Searching for an MS school for ASD really is shit isn't it

(30 Posts)
Frizzcat Sun 21-Jun-15 13:00:36

None of you can give me advice just need a rant.
Ds is in Ms yr5 and I'm out looking for appropriate secondary schools. I am astounded at the shit that is out there. Here's what I've seen so far:
Nearest school, walking distance from our house, decided to introduce a grammar stream, to pay for this, they got rid of I'd say, 95% of their SEN department. The Outreach team have discreetly said that unless ds gets into the grammar stream in that school, he will learn nothing and the children in the lower streams are utterly failed (last bit told by parents)

Second school - ds will take two buses to get there (he bloody won't), we won't get transport and the LA has no transport program for independent travel. I had been told this was s supportive school, inclusive and small. Went to see the Senco, they don't buy in ASD support in terms of outreach or EP from their SEN budget. Vulnerable children with Sen can go to the Sen room instead of the playground if they choose, but there was no social support. When I asked about the transition any special arrangements, he'll get an extra day there, one more than the NT kids. When I asked would there be additional support for the first week, someone go meet him etc - a big fat no

3rd school - Local academy, run a travel program, have SLT support, social groups, large Sen department. I really like this school, however I did a bit of research and discovered they had been taken to a JR. for refusing a child with dyslexia in one of their other schools. It was a few years ago but it leaves a bad taste. Plus it's an Academy and outside of LA control.

I have two more schools to look at both out of catchment and borough and one is an independent. The state school will get him the best exam results which is great but he if can't speak to people then it means nothing. The independent will be a battle and he will be wonderfully confident but won't have the same exam success.

I want him to stay local too because I've stayed out of work for 4yrs to support ds, but financially we could do with that second wage and for my sanity I really need a break, if he's local I have more chance of training/supporting independent travel.

Rant over. Thanks for reading flowers

OP’s posts: |
AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 21-Jun-15 13:19:01

Does he currently receive additional support in the shape of either a Statement or EHCP?. If he does not have an EHCP (Education, health and care plan) I would be applying personally for one of these asap (particularly as he may well have to go out of borough. LEA may well want him to remain within their area).

Calling IPSEA to further discuss may be a good idea as well; their website is

noblegiraffe Sun 21-Jun-15 13:32:01

The third school sounds ideal. The dyslexia thing sounds a bit odd. When you say 'in one of their other schools' do you mean another school in the same academy chain? If so, and it was a few years ago, it should be fine. Different school, different people, and I can't really picture a situation where a child with dyslexia would be refused entry to a secondary school without there being a huge backstory that might shed light on things.

Frizzcat Sun 21-Jun-15 14:03:23

He does have a statement, we're just moving over to the ECHP and that's going fine tbh.

Yes number 3 was the one I had the best feeling about. It was unexpected as I didn't want to go and view it. I don't know the back story to the JR case, I actually found it on here in the education section.

OP’s posts: |
Frizzcat Sun 21-Jun-15 14:05:15

Also wondered about it being an academy as I'm unsure of the implications with the ECHP

OP’s posts: |
Frizzcat Sun 21-Jun-15 14:26:41

*worried not wondered - bloody auto correct

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PolterGoose Sun 21-Jun-15 14:27:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Frizzcat Sun 21-Jun-15 14:30:09

And yes one of their schools in their chain - Harris Academies

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Ineedmorepatience Sun 21-Jun-15 19:38:51

Since the new sen cop came out, the academies are supposed to adhere to the rules around sen the same as LA schools!

I agree with checking with IPSEA!

Good luck flowers

mummytime Sun 21-Jun-15 20:07:11

My DCs school is an academy, and is fab for SEN/SN. If they have a good SENCO that is the main thing.

StarlightMcKenzee Sun 21-Jun-15 23:03:14

Yes, searching for a school is horrendous whenever you do it!

I'm sending my child to a unit in a school 4 parents of children with ASD have taken their children OUT of over the past year.

It sounds bonkers but it isn't just the best of a worst batch. I am currently home educating and was planning to continue. Have faith in your gut feelings, but don't be blind to anything your searching and research brings up.

StarlightMcKenzee Sun 21-Jun-15 23:04:41

Harris are big enough to have local good/bad practice. State schools are part of the 'state chain' and plenty of them have been JRed.

thornrose Sun 21-Jun-15 23:08:08

Oh it's a nightmare isn't it? My dd with AS has got to Year 10 in MS and it's just gone SO wrong.

I'm looking at Unit within MS but looks like it's going to be a fight.

2boysnamedR Mon 22-Jun-15 09:36:17

There are no options except academies here. They have all move over. Some are better than others. The academies that have great exam results (98% five c passes) are to be avoided. To get those headline grades they force out the kids that won't produce them.

StarlightMcKenzee Mon 22-Jun-15 09:47:10

All new free schools here are only supported by the LA if they agree to have a unit for SEN of some kind. This isn't because they are a lovely LA and inclusive. It is because they need to have an alternative to Out of county to present at tribunals.

I hope though, that it is at least a start of something that might get better one day.

mummytime Mon 22-Jun-15 11:11:29

98% is too high, unless it is a Grammar school. Also if the BBC are right here then in the future Ofsted Outstanding schools may be schools to avoid, as they will not cater for all - if they are forcing all pupils to do EBACC.

I think my DCs school is worried, as its calling emergency parents meetings to discuss curriculum and other changes. It is a good school that tries hard to be truly comprehensive and gets great results, 80%+; but it will not be able to meet the needs of all pupils if it has to force 100% through EBACC subjects - some need to do vocational qualifications or other courses to even stay in education until 16.

Frizzcat Mon 22-Jun-15 12:49:39

Thank you all so much for your replies. flowers
The Academy isn't a 98% last I checked. Meeting with them on Wednesday, so I can check. The thing is ds is reasonably academic and had no behavioural problems. Apart from one to one support, he mainly needs help coping with unplanned change in school (not outside of school). He needs a safe place to go if an environment is too loud. He's fine to stand outside classroom and happy to go back as soon as noise stops. The other thing is social, ds is fairly passive, he'll engage when peers invite him to play but when the game changes or the others become distracted he withdraws. He has a tendency to talk to himself and has some inappropriate jerking jumping in a busy loud playground, like he's somewhere else doing something else. This is the area I think he needs significant work and intervention.
The Academy has clubs, safe place, anger management (I can see the hormones churning and anger is evident), the travel programme, OT and SLT, the latter two I have in his ECHP. I need a school thats going to push academically and socially - don't we bloody all hmm

My walking distance independent is Riverston, I'll have a fight to get him in too. He'll most likely be confident and wonderfully social should I get him in but most likely wouldn't achieve his academic potential. Meeting them tomorrow.

The amusing thing is, is we decided not to tutor ds for the grammars (also near us) because of academic pressure. As it turns out the grammars are extremely supportive of social skills, many of their children are very academic but have poor social skills, therefore they have a huge number of lunch time clubs to help with that.

Personally I wish I lived near a mountain, that way I could go to the top and scream for a bitsmile
Ds is on an ASD roll at the moment 4wks and counting of constant shouting, answering back and generally uncooperative.
It comes in waves, we have a wave of loveliness in which I always think "we're getting there" I don't know where "there" is btw.
Then we get the full on ASD wave just to remind you that he still has and will always this disability. That's when you think "what's going to happen to him". I know it passes but dealing with it now plus the secondary schools is a bit pants.

Ah well off to Slimming World tonight which is my much loved weekly break grin

OP’s posts: |
StarlightMcKenzee Mon 22-Jun-15 13:02:42

So entrenched in ASD-land I thought you were off to Stimming-World!

StarlightMcKenzee Mon 22-Jun-15 13:03:29

btw, you might find a chat with Claw useful!

Frizzcat Mon 22-Jun-15 13:15:27

It's good to know that some of you are already dealing with the Academies, they're such an unknown quantity aren't they. I've googled Harris Academy and JR. and all I can find is examples if where schools have tried to block an academy status.

Starlight Hahahagrin. How funny would that club be for us and our dc? Certainly would get all those frustrations out.
I know Claw isn't far from me, but hate pm'ing anyone without a heads up first. If anyone sees Claw would you mind pointing her this way.
Starlight how's the home schooling been? When I saw your dh, you were about to move from the indi to home school. Is the unit a good one then? How's baby Star he must be about 2yrs old now?

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2boysnamedR Mon 22-Jun-15 18:33:00

I hope that the constant pressure from ofsted doesn't force all schools to "sen cleanse" like the 98% pass rate school near us

Frizzcat Mon 22-Jun-15 18:59:35

The only hope I think we have on that count 2boys is that someone, somewhere takes the DofE to court, not just for that but also for the one size fits all mentality for examinations.
Ds has excellent recall but if he's having a bad day, recall be damned he'll fail the exam as a direct result of having ASD. Moving away from continual assessment is, I would say a disadvantage to many children.

But hey as long as it's like the good old days eh? Bring back the cane I say that will sort out little buggers hmm That and national service of course. Wish we could do this to a few government ministers and some "professionals" in the ASD field. smile

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Frizzcat Tue 23-Jun-15 14:28:55

Went to see the indi today, wasn't wowed by it, but I certainly wouldn't be stressed and worried about ds being there, they would certainly support him. They have a lot to offer, I'd have to keep on top of the academic side.

Feel a bit deflated as I've heard through the local SN grapevine that two children from the Academy I've mentioned are now moving to the Indi I looked at today. The parents of the children say they were told lots of things about SEN provision but it just wasn't delivered and staff were inexperienced. Still speaking to the Academy tomorrow, if I get a sense they're lying then it will be the Indi.
Anyone seen Claw around as I'd be interested on her take on these schools.

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Frizzcat Thu 25-Jun-15 09:58:35

Sorry going to rant away here, helps me process everything.
Spoke to the Academy, still had a good feel for them, they ran social groups for children who found IT hard, they said that those groups included children with no additional needs but just needed support, clubs, support with homework. The only thing they don't do anymore is the travel program, which is a shame.
Two more to look at, one with a view to rule it out as this will cited as a reasonable alternative to the indi. The other small regimented very rule bound. Don't know much about their SEN department so we'll see......

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youarekiddingme Sat 27-Jun-15 08:32:27

Only just seen this.

My DS starts an academy secondary in September. It's not my catchment but same distance. They get good results (70%) but mostly the support they have seems extremely pastoral from the outside looking in.
For example - immediately on asking questions I was given all information on Sen, their student support, their daily support programmes such as ELSA etc, asked what DS level of writing was and told he'd have a laptop from my reply. Met in half term when school was shipuynfornds first visit, then a morning with just vunderable pupils and then next week full week.
They asked how he copes with PE (he doesn't really) and told me straight away how they work through an integration programme, different place to change, support etc.

Compared to the catchment secondary who at open evening when asked about Sen support replied "we get pupils records from juniors and then assess their need once they've started".

I guess what I'm trying to say is trust your instincts on the feel for the place. You know yourself that another's experience is unlikely to be yours. The same way no 2 people with ASD are the same they won't have the same experiences.

Personally I think school 3 sounds the best. Shame about the travel programme.

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