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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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imip · 29/07/2018 21:13

Thanks OP. You’re lucky your funding hasn’t been touched. SS in our LA have had their funding cut per child.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:15

Well Tidy
We have some children that have ABA tutors at home but not in school- I've attended a lecture on ABA but that's all so am in no way an expert, however the thing that made me slightly uneasy was that it seemed to me that the tutors are unregulated so I'd be concerned about a minority preying on vulnerable families (however I am in no way suggesting they are all like this!)
Also it seems they can get fast results in one specific context, so they showed a video of a severely ASD young man being taught to make a drink in his kitchen which he managed successfully and this is great but we know that ASD people struggle the most to apply knowledge to different situations so can he make a drink at his Nan's house, school, college etc etc This is what we work hard on in our life skills lessons, same task different contexts.

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:19

Ah sorry- moderate learning difficulty

There is no IQ limit more of a consultation of all professionals looking at assessments of nationals curriculum, SALT, ed psych and an observation of the child so see if they would benefit from what our settin offers.

To be honest I haven't seen 'mild learning difficulties' on a report for a long time so maybe they use the term less or those children are catered for in mainstream nowadays.

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Takiwatanga · 29/07/2018 21:25

Can a moderate learning difficulty change to mild?

Takiwatanga · 29/07/2018 21:26

(thank you for all your help, lasty question I promise!)

zen1 · 29/07/2018 21:26

Thanks for answering Abney. The particular school I was considering is private I suppose, but also has charity status. The majority of their pupils are funded by LAs.

I also have another question (sorry!) and that is regarding the accurate assessment of children with SEN by professionals that have only met them on one occasion (ie those doing an assessment to contribute to an EHCP or for Tribunal evidence). In my child’s case, I find that they never get the measure of the things he knows and is able to do as he tends to clam up and just give any answer in order to hurry through tests so he can be out of the situation.

I have many reports that I know do not provide an accurate description of my child’s abilities. Is there any way in which these reports can be mitigated? How can I actually prove my child’s abilities, rather than his disabilities? I am really worried that his future placement will be determined by reports written by people that don’t know his capabilities because they haven’t observed them.

Eenymeeny123 · 29/07/2018 21:27

Oh sorry I was a bit confused. To me mild learning disability would have iq in the range of 50-70 and moderate would have 39-49. The special schools in my country the child would have to meet the iq criteria to be eligible for these schools.

Rainbowtrees · 29/07/2018 21:28

I have a DD going into year 6 in September. I have looked st secondary schools and she doesn’t fit in to either mainstream (won’t cope emotionally) or mld (won’t have the academic opportunities she’s capable of). All professionals working with her agree but can’t recommend where to send her as there is no middle ground in my County. What would you recommend to a parent in this position?

CraftyGin · 29/07/2018 21:31

How do you feel about independent schools receiving EHCP funding?

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:31

I'm not too sure to be honest- I guess theoretically yes- it is usually determined by cognitive assessment which should be repeated every 2-3 years (no less than a two year gap) when a child is young.

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Rainbowtrees · 29/07/2018 21:35

Another question if you don’t mind.
My DD was very ill last term and overall her attendance was 78% for the school year. Will this have an impact on whether schools will apply for/be awarded funding for her?

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:37

Well that sounds positive if the school has mostly LA funded pupils- if they think they can meet your child's needs you may not need to go to tribunal?

It is tricky as I understand how children can clam up with a stranger especially one asking them a hundred questions!

I guess I would be looking to the school to help you- so showing his progress eg work from one term to the next, levels, meeting targets set by school, school contributions to EHCPS etc as they would know your child and he hopefully feels comfortable with them, you can submit evidence yourself eg examples of things he can now do at home/out and about he couldn't do before etc

Also perhaps focus on what you think he needs next in order to meet his potential an why the school you want can provide this. It is a hard one though...

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:38

No worries I can only speak from my local authority but I haven't heard of IQ being used in that way.

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zen1 · 29/07/2018 21:39

Thanks - I appreciate your responses Smile. May be back later with more questions!

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:41

I know I've said it before but are there any secondaries with units attached- sounds like this might be good.
Otherwise lots of secondary school now run a 'nurture' class which is smaller and with extra pastoral as well as educational support, see if any of the mainstream schools by you have these maybe??
If is has to be mainstream then view them outside of the open evenings and quiz then about pastoral support heavily!!

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PickAChew · 29/07/2018 21:42

Rainbow, having been in that position, you need to look outside what your la has to offer, both geographically and at non-maintained and independent schools, both specialist and otherwise, depending on your dd's needs.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:44

I agree that some areas do not have enough or specific enough provision to meet all children's needs, but the cost of them seems so disproportionate to what a state place costs and I can't always see why!
So yes it is sometimes necessary and then I wouldn't begrudge the child the funding as ideally it is the child receiving the funding not the school it should just enable the school to meet the needs of that particular child (in an ideal world!)

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Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 21:49

I have never heard of a school being denied funding due to low attendance, we get a certain amount of money for each place available regardless of us being full or not then a 'top up' payment when each child starts at the school. So the only instance would be if say a child was given a place from September but was off school (ie never set foot in building for one registration) until October we would not get a full years top up it would be pro rata from when they physically started.

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Rainbowtrees · 29/07/2018 21:50

Thanks for the replies. There are no ASD units attached to secondary schools in my county which is the main problem as she would definitely be a good candidate. I’m reluctant to look too far from home as she has been so unwell and her condition is likely to affect her for the next few years, it all feels like a huge mess at the moment.

CraftyGin · 29/07/2018 21:54

If a child has an EHCP of around £20k and the school fees are £15k plus the cost of a TA, then there is not a lot of difference in cost?

A small independent school (eg max 12 students per class) can offer a proper mainstream education (8 or 9 subjects at GCSE), which ASD/high anxiety students can access and thrive in.

The problem with mainstream comps with classes of 34 are scary for only the most resilient.

Rainbowtrees · 29/07/2018 21:54

That’s reassuring regarding the funding for a school place. My concern now is that the school won’t buy in extra support if her attendance is low but that’s something I will have to deal with at the time if it happens.

Abneyandteal19 · 29/07/2018 22:06

Yes I can see how a mainstream school would be very hard but I was comparing it to my school I guess so special state v private special.

The thing is say my school has 30 places and I give your child place number 30, then they go to private- the place at my school is not taken away it would be there and funded anyway ( Likely filled by someone else shortly!) so now the LA are paying for 30 places at my school PLUS one at your chosen school so if everyone did this there would be no money left and they would start taking it away from state schools.

I totally accept it is unavoidable in some cases and may well be in your child's case, just that it's not as simple as saying that the private only costs 5k more.

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CraftyGin · 29/07/2018 22:08

I was say private mainstream compared to state special.

Eenymeeny123 · 29/07/2018 22:09

What happens to the

Eenymeeny123 · 29/07/2018 22:12

Sorry posted to soon, what age do children finish your school, are they there until 18 and what happens to them now, is there a follow on course they can do?

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