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SN school vs mainstream, am I being over-optimistic?

(29 Posts)
laumiere Sat 27-Jun-09 09:22:47

DS1 is 3 now and is due to start school in Jan 2011, so the council want to start doing his statement soon. He's diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hypotonia and ASD and is mobile, can walk but can't talk yet (he's getting good at PECs though). He's also still in nappies.

We've already ruled out one of the 3 SN primaries as it's for severely disabled children with poor mobility, which isn't DS. Trouble is the other 2 schools are ASD specialised, have a very large number of boys and also advertise as being for severe, complex and enduring learning disabilities.

Although DS's CP is for life, he manages it really well and can eat and self care (barring dressing) really well. He's also very aware of social situations and has a good danger sense and realisation when he's been naughty. He currently attends a nursery that is 50% mixed SN and 50% NT kids and does fine there, so should we be pursuing an SN school or an NT one with good support services? Portage think SN is the way to go as it's harder to transfer NT to SN rather than the other way.

Help!

TotalChaos Sat 27-Jun-09 09:29:20

Have you been able to visit the other SN primaries yet, to get a feel for how your lad will fit in there? I would seriously consider the SN schools, as they should be v experienced in PECs/language problems, and will have small classes, and as portage says, it's likely to be easier to transfer to MS. Also visit some MS primaries too, or at least talk to heads/sencos to get a feel for what support/experience they have for kid with ASD etc. You might also want to explore the possiblity of a split placement between MS and SN.

vjg13 Sat 27-Jun-09 15:43:52

Also look at schools in neighbouring authorities as there is a lot of variety. We looked at lots of schools for my daughter just to get a feeling of where she would fit best and which would meet her needs fully.

My daughter has SLD but now attends a MLD school. Most special schools IME have children with a wide variety of needs. My daughter attends a non-maintained school which is funded by our LEA because the local special schools would not have met her needs.

sarah293 Sat 27-Jun-09 18:38:19

Message withdrawn

sickofsocalledexperts Sat 27-Jun-09 18:56:38

Imho you should try mainstream first and see if he copes (which it sounds like he might)as in the end that will better prepare him for a mainstream world. That's the way I'm going with my ASD son and it is working out ok so far.

laumiere Sat 27-Jun-09 19:39:41

riven The thing is we don't know if he has an SLD or not... he can make sounds but won't speak, but has excellent receptive language (like today, he had finished his drink and was playing with his plastic glass, bit the edge and I said 'be careful, it might break and hurt you', so he passed me the glass). He can do all the 'usual' three year old milestones like draw a circle (if he wants to), build towers of nine bricks, and knows left from right. On the other hand he struggles to dress himself or use a spoon consistently.

sickofallexperts I'm leaning this way, his current nursery is 50/50 and I'd love a school with a similar situation.

BriocheDoree Sat 27-Jun-09 20:15:42

That doesn't sound like a child with SLD, laumiere...DD is 5 and can't dress herself or use a spoon, but she tests as average to bright using standard IQ tests, even though her receptive language is really poor. I agree with the others, you should visit the schools. Also visit your mainstream, sound out how receptive they are to SN kids (I mean they are all supposed to be, but some of them are better at it than others...)

sarah293 Sat 27-Jun-09 20:25:53

Message withdrawn

Sidge Sat 27-Jun-09 20:28:26

I would suggest going to see the SN school as well as some mainstream schools and get a feel for them and how they would do for your son.

My DD2 started school last September (MS with fulltime 1-1 support). She has a rare genetic disorder, has no speech (but good receptive understanding), uses a communication aid, is in nappies, has physical disabilities (including needing help with feeding and dressing) and moderate learning difficulties. But we are lucky to have a local primary school with huge amounts of experience of children with SN. It is such a caring, nurturing school and has huge amounts of children with SN as parents name it as their school of choice on the statement!

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Sat 27-Jun-09 20:35:36

DS3 is in a SN school (to be exact an LRC...s ame palce different title) and has been for a term, after a year in MS.

He ahs asd but does not have SLD; speaks now but couldn't a year ago.... very much toddler like, atttention issues.

the school caters well for SN pupils and if they ahev areas of ability they can filter into the mainstream with a 1-1 for those (DS3 will in maths at some stage, when his concentration (if) improves)

NOne of the children there ahve SLD- moderate yes, and some have other needs- ds3 can't function in a large class, and there are kids with ADHD.

he loves it htere and we are thrilled by how it is working.

I also have a child in MS; he is improving in literacy atc but overall had there been a schoolca tering forAS here he'd be in it.

Kids with CP can function well in MS on SN schools depending on suitability and crucially supporet. ASD is IMVHO a bit different though and unless it's a school with very small class sizes or very many small groups sessions I would be hesistant. That doesn't mean write it off, just be very aware of how much a child with ASD can gain from a smaller group setting. There are 10 children in ds3's school group (5 - 7, infants) and the same in the linked Juniors calssed (linked literally by a door so they can integrate). Compared to the old class of 31 kids it's much better.

laumiere Sat 27-Jun-09 20:41:57

Hmm, will talk to the MAPP about IQ tests... DS1 has a verbal DX for ASD (or possibly a communication disorder) but nothing official yet. He does have some sensory sensitivity (for instance he doesn't like going into small spaces with a lot of noisy children) and likes repetitive play, and they seem to be focusing on that.

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Sat 27-Jun-09 20:53:23

The flag about small apces with noisy kids would make me consider SNU certainly

However it IS possible to transger later- here its virtually impossible to get a palce at SNU early on unless your child ahs a wheelchair requiremnt or has been under care of a Paed ofr several years (otherwise they say they might improve)- most kids in the SNU's trial MS and then have to 'fail' before moving on

laumiere Sat 27-Jun-09 21:41:40

peachy You see this is where we fall apart a bit, as we know the worry of small spaces is partly due to the CP and the fact he was crawling until very recently, so found small chaotic spaces disconcerting.

springlamb Sat 27-Jun-09 21:50:24

I have heard loads of professionals talking about it being harder to move MS to SN schools. I believe (though you can put me right) that they mean 'administratively'.
I don't think it's harder on the child, quite the reverse, and the child should be the priority not the form filling/phone calls/letter writing.

I think you should look at mainstream and look at getting really appropriate provision in the statement for mainstream. If your ds can't cope then a move to SN school will be a welcome relief.

DS is now 14, has been in SN school since 3, and I have generally been happy. However, I am not too happy about GCSE provision for him specifically and have concerns about their provision for children without a learning disability per se. For the first time, I am questioning the decision I made 11 years ago.

laumiere Sat 27-Jun-09 22:07:09

springlamb We think he's really capable of a great deal, so making the right decision now is really important to us. Equally I remember my poor brother being kept at a desk for hours to make letters (even though he was dyspraxic) in an MS school. That was 20 years ago though.

jubee Sat 27-Jun-09 23:34:29

i think if you go and look at all the schools. You will know instinctively which one will be the best. I was sure i wanted my son to go into mainstream. He had MLD then but was physically able. I went to the local mainstream schools and i made up my mind that I knew he just wouldnt fit in and wouldnt be able to cope. I looked at special school and just knew after being there for half an hour that this was the right school. He spent 6 happy years at this school and i was really glad that i made that decision. He started another special school in september for SLD and is doing great. Talk to other parents of SN kids locally just to get their opinion. You will know when it is right. Just go with your gut feeling. Good luck. Also if your Education Department are as useless as mine was, you may have to put up a fight to get him into Special school. Dont let them bully you. Stand firm and put up a fight if you have to. They want to get rid of all the special schools which is why they always push to go into mainstream. Mainstream works for some kids, but for a lot it doesnt,

pagwatch Sun 28-Jun-09 15:21:24

springlamb
I don'tthinkit is either tbh.

The move from MS to SN is difficult because ofthe huge pressure on SN schools because ofthe move to inclusion and the programme of closing SN schools.
The aministrative difficulties is not the issue.
It is the fact that many children are after the same SN places and if your child starts in MS then an attempt to change later may simply mean that they end up without a place .
When DS1 left nursery there were 11 children leaving who could not cope in MS. Only three were offered places at the ASD/SN schools.

The rest went on to a cycle of support units at different schools some having to attend three different schools in as many years - not great for any child. Two other parnets gave up and homeschooled. One eventually accpeted a place at a SLD unit which was not any good for her boy at all.
I spoke to the nursery head recently and she saidthat pressure on places is worse now than back then

THAT is the issue with trying to move later

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Sun 28-Jun-09 16:03:06

Certainloy as Pag says, trying to get a palce can be a struggle- does vary with where you live though; here you just won't get one in Receoption- almost every asd kid amkes the move in the build up to Juniors.

Sphils child IIRC has a school palce that mixes SN and MS palcements (might be wrong eprson)- find ehr?

pagwatch Sun 28-Jun-09 16:36:44

(can I just add smile I didn't mean 'gave up and home schooled' as if that is a choice of no options. HEing just was not the first and preferred course for those particular parents. I was not dissing HEing)

<<end of disclaimer>>

smile

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Sun 28-Jun-09 18:37:13

PMSL Pag

Funny how much I end up doing disdclaimers these days on MN.

DS3 was HE'd with PT schooling in MS whilst we waited for LEA to make the decisions, it did help settle him in a lot I think

meltedmarsbars Sun 28-Jun-09 22:28:18

I know i'm coming in late here, but if its of any help my dd2 has split placement with sn and ms school - has done that since 2 yrs. She is now 7.

Agree with all the posters saying visit all the schools, not every school can cope with a split placement just as not every kid can. Hopefully you'll see where your ds1 will settle the best.

laumiere Mon 29-Jun-09 09:13:51

Don't apologise for being late, it's all helpful!

springlamb Mon 29-Jun-09 17:27:16

Just an aside - pag, I live in a borough (may be the only borough!) that has taken a decision not to close our special schools. We have rationalised them a bit which involved some pupils moving school to access more appropriate provision (eg SLD to PMLD) and we have opened our borough's first secondary PMLD unit, which now offers provision to 19.
Our SLD school opens its 16+ provision in September.
Our school specialising in physical/medical disability will have its own 16+ facility (either on-site or dedicated unit at local college) from 2012 (a year too late for ds!).

This is a fairly crappy area to live, but perhaps we don't have the same problems as elsewhere.

[Takes off special school governor hat to polish badge]

madwomanintheattic Mon 29-Jun-09 21:39:02

<adjusts mainstream governor hat>
grin
dd2 is at mainstream (athetoid cp). at 3 she wasn't walking or talking but was at ms nursery with lea funded 1-1. she also screamed and went into spasm at noise, and needed to be fed etc etc. she is just finishing yr r (at mainstream) and has had a ball. she changed so much between 3 and yr r!

stay flexible and keep your options open wink

springlamb Mon 29-Jun-09 22:00:40

Another reason to look seriously at the mainstream option is from the integration pov.

The most successful (ie happy child) mainstream placements I have seen began at nursery level. Generally, children are much more accepting then, they have no 'agenda', they just accept that X doesn't do that, he/she does that instead. From what I've seen that carries on through school.

In my time as an LSA (when they were so-called) I worked with 2 brothers with cp. One went to SN school till Year 3 then transferred to mainstream (where I met him). His younger brother went into the mainstream nursery at the school where I worked. They had totally different experiences with their classmates. (This was 10 years ago I should add as a proviso.)

OTOH, children coming from mainstream into SN at a later stage seem to be much more readily accepted by their SN peers and find it easier to settle.

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