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Private schools (primary) and SEN

(45 Posts)
WellTidy Wed 12-Nov-14 13:33:15

We have aranged a private ed psych assessment for nearly 7 yo Year 2 DS, as his school has suggested that he may have dyslexia. This came as a complete shock to us, as there is no history of it in the family.The more that I have thought of it though, I see dyslexic traits in him, and I also see signs of dyspraxia and dyscalculia, but I am trying my hardest to keep an open mind.

The local branch of the BDA gave us a list of childrens ed psychs who were known to them, and we have arranged for the assessment to be done next week. The ed psych herself was a little reticent to do the assessment due to his age, but school were pushing for it as the felt that not having one was holding him back, and that they wanted to use the recommendations and analysis to know how they could help him best.

From our perspective as parents, we think that having the report and recommendations will allow the school to come up with a plan (a month or so?), we will give them time to implement that plan (a term?), and then, in time, we can decide whether we are happy with this, or whether we need to look for another school for DS. He might then move schools to start Year 3.

DS is very, very happy at school, and we would be reluctant to move him. Ideally, we want to work with the school, and for them to put whatever he needs in place. But his school in very small (80 odd children) and very, very traditional. I am not sure whether they have the resources to help him long term (if indeed he is diagnosed as having SEN).

I am completely clueless as to SEN, and how they are dealt with in pivate schools. I see lots of references to local authorities on here, and applying for extra funding and statements and EHCs and I have no idea what to do for my DS as he is in a private school.

Does our plan of action sound reasonable to you with experience of children with SEN? Is there anything more I should be doing please?

WintersDayTOWIE Wed 12-Nov-14 14:35:16

I hate to bring bad news, but you are basically totally and utterly on your own if your child is in private mainstream education. Your local authority won't be interested in your child at all. It is also up to the school whether or not they implement any recommendations made by an EP. If the recommendations means eg extra help, you will be expected to fund it over and above school fees.

My DS was dx with dyslexia when he was in year 2 - similar to your experience - his private school pressed for it but the EPs didn't want to do it. In the end, they did assess him under their "normal" dx age. In hindsight, I should have had him dx much younger as he had been showing all the signs since reception (and possibly even since nursery).

If you are lucky, the school might try to help you implement any EP recommendations. In my DS's case, his private school made all the right noises, but nothing happened. You may find that the school is too small to support your DS and won't have the resources - whether you pay for help or not. Your comment "very very traditional" rings alarm bells with me - some private schools are excellent with dyslexia but "traditional" schools, in my experience, are not.

In the end, I had to remove my son at the end of year 3 because his traditional school's "methods" (or rather, luck of) was pushing him towards a nervous breakdown. After a two year fight with my local authority (inc home ed'ing him for a year and two Tribunals), he is now fully funded by the local authority in a tiny private specialist dyslexia setting.

With regards to "anything more you should be doing" - be aware that many dyslexics will also have other SENs (not always tho). For example, my son was dx with dyspraxia when he was 4 and also has other SENs. I am dyslexic and also probably have (undiagnosed) dyspraxia.

Also be aware that year 3 is often a crisis year for children with some SENs - the jump from KS1 to KS2 being too much for some children.

hth

WellTidy Wed 12-Nov-14 14:53:30

Gawd, Winters. I wonder whether I should be putting him on a local education authority waiting list for a place at a mainstream school, then. I don't know how long waiting lists are for transfers, but I'm guessing they must be long as the two schools local to us are massively over-subscribed. The irony is that, as we live close to each of them, DS had a place at one of them for reception, but we turned it down, preferring the smaller class sizes and more intimate environmemt at his current school.

I have no idea what to do. I feel completely in the dark.

Yes, I think he is dyspraxic too. Maybe dyscalculic, but I am trying to keep an open mind pending the assessment.

I'm glad your DS is at a setting which suits him now. You've clearly fought hard for it, all credit to you.

zzzzz Wed 12-Nov-14 15:31:03

Both SALT and EP can go in to a public school to assess (as they can for children who are HE). The school senco should be able to advise and if you do move him to state then an LA funded assessment is probably more valuable.

There is unlikely to be a waiting list for mid year entry to your local state school. Phone the receptionist and ask how many places they have in year 2. Shift fees at present school on to a rolling terms notice. Get of list for EP and SALT. Get an IEP sorted at present school. Think about applying for EHCP (statement re-branded) before you leave if it looks sensible.

I think provision has been better for mine in state school (not reading at the end of year 3 to reading in a term). It's difficult because people always think you are hiding the fact that you can't afford the fees (or don't want to pay). Ours was a good prep, attached to an old style public school and had a fabulous reputation. Money was not the issue. Things are SO much better now.

WellTidy Wed 12-Nov-14 16:13:45

zzzzz DS' school will not permit the EP to go into school to observe/assess DS. They have suggested that the EP speak to his teacher on the phone though.

DS doesn't need a SALT, thankfully.

How do I go about getting a LA funded asssessment, and applying for an EHCP, please?

Thanks for your guidance.

eatyourveg Wed 12-Nov-14 16:14:32

you are basically totally and utterly on your own if your child is in private mainstream education. Your local authority won't be interested in your child at all

Not usually the case if your dc has a statement though and not the case at all with ds3. ASD and went to a private mainstream secondary with a statement. LEA wouldn't fund it as his needs could easily be met within the state mainstream sector. (LEA do fund some private placements when there is no local state provision which can meet the needs set out in the statement.)

Our LEA came into school every year for the annual review and the SALT came in too. They have a legal duty to make sure that ds was getting the education set out in the statement whatever the setting

One thing to remember, private schools can choose their pupils, mainstream state schools on the whole, can't - it makes a huge difference if the school want your child - if they don't or if they seem to be difficult/reluctant on anything to do with his difficulties and the resulting needs, I would move asap. That said plenty of private schools have good provision for spld with in-class LSA support and out of class 1:1 with a specialist teacher or LSA and are open to SALTs OTs and other professionals coming in to work with their pupils.

eatyourveg Wed 12-Nov-14 16:15:59

This tells you how to ask for a EHCP assessment

WellTidy Wed 12-Nov-14 16:25:30

eatyourveg "if they don't or if they seem to be difficult/reluctant on anything to do with his difficulties and the resulting needs, I would move asap"

This is what concerns me the most about our situation. I don't think that his current school would be open enough to say that they don't want him. And I am not good at reading between the lines. I don't know what my expectations should be. I don't want to let DS down by accepting some titbits. I feel waaay out of my depth here.

zzzzz Wed 12-Nov-14 16:42:13

Why won't they let an EP in to observe him shock?

Ask in writing addressed to head, cc governors.

They have a duty of care to your child regardless of what they "like" to do. Read their policy docs.

SALT is a good idea for all children with reading type problems as sometimes they can pick up very subtle difficulties (and offer ideas as to how to tackle things). Eyesight and hearing should be checked too. Your GPs receptionist will give you all the numbers to self refer.

Do you have other younger children at school? Where are you thinking of for secondary?

Firstnamelastname Wed 12-Nov-14 17:33:23

Another vote for private to state move - worked for us!
Think it very much depends on the individual school.
Your private place sounds like it is making the right noises but the reality can be so different

What about having a chat to the SENCO's of the schools you had in mind

blanklook Wed 12-Nov-14 17:50:04

WellTidy is the current school part of the Crested organisation?
www.crested.org.uk/ If they are I don't think you'll have a problem.

Also, look at the column top left on that link, it leads to new info re SEN provision that's changing, so any advice you'll get about how to do things could well be different under the new system.

Dd's state primary was ghastly, none of her needs were recognised, no-one would listen to me and she was bullied.

Her small mainstream prep school was Crested and absolutely fantastic, all we had at that time was an OT assessment for sensory integration issues and as the school was out of county, legally our NHS OT could not advise school on anything. What we used to do was see the OT in school hols then anything she advised, school used to happily take on board. I also had my own shelf in the school's freezer so I could take her homemade lunches when the cook couldn't adapt the ordinary menu for her. All of the staff had taught kids with a plethora of SN as well as ms so classes were structured around how everyone could learn, if they had needs, it was just incorporated, there were also extra support lessons for kids who needed them. In short, it was fabulous and if they had taught to GCSE or A level she would have stayed.

After passing Common Entrance, her private secondary school also had their own entry level exam. They would only provide 30 mins per week learning support for any pupil, they weren't interested in anyone who needed more than that. They needed private Ed Psych and SALT assessments before they'd offer her a place and prior to GCSE and AS and A levels for exam concessions.(for extra time, a scribe, a reader etc.) It was obvious that if at any time the assessments flagged up a difficulty that school would have had to put in extra provision for, then they weren't interested in taking those pupils. Basically, they taught how they taught and if your dc needed a different way then you were free to go and pursue that, (i.e. leave) but they wouldn't implement it there. Many of the extra curricular activities and trips were far beyond her physical capabilities so I withdrew her but they weren't very happy. They only provided age-appropriate supervision, whereas she needed much more than that.

We have experience of both systems BUT other people on these boards have different experiences of how schools go about dealing with Ed Psych and SALT reports for exam concessions, it appears what dd's school did is in no way standard.

I have no idea about going through the statementing process, I was considering it when she went to the Prep school but the Head said if I wanted to pursue it, he wouldn't take her. Reason being he'd had 3 pupils over the previous 2 years whose parents and him had to attend so may meetings and do so much admin to fight to get the statement, then when the LEA finally issued one, the parents were told that the LEA wouldn't fund the prep school fees as they could provide for the pupils' needs within their own state schools. He wasn't prepared to go through that rigmarole again. We chose to send her there and never bothered with a statement. In her case it was a great choice, she blossomed there.

If I was you, I'd get the Ed Psych report then go into school for a meeting with the Head, if he's a teaching head and has experience of seeing your son day-to day, otherwise his teacher, someone who knows his strengths and ask them straight out what they think is best type of education for your son and are they happy to meet his needs as outlined in the Ed Psych report/assessment. If they can happily accommodate him there all well and good, if not, ask for recommendations of other schools that may well be able to.

ourbabybeau Wed 12-Nov-14 17:55:19

Don't think private education will help- they won't. I'm talking from experience. DON'T DO IT.

eatyourveg Wed 12-Nov-14 18:10:29

Other parents can be very funny about their fees going to fund tons of extra resources for dc with additional needs and so often schools make the individual parents pay the additional costs but the law changed in 2012 so that additional aids and resources (including staff cannot be charged for)

I would look at what else is out there, in case you need a plan B. If there is even the slightest whiff there may be reluctance on the school's part - they might turn around and say well the Ep report says xyz and we can only offer abc so we don't think this is an appropriate placement for your dc or they could just not take on board anything the reports say and your ds will suffer and become so unhappy that you move him or they could turn round and embrace everything and walk the road with you, learning together about the particular needs your ds has.

ds2's private nursery did this - openly admitting they knew nothing about autism (16 years ago mind) but willing to learn, they took themselves off to training courses, borrowed all my books, got in LEA people to advise them - it was fab. When he moved up to state primary and couldn't access mainstream, the mainstream head offered to have him 1 hour a week and again borrowed all my books and had inset days galore on asd. So much has changed these days and if you find the right school who will embrace your dc's difficulties - it can be transforming - on both sides

ds3's school (private) were just as welcoming - we've been very very lucky

zzzzz Wed 12-Nov-14 18:23:05

Which term of 2012?

zzzzz Wed 12-Nov-14 18:26:12

www.isc.co.uk/education-campaigns/campaigns/special-educational-needs/special-educational-needs-alerts/charging-for-sen-provision

EyeoftheStorm Wed 12-Nov-14 22:20:26

It all depends on the private school.

If you have a bad feeling about your DS's current school then go and look at other state and other private schools.

We have had the most amazing experience for DS2 at our local private school. They have bent over backwards to help him and he is thriving.

What sold it to us was when the young lad showing us around referred to the learning support room as the place where you go when there's a hole in your knowledge.

Not every state school can provide what your DS needs, nor can every private school. You have to go with your gut.

eatyourveg Wed 12-Nov-14 22:38:24

Sept 2012 Equality Act Section 20 (7) See here. This is also useful and Hansards here

There was a mn thread about it at the time. Afaik no-one has yet tested it so there is no case law to quote when chatting to the bursar.

BigBird69 Thu 13-Nov-14 15:14:16

Our son did reception y1 & 2 at a private prep school. We did however know he had learning difficulties before he started as he had a stroke as a baby. We paid for a private Ed psyc at the beginning of y2 who basically put in black and white what we knew, but it was still hard to take in. The school was amazing (really got what we paid for) but in our case there was no magic wand. For him to have continued there they would have had to employ an additional TA to support him plus speech and language, all of which we would have had to pay for which would run into thousands of pounds which just wasn't realistic or possible. We used the report to start the ball rolling and got a statement. We have since got him placed in an specialist independent school.

WellTidy Wed 19-Nov-14 09:03:02

Thank you all for your replies. They're very informative. Sorry to come back so late to the thread.

DS has his ed psych assessment in the next few days.

The ed psych asked his school whether, as part of the assessment, she could observe him during lessons (any lesson). The school said a blanket 'no', they do not allow that. Couldn't quite get to the bottom of why, but it may have soemthing to do with space (though his class size is small and could easily accommodate more children, so I woulnd't have thought one adult would take up too much space). But its a blanket refusal. So she asked whether, instead, she could speak to his teachers, any teacger. School have said yes, but only after the assessment has taken place (it will take place in our home).

When I said that I found it diffilut to read between the lines as to whether or not his current school actually want him, this is what I mean. Is this normal, or acceptable, or not? I have no idea? DS is very well behaved, hard working, excellent attendance record, I do lots of PTA stuff etc. At opaerents evening last week, they said that the had progressed loads and was now average acrooss the board (this absolutely delights me smile).

WellTidy Wed 19-Nov-14 09:03:31

Sorry about all the typos.

Firstnamelastname Wed 19-Nov-14 09:36:46

They can do what they want as a private school
Not particularly helpful tho

Mind you, if it's a private EP who you have asked to come in then a state school does not have to let them into observe either

zzzzz Wed 19-Nov-14 10:36:09

I think you need to remember you are the customer. I would be livid if school were standing in the way of an accurate picture of my child's deficits being drawn. If it was me I'd push the point with the head and write to the governors if there is no joy.

The important thing us your child, NOT their paranoia.

If you have a husband it maddeningly seems to help if you both go in. confused Particularly funny in my case since Dh doesn't have the foggiest about any of this stuff and is heavily briefed. Perhaps it us just that they see it asa sign that you mean it?

Bilberry Wed 19-Nov-14 10:45:45

Zzzzz do you find when your dh goes in they talk yo him not you? angry. I get that sometimes and like you my dh doesn't have a clue.

Welltidy, if your ed psych is speaking to the teacher after the assessment, I might think about how much I want her to reveal to the school. If the schools intentions are unclear then you might want to keep your cards closer to your chest until you have figured out how you would prefer to take things forward.

zzzzz Wed 19-Nov-14 11:08:15

Happens at garages too. I have a BEng in Mechanical Engineering confused, Dh is more.....erm intellectual hmm grin
It's sexist shit but I just use what I have to and bidding my time.

That said, to be fair Dh is VERY good with people. His job involves him directing people unleashing his inner tyrant.

zzzzz Wed 19-Nov-14 11:09:01

Bidding = bide [grrrrrrrr]

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