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School-Don't know what to do

67 replies

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 10:09

Am having problems getting my ds 5 into school this morning.

In another thread I explained how my ds who has selective mutism was staying behind in reception away from his peers of last year and had been making progress.
Am in talks as I don't agree with the decision.The head is still adamant this is the right decision.

He went back on tuesday and I had to stay for an hour and then he was very distressed and clung to me and would,nt let go.Yesterday he was upset as well.Today he is very anxious and keeps saying he does'nt like school and he knows I will leave him there.
Have been in tears this morning and don'nt know what to do apart from drag him there.He has a new teacher and talking to her am not sure if she understands ds's SM.She said yesterday she was talking to him about why he does'nt like school and am not sure if ds is feeling pressured to talk.He had'nt talked in school for 9 months then after that with me going into school he had started to talk.Then they go and change his classmates and his confidence has gone where as before I had no problems getting him into school.

Anyone else been in this situation would be gratful for some advice,am feeling distraught and don't know what to do next.

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tiptoes · 07/09/2006 11:14


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Jimjams2 · 07/09/2006 11:58

I agree with you on this one.

One thing that I would ask the school is whether he could doo mixed reception Yr1. Schools get funny about Yr 1 sometimes as they see it as the start of "real" work, and whilst they;re happy to accomodate all sorts in reception, get to year 1 and hey ho its all suddenly much more serious.

DS1 spent 4 terms in mainstream (he's severely autistic), one year in reception and then a term in year 1- although he was able to "access" reception. Could you aks them if they could do that? Officially keep him in Year 1 but allow him to access reception if need be.

TBH though it doesn't sound very good- I'm not sure I follow why a child with SM should even need to access reception (a very different condition from my son's autism- where reception was still useful for him). Do the school understand the condition at all? Surely they should be taking the pressure off talking and providing alternative ways for your son to communicate?

Tiggiwinkle · 07/09/2006 12:07

I think I remember you posting about this at the end of last term Tiptoes, and not understanding at the time why they would keep your DS back for a year. What reason have they given you for it? It really does seem totally inappropriate, especially as he was beginning to talk. Do you have any professionals involved to support you?
I think I would put the case very strongly for him to stay with his peers. As far as I can see, it will only cause him further problems to keep him in a new and strange class.

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 12:19

Jimjams2-Thanks for your reply.

The school have left him in reception and they say he will have access to some year 1 work with his previous peers.But ultimatly he will be in reception.The new intake of reception children he does'nt know is really unsettling for him and his confidence and he will be going over reception work again.To be honest he does not need to do this as his ability and understanding has never been in question.His SALT recommended he kept up the momentim with his previous peers who were used to ds's SM and accepted it.

As I sais I am not sure his new teacher understands SM as yesterday she was saying to me he seemed rather anxious and I pointed out that that is what SM is all about,it is anxiety based.Thn in front of the whole class that morning she said ds should be brave and let his mum go home.Bringing attention to hium like this in front of all his new classmates is not a good idea for his anxiety.She said well it is only the second day,and I got the feeling she thought he would talk soon when it took 9 months in the previous class for ds to build up his self esteem.
She said he nearly spook yesterday and he saw her watching him and she said I nearly caught him out.
Not the right way to go about it.

It sounds to me a better way to do things as your ds did by moving up to year 1 with his previous classmates and access to reception if needed.But the school are saying they already have 30 in year 1 class so is no place for ds.

Has it worked out for your ds with that arrangement?

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tiptoes · 07/09/2006 12:25

Tiggiwinkle-I did post about this at the end of term and with the school being closed came up againest a brick wall.

The paediatrician and SALT have written to the head saying that this would not be a good idea but the head is standing by her decision.

The school say he is not being held back as such as he will still have access to year 1 work.
The main thing about all this is ds's SM and keeping things familiar as possible so as not to raise his anxiety.This is what they have failed to acknowledge.

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Tiggiwinkle · 07/09/2006 12:30

It just seems to display a total lack of understanding on the schools part. You must find it so frustrating. At the end of the day, he does not need to be kept back academically, so what on earth is their justification for doing it?

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 12:51

Tigiwinkle-The only reason I can gage from all this is class numbers.They already have 30 children in year 1 and by law can not go over that figure.But has been pointed out to me by numerous people that is not my ds's problem,why should he suffer.

I have bben looking at the code of practices for special needs children and schools can make exceptions to this but not sure if ds would fall into this caterogry and the school have not pointed this out to me,had to finf out about this from childrens services.

The head also sent a detailed letter as to their reasons but I was not given a copy of that letter.It was sent to ds's paed in the first place and copied to his SALT and the LEA.All of whom say they can't give me a copy without the heads permission.Although when I spoke to the LEA yesterday a lady said I have a right to a copy of this letter concerning my son.

It's all a bit of a mix up and not sure whether to approach the head again or go through the LEA.

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Tiggiwinkle · 07/09/2006 13:48

Tiptoes-That is disgusting-it is absolutely the schools problem re. the numbers. Why on earth should your DS suffer because they have too many children in the year? If anything his SNs should mean he is NOT treated like this. I am sure you have a very good case for arguing against it. I saw elsewhere that you are trying to contact IPSEA-I am sure they will help you to fight this.

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 14:02

Thanks tiggiwinkle-
The head from the school just rang me and said I should get ds to school tomorrow as he will quickly learn that by me letting himstay home today he can get round me and do this again.I don't think it was a case of him not wanting to go but that he was very anxious this I said previously we had no problems with this last term.She said she had talked to his teacher and they had seen no signs of ds being anxious.
Erm what about the the last two mornings I had to stay a while and he was in tears and it took 2 teachers to pull him off me.I could'nt say this as ds was standing next to me whilst i was on the phone.

She said I know you stayed quite a while on the first day and to just bring him to school and not hang around just go and the teachers will deal with it.
Deal with it how?The thing I have been advised with SM is change should be done gradually until ds feels comfortable.Not just being dumped off at school and leave him all upset and anxious.

Ds is already saying but mummy will leave me and his trust in me has gone already.
We never had these seperation anxietys before.

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Tiggiwinkle · 07/09/2006 14:16

I do feel for you Tiptoes. My DS is 7 and is AS. He gets very anxious and we had a terrible time in year 1 (before his dx) when I had to literally drag him into school. His teacher that year was appalling, with no understanding of AS at all-even when he got his diagnosis she did not improve. I often used to be in tears myself by the time I got home, because they just could not seem to understand the issues involved.
I would probably keep him off myself until it is sorted-that would be my instinct, although others will probably advise against doing so.

kiwikid · 07/09/2006 14:35

As a SENCO i'm concerned(on your behalf) that your child is being held back in reception despite the advice of the specialists involved.Have i read that correctly? I'm not sure of the level of support your child recieves... ie what stage is he on the CoP? But the school should be able to (through Sen funding) and have a responsibility to support your child in his appropriate year group.

I think you should contact the LEA and find out how the school have justified keeping him back a year. As far as i'm concerned this is not an acceptable way of managing or supporting his needs.
Also, it would be worth asking them how this will effect his placement in the future. I have had the experience (three times) of having being told by the LEA that we needs to more children on... ie skip a year placement due to the fact that they were held back in the foundation stages. This has meant children moving onto secondary school after year 5 to get them back in the chronological year group.
Good luck

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 14:36

Tiggiwinkle-I know what you mean about being in tears,I had to really hold back on tuesday when I saw how anxious he was and that I had to leave him screaming for me.
I had real problems trying to get him into his school uniform this morning.

How did you manage to get him to school?
i have a dd also who is 3 and this is very unsettling for her to watch as well.When I was having problems getting ds ready dd copied and started to play up as well.It was impossible and I could'nt cope with it.

As for keeping him off school for a while I sam not sure that dh would agree with that.Although dh did say last night maybe ds should go to a special school for a couple of years and then rejoin this school later.He feels his needs are not being met at this school.

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tiptoes · 07/09/2006 14:38

Tiggiwinkle-I meant to say how did you manage to get your ds into school?

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tiptoes · 07/09/2006 14:47

kiwikid-The school are saying he is not being held back but put in a group called reception/year 1 and will be doing some year 1 work and repeating some reception work.On the first days back the classroom was obviously set out for the new reception intake and to be honest was like preschool and my ds's ability and undersdatnding are there and knowing him like i do he will need more stimulation.He needs to move on educationally to the next stage rather than doing puzzles,painting etc.
His teacher has even given him a book with no words in as she says he can make a story up.Just because he does'nt talk in school does,nt mean he does'nt recognise words in a book and can say those words at home.

The school have ignored the professionals advice.Ds does not have a statement but recieves DLA and I recieve careers allowance.He recieves no extra help in school for him SM.I am not sure if an exception could be made to year ones class size as per the code of practices in ds's case.No one has been able to answer that for me.

I have spoken to the LEA and am awaiting there response.

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kiwikid · 07/09/2006 15:21

I would agree with the fact that the school don't appear to be meeting his needs however there are lots of really good, inclusive mainstream schools who would be able to support your son in a positive way. What i'm saying is special schools are not necessarily the answer. Especially as it sounds as though your son had a positive start at this school!!

I think you need to sit down with the teacher and make an Action Plan for getting your son to school and reducing his anxiety. You need to know exactly how/what they will do when you leave him at school... for his and your own piece of mind!! I can't count the number of parents I've called on a daily basis to reassure them that everything is ok, or to tell them we've had a rocky start but we're getting there! I would also suggest that you ask for a meeting with the CT and any of the professionals he has been involved with who could be there to discuss his needs and how they should go about meeting them. It sounds as though they could use some advice.

Some things to consider...
Are there children from his previous class in his new year 1/reception class? If yes it may be worth trying to attach him to one of these children as a buddy. Someone familiar is important for children who are anxious at school.
Is there a Teaching Assistant in the class? Could she meet you each morning, perhaps before the other children arrive and start an activity that your son enjoys with him. Computer games (educational of course normally work a treat!!

If he was at my school (well he would be with his peers...but) i'd be wanting to see if his anxiety remains when he is with his peer group again. It sounds to me as if the environment, ie the school, are contributing to, if not creating the problem.

Keep on there case about the level of work they are giving him. They must ensure he is being given appropriate work otherwise he'll get bored.
For info
The CoP works in levels. Generally children who require support that is different from the 'normal' differentiation that is taking place in the class are put on the CoP
School Action - children who require different support but can be provided through the expertise of the school and the child continues to make progress
School Action Plus - children who require additional support, usually incorporates support/advice/guidance from outside agencies (sounds like your ds)
Statement of Educational Need - a specific level of funding provided specifically for your child to provide the appropriate support.
The school then recieves funding based on where your child is at. School Action is a minimal amount, A+ provide a bit more. So... even if he does not have a statement, there should be some funding to support him. Usally schools use the money to employ Teaching Assistants, if there is one the school should be making it clear to you how they are using the TA to help support your son. Ask them what stage he is on the CoP.
I hope this makes sense... it's a bloody essay, sorry. But i get wound up when i hear of children who are not being supported by schools.

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 15:55

Thank you so much kiwikid,it is so nice to talk to someone who knows where I am comning from and understands.I though I was over reacting to all this.

I will come back to this thread later and read through your suggestions again and reply properly.

Thanks again,a great help

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tiptoes · 07/09/2006 17:47

kiwikid-I agree he should stay in mainstream ,the SALT has said this as well for children with SM.
As you say I need to arrange a meetimg with all concerned for piece of mind ,something I would have thought the school would have advised as a general practice!!

All his friends went up to year 1 ,the ones he had started to talk to and has playdates with after school.This I think has added to his anxiety as he went back to school to a classroom of strangers and a new teacher to boot.
Also the teaching assistants he had formed a bond with have moved classes as well.
We were introduced to ds's new teacher 2 days before the end of term and even then it was a quick 5 minute chat on the way home.The SALT advised that ds should have been prepared much earlier for these changes.

They told us last year when ds started age just 4 ,he is an august baby that funding would be provided,we have seen nothing.We were sceptical about ds starting last year and were going to delay until this year but the school and SENCO almost pushed us to start him last year.Ironically they are now making him do the reception all over again.

The head said today he has a lot of adult support in this class but as the SALT pointed out to her in her letter it is not more adult support he needs and pressure to talk but to be with his peers he has started to talk to.

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kiwikid · 07/09/2006 18:21

How's that for timing just got back from our walk and bam your message appeared
You're not over reacting he is your most treasured possession!!! (something my first head always told me to remember when i started teaching).
you probably don't want to hear this but i think they're fobbing you off about the reception/year 1 business. If that was the case surely some of his peers would also be in his new class!! I would have thought the slightly more structured environment of year 1 would be great for an anxious child.
It sounds like your SALT is worth her weight in gold though. I would definately agree that they should have started preparing him for the change at least three weeks before the end of the last term. It sounds like they've really pulled the rug from under him and i can't believe that really, particularly since he had made so much progress... seems crazy.
Anyway if there really is no way of forcing their hand and moving him up (i know that 30 is the max but how come all of his classmates have moved up and not him as one of the 30?? Has a new enrolment taken his place?? Does this make sense??) you really need to get them to make a detailed written Action Plan about what they are going to do to sort out the problem they have created (dare i say it!)
I had another thought... perhaps one of his friends could come into his classroom with him at the beginning of the day, perhaps for a period of time and 'play' with him and another child from his new class and the TA until he feels more comfortable. it's hard to do this as it obviously impacts on other chn but you'll know his friends and the parents and whether this kind of strategy could be put in place.
OR can you stay for a bit of time with him and the TA so he gets to know this person and feels comfortable with them... i wouldn't normally suggest a parent stay but i think they've taken away all of the security he knows and he needs to establish a rapport with someone.
Really what you need to do is sit down and brainstorm any ideas you have as to what they could do to support him to make him feel less anxious (your SALT may have some) and then discuss with the CT if it is possible to put them in place.
Finally stop asking yourself what you should be doing to get your child to school, turn it around and think... What are the school going to do to make my child want to and enjoy being at school?
I won't say keep smiling 'cos it's really hard when you've got a distressed child... but chin up and get the school to do their bit and reassure you that they are doing all they can. Good Luck x

tiptoes · 07/09/2006 18:51

kiwikid-It's a shame you are not my ds's SENCO,you have some great advice to offer.

It's interesting what you say about someone taking his place,I am not sure if that is the case.There was a little boy who left before christmas to live abroad and then returned in June afetr things did'nt work out as went back into school and is the the class of 30 now.
So he missed a few months of reception.
There is two other children who are with my ds from reception last year and the mothers I have spoken to are ok with the decision.One is in speech therapy also and the other one does not talk in class ethier and I have only just started talking to her this week and was unaware of her little boy.He has not been diagnoised with SM and is only just starting speech therapy.His mother has not had any concerns aboiut her son put to her from the school.My SALT happened to pick up on this for my ds as I had not heard of SM ethier befre she mentioned it.
I did voice my concerns that these 3 with special needs were being left behind and surely they need to stay in with their peers and normal talking children.I would have thought they will only reinforce each others behaviour being singled out like this.
My ds did not have many dealings with these other 2 children before so were not really friends .It's a shame I was,nt made aware earlier of this other little boy who was,nt talking in school as me and his mother seem to hit it off and we could have supported each other.

I had started in june doing the sliding in technique whereby I was going into school for half an hoiur 3 days a week and that is when ds started to talk with me present.He then talked to his old teacher and 2 of his friends.Which is why I was so astounded when they moved up these 2 friends and left ds behind.It was such an emotional ytime as his teacher had'nt ever heard ds talk and his classmates were all saying oh is he going to talk now.

Then the school go and put him with strangers and he will have to endue all the questions from the new childrn of why does'nt he talk?an't he talk?

It is heartbreaking.

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kiwikid · 07/09/2006 19:29

I love a challenge and i love working with kids like your DS!!
Again, i'd have to say it sounds like the school are taking the p*! If i understand you correctly the class is made up of reception chn and 3 SEN year 1 pupils. Are there any other SEN chn in the year 1 class, obviously difficult to find out but it sounds a bit suss to me! Something to mention to the LEA perhaps?!? Depends on how much fuss you want to make really and if you feel the school will then make life difficult for you/your son.

I think if you being there was the trigger to him developing confidence to interact with other chn you should definately give it another try in this new class. Volunteer to come in a do some reading with the chn in the class perhaps?, most teachers jump at that!
Get the other kids over for playdates so he gets to know some kids from his class, perhaps invite one his old friends plus one new one? Hang on a sec need to jump back to your post!!

kiwikid · 07/09/2006 19:42

Oh that was it... regarding all the other kids questions. If you feel comfortable with it ask the CT to talk to the other children about your son/his needs/ his differences. Obviously without him present!! (and possibly the other year 1 chn) Chn are naturally curious, you can't stop them asking those questions and yes they will make your child feel uncomfortable. For some of the SEN children i have taught i have had a discussion with the rest of the class and allowed them to ask all the questions they want to and answered them as best i could. Usually finishing with something like... everyone is at school to learn and we're all good at different things, X is learning to feel happy about talking to new people and we can help him by... It is amazing the way chn will repond and support their peers in a really caring and loving way! Example... working with a child with quite severe language difficulties who would, on occasion, bite others. One day a little boy was bitten quite badly on the leg. With tear filled eyes he said... 'But i know X is trying really hard to learn how to say that he is feeling angry, i don't really mind' Bless him, luckily his parents were understanding also!!

Tiggiwinkle · 07/09/2006 22:08

Tiptoes-In answer to your question about how we got DS to go into school-the psychologist suggested using a star chart to reward him for each stage in getting ready for school, because he used to become entrenched in all kinds of routines to cope with his anxieties and to delay getting there. If we got to school on time for the whole week, he would get a small treat. I was sceptical it would work given the level of his fears-but amazingly it worked really well and we were able to stop using the charts.
However, in you DSs case, I still feel the school is at fault and all this added upset should have been avoidable. Kiwikid has given you some excellent advice here. I feel the school is very wrong, even more so in the light of the other 2 children kept down, and I hope you pursue it further as I think they should be challenged.


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tiptoes · 09/09/2006 11:51

Thanks everyone for the replys.

Have now got an appointment with the Head and class teacher on tuesday and my DH has taken time off to be there as well.Just hope DH keeps his cool as he is pretty wound up about all this at the moment.

I asked her yestaerday for a copy of the letter she sent out to the professionalse explaining the reasons behind he decision and she did'nt really give me a straight answer to if I could have a copy.
I rang back later in the day and and the office told me I would have to wait until the meeting to get a copy.I said I wanted it before hand to read over the weekend so I was prepared for the meeting.The Head then came onto the pphone and said in a matter of fact way "hello Mrs ....... whats the problem" she sounded like I was pestering her and made me feel so small.

Spoke to ds's SALT and explained my concerns and she was annoyed at the new teacher for talking with ds about why he does,nt talk in schoo.She said she would ring her and up and tell her to back off getting him to talk and pressuring him.
She said she had left literature about SM with them and they should not this is not the way to go about it.

I suggested we need a meeting with someone from SALT ther to clarify these points as they don't seem to be getting through to the school.
I feel so sad about all this,ds was coming along so well and we never had tears at school or seperation anxiety and the head hinted at that he seems fine at schol and we need to look elsewhere for the reasons.He was fine before they kept him back away from his peers of last year and loved school.

The head pointed out that they can give priority to every parent to choose classes,I know that.But what I do expect is for a child with SN to have those needs met in school and not to add to them.She is totally dismissing his SM.
It just seems suspicious to me that the other 3 childrn staying back all have SN and that this is not a coincidence,it is wrong.

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Celia2 · 10/09/2006 08:28

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiptoes · 10/09/2006 13:02

Celia2 -Thanks for your concern.
I think there were approxemitley 54 pupils in reception last year split over 2 teachers at opposite ends of 1 classroom.

This term they have orgainised the children who are currently in reception and year 1 into 3 classes.
one class of year 1 children,one mixed year 1 and 2 ,and one year 2.
But my ds has been put in a class with 3 other children from last term into a grouping reception/1.Alongside the new intake of reception children.

So in effect the head has said they already have the maximun 30 children in year 1 grouping and it is not possible for ds to join this group as they can not go over the 30 children per class.Which I understand but don't understand why ds was not put into year 1 as he meets all the criteria they have set out for making their decision.IE friendships,gender mix,special educational needs,social mix and motivation.All of which the paediatrician has pointed out would be a strong reason why ds should have moved up to year 1.

I will make sure I am well prepared for Tuesdays meeting and take notes with me as I know from previous meetings i get into her office and she makes me feel like a bad mother and everything I wanted to say goes straight out of my head.
I have contacted PP and am hoping to arrange for someone come along to a meeting sometime for some moral suuport.
DH is coming to the meeting on Tuesday ,which should be interesting as he is so very angry with all this at the moment and we both fee this coud have been avoided if their had been more communication in the first place and they had spoken to the professionals sooner.

The head had said the other day she did'nt realise ds was under a paediatrician doctor but ds had had time of school for this with her and the SALT and I found a letter dated 31st may 2006 explaining that ds was under this doctor and a copy of this was sent to the head at his school.So she obvioiusly had'nt read that letter or she choose to forget it.Should I show her this letter and gloat?

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