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special schools offering GCSEs

(3 Posts)
clangermum Sat 01-Oct-11 17:01:29

Is there any effective way of finding out all the special schools offering GCSEs within a realistic travelling distance? (both state and private). We're in a small LEA with several neighbouring LEAs as an option to travel to. The SEN officer isn't going to advise anywhere on the outskirts of the travel radius, for financial reasons, and Parent Partnership is overstretched and doesn't seem to have up to date information. There are probably private special schools I've never heard of and therefore wouldn't know how to search for them (although funding would be a battle, but if I don't know a school exists I can't start to argue for it!) I'm really looking for a school that has pupils with moderate learning difficulties who might, with specialist help, be able to achieve GCSEs. And I'm unsure what's meant by 'entry level GCSEs', a phrase that keeps popping up. Does this mean a limited range of GCSEs, or does it mean only a certain grade can be achieved (like the difference between a CSE and an O Level as was, for those old enough to remember blush)

Any advice appreciated.

sugarcanmelt Mon 03-Oct-11 10:09:50

I found that I could only really find out this information when looking at each school's Ofsted, or calling them directly. Most special schools have such small numbers in each year that they don't appear on the DFE tables because it could identify each pupil. You can also try asking local parents, especially if there is a local support group near you. I wouldn't rely on advice from the SEN Officer and I'd be wary of Parent Partnership as well, for the reasons you mention.

An Entry Level GCSE is aimed at those pupils who are working at the level below Grade G at normal GCSE. So the standards expected will be much lower than in a mainstream school, though of course it can represent a great achievement for the individual. I found that quite a few schools would state in general terms that they could offer GCSEs, but then it turned out to be only Entry Level, or only in Maths, English and Art. So it's important to find out exactly what they mean when they say this.

Some schools can also offer a partnership with mainstream, where students will attend a local mainstream for just a GCSE session, but this would only work for perhaps one or two subjects - if you wanted your child to do, say, five subjects, they'd probably end up spending most of their time in mainstream.

Independent special schools are listed on the Isbi website (click the Special Needs tab at the top). You can also ask your library if they have the Gabbitas guide to special schools (though most of them are listed on the website nowadays).

clangermum Mon 03-Oct-11 16:18:49

Thanks sugarcanmelt, that's really helpful.

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