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Secondaries in Oxfordshire suitable for son with ASD as primary diagnosis

10 replies

Elephantsaregrey · 01/03/2021 11:36

Hi. We are looking at options for secondary schools (Sept 2022 entry) for my son who has a primary diagnosis of ASD along with ADHD, speech and communication difficulties and sensory issues. He is high functioning and very academic but needs support in other areas. Therefore we think mainstream with a support hub might be the best option, although he's also stated that he doesn't want to attend a large secondary. Any experience of secondaries in Oxfordshire would be really appreciated. Also, what would you recommend in terms of getting in touch with SENCos and arranging visits etc. It's quite tricky at the moment with Covid going on in the background but we really need our son to be able to visit schools to see what he feels. Many thanks!

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PongoPongo · 09/03/2021 15:27

I don't know the answer, but I'm in the same boat -- son with ASD and Sept 22 entry in Oxfordshire.

So following with interest...

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Elephantsaregrey · 12/03/2021 11:00

Hopefully someone can pass on their experience. Seems extra challenging to be thinking about secondary school choices at the moment when visits are tricky too!

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PongoPongo · 15/03/2021 17:38

I do hear good things about Cherwell. I worry about Swan as it sounds very strict. No idea on the other state secondaries.

I have heard good things about D'overbroecks but have no actual experience.

Hear mixed things about MCS, but mostly that the pressure is high so if that's a problem (it would be for us), then it's not likely to be a good fit.

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Elephantsaregrey · 21/03/2021 16:33

Yes, looking for a low pressure environment as well here!

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ChocolateHoneycomb · 22/03/2021 17:32

I have DS1 with ASD, dyslexia, mild dyspraxia (high IQ but poor in certain areas and v anxious) and am in oxford city. We can’t move far as DH has to be able to get to work within a certain timeframe when on call.

DS1 started at a local - absolutely fine, in fact good, primary. Unfortunately we ended up moving him to a private school for yr1 as the schools was too big , chaotic playground and they kept saying ds was meeting ‘expected’ targets and would settle and stop having meltdowns, wetting himself and hyperventilating all the time. I think the poor teachers were a bit overwhelmed by their workload tbh. His private school have been fantastic, but obv they have smaller classes and more resources, plus are more flexible overall.

As we are coming up to secondary I, luckily just before COVID, visited various schools in Oxford. Cherwell, Matthew Arnold, Cheney, Wheatley park, new swan school. Had ds seen by an edu psychologist again, who said that he basically wasn’t bad enough for anything much in the state sector - he wouldn’t qualify for an ASD hub based on either educational or behavioural needs based on the current situation. I looked round all these schools with a very open mind as we were considering moving within the city to get ds into one if we thought he would manage there. Cherwell looked very good overall, also Matthew Arnold. However I don’t think he would cope in the large, busy, socially harsh teenage environments and we would quickly find ourselves with a deteriorating situation. None of the schools SENCO were able to offer more than ‘we will write an IEP for him’, when I asked what they would do if problems emerged.Again they all seemed dedicated hardworking folks with far too much work.

So at the moment we are heading for private secondary for DS1. (Ds2 has no SEN so is completely separate case).

We have not gone down the EHCP route yet as the support needed is available without it in the private sector so far, and just having one seems to turn some schools off. If ds were going to go to a state school again I would apply for one.

So my advice would be

  • visit all the schools when possible, in the meantime arrange to speak to or meet online with a staff member (senco if poss but not always available) to give you a feel. Ask if they would let you get in contact with a current parent of a child with ASD if the parent consents - the majority were happy to do this and it was invaluable. Book in visits for autumn 2021 if poss, I’ve managed to do this in a couple of places
  • consider all schools logistically feasible, even those less good academically as if they will support your child they will do well anywhere
  • ask what they would do in certain situations, even if not relevant now for your child
  • also look at LVS oxford - it looks excellent but ds is far too academically able for their offering


GOOD LUCK
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PongoPongo · 23/03/2021 00:13

Your situation sounds exactly like mine! thank you so much for taking the time with your advice. this is so helpful.

Will visit schools!!

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Elephantsaregrey · 23/03/2021 09:31

Ditto - thank you so much for your advice ChocolateHoneycomb - lots of good tips and things to think about there. Yes, our main worry, and also my son's is being in a large crowded busy environment as I think that's what he'd most struggle with too. Thanks again!

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Elephantsaregrey · 23/03/2021 09:47

I also meant to ask if you know which private schools in Oxfordshire/Northamptonshire might be suitable for children with HF ASD as a primary diagnosis?

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Honestycounts · 25/04/2021 13:26

Woodeaton, LVS and Swalcliffe Park School are special schools for autism in Oxfordshire worth considering - but an EHCP would be needed - it took me about a year to get an EHCP and the right place for my son. Happy now at Swalcliffe Park school

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Toffeebythesea · 02/03/2023 14:45

@ChocolateHoneycomb
Old thread I know but if you're still on here would you mind sharing which private primary and secondary school your son attended. We are looking at moving my ds y3 to a private school and thinking ahead to secondary

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