as it hughlights just how many parents experience these same issues and i know many think they are the only ones whuch is so far from the truth.

Glad you have found a good school that is working for you - that must be such a relief for you both.

There are some excellent schools out there and it would be so good if they were open to sharing what works with each other.

bedoj Tue 09-Jun-15 10:07:06

I am due to visit IVS very soon in view of sending my daughter there. She is so excited at the thought of going & being helped with her ASD.
She has been failed by the system so far &
I am really worried by all I have read.
I cannot set her up for another fall!
Please can anyone reassure me & give me reasons why I should choose this school ?

NedZeppelin Fri 12-Jun-15 15:48:56

I visited LVS to see if it would be suitable for my child who has ASD. It seemed chaotic, unorganised, and there was a lot of door slamming, among other things ! I came away confident that I would not be pushing to have my child attend the school. A disappointment.

Soogi35 Fri 12-Jun-15 22:31:43

There is no perfect school out there. A school has to fit the needs of the individual child. I visited many schools to find one that could meet my child's needs. He had been out of school for many months. The experience of mainstream had traumatised him and he completely refused to go. Some of the schools I visited were Unsted Park, Jigsaw, Freemantles, St Joseph's in Cranleigh etc. All were ok but just not the right 'fit' for my child. I had done my research and was aware that most of the schools I visited had failings in certain areas but I wanted to make my own opinion before discounting any of them. I then visited LVS Hassocks on three different occasions. For me, it was the school I had envisioned. Since my son has been there he has made real progress and continues to do so. Perhaps it does seem chaotic at times and doors do get slammed, the children can be loud but that is what I would expect with children who sometimes don't conform to what society expects. For me, sending our child to LVS Hassocks was the best decision my family and I made. Will this provision always be the right one, we will see, but for now, his needs are being met, he is settled and for the first time actually enjoys going to school.

True62 Thu 06-Aug-15 00:48:07

We have spoken to some parents from this school at a recent event and seems that the school has constant problems with staff turnover which is not notified to parents so children turn up go school and have teachers or support staff who do not know them - not good in an ASC school. Parents also said school took view that statements/ehc plans are only for guidance - which is completely WRONG as these are supposed to be the whole reason for placing children in specialists schools - the statement/ehc plan is legally supposed to be the blueprint followed to the letter for each individual child who has one. LVS apparently takes the view that they need only do what is best overall for the majority of children and depends on what staff are on duty whether or not the individual child's plans are followed

Also seems that many children have been excluded permanently which Is Strange for a specialist school as one of the reasons children are excluded is the inability of staff to cope with their complexities. One mum told of a child out of school for more than a year with no support or contact from the school and no work sent home but LA still paying for placement!

Looks very like a big care home where children can play and be safe but very few specialist teachers and little academic future - web site says they do GCSE but apparently this is a new venture and they only do 3 - also very big on glossy marketing which seems to colour the picture a tad and U.S. Not always an accurate reflection of the school - they're not alone there!

Parents said were sorry had spent so much time trying to get things right for their child at LVS as in the end up wasted time that now cannot be made up as years gone by with unfulfilled promises due to staff being untrained, leaving, chaotic management - apparently management had changed but old team now back despite there being a few changes to lead staff over past few years now appears the original staff are back! Lots of strange stories! New deputy head left after 5 months, new literacy specialist left after a couple of weeks......... Goes on and on

I dont know the answer and only wish I did but seems a lot of these schools are no better and in some cases due to inexperienced and unqualified staff, the use of agency people who have no knowledge of the pupils complex needs and management set on making a name for themselves at all costs - mainstream state schools may turn out to be the better option!

There really needs to be something done about the whole situation with these schools as when there is so much money involved the children are seldom the first priority. In saying that, all of the above was openly discussed by parents but it was also pointed out that children who were unlikely to follow an academic path and those in the primary department were the best supported and in actual fact the school appears to do well in these areas. Not for high functioning kids as the school does not have the structure, specialist teachers or experience to support them so maybe look elsewhere if your child is high functioning

LVSHassocks Fri 07-Aug-15 16:38:04

True62,

The comments that were made to you do not reflect the very positive feedback we receive from the majority of parents at our school, and we received an Ofsted report of Good in all areas at our last full assessment in March (www.lvs-hassocks.org.uk/about_us/ofsted_report). I would be happy to talk to you personally about any concerns you have, please feel free to call me through the school on 01273 832901. Sarah Sherwood, Director of SEN.

True62 Sat 08-Aug-15 12:00:50

Thank you for your reply to the above message. The parents we spoke to are respected members of our asc group and it is unlikely that they would express these concerns if these were not genuinely their experience. While I am sure there are many happy children at the school - I think I mentioned that some of the parents were very positive about their children's experience and that these are parents of primary children or those who needed high levels of support and are not high functioning - students with with Asperger syndrome who are more able for instance. The overall consensus is that those who are able and would wish to persue an academic route through their education would not be best placed with LVS Hassocks.

From discussions it seems that this is the whole root of most problems experienced by parents - that their children are not in the right place and that the school has not recognised this and acted to resolve the problem quickly and openly.

The assessment process for placements at the school seems to have lacked rigour and students are either placed incorrectly with LVS Hassocks to begin with or where they have been placed there and make improvement which is not detected leading to other issues. The assessment criteria may need improvement and arrangements to make the process of finding a more suitable school where LVS is no longer the best placement needs to be better to that these situations are clear sooner enabling parents and the school to work together openly and quickly to put measures in place to support the student adequately while still at the school and to ensure a transition plan is drawn up which outlines a route to best outcomes via the best placement for the student with as little disruption as possible to them emotionally and for their continued education.

I appreciate your reply but there is seldom smoke without fire and it appears that you have some work to do in not only deciding who LVS can realistically support but also communicating this clearly and adequately as well as putting in place ongoing assessments to ensure that LVS Hassocks continues to be the best placement to meet the ongoing needs of each individual student and that you have a transparent fully supportive route that is supportive and enables them to transition when it is not.

LVS Hassocks is still in its infancy and I see from your website that you are carrying out major works to increase the school capacity and facilities which could all be positive as you will no doubt require more specialist staff for the influx of new pupils.

You would do the existing students and parents as well as those to come more justice by addressing the issues being raised as these no doubt exist and being seen to do so than sticking your head in the sand and by suggesting they don't. We are, after all, talking about the lives of children and their families where there is autism. This can only be understood when experienced first hand as part of such a family and negating the very real issues we experience to non existant is a huge red light to lack of autism specialism

ProudASDMum Sun 15-Nov-15 20:22:20

Hi have read this thread with interest as have been recommended LVS by LEA as just gaining my daughter's EHC Plan. She is 10 and coped in mainstream school until last year as is academically very bright. But she needs a lot more emotional and social communication support. Have any of you changed your views on this school since then? Looking at the website it doesn't look the most suitable for my daughter as she does need to be academically stretched when she feels safe and her anxiety is low.
Ouryve - which school does your son go to? It is true that there are not many options for those that struggle with their emotions and social skills but who need to make the most of their amazing Asperger memories and out of the box thinking. I want a school that will see the 'special' aspects of my daughter not just the 'challenging'

halenheart Mon 16-Nov-15 12:47:00

I do feel for you. It is so difficult and such a big decision to make. I wish more parents would post not only their experiences with schools but their child's needs. Your daughter sounds very high functioning and academically able. I could not recommend LVS Hassocks for her as she would not have a peer group there of her age and ability. But you have to make that decision and I woud be ruthless in grilling them ask to see the peer group and also for an extended trial period before you accept a place.
Do bear in mind that this school have only just begun offerring GCSE's. They are inexperienced in delivering an academic currculum. When looing at their statistics and results - realise that this is a very small number of children - under 20 I think, and really analyse the data.
They did look like they were getting their act together a bit last year when they appointed a Deputy Head who came form an ASC Unit - but he has gone back to his old school! He has been replaced by a woman who used to be at LVS, left and came back! He was theonly member of staff who had any idea about teaching young people with ASC or how to implement a GCSE curriculum for them
My child is no longer at the school. Like many secondary age high functioning young people. If you engage with LVS be very ruthless about getting answers.
I was inexperieced and naive when we agreed to the placement. Parents are not specialists and we have to rely on those who claim to be, often to our detriment. I placed my child here because I believed what I was told by the then Head Teacher, which was that they could meet his needs, that he would have a suitable peer group, that he would have specialist support and they would implement his statement. The reality was very different and it took 3 years - until the very last few weeks in the last term of last year infact with the arrival of the new Deputy Head who did understand something about how to teach young people with ASC and we finallly began weeks before the end of term this summer to see detailled strategies to not only support his needs but to address the areas where he had regressed since attending the school due to certain core needs not being supoprted for 3 years. An exmple is that the Occupational theerapist working with him told me it was too late to correct his pencil grip - after three years of not getting the specified support for this need - it was not consistantly addressed and his handwriting got worse! Since we have left the school we now have the specialist support he needs for this area and they havetold me that what LVS did was paramount to neglectand that they are wrong - with focussed work and persistance we can undo the damage done.
The final blow came for us on the lead up to the end of term when it was announced that the Deputy Head was leaving - going back to his old school and finally my being told personally in the company of the Diretor of SEN - (old Head Teacher) and 3 members of the school trustees - "that it is impossible to meet the individual needs of every child's statement" and that "we have a good Ofsted and that is all we are interested in" that it was plain we were fighting a losing battle in stayng at LVS and that I had wasted all that time hoping things would change as it is obvious their focus is not on meeting the childrens needs but getting good name for the school at any cost.

You dont say which area you are in There are a few good day schools and high functioning academically able kids seem to do well - let us know and may be other people can also advise.

LVS Hassocks has good some good reviews, but these tend to be from parents of children who are less highly functioning and not expected to do GCSE's or parents of primary age children - who do seem to do well here. My experience is that there are many parents of children who have or do attendLV Hassocks who are less than happy and have similar experience to us but like us, they hope it will get better.

Blossom House in Wimbledon seems to support high functioning young people well - but this is proably out of your area if you are considering LVS Hassocks as a day placement?

Will keep you updated if I hear of anywhere else, but do let me know where you are in the country.

ProudASDMum Mon 16-Nov-15 15:28:03

Thanks so much for your swift and detailed reply. It's very helpful and I totally understand where you are coming from. We have already wasted 3 years at her current school being told there was no way she needed / would get a statement, the whole time her mental health spiralling. We actually live nearer Blossom House as we are in Cheam near Sutton. We have been recommended by CAMHS to look at residential schools as she has so much problems with getting into school & transitioning back in to family life after school. It may be that once she is in the right day school that her anxiety would drop and she would find life easier. I was under the impression Blossom House wasn't for high functioning? Maybe I should look at that in more detail. Which other schools do you think may be worth looking at? We have been to see Central Academy and are hoping to go to West Heath. Just seems that very few do GCSE's - or if they do they only do 2-3. Thanks so much for the info.

liAa8O9z30pijgg Thu 23-Mar-17 12:35:50

I'm new to this thread but have been reading with interest as our son has the same struggles as you're daughter. Did anyone find a suitable school for her. We are looking now and its so hard to find anywhere that would help him socialize with other well behaved peers who are school phobias. Would appreciate any advice anywhere in uk we would move as he's been out of school three years now. He is under Cams but they have helped very little. He's 15 now and has only just got an EHCP. We looked around Hassocks but not sure if its suitable as he's high functioning asd. He would be disturbed by challenging behaviour and needs a very nurturing environment. Please help if anyone can. Thanks

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