Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on special needs.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Special or mainstream?? - working at Year 2/3 level at end of Year 6(14 Posts)
Can anyone help with advice on the special school vs mainstream school dilemma?? Everyone around me is still talking as if mainstream secondary with support is an option for my DD. I just can't imagine it, but maybe I'm wrong?
I feel as if I've made the wrong call so many times on this whole long journey so far, and I'm risking making a huge mistake now. I need some perspective. I'm knackered from a long fight to get her diagnosis and then EHC plan, and I need to pick my battles.
I'm lining up school visits but would really love to hear from anyone who has been through this decision.
DD is nearly 9 and has ASD, ADHD, language difficulties, and dyspraxia - and a recently issued EHC plan with full-time support.
She's in Year 4 mainstream now, working at Year 1/2 levels, and by the end of Year 6 will likely be working at Year 2 level for maths and Year 3 level for English. So somewhere between the top of KS1 and low KS2 levels when she starts Year 7.
Does this sound like a special or mainstream situation to you? Would mainstream secondary really be an option?? And how on earth would that work if she's a full key stage behind?
To complicate things, I've been told locally that our LA may well consider my daughter 'too able' for our local special secondaries if she's working fully at a KS2 level, as priority is given to pupils begin Year 7 still at KS1 levels. Is this right?
I need some straight talking, so please be honest. Are we really in the gap between special and mainstream, or does this sound clear cut to you?
I really don't mind either - genuinely - I just need to know which way to turn.
Huge thanks in advance.
My ds is above average academically and he attends SS, after many failed ms placements. So no 'being too able' is not it's not right.
I think it's more about finding an understanding school, who 'get' your child, rather than ms vs SS to be honest.
Specual schools in our area are by either severe learning difficulties or moderate learning difficulties. SLD will be more P scales and working at reception / KS1 level. MLD is higher possibly more your DDs level. You need to go and visit your local schools both MS and SS.
She won't be the only one- we have year 7s still working at reception level. Several who couldn't access SATs at all. And these have been denied EHCPs despite having similar SEN. That doesn't mean they can't thrive in mainstream - one springs to mind as having made incredible progress since September!
I don't think her ability in English and Maths is so much the issue, but rather how she is in school. Does she have a peer group? Is she included or simply an addition? Will she cope with the size of a MS secondary - often 1200 children or more? What will they do to support her at MS? Does she have the life skills she needs? Would she be more likely to get those at SS?
DD1 has always gone to SS and I suspect she's in year 1 level now, can't quite remember. She can write simple sentences with help. She has very large, spidery writing (but her hands are hypermobile). She can make a simple story. In maths she's a bit further ahead. Possibly end of year 1, beginning of year 2.
Some MS secondaries have very good provision for SN. You need to go and visit your local school and see what they would do for your DD and see if it sounds right for her.
I think you will only get a clearer idea when you have visited the schools and see where she will fit. What does she currently have in terms of SALT, physio etc? There may be better access in a SS.
My daughter has SLD, but attends a MLD SS. There is a real mixture of abilities there. It is outside our LEA but the best fit for her so do look in neighbouring authorities too.
It's about the bigger picture. Peer group, social understanding, language and also how she learns.
MLS schools are for children working 2-4 years below expected across the curriculum
Sld is 4 years or more.
They then have pmld (profound and multiple ld). These are students who will be very limited in their learning for a variety of complex reasons.
That's just a 'rule' of thumb. However, children don't fit neatly into boxes like that sonits about finding the setting that can meet the needs described in the ehcp.
Personally I'd say gaining independence is important. So sometimes SS works better than ft 1:1 in MS. But everyone has their own ideas about what works best and what's best. You need to look for yourself and then get the evidence to show la why your choice of placement is best for DD.
I agree, it's the setting not so much the ability. I taught in two large secondary schools (over 1200) and in both I ended up teaching pupils working on the P scales and some who were working at maybe year 1 and 2 level in English, but they were making progress with support, had good friends and the expectation was they would learn and enjoy school.
This was because in both cases the special needs department were attentive, professional and caring and really wanted the best for the pupils. If it looked like a teacher hadn't read the paperwork on a child to quite the extent they should have they immediately intervened and made sure they went through it with the teacher, everyone won.
I know full well there are schools where this does not happen, I was lucky to work in schools where the support was so strong. Go round the schools and use your instincts. Try and chat to parents who are already at the schools.
I do know what you mean though, my DD2 (7 with ASD) is doing really well this year - can't read or write yet but not school refusing at the moment - but when she changes teacher next year I'm not sure she will be able to stay in mainstream. Her teacher is brilliant and exactly the right temperament for DD2 and while all the teachers are great I can't see any of them being able to keep her calm enough to do any work. Such an unknown.
Hi we have a 10 year old in similar situation (see my recent post on here) I visited secondary schools and spoke to the senco. They all advised ehcp in mainstream x
I was in this situation three years ago. Dd scored levels 3 and high 4 in her sats. She had had 1-1 all through primary and had been managed well possibly too well. She started at ms secondary and it was awful!! There were many issues, mainly social/emotional and she just couldn't cope. We managed to find a ms school with a specialist provision unit within it. Dd attends ms lessons for English and ict and spends the rest of her time in the unit. They have been amazing and she is so happy. I wish we had gone straight there.
Dd3 is academically able but has Asd and lots of other issues. She lasted 7 months in a massive mainstream. She couldnt access most of the "reasonable adjustments" made for her. She has been home ed for 2 yrs and wants to try specialist provision for yr 10+
Good luck what ever you decide
Mine did fine with lots of support in a very good mainstream primary with a positive SEN team and kindly child population. He came out with 4/5 SATS, went into a supposedly good mainstream secondary and it was hell. No friends, desperately anxious, lots of psychosomatic illnesses, bullying by classmates on social media. And the financed support in his Statement (25 hours 1:1) was not honoured because he wasn't a trouble maker so they deployed the TA elsewhere when he really needed them in classes he couldn't follow. He wasn't given the laptop he needs because of hand surgery, no SALT, no trained psychotherapy (all in his Statement). Just a totally useless TA who delivered half-arsed 'emotional support sessions' and made it worse. He was threatening to kill himself by the summer term. Moved him to a small specialist school and he is blissfully happy, making good academic progress, making friends because everyone is a little different there and he's not an outsider. But it was a huge fight with the LA to get the funding and I still deal with him having nightmares about his year in mainstream secondary. I'm still furious that if they had put the support in that was in his Statement and listened to me about his masking (he was too terrified of teachers to tell them anything other than he was 'fine' when asked) he could have been okay in mainstream. Best thing is if you find a school you like, visit and visit again. Ask if there are other parents with kids at the school with similar needs and ask if you can talk to them about their kids' experience. Ask to go at playtime/mealtimes and find out what happens during those unsupervised time to pupils like your child. And get everything in writing with time frames. We were fobbed off for months with promises of provision that never happened. Beware of sudden changes in SEN staff (we had the SENCO who promised the world on our initial meetings leave before he arrived at the school to be replaced by someone with no SEN experience; the on-staff SALT who had observed him in primary, went on maternity leave without giving him a single session and she was not replaced for almost a year. We were not informed of her absence by senior management). I could go on....
This is an old thread, but the experieces of some of the posters resonate with what we are experiencing currently, and our concerns about our daughter and her transition to secondary school.
DD is 10 and has dyspraxia, speech, language and communication difficulties and learning difficulties. She attends a small mainstream primary school and has 1:1 support from a TA.
DD has recently had an EHCP agreed for her, which provides funding for the 1:1 support, a SALT package (which she's just started) and hopefully some OT.
We want to find the right secondary school for her, but don't really know what this looks like. The LA Ed Psych has suggested our local girls comp which has a learning base for SLCN. I've visited and had a meeting with the SENCO, but feel some aspects of the provision will not work for DD. Basically there will be no 1:1 support given, and 'base' girls will have a limited number of hours of teaching in small nurture groups (8-12 pupils) primarily for literacy, numeracy, and life skills. For the remainder of the timetable they will be in mainstream classes of 30 with one teacher and one TA. Girls are expected to cope unsupported with transitions between lessons in a large (1400 pupils), busy, noisy school.
There is special school in borough where DD could access on-site SALT, OT, a bespoke curriculum delivered 1:1 or in small groups by a specialist teacher (this was recommended by the Ed Psych). Our concern is that DD won't have a peer group at this school, and pupils with a diverse range of learning and social needs (including MLD/SLD/ASD/physical disabilities) have been 'lumped altogether' with no stratification according to need.
Despite her difficulties, DD is coping fairly well with support at primary and is working at around 1 year behind age related levels in all areas. She enjoys taking part in a wide range of extra curricular activities, such as orchestra, choir, art, netball, computing clubs, to name a few.
So where do we go from here? The special school would provide all the learning support recommended for her and develop life skills but with very limited access to academic qualifications. My gut feeling is she wouldn't cope in the environment of the mainstream school and the learning support pathways in place wouldn't be sufficient to meet her needs.
Has anyone been in a similar situation and found a solution?
Wow that was long! Thank you for reading.