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how to decide which school is best ?

(12 Posts)
charlie95 Mon 17-Jan-05 19:57:26

ds just 4 in obs. class in mainstream school. has settled but still 'needs' a lot more that the 2 teachers there cannot really give him (class of 7 mixed ags) review meeitng in nov. recommended that he goes to special school in the town. me = gutted, cried for a week, cos i dont know anything about that school and thought he wouldn't cope with more change. anyway dh and i wnet to visit that school today. me cried soon as i went in, had to wait a while. pg anyway so even more emotional. excellent facilites in school and would provide what ds needs in order to further progress in his delays, and the best one in wales i gather. however each class was not what i expected - i thought they were grouped into small number in one class according to abilities. they're not - they're classed in small numbers according to age and therefore mixed abilities. it would be, in his class, 9 children with 6 adults, which i know he would benefit from greatly.
no offence to anyone out there but just when ds has got to know some sort of normality means yet more change with more specialist equipment around him again and with some children who arent even mobile or talking.
ds has certianly progressed since only starting obs class in sept. of which we are pleased. but can't help thinking that he seems so much more able than the others in the special school class he'd be in.
and how would he tolerate seeing/hearing the older children/teenagers there with more severe problems ?

i just dont know what to think or do for the best.

i feel torn in half - he likes it where he is now and knows everyone there but if he stayed for 3 more years it would perhaps hold him back in his development. then the special school would provide more care, support and activites to help him progress and could improve drastically in 3 years there.

heartinthecountry Mon 17-Jan-05 20:48:43

Hi charlie95. I totally understand your feelings about the special school and concerns about him being more 'able' than the other children there. I am certain I am going to have this dilemma with dd (she is only 2 now) as I have already had a taste of it with her nursery. I wouldn't mind how able the other children were if the nursery was amazing and giving her masses of excellent therapy and input. However, as they aren't , i do worry about how much she is getting out of it socially. And how much she is really able to learn from her peers there.

I suppose the first thing to ask is could he have more support at his current school and if so, do you think he would cope there? The ratio does sound pretty good already but does he really need full time help?

Does he have a statement? Is there any chance of getting more support at the existing school?

It is a really hard one and there are so many factors. You want to choose the place where he will ultimately be happier and do best, but how do you know?

Aside from your concerns about the abilities of the other children at the special school did you get a good feeling about it otherwise? ie. did the staff seem dynamic? ws there a good atmosphere etc? My impression is that special schools can be amazing or they can be little more than old-fashioned institutions. On the flip side I am sure that mainstream school without the right support could be awful and unhelpful.

Sorry - not sure that answers your questions at all.....

anniebear Mon 17-Jan-05 21:08:34


Not sure I will be much help, but just to let you know, I understand exactly what you mean.

Ellie is 3 and in a sn school. She is in a class of Children that have more severe problems than her.

When choosing where Ellie should go I felt like I had to choose either to put her into a pre school along with her twin Sister were she would be with children with no extra needs and may learn from them, but not have one to one with the staff who are experienced in this. Or, put her in a sn school were I knew she would be much further on with her development than the others, therefore not getting anything from them (some are severely disabled) but have the one to one with some brilliant teachers.

I choose the sn school as I knew she needed, at the moment, that extra support from the staff there. She is doing brilliantly

The School and staff are fantastic and have been a brilliant support to me also.

What I try to do is when she is not in School is to take her to places were she will see and be able to play with other children who are talking and playing age appropriately.

It was a very hard decision but at the moment I feel I have made the right decision.

Another thing to think about, is there any chance that if he did go to the SN school would he be able to have some sessions with the next class or two above. There may be more children in there who he could play with and learn from?

Also could he go to the SN school but maybe go along to the other School for a session each week for the social side of it?

Just a few ideas!

Not much help sorry!! and a load of long waffle!!

charlie95 Mon 17-Jan-05 21:39:12

thanks for that. glad to know someone else knows how i feel about it all. some good ideas. of course i'd forgotten about him staying where he is but having one-one. the current school havent mentioned anything like that . but he needs a lot of sensory input and therapy. as we were told in the meeting and today its our decision. we could still put his name down but if we feel he does well in this school now over nxt few mths we dont necessarily have to take the actual special school place. other people have said also that if we felt it was not for ds then we need to look around for somewhere else. but there isnt really in our town.we only just moved last april to benefit from ds' input centrally in one town.

jsyut generally feeling emopitonal wreck again now .

Jimjams Mon 17-Jan-05 22:14:41

DS1 has just moved to a special school (SLD/PMLD) following 4 terms in mainstream. The school has a wide range of abilities with some very severely disabled children. This hasn't worried me as in this school each child is very much catered to individually- their curriculum is very individual and they have lots of 1:1 sessions with staff. (not all special schools are like this- the other SLD school we looked round taught much more at a class rather than individual level).

The change hasn't fazed him at all- and for him it has definitely been the right move. The facilities are great as well- he can do things like hydrotherapy-- theres no way he would have been able to access swimming lessons at mainstream.

Not easy but perhaps try and look at the school without thinking of it as a special school and see if you think its right for him. The other special school we looked at would not have been right, the one he's at is perfect.

FineFigureFio Tue 18-Jan-05 08:18:21

my daughter goes to a similar special school to jimjams son. It is a very mixed class, you are right. My daughter is one of the more able children in her class. But tbh I think this boosts her confidence. She gets induvidual support and I cant even begin to tell you how happy I am with the school, it is amazing. I know how you feel though the thought of special school and going and looking round one is heart wrenching, if I am honest. i do understand what emotions you have. But for us special school was the right option. We are now looking into outreach places at a mainstream school, have you been offered this? usually nowadays alot of children do half and half, half at special and half at mainstream. DD's headteacher is all for inclusion and beleives our dd will pick up more speech from her NT peers at mainstream. its not like it used to be

charlie95 Tue 18-Jan-05 20:05:54

thanks, FFF. sounds exaclty like ds and how i think hell be in that special school. dh and i spoke about it again today cos i thought of a few more things that i noticed y'day and we kind of agreed about. but he next step is to get current school and ed psych back together with us and sort out what happens next and how. dh says that he'll go to the panel meeting on his own this time - cos i'll cry anyway! he says he's going to be firm with them and basically tell them what he thinks . the more i speak to dh and new friend in current school the more we're not impressed that we're not informed of what they do with ds every day. so hes going to tell them straight; that we want feedback for a start cos ds will be there til sept.

and they blurt out things like "oh yes we know that/we knew that......" why couldn't they have told us these things b4 - which is another things hes going to moan about. and the fact that probably the teachers think what we dont know about we wont worry baout. HUH!

sorry ot go on but i can asee how special school will be differnet in this aspect- individual plans tailored to indidividual needs. and plenty of feedback!

thanks for supprt and advice anyway to all of you. will let you know how things progress over nxt 9 mths or so.

onlyjoking9329 Tue 18-Jan-05 20:41:14

i wouldn't worry too much about the ability levels at special needs school my girls started a SN school at five and they were the only verbal kids in there class but as time went by the other kids became more verbal, the difference in there self esteem from mainstream where they were bottom of the class in everything to being top of the class has helped them so much, they changed to a new SN school last september and they are now 10 years old and doing well, the overall feeling in the school is amazing and i can stand in the playground with the other mums and i dont feel like i have to explain my twins at all, in fact they have mates at this school, they were merely tolerated in mainstream, there school goes up to age 19 so they have 9 years to go and its great, my son also has autism but is in mainstream at the moment, i don't know how long he will stay there he is doing o.k at present but i always worry as everything in mainstream seems to be a battle.

charlie95 Wed 19-Jan-05 21:32:14

feel like i need a jolly good cry .

got so much going on and to have to think about....

builders are doing our loft conversion so that we can move up there, ds can have our room and baby due in 9 wks can have ds room. hassle and nonsense from council about building and having to chase people on phone a lot.

feel extremely sensitive about ds - he cried b4 going to school today and when we got there which isnt like him. so my eyes were filling up then. and was apparently quiet there this p.m.

dreading going into hospital to have baby and leaving ds for a few days, then suddenly turn up with baby on doorstep. i know already i'll be emotional wreck on day i go in.

feel awfully guilty about the school decisions we'll have to make - i keep thinking about how ds will see things - hes been used to being aorund SN children and special equipment in his last special playgroup of 3 yrs. now hes havng a school year of 'normality' then hes going to revert back to being with sn children again and the equipment they need. i can't help thinking 'does he need to see that and the way the other children, and teenagers , are there, and how will he be if he does see them ? no offence to anyone. but whilst on visit we were asked to stand aside so a teenager could be escorted through corridor - presumably unpredictable/severe autsim. then we looked through window of soft play room - there was a teenager who was shaking his head constantly, and hands and moaning rather loudly - obviously 'disturbed' if i can put it kindly like that - again no offence. im just trying to put myself into ds shoes and imagine what it would like from his point of view/general view of things.

dh says that ds would perhaps grow up appreciating children and people with SN and maybe even encourage the others in his class to develop some speech etc....he did similar in playgroup - a little girl copied him clapping hands if i remember rightly.

anyway, having a little cry whilst typing this. just need to get this bit off my chest for now.

thanks for listening/reading.

Davros Wed 19-Jan-05 21:55:39

Sounds like you've got a lot to deal with right now. Any news on getting the EP and current school together? Keep your options open if poss, re spec school AND m/s, maybe anoter m/s or there might be a local m/s school that is funded to have higher number of children with SN. EP should really be best port of call.
Try to look forward to the baby, he'll probably be fine with it/her/him. My DS has been more than fine with DD and he's VERY autistic! He's not indifferent or unaware of her at all, he quite likes her and is very safe with her!

Jimjams Thu 20-Jan-05 09:54:18

RE baby

I was very worried about how ds1 would react to ds3 (not good when ds2 turned up) and he's been great. No problems at all. Was worried as well as he started his new school whilst I was in hospital (c-section so in for longer than I wanted) and he took it all in his stride- he was less emotional about it that his mother He seems vaguely interested in ds3, will point to him when asked and attempts an approximation of his name. He hasn't held him or anything but he doesn't flinch when he goes near him (used to with ds2). He really hasn't been affected at all by the baby (and I was worried that we'd get a very strong negative response). Ds2 has been great as well- I expected him to be fine but jealous and he's not been jealous at all- so just goes to show SN/NT its always impossible to predict how they will react and they may give you a pleasant surprise. So don't worry about it until it happens iyswim.

redsky Thu 20-Jan-05 10:11:16

My goodness what an awful time you are having charlie. Having dd 5 years after my (mildly ASD??) ds had a very positive effect on ds - eventually. Sorry I can't help you decide about the schools issue - that's a very difficult one!

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