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Afterschool Club - Help and Advice Wanted(86 Posts)
I am hoping to get some help and advice from some Mumsnetters here. I haven't posted much on the special needs board so please bear with me!
My little girl who is 6 goes to the after school club attached to her school. For the last few weeks she has been less eager to go there, and always happy to see me and come home. She used to be a lot more enthusiastic about it.
This morning out of the blue when we were discussing our timetable for the day, she asked if I was collecting her straight from school or from the after school club. When I told her I was collecting her from school she said "oh, good, I am scared of XXX at the club". XXX is a boy who is a couple of years older than my dd and does have learning difficulties I think of some kind. I don't know enough about this to know what the problems are, so please excuse me not being able to put a name to it.
XXX shouts a lots in general, at teachers and pupils alike and is given a great deal of one-to-one attention in the classroom. He has sworn at me in the past, which is when I guessed he was n't just being naughty, but that he does have behavioural difficulties. He has a classroom assistant who is there solely for him at least part of the time (it could be all the time - I'm not sure). XXX is also physically very big, and I have seen him get into fights with other kids quite a lot. On several occasions when I have turned up at the after school club he has been rowing loudly either with the helpers or with the other children.
Talking to my dd this am, she really is being intimidated by this boy. The after school club is a small building so all the kids are in close proximity. There is no-where for the kids to go where they are not near each other, and they have a snack together sitting at a table. To be fair, I am sure that XXX is shouting at dd in particular or being nasty to her in particular but his general behaviour is just so loud and aggressive and she really isn't used to it.
I am not sure what to do about this. I don't know what I can do. Do I ask the after school workers to keep an eye on things? But what can they do really? If my dd is feeling threatened with the yelling and fighting, am I right to complain? I don't want to complain about a kid who obviously has problems, but I also don't want these problems to impact on my dd. I don't actually think that the after school club is in a fair situation, as they certainly haven't got one care worker there specifically for XXX.
All advice gratefully received.
Is the Club run by a local consortium (ours is, it's borough wide)? Do they have a Special Needs policy (sorry, you've probably already asked). I would have thought they ought to? We had to fill in a VERY detailed form for ds' club and it did include a section on health, allergies and behavioural issues. It would surely help the little boy get more out of the Club if he had one-to-one support.
Hope you can sort this one, Batters,
I think that I would certainly voice my concerns with the After School Club, without necessarily (sp?) making a complaint - telling them that your daughter is frightened of this boy and is becoming unhappy at the club. Also, ask what the club's policy on children with special needs is - they should (I think) have one.
I think that if this boy's needs are such that he requires one to one help in the classroom, then it isn't fair on anyone in the After School Club, including the boy himself, to have him there in a less structured atmosphere without simmilar help. It may be that they have a policy which states that they accept children with 'special needs' but have taken this boy into the club without really thinking through his specific needs and how they are going to affect the club in general. If this is the case, then I think that the situation could be 'an accident waiting to happen'.
It sounds as though XXX needs more support at the after-school club than he is getting. After all, if he needs 1:1 during normal school hours it's unlikely that he is going to be able to cope without it at the club. The current support system (or lack thereof) is obviously failing if other children are genuinely frightened.
As a parent of a child with SN I would genuinely want to know if this was happening. If this boy is shouting, swearing etc then he obviously isn't coping well or happy in that environment. If you speak to the people in charge of the after-school club then they will be in a better position to discuss it with the school and hopefully find a solution.
Wow, what quick responses, and really useful.
Thank you all so far, esp Coppertop who is able to give advice from the viewpoint of a parent with SN.
Please keep them coming - I am going to speak to the after school club on Wednesday.
I think there are several issues here really.
First- in terms of your dd. She may just need to have his behaviour explained to her- especially if he isn't actually singling her out or being aggressive towards children as such. (For example my osn will scream and shout- but then hits himself not others). My son't behaviour is certianly odd- I dropped him off at shcool yesterday and watched through the window as all the children sat down for registration and he went srtraight to the back of the room and *climbed* onto the table at the back. The school have introduced a school wide circle time where they are going to talk about him in every class (mainly they said to try and emphasise that the other children have to give him some space- as they tend to want to pet him quite a lot apparently). It is my experience though that most children are very accepting of ds1's problems and bizarre behaviour when it is explained to them.
As for the after school club. I would never send ds1 to one as I know that there is no chance that he would get 1:1 and I wouldn't be confident that he was safe without it (well he wouldn't be safe). Locally there is an inclusion service that has started providing limited support for holiday clubs- we've never managed to access it though. I doubt very much whether 1:1 is available. And there's the problem if both parents work. Does one of them have to give up their job? (in our family we've decided that the answer to that is yes- but not everyone is in the same situation as us).
Ao I would say- talk to the staff to see whether they or you can talk to your dd about him. If he starts actually attacking her unporovked then obviously it is different- but if she is just scared of him when he hasn't actually done anything to her then maybe try an explantion. You will need ot talk to the staff to see if they can give you moreinfo though (they won't be able to give much- but they may be able to tell you something).
Jimjams, I did try and explain things to my dd this morning, not very well as I was unprepared. Have you got any ideas of a simple way I can put it across to my dd? I sort of said (I think) that some peoples' brains work differently to others and that they might yell a lot and fight a lot as well but that this didn't mean that they were nasty people, it was just something they couldn't help.
It's difficult to know what to say when you don't know what's wrong batters- which is why you might want to get more information from the after school club.
WHen you speak to them, maybe you can suggest that they formulate some way of explaining this boy and his behaviour to all the children, or maybe his daytime 1:1 could come along just once?
Can't add much to the excellent advice here. I think more talking through is needed as others have said, so do talk to the playclub workers.
As you say, you don't intend to make a full blown complaint, it's more about bringing this issue to their attention. Could you highlight one particular incident to show them exactly what you mean? The leaders may not be aware that your dd is feeling a bit nervous. I also agree that the playclub leaders might do more to explain things to the children or possibly amend some of the rules to help everyone feel happy.
In a school setting (and I realise this is not), I remember robinw making the point that if parents do bring these sort of issues up, it can help everyone in the long run. Parental presure can be used as evidence that more assistance is needed. Could you possibly ask the playclub if extra pressure from parents might help them get extra help from the LEA for this boy?
They're not usually LEA run Twiglett (out of school hours). The problem for the playclub is that if the boy has something like autism then he will be disabled. The DDA would I guess make it difficult for them to refuse him a place. Agree with Davros that all children need to be spoken to really. After school hours and school holidays are a real problem for those of us with children whose behaviour/needs makes it difficult to be accomodated at after school/holiday clubs etc as there just isn't anywhere or anyone you can go to to access the necessary support for the child.
think you mean me, jimjams, not twiglet as was.
Pity that the LEA - and their funding - can't help here.
Batters, I wonder if there is another local playclub who have sucessfully solved this type of problem to the benefit of all? many of our playclubs are centrally organised by the local council play club service, hopefully they can share solutions and information. Is your playclub part of a similar network?
I know this is obvious, but anyone who does talk to the other children needs to be very sensitive towards him and probably speak to his parents, I'm sure they'd be upset if they thought this happened without them knowing.
oh yes sorry- I am going mad! I think my mum is worried about me as she told dh I was exhausted and stressed out yesterday when he suggested she leave behind a smile for me (NEVER heard my Mum stick up for me like that, ever in my life!) and she rang me to remind me I had an antenatal appointment! Think I am going slowly insane.
If the child does have recognised SN it moght be worth the playclub leaders contacting the local inclusion services if such a thing exists. Not easy though as its something they would have to take on board themselves (for no gratitude!) and they may feel that's too much iyswim. The other people they could contact for advice may be SS but I doubt they'd get much sense out of them.
Agreed Davros- - also they may be the best people to gove advice on how to manage his behaviour.
Here is an update for anyone who is interested.
Armed with good advice from this thread I spoke to the head care worker this afternoon. As soon as I said I thought there might be a problem, she knew what I was going to say. According to the care worker, XXX had ADHD. The staff have complained to head office (the club is part of a consortium which is funded by lottery money) and got no-where. The staff are very aware that they have not got sufficient resources to support XXX adequately. As part of a compromise (!) between the staff and his mother, his sessions have been cut from 5 afternoons to 2 afternoons a week.
As we were speaking, I watched XXX hit another child and then storm into the kitchen area, shouting and slamming the door. I heard from the member of staff that XXX does deliberately pick on the younger children and tries to frighten them. The staff welcomed my suggestion that I contact Head Office, I think they are hoping that a parent expressing concern might actually mean some action is taken. It seems to me that the staff are being ignored by their employer.
Armed, if that is the right word, with this info I contacted Head Office. I really felt uncomfortable doing so, as I feel very strongly that my complaint is about the situation and not the child. Anyway, the woman I spoke to asked for details such as the name of the child, the name of his behavioural difficulties and whether I had actually witnessed anything myself. Once I got past this it was almost like I had passed a test and was being treated seriously. Apparantly action is going to be taken, and I am going to be informed by the weekend what it is.
I think there is a huge area of concern here for the club in general. The policy is that all children who are attend the school are eligble for the club. But, although details of special needs etc are requested at registration, no extra support is provided. The member of staff that I spoke to told me that they are being pressurised to accept a little boy who has just joined reception class. He has a mental age of 18 months, is in nappies, and has just learnt to walk. Yet the staff are expected to accept this child without any additional support, even though he has one-to-one support during the school day.
I am really quite sad at it all, I looked at XXX today and knew he was really unhappy. And then I looked at the other children, especially the younger ones, and they were really scared. My dd refused to go in the same room as XXX to collect her bag. I am going to contact the Head Office again on Friday and, whatever happens, express my concern at the lack of facilities for children with special needs. I am also I think going to contact Ofsted as they apparantly are in charge of registration etc for this sort of club. I will let you know what happens.
Am off now to search for ADHD info. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to post.
Batters, this is an interesting post. My ds is AS and ADHD and this term is receiving no special 1:1 care in the classroom.
I was (until it closed down due to lack of funds) the treasurer of the independent after school club. The women running the group did their very best for the children - even taking money from their own pocket to buy things - and they gave it their best shot, but sadly it didn't work out.
The women running the group, as far as I know, have never been put in the position of caring for a SN child within the club - but feel they would have, had a child joined. The staff and children at your dd's club should never have been put in this position - it is unfair for every one concerned, and more especially for the child with ADHD. I mean, imagining that he doesn't need 1:1 when he's had it all day, is just ridiculous!
I really hope they deal with your concerns in a professional manner and that everyone gets the result they want. Let us know what they say. x
The problem is though that no-one is responsible for providing the 1:1 support that is needed- so it won't happen. The boy will just be expelled if they can expel him, or everyone will struggle on with no-one happy if they can't.
Lack of after-school/holiday facilities for children with SN is a real bug bear of mine. The system sucks. Personally I think SS should be responsible for providing something during holidays anyway (wouldn't it come under repite?) but there is nothing. It's another gapp in the inclusion policy. Special schools can be quite good at setting up holiday schemes- but remove the child from the special school environment and there is nothing for them. It really wound me up last summer to be honest. DS1 needed something, *I* needed a break- and for him to go to something- and there was nothing available. Nothing.
I really hope you manage to get something sorted out for next jimjams! Will you need to go down the ss route again?
I hope they don't just simply remove him. That would be unfair to him and not solve the real problem at all, i.e. that this club and the staff should be given extra resources to include a child with SN. I expect his poor parents find the remaining 2 sessions a godsend
SS ring me occasionally to ask the same question again ("does your son get dla?" "does your son have a statement?"). I am hoping they will get their arses in gear and have something organised by Easter (after all they will have had my referral for almost a year by then) but I have a feeling I need to start chasing. Sigh. No energy at the moment!
They did send me the details of a playscheme to apply for- for 8-13 year olds with physical disabilities..... And ds1 is 5 with no physical disabilities. TBH I despair!
My thoughts exactly Davros Every half hour counts doesn't it?
Davros - you are so right about it being the children that suffer I am lucky in the fact that my dd is now okay if she is on a 4:1, possibly 8:1 depending on the day she was having. To get 1:1 support I believe is so much harder. The summerscheme that dd was on had children that had 1:1 workers and it worked really well.
Again I think it is a lottery and depends on where you live. We are really lucky as we have one of the best borouughs for sn and sn schooling. The facilites in general are very good and I can't complain at all, unfortunately as I have seen on mumsnet this is not the case for everybody
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