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Potential school move - need advice please

(17 Posts)
WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Mon 21-Dec-15 21:32:36

I really need some help with DS2 (8). He's in year 4 of the local prep school having been there since he was 2.5.

It's a very traditional school that pushes the children and get the majority in to good secondary schools.

DS has struggled since the start and got a diagnosis of moderate dyslexia earlier this year (there are also problems with his working memory). School are trying their best and to be fair are starting to adapt to children who have additional needs, but it is still fairly new to them and we are now paying for a TA to be with DS for three hours a day.

So to get to the point, DS loves his school and has lots of friends, but has found year 4 very stressful, his concentration is very poor and he seems to have lost all confidence to work independently. He has a tendency to mess when he doesn't understand what's going on and his teacher is finding him a challenge (he will be getting a new teacher after Christmas). His behaviour at home has been pretty awful too and I am almost at breaking point with him (also trying to help DS1 prepare for entrance exams for secondary schools and work full time).

So we need to plan for the future; DH is adamant that DS would be better off at a local state school and that he would get more support. We looked at a school last week, it was lovely and the head teacher was very positive, but I am just not convinced that moving him is the right thing to do.

DS absolutely does not want to move and since we've been talking to him about it his behaviour has got worse and worse - he alternates between terrible behaviour and being very affectionate and begging to stay at his school. I am far too emotional to make rational decision at the moment - I seem to spend far too much time in tears rather than actually dealing with the situation.

To add to the problem we have said that we won't move him until after Easter as he has a big trip next term that he has been looking forward to for years, so I can see the potential move being a massive cause of stress for another two months.

So I suppose my questions are - is moving him the right thing to do? Will he get more support, at an appropriate level in a state school? Or are we just replacing one problem with another?

Dipankrispaneven Mon 21-Dec-15 22:00:17

I would suggest leaving him where he is at least till the end of this academic year, but also getting him a specialist tutor - they really can make a difference in children who are not seriously dyslexic.

I think your DH is being pretty optimistic in assuming that DS would get more support in state schools. IME they're not great at supporting dyslexia, and with the best will in the world it's not easy for a teacher with 30 children in the class to give the dyslexic child all the help he needs.

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Mon 21-Dec-15 22:11:45

I agree - Year 5 and 6 are tough, DS1 has found it very hard and DS2 is nowhere near as academically able. If DS2 is to stay then we would need a very clear plan of how he'll be supported.

SisterViktorine Tue 22-Dec-15 09:23:18

Is there a less academic prep that would be an option?

I agree with PP that, whist becoming very good at supporting many aspects of SEN, IME state primaries do not have the resources to give specialist support to cases of mild dyslexia. He will most likely just be differentiated for within a class of 30, not given withdrawal or in class 1:1.

mummytime Tue 22-Dec-15 09:44:56

Well my experience of State primary is that my son got a lot of support. But his school employed two specialist SEN teachers as well as a lot of TAs.
Is there likely to still be space at the local primary at Easter/next year?
What senior school are you thinking of sending him to?

And I would definitely get him a specialist tutor, Dyslexia Action can help and an also advise his present Prep school.
The biggest advantage of State school is often that you save money so have more to spend on specialist tutors.

Flanks Tue 22-Dec-15 18:23:15

If I may state the obvious, we all know that stability provides confidence and the calm required for a happier life.

If I may also venture an observation, if you have already discussed changing schools with him and his behaviour became mkre challenging after, this is not a surprise. The introduction of greater uncertainty when he is already struggling at school makes it more difficult for him.

I would say that if you want to change school it should be as soon as possible and you need to communicate the change to him as soon as possible too. Your window for decision making became smaller when his environment was changed by increased uncertainty. The longer it continues for also increases how long he may take to resettle, and it would also impact his learning opportunities at a key age.

In other words, if you wait two terms and you believe notbing is likely to change at school in that time, it both makes it harder to settle in a new school and he loses those two terms of learning and falls behind.

The decision needs to be made (in my opinion) before the start of the spring term, for all of your sakes. You will all gain certainty, reduce anxiety and be able to make other decisions which depend on the knowledge of which school he will be at.

Apologies for (possibly) being a bit brutal. I phrased it this way in the hope that I would not add to your uncertainty and perhaps focus the decision in to the timeframe.

LIZS Tue 22-Dec-15 18:32:33

Move him now. Does this school go to 13 and CE? Ime pressure to achieve from now on can overwhelm good intentions towards those with SEN. If he needs that level of 1 to 1 he would be better off in state system with an ehcp. Sooner or later you would be asked to fund the TA or remove him.

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Wed 23-Dec-15 12:18:17

The school he's at now goes to 11 and there is a less academic school he could go to, that goes through to 18, but this would mean an early morning start on a coach to get there - I don't see that as a problem, but DH thinks he's a bit young; this is also one of the schools we have ear-marked for DS1 from September (and maybe for DS2 from year 7) - they get very good results from the more academic pupils, but are very inclusive and welcoming to children of lower ability and have a number of SEN specialist teachers.

LIZS - we are already paying for the TA! The head teacher of the current school understands our concern (we gave rolling-notice last week) and has already said that she would be happy to have him back if it doesn't work out.
The school is really trying to adapt, but it is not something they can do over night - I am half hoping that the new class teacher will be fantastic.

The potential state school really was very nice, but it has a very low number of pupils with SEN (if the OFSTED dashboard is to be believed), which suggests that they won't have many staff used to dealing with children with SENs? I don't really know? There is a TA in the class each morning and another TA who takes students out in small groups for extra interventions.

We really can't move him until Easter, he would be so upset to miss the trip - it would be like a double punishment, made even worse by the fact that his older brother would be going without him.

I suppose a start would be for me and DH to agree on a way forward.

SisterViktorine Wed 23-Dec-15 15:45:47

Maybe you should move both boys to the 'right-through' school for September. They could get the coach together or you could consider moving nearer.

Many children travel quite a long way to school- it can work fine if the transport options are reliable and comfortable.

zzzzz Wed 23-Dec-15 16:48:48

Why does the state school have so few children with sen? Is it selective (ie grammar)?

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Wed 23-Dec-15 18:34:02

The school we are thinking of moving to is a standard primary school and has around 200 pupils and this is what the OFSTED dashboard says:

% of pupils supported by school action plus or with a statement of SEN

2012 2013 2014

School (all pupils)1.6 1.5 1.0
National average7.9 7.7 7.7

I have to confess that this is all pretty new to me and I may not be reading the data correctly.

I agree SisterV - that would be my ideal solution. DS1 does prefer an alternative school, but we have to see where he gets in to yet.

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Wed 23-Dec-15 18:34:44

Sorry formatting gone wrong after I posted - Hopefully you will still get the gist!

SisterViktorine Wed 23-Dec-15 20:04:03

That is very low SEN stats for your state school (I am a primary SEN specialist in the state sector).

This could mean three things: the school is in a very 'leafy' area where the catchment children are generally able and well supported or the school under-identifies SEN (and therefore you should question whether they provide appropriate support) or they are also rather good at 'managing out' children with SEN. State schools do this too and some are remarkably adept at it!

SisterViktorine Wed 23-Dec-15 20:04:55

Lord, sorry, terrible grammar. I have already hit the Christmas wine. fgrin

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Wed 23-Dec-15 20:22:12

It's in a very leafy area SisterV and that is why I am worried about the level of support he would be offered. We are spending a fortune at the moment and progress is very slow, but I am not convinced that this is the answer.

SisterViktorine Wed 23-Dec-15 20:36:11

No, I also would not be convinced a state school in that context would provide good support.

If you want to PM me the name I will look at the data dashboard with a critical eye- although it is crude compared to internal data.

WillSomebodyThinkOfStefan Wed 23-Dec-15 20:56:32

Thank you SisterV - PM on the way.

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