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pim

how to decide mainstream or special school

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pim   

Hi,

 

I haven't posted on here for a while as things seem to be chugging along sort of ok. The question I have, which I know there is no answer to, but I was wondering how parents come to a decision to send their child to a special school. I imagine in some cases it's more clear cut whether they should stay in mainstream or go to a special school.

 

I'm now trying to decide for my son after school had been questionning his placement and suggested I look at special schools. He's 5 an 1/2, in year 1. He has a statement for 15 hours. I've looked at a couple of special schools for moderate learning difficulties. and next week i'll look at 2 more which are a bit further away. They are no autism units in the schools in this county so that is not an option. My DS doesn't seem to be learning much at school. In the mornings they try and work on this when he's got his LSA.

 

I don't know if my son would warrant a place at a MLD school, but he is struggling in mainstream. I can only see him workwise falling more and more behind the others in the class and the more aware he becomes of being different the more unhappy he might be. He is social and wants to play with the other children. But as the autism advisor said to give him another year in Mainstream as he is still young.

 

There is a review of his statement in a couple of weeks where all this is going to be discussed and I don't know whether to fight for more hours on his statement (impossible to get) or say that I think he is better suited in a special school.

 

I would appreciate any advise or how the deciion was reached in your childs case.

 

 

pim

Edited by pim

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madme   

Hi Pim have you looked at the private sector? Might be worth looking at Gabbitas? There may be other schools that you werent aware of and the LEA wont exactly be telling you. It would possibly mean going to tribunal. Do the MLD schools have proper training and experience of autism? My son couldnt cope in a mainstream school but also wasnt suited to an MLD or our local state special school ( not that there were any places) we argued and won for a small independent special school at primary and secondary. We had some help from IPSEA - have a look at their website. Good luck.

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Jill   

This is a toughie & it really is down to the individual child & what you know will suit them best (but you obviously already know that).

 

We decided special school. The Boy is mid spectrum, non verbal (apart from a few stock phrases), not toilet trained and has no real sense of danger. However, he does have some social skills & does enjoy interaction with other kids. We spent most of the latter part of last year going round and visiting various schools. We went to 2 mainstream, 1 autism specific, one autistic unit in a mainstream school and 2 generic special schools.

 

In the end we plumped for one of the generic special schools. Mainly because they used PECs (which The Boy is familiar with) over 50% of the pupils there were on the spectrum (so the teachers obviously had experience) but there was clear evidence of good interaction between the kids at play time and in classes. Also, this sounds a bit bizarre but bear with me, all the kids were pretty much physically able. The other generic special had a larger number of children who looked quite frail and / or had physical disabilities & we did worry about their safety with our rumbuctious Boy let amongst them.

 

The result? Well, he's been going to the school we chose for 3 weeks now, settled well, loves it to bits & was voted star of the week on his first week. :thumbs:

 

So I guess what I am saying is you need to list what it is that you need from a school / what you think would suit your son best & then go and visit as many as you can. That's what we did & it worked well for us.

 

Good Luck.

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minerva   

Hi Pim,

 

I didnt really get a choice for us it's really more of a necessity. Cameron attended 3 mainstream schools and an EBD school and failed every time.

 

Your sons behavioural difficulties may be that he isn't comfortable in mainstream school as that is often how it manifests itself.

 

The special school doesnt have to be within your county for your child to go there, not sure if you know that?

 

It's definately worth keeping your options open, you are going to visit the schools next week and your meeting isn't until the week after so it's probably best to see what they have to offer before making any decisions.

 

 

Sorry I cant be of any more help :(

 

Nicke

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darky   

Having 2 kids on the spectrum attending mainstream schools, i would choose special school every time. BUT there is no CHOICE in this area. Nothing to meet the needs of higher functioning children on the AS.

 

I do hold very strong views about inclusion, but i feel this is down to some very bad experiences that cloud my judgement. Even though my daughter is in a good mainstream, there are still some very real problems that are bore out of ignorance and sheer class sizes, and mix of kids.

 

I have found it harder to access other services as well, such as social services. Its a bit like the witches ducking stool, its unfair!! You are denied services and access to the appropiate services because your child is not disabled enough, however, if my children were in a special school they would be deemed disabled enough and get the support, but there ARE no special schools for them to go to!! No win situation.

 

My opinion of it is like fitting a square peg in a round hole, it does not fit. In our case anyway.

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Bullet   

As things stand, I want Ds1 to go to the special school attached to the nursery he attends. If he could cope in mainstream I'd put him in a mainstream school, but it doesn't appear to be an option at the moment.

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Karen A   

Hi pim.Ben is in mainstream with full time support more or less.He is doing very well.I feel there is a big gap between the two options you have ;15 hours in mainstream or specialist provision for moderate learning difficulties.If you would prefer your child to remain in mainstream with increased support then I think it would be worth pushing for it.I would think that significant support in mainstream would still be a more ecconomical option for the LEA than a special school.In any case you have a right to appropriate support to enable your child to remain in mainstram if that is your choice.

In the end there is no one answer-even with very similar children parents have different view re where they wish their child to be educated.Also even in the same setting one child may do well and another less well.

Have you any way of contacting other parents of children with similar needs in your area to obtain their views?

Regards Karen.

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pim   

Hi,

 

thanks for the replies.

Also thanks for the suggestion to look at the Gabbitas site, which I did. It recommended a private school that I had already booked an appointment to see. Even before I've looked at it I'm wondering about the logistics of how I'd get him there, when I have my other daughters school run to think about. The school is half an hour drive away.

 

The school have point blanked refused to put any hours of support above the 15 hours in his statement. I've been arguing for the last 2 statement reviews that he needs more support. HIs 1 to 1 helper, who I like, said that I should listen to what the school are saying. In her view DS would get more help in an environment of the special school where they understand autism. SHe worries as the teacher and herself don't have enough understanding about ASD's. But my gut reaction when I looked around the schools so far is my son would not fit in there.

 

Initially I thought that if ds could get more hours support then he would be happier in mainstream. But then after talking to another mum, whose son does get more hours and is older. She now wants her DS to go to a special school. The main reason is that he is learning slowly and is very behind. He is on a seperate curriculum to the other children in his class, so what's the point of him being in mainstream.

 

The school are nervous as the LEA here are directing the funding directly to schools and statements which have less than 15 hours, will be funded from school budgets.

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Karen A   

Hi again.I am sorry that having spoken to the other mum it does not look as though just getting more support at the current school would solve the problem.Have you thought about looking at any other mainstream schools in your area ? Some may have more experience with ASD.You could get a rough idea by looking at the OFSTED reports for other local schools.There may not be any that are a good option but it may be worth ruling this option out.Karen.

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bid   

Just to say Pim, that if the school you looked at is named on your son's Statement, the LEA should provide transport if it is a fair distance away.

 

Bid

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jen   

Its sounds like the school feel that your child does not have the right support.

What does the ED Psy say you can always ask for him to reassess your son if he has not seen him recently.

 

If the LEA are not going to increase funding than you may have to choose a special school. Within our area children who are doing well at special school are sometimes placed back in a mainstream with the correct support. So this may help you consider the situation.

 

From experience I can tell you the priority has to be the happiness of your child. If he is not happy move him, you could always try another mainstream school close by you.

 

What does your ASD team advise?

 

It sounds like the behaviour is due to your child not coping. This may be due to the teachers not having the right skills or it could be the school is not suitable for your child.

 

Good luck in what ever you decide.

 

Jen

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pim   

hi,

 

Thanks for the advice.

 

sorry I didn't make it clear. It is always difficult to explain things over the internet. My son 1 to 1 helper did think a special school might suit my son, but she has never visited a special school. Also my son is the first ASD child she has worked with. The autism advisor has suggested that I should give another year for DS in mainstream. She could imagine him remaining in Mainstream. But she advised me to look at all the MLD schools.

 

However, I do wonder whether I am delaying the inevitable that DS may need to go to Special school later on, or whether I'm hiding in the clouds and not admitting to myself the full extent of DS difficulties. I'm also thinking about what the future holds for DS in mainstream. He is very social, but with difficulties. He likes having other boys from his class to come round and play and his older sister friends.

 

Also after talking to the MLD school both the headteachers said that in their experience, once a child has entered a special school, a child has not ever gone back into mainstream. As the parents had to fight so hard to get them in that they don't want them back in mainstream.

 

It is not easy to change schools as I have his 2 sisters to think about. They are happy and have their friendships. But maybe I should look at another one, which I have heard good things about.

 

In the past the LEA have refused to increase the support because they say the school haven't put any additional support, so my ds does not need it. I know the school is worried as all SEN funding is changing in the county from April.

 

 

pim

Edited by pim

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elun1   

Hi My ds attends a specialist autistic unit attached to a mainstream school. Mainstream is not an option for him as he wouldn't be able to access the curriculum and as he is severe needs help in all areas including toileting, dressing, can't walk up and downstairs etc. However as far as inclusion is concerned your ds should receive as much support as he requires to access the curriculum of the mainstream setting if that is what you decide would best. Does he have a Statement? If so you need to look carefully at the provision outlined in Part 3. Whatever is outlined there is his legal entitlement. If his current school can't won't provide it then the LEA must agree to a school that can

Elun xxx

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pim   

Hi,

 

Yes my son does have a statement. for 15 hours. The school do not put any additional hours out of their budget. However, they now recognise that he needs more support than that but they cant afford to.

 

The SEN budget is changing here in this county. The HT has just informed me that any statements with 15 hours or less will come back with 0 hours. As the LEA are giving more funding directly to the schools. It will then be up to the school to decide how that money is spent. I had thought DS would be OK as he has 15 hours, but today the HT informed me that this is not the case. It's scary as it basically means the statement will become a useless piece of paper if it cannot guarantee any level of support. I doubt the HT will want to give my son that level of support. I think she much rather he was not her problem. I don't want to change schools as my dd's are settled.

 

There are no schools with autistic units attached to mainstream in this county. I am looking at other schools and special schools and havent as yet found one that I think is a good fit.

 

pim

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elun1   

Hi Pim

I don't think the HT is being straight with you. A Statement is a legal document and it remains in force with the LEA having an obligation to fulfill what is written in Part 3. You need (imo) to inform the HT that you are not happy with this unwillingness to help you and your child. You then could do one of several things but first you need someone on your side with bags of knowledge and experience e.g someone from IPSEA or someone from Education Advocacy at the National Autistic Society. If it was me, after chatting through my situation with an advisor I would request a meeting with School Governor with Responsibility for S.E.N or even with whole Governing body. Put your son's case to them. It is NOT your place to have to worry about funding for your son. He has additional Learning Needs and the school must meet them. If no joy with governors then you need to meet with Special Needs Manager at LEA. If LEA can not meet his needs then they must finance a school that can

Elun xxx

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pim   

Hi,

 

Thanks for the quick reply. I just think that there is alot of confusion around SEN funding as it is changing in this county. After talking to the SEN person at the LEA. She said that DS statement will be OK for another year. But she would not clarify how it would be affected in a years time. The main change is that the money for the hours in the statement will come out of the school budget and no longer from the LEA as the funding is being devolved to schools.

 

They are trying to get rid of the number of statements.

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Kathryn   

You're right about the confusion, pim. No one seems to know what is going on round here. But whatever this wonderful county of ours do with SEN funding in April, the law hasn't changed. The LEA is still responsible for making sure provision in the statement is delivered, even if the school is paying for it. The school could refuse to fund the hours and the LEA would then be legally obliged to fund it themselves.

 

As elun says, funding shouldn't be for you to worry about!

 

K x

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