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I'm a deputy head in a large special needs school in London AMA...

82 replies

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 18:57

As title says...

I work in an inner London state special school catering for kids 3-18 and have for 9 years. I totally love my job and the kids and feel so proud when they leave us to go on to colleges or sometime even employment.

I make decisions about placements for our local authority and represent my school on borough wide panels as well as in education tribunals.

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gower4 · 29/07/2018 19:00

Do you think children with moderate to severe learning difficulties can flourish in mainstream?

TheCosmicOwl · 29/07/2018 19:01

What sort of SN do you cater for?

OlennasWimple · 29/07/2018 19:02

What have been the biggest changes in your bit of the education sector in the last 9/10 years?

Do you think that the number of children with SEN is on the rise, or that diagnosis of SEN has improved thus leading to higher official numbers?

BlessedBeTheFruitCake · 29/07/2018 19:03

In your experience how well do non verbal young people with autism do when they leave school?

Harleyisme · 29/07/2018 19:05

Do you think there's enough provision in for children with sen?
Do you think that forcing children with sen into mainstream really works?

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:09

I do think it depends on the child but I am a big advocate of special schools- the amount of freedom to adapt the curriculum to suit the kids is excellent and means we can do so much more life skills education- for example our school has various 'real life' workplaces set up for our older students to practice life and work skills.
I think SEN children in mainstream may struggle to learn things like travel training and money management as the schools can't spend enough time on it.

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:10

It's designated as MLD and we have a generic needs stream and an ASD stream
So a huge range of needs

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:13

I think the SEN reform in 2014 has had the biggest impact moving from statements to EHCPs has been a really tough journey but we are through the other side now and I do think they involved the young people much more successfully as well as protecting support for them right up to 25 years old.

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KateGrey · 29/07/2018 19:13

I’ve got a child who is 8 with asd and adhd. She’s happy at her mainstream school but has to have a ft 1:1. There’s a high functioning autism school locally that is attached to a local high school so she can dip in and out. Would that be a better option for her?

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:14

I think better diagnosis and acceptance have played a part but for us in London I think rapidly rising birth rates also impact massively

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blueskiesandforests · 29/07/2018 19:15

How many children do you have in a class, and how many adults?

Are your teachers trained as special needs teachers specifically (with an MEd or something or with a specialist PGCE)?

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:16

I think it is very hard for non verbal young people to find there way in the world. I think finding the best supported living can be an excellent option for them but sadly this is hard to come by and often relies on them having parents/carers who are able to fight hard for them.

In the right environment I believe non verbal people can be employed but it takes a great leap of faith from an employer

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TheCosmicOwl · 29/07/2018 19:17

Thanks for your reply Abney my 4 year old DS is starting at a special school for ASD and MLD in September, he has autism. I'm really hoping he will flourish there.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:18

Obviously it would be great to have more special school places and I do think SOME but not all children are kept in mainstream far too long, I don't know what the answer is though...I have children in mainstream struggling and waiting for places that simply don't exist- it's the hardest part of my job to tell parents that.

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:21

Without knowing your child it's so hard but bases attached to mainstreams at secondary are often seen as the 'best of both worlds' you should ask how often she would get specific support eg SALT and OT (if she has then now) and how they can support unstructured times of the days as this is what a lot of HF ASD children find hard. Often support at mainstream secondary is much less so ask exactly what a 'base' child's day might look like to help make your rescission- good luck!

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:24

It depends can be as low as 6 and as high as 12 in a class. One teacher and roughly 1 TA for every 3 students but it does depend on the cohort and also what activity they are doing eg more needed for out and about life skills and cooking etc

Some but not all our teachers have a specific MA but it is something we encourage them to study for if they don't.

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BlessedBeTheFruitCake · 29/07/2018 19:25

Thanks for replying Abney. My dd will be starting a sen school in September after having had a 1:1 In mainstream. I'm happy we've done the right thing in moving her. You sound very passionate and proud of your school. :)

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:26

Well very good luck to your son! My MA is in Autism so it's very close to my heart- I'm sure he will do brilliantly! Give him lots of time to settle and keep talking to the teachers if you have any concerns- early intervention such as this at your sons age is proven to have an excellent impact.

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Takiwatanga · 29/07/2018 19:26

Hi Abney, my son is 3 and a half and has an ehcp as he has a moderate learning difficulty and a diagnosis of asd. He is verbal and social with adults, to a degree, but not peers. He is going to a mainstream setting as I worry a Sen school would hold him back as he is quite cognitively able, as much as one can be at 3!? I think this and also professionals have said so.

However I worry dreadfully about bullying, and him feeling different and less than, he has a 1 to 1 at all times, mainly due to challenging behaviors displayed when anxious.

So my question is, sorry for the long one, do you think he would be suited to mainstream or Sen? Would a Sen school hopd him back?

Harleyisme · 29/07/2018 19:27

I have one more question a child working at half there are development wise. Making some but very little progress i have been told doesnt need any support or help in mainstream school and definately doesnt need a swn school. Apparently they is very little to do intervention wise unless the child stops progressing at all is this true?

CoteDAzur · 29/07/2018 19:28

OP - May I have your opinion on Fox Primary School in Notting Hill for a child with complex physical and possibly mental SN? Thank you.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:29

My apologies I see it's your DD going not your son!! Very good luck to her!

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KateGrey · 29/07/2018 19:34

I have such incredible respect for what you do. My youngest is going into a Sen school as her mainstream treated her dreadfully. Thank you for supporting kids like my mine.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:35

It's a really hard decision for parents I think- of the school feel they can meet his needs then I think it's worth a try (obviously so hard to say without knowing your son!) but at his age his EHCP should be reviewed every 6 months and you have time before applying to reception to see how he is doing, keep open communication with the school and make sure everyone has a consistent plan in place to follow when he becomes anxious- good luck to you both

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 19:38

I haven't worked in mainstream for a long time but this doesn't sound right? Are they being seen by any other professionals eg speech and language therapy etc who might give an opinion? You could try to push for an Educational Psychology assessment (can get his privately as a last resort) to see if any cognitive impairment is there or also sometimes these assessments throw up a different learning style that could work best so some of our kids with severely limited language come out in 'normal' range for non verbal skills etc so a change of teaching style may be necessary. Keep on pushing!

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