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I just don't want DS to go to a special school

(108 Posts)
drspouse Wed 24-Apr-19 10:39:25

I just don't.
That's been my feeling all along and it's still my feeling.
School want him out, preferably yesterday.
They are stopping him from doing after school clubs (we think this is discrimination). We suspect they may stop him from going on outings too.
He has ADHD and is impulsive and not learning because he can't pay attention. He has a 1:1 and is awaiting an EHCP. School want us to find a special school NOW and name it in the EHCP (we can't even get appointments to see any before the panel meets).
There are 3 possible special schools, all independent, all a long drive, he gets carsick. They are all tiny and cover a huge age range so there will be max 3 children in his peer group and they won't live near us.
I just don't want to do this. I want him to be in his local, community school with his sister and his friends. School say he has no friends. That's why he gave his friend a huge hug in the playground this morning, I suppose, then. OK, it was a very overwhelming hug and I had to remind him to ask people first if they want a hug, but he says he has friends, and this particular boy has been his friend since Reception.

grasspigeons Fri 26-Apr-19 16:29:19

you don't have to do what the school says!
If you believe they can meet his needs fight for them to do so.
in your ehcp push for support/funding for after school clubs

DuckWillow Fri 26-Apr-19 16:32:40

You have a school problem, they don’t want him and over my dead body would I leave my child in a school which didn’t want him,

Is he on any medication for his ADHD? My son wasn’t initially as I didn’t want him on it. However I was persuaded to give it a six month trial and it was a game changer for my son in terms of learning,

You need an EHCP and a new school which won’t apply the appalling discrimination that this one is displaying.

drspouse Fri 26-Apr-19 21:25:52

We have the draft EHCP. It's a bit vague but I need to look at it more.
He's on medication but only since Jan. We are only now seeing some changes and school say they haven't really seen any and they they don't think it's possible for him to change enough for him to stay in mainstream.

I rang a local smaller primary school to ask if we could look round as a carer we use has recommended it, they didn't ring us back but instead rang his current school who no doubt told them he won't cope in mainstream so not to talk to us.

They keep changing their minds, first he has a learning disability and should go to the local MLD, then he doesn't, now he does again, first special school is temporary, now he's always going to be in special school.

drspouse Fri 26-Apr-19 22:02:37

Sorry, battery went.
I do have a philosophical objection to special schools but on a practical level if he's with other children whose social skills are no better than his he's hardly likely to learn from them, and if (as I feel) he's capable of achieving at his age level, but the school isn't aiming for that - and can't - he won't be able to get back in mainstream.

DuckWillow Sat 27-Apr-19 08:04:23

The biggest issue you have apart from the school is that the education your child needs is hard to access in a mainstream setting because of poor funding, poor education of staff around neurodiversity and a lack of resources.

There is also a gap between special schools and mainstream . Pupil Referral Units are often excellent at identifying and meeting needs but the problem comes when they try and get the child back into the same environment (mainstream) which failed them before.

I totally agree with you by the way about special schools. My son attended one for his secondary education ...he leaves this year.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place in Y7 he wasn’t coping in mainstream but obviously mainstream is the best preparation for a mainstream society. However I had a child who was falling apart emotionally and the thought of condemning him for five years to that environment was too much. He went to a special school which focuses upon speech, language and communication disorders. It wasn’t an ideal fit but “ideal” wasn’t out there and it ended up being the best fit.

Some of his year are doing GCSEs as they are capable. DD has some learning difficulties which began to emerge later in primary school.

At Y11 he has nothing positive whatsoever to say about special schools. However the school itself have been amazing and he’s had speech and language support, occupational therapy and been seen as an individual.

It was the best fit at the time and has done it’s job, DS is ready to move into college .

As my son has ADHD as well as autism I didn’t feel home education was a good fit for him, he actually needs the structure school gives him. His friend of the same age without ADHD (but with autism) is home educated successfully .

More than anything for you is the appalling attitude of the school. I am actually angry on your behalf.
When DS was between Reception and Y2 we had no actual diagnosis although he stood out as different. Even before he had a Statement the school were funding 1-1 support for him. Nobody ever suggested me removing him and at that age he couldn’t be managed in a classroom without 1-1 support.

And as for not allowing him to attend after school stuff....that’s heartbreaking. Poor child is getting loads of negative messages that are going to be knocking his self esteem and that’s awful.

drspouse Sat 27-Apr-19 08:40:58

He has 1:1 and I think he's manageable, from what they are saying, but they say not.
I'm sitting on the sofa with him now and he's going through our foreign language book (we aren't bilingual - it's just a kids vocabulary book) wanting to know the words for loads of things, and remembering others. This is not a child with a MLD. He won't get any MFL at special school.

drspouse Sat 27-Apr-19 08:43:34

We couldn't home ed if we wanted to (and it wouldn't be good for him, likewise). My job is important in many ways and DH and DS would be a bad fit.
I did vaguely wonder about flexi schooling with maybe 2 days at home with actual stretching curriculum but I bet school would still say he's unmanageable (and no other school would agree to take him).

holdingonbyathread Sat 27-Apr-19 21:28:47

It sounds like you need to get a really good EHCP in place and and a fresh start at a school that is happy to support as per the EHCP. This school isn't for him clearly. Could you home school for a little while until his EHCP is finalised and then spend time finding the right school?

We hung on for longer than we should have in MS school (son has high functioning autism and is gifted - he should be able to be in MS in theory, not in practice!) hoping it would get better and I wanted him to manage in his local community school and have friends. It took me a long time to realise that what I wanted for him and what he needed were 2 different things. My son had 'friends' but they weren't friends, not really. I wished the school had come out and actually said they couldn't meet his needs. Instead they just strung us along for moths, excluding him and keeping him isolated and saying it was in his best interests etc. Anyway, he's been out of school for months now as it fell apart horrendously. He's starting at an autism special school in September and they actually want him. Have the resources and understanding to help him succeed. No idea if it'll work but can't be any worse than what he went through before!

Crisscross82 Sun 28-Apr-19 12:13:06

Hi. Why would you want your child to go to a school that doesn’t want him to be there. Don’t get me wrong I know he has a right to be educated in mainstream but if he’s struggling so much and School have made it clear they don’t want him in their school why would you want to keep him there? My ds is only 7 and is on his second school. His first school treated him terribly and made o clear they didn’t want him their so when they started to exclude him regularly I agreed to a managed move to another school as I couldn’t bare to see him that distressed going into that school every day. We are now at the point were his current school, who have been much more supportive, have been honest and upfront and admitted they can no longer meet his needs and they are supporting a move to a specialist school and if I have my way we will get him into the school of our choice which is amazing in every way but is a good 25/30 minute drive away. Children will make their own friends as they get older and I’m afraid I value his education at present over friendships is which incidentally, he has very few.

drspouse Sun 28-Apr-19 22:50:01

He's never been excluded, nor has he ever been absent due to refusal/anxiety, and while he does occasionally say he doesn't want to go to school, this has also reduced quite a lot recently.
So though school doesn't seem to want HIM, he seems to want this school.

I do philosophically believe that mainstream should include all, and that we shouldn't have different schools for children who don't fit the mould - that schools should adapt.
And for our DS, I believe that he is capable of being a middle of the road child who can get some qualifications, go to college and find a job that he likes. And that's not the local special schools' ambition for their children (and I do know that we live in a relatively isolated area and the provision may well be very poor where we are).
Our immediate problem is that we can't home ed (for a very wide variety of reasons) and that if we try and contact mainstream schools they will ring our current school who will say, he will never be capable of mainstream, he shouldn't be in mainstream and that they'd be mad to take him.
I've been attacking the EHCP tonight - I've ripped it to shreds following a really helpful phone call with an IPSEA person today.
I met a friend who I hadn't seen for a while last night who said that her DS' village school had a child up to year 5 who was barely verbal - we had already been thinking a smaller village school with mixed age classes might well work - so he can be with children who are a bit younger and maybe more socially on his level as well as academically - but he'd come with a good EHCP package i.e. 1:1 and specialist input.
But again, if we ring round the small village schools they will all just be warned off by the current school!

notgivingin78910 Mon 29-Apr-19 09:52:43

Look at this positively. At least the school have told you they cannot meet your DS needs. DS went to a nursery who clearly couldn't cater to his needs but as he was quiet, content, so they let him be.

In society, it is better for all children to educated in Mainstream. But for the majority of mainstream schools, they do not have enough funding to support children like ours and the longer Our children a

Even though your philosophy is right in principle, it could be that this philosophy of yours is actually damaging your child. Forget about what you feel and look at your child, his needs, his future.

DS goes to an independent special school at 5, it is further away from home and honestly the school isn't perfect. But the school gave him the foundation skills in order for him to learn. For years, my DS couldn't participate in group activities and couldn't pay attending in class. Now, it's a different story.

DS was non verbal, despite attending Mainstream from 9 months to 5 years of age- you would think being around neurotypical children he would have learnt to. But no, he couldn't as he didn't have the foundation skills in order to learn language/ social skills. Your DS attention difficulties would impact on his ability to learn- it's just that in Mainstream schools, the majority of children do not have difficulties with this and as the curriculum becomes fast paced, your DS is falling behind as he wouldn't have the attention skills to sustain and focus in a fast paced environment.

My DS speech is of a 6 year old and he is 9. He is still severely delayed but he has come along way and that is thanks to the school.

Now, DS school is not great for academics and behaviour. But I knew this already. But since DS now has adequate attention skills and so forth, I am thinking of moving him to a different school which will focus on the things.

Is it a very difficult decision. DS went to a lovely Mainstream school in Reception, the children and the teacher were lovely but my God, he would have fell further and further behind. I do however miss the local aspect of attending a special school but you have to outweigh the good and the bad- for me, improving DS communication skills outweigh my need of him being in a local school (even though it is sad). He actually can talk, communicate with others and has proper friendships because of his improved SLC needs. He doesn't have many friends in his local community, but he has friendships outside of school and I've made an effort for him to join clubs in his Local community.

Anyway, the decision is up to you. There are some independent special schools that cater to high achieving children but who need more support. Don't worry about the distance- it's not an issue. He could get transport and honestly seeing my DS now, all the travelling was worth it.

notgivingin78910 Mon 29-Apr-19 09:55:41

*miss attending the local school.

Your DS will go to college and get a job if he goes to a special school but he first needs the foundation skills in order to do so. If you were going to go down the special school route, choose one wisely- ask lots of questions and look at the Good School Guide (google this).

All the best.

drspouse Mon 29-Apr-19 12:08:48

The problem is, we have so little choice of special school. We are visiting all the ones that may be vaguely suitable - but they are not geared up to a child like ours. He's not "high achieving" but there aren't any schools anywhere near us that would be suitable for such a child, nor indeed for any child capable of taking any GCSEs basically - which we feel he is.

Mainstream schools should NOT have a one sized fits all curriculum that is "fast paced". They should have a curriculum that all children can access at their level. He has 1:1 support and school should be making enough adjustments for him that he can access what he's capable of. But at the moment we can't even look at other mainstream schools because our current school will tell the other schools that he will never be capable of mainstream and that they should not even talk to us.

I don't really know what "foundation skills" mean but if you mean things like independent living skills - that is not the level we are aiming for and is way more than he's capable of. Current school have basically decided, age 7, that this is his future and that they are only prepared to steer us towards schools where the highest aim would be supported accommodation and supported employment - and there isn't much beyond this level available anyway. The best any of the secondary special schools can offer is 4 GCSEs. That's what they are suggesting - age 7 - is his future.

drspouse Mon 29-Apr-19 12:09:42

(We know he will get transport. He gets car sick, he's 7, and we want him to have a life outside school and friends near us. Travelling a long distance to an unsuitable school is even worse than going a short distance to an unsuitable schools!)

holdingonbyathread Mon 29-Apr-19 13:32:43

I was similar to you and openly said in a meeting that I didn't really believe in special schools and that all children should be managed in mainstream.

But really. That's not always an option. Schools are far more stretched, lacking funding and teachers leaving in their droves. Classes are packed high, parents are more aware of what's going on etc.

We got our EHCP done and went to MS schools thinking we'd have a clear picture of what was needed but they still all said no because they can't support the level of SEN they used to. My son is gifted, articulate and not a school refuser etc.

The best advice I had was don't think about the future. Think about the right now. What does he need in the next 2-3 years to ensure he develops the basic skills he needs - not living skills as such but attention, listening, concentrating, sitting still, social conventions like not hugging people for too long etc. Then is academic development will fall into place and so will confidence and self esteem. He might have a completely different skill set in 2-3 yrs and transition back to MS well for secondary.

You have to go with your gut instinct and the advice that you've got. At the end of the day, if you want a MS school the LEA will find one but they may not give him what he needs. You have to let go of everything you think and believe and look only at what your son needs from a school.

drspouse Mon 29-Apr-19 13:46:36

We are just hoping that some of the schools we looked at (there are only 3 that are even vaguely suitable) may suit him now. We've already been warned off one as too chaotic. But however lovely they are, they are still really far away and he still gets carsick. He even got sick going 4 miles to dancing the other week.
And school are very firmly saying he will NEVER come back to mainstream.

holdingonbyathread Mon 29-Apr-19 14:05:40

But they don't know that unless they can predict the future.

2 yrs ago my son was happy and thriving in MS and had been for 2 years. No diagnosis and no sniff of SEN at all. Never contacted with a bad word about him and endless awards from school. 6 months after this it all fell apart and he couldn't cope in that environment anymore and wasn't thriving. Overtime it hugely affected his mental health and self esteem and changed who he was. Now he's going to a specialist school. If you'd told me 2 years ago we'd be where we are, I'd have laughed at you.

However, it's quite possible that finishing primary (3yrs) in an environment that can help him understand and cope with his differences, develop strategies and build confidence and self esteem, he may well go to MS secondary. But I'm not thinking that far ahead because I know how much things change in just a year.

Don't think too far ahead. Think about what he needs right now.

drspouse Mon 29-Apr-19 14:34:43

It doesn't help at all that school are firm he will never be able to cope in mainstream.

holdingonbyathread Mon 29-Apr-19 15:06:27

See it as them saying he can't cope now - and be glad they are being honest (the damage to the child when they just struggle on is far far worse)

They can not know what the future holds and whether in 2-3 years MS is still unsuitable.

They may be thinking that MS isn't sustainable in the long term on how things are now. I mean, they might see how much your son is struggling and be thinking they can't sustain it for much longer and inevitably it will fall apart but they can't say he will never be in MS as his skill set will change in the future, especially if the right input is in place now.

notgivingin78910 Mon 29-Apr-19 18:12:57

Foundations skills e.g. learning how to pay attention, negotiating and play with others, self inhibition, learning how to participate and join in group activities, learning how to sustain attention in group activities, etc. Please read up on foundation skills for ADHD prone kids.

There are schools, you need to look outside the remit. I looked at different parts of school for my Dd outside my borough.

notgivingin78910 Mon 29-Apr-19 18:27:17

* And school are very firmly saying he will NEVER come back to mainstream*

One word of advice, stop taking the opinions of professionals to heart. I have lost count the many times that professionals have told me that my DS will never learn how to read, never learn to talk or how to communicate. I just nod my head and say "yeah" and brush it aside.

However, when it came to diagnosis or areas of need, I would take that very seriously. Brush aside your own need of wanting your DS to go to a mainstream and ask yourself "why" are they saying that ?

I disagree with the poster who says you shouldn't take a look into the future. I would, personally mainly look at what he needs now and look into the future of what will happen if he doesn't get his needs meet.

It's a fact that xyz many of inmates in prison have learning difficulties, ADHD or social communication difficulties.

It's a fact that children like are ours are vulnerable to mental health difficulties, anxiety etc eg .

Unresolved speech and language difficulties results in long term difficulties with literacy and writing.

Honestly, the earlier your DS gets the help, the better. Who knows ? He may be ok to join Mainstream school later on.

notgivingin78910 Mon 29-Apr-19 18:31:28

Sorry holding I agree with everything you said:

The best advice I had was don't think about the future. Think about the right now. What does he need in the next 2-3 years to ensure he develops the basic skills he needs - not living skills as such but attention, listening, concentrating, sitting still, social conventions like not hugging people for too long etc

Alwaysgrey Mon 29-Apr-19 18:40:03

We’ve had a shit time in MS. I’ve got two diagnosed with autism and adhd and both had ehcps before starting school. One remains in MS. She wouldn’t be accepted into any special school locally so she has a ft 1:1 in MS. Our youngest had a vile time. School changed to an academy a few years after my other dd started and they didn’t want my youngest at all. In the end we went to tribunal for discrimination. Youngest now attends a specialist school.

My youngest ended up hating the school as they completely isolated her by this I mean locking her out of classrooms, locking her in classrooms when the kids were somewhere else. She wasn’t involved in school life at all. Their choice.

I think it hugely depends on your son. Some schools make every effort to try and get kids with Sen removed because it’s effort and money. I didn’t trust anyway in the school. We had a good outside team but they weren’t allowed into school. My other dd didn’t have the greatest start but is doing well in mainstream. I visited all our local Sen schools when she hit year 1. But mainstream is the right place for her at the moment. Sen schools can be a shock. But you know your son.

drspouse Mon 29-Apr-19 21:42:36

@notgivingin78910 sadly there really aren't schools.

In our town is an MLD and an SLD school. Apparently children "never" go back to mainstream from the MLD school. There's a hearing impaired and a SLCN unit in two different schools.
Within 20 miles there are:
Other similar MLD
Specialist autism schools and units.
Ditto hearing impaired.
Secondary schools for SEMH.

We are looking at 3 independent SEMH schools. One is all through and apparently very chaotic. One is primary and the secondary attached does no GCSEs and "all the children go on to that secondary" because they are all pushed to go there.
The third is all through and occasionally children do GCSEs and again "nobody ever leaves".
The schools have no incentive to reintegrate him as far as I can see. If they work towards reintegrating a child they lose that child. Which, for a LEA school would be a positive (the LEA saves money) but for an independent, why would they? So how can we have any confidence he'll ever be properly prepared to go back to mainstream?

Everything else is over an hour away. We haven't even bothered to look at those; the range of possible schools is similar.

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