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Transition to secondary school

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I'm sure that some time back there was a "pinned" notice about questions to ask potential secondary schools when visiting their SEN departments prior to entry. Can anyone help me locate it, please?


We're just considering secondary schools for 2008, doing the Y5 transition annual review and thinking about visiting a few local schools, so I could do with some help about what things to look out for/ask.


All help gratefully received!



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Hi Jomica,


My son is in his 1st year at secondary school year 7 (mainstream) I didn't think for one minite he'd settle and cope & was so uptight about even looking at schools for him it was a nightmare.


I looked round about 8 schools, I chose to visit during school hours as it's best to go and see how things run.


I asked how many A.S chilren inparticular (if any) they already have in their school and how they seem to manage. I asked what training in ASD's the teachers aides have had (if any!). I asked about break/lunch times - as my son can't cope out in the playground too well. I asked how many Teachers Aides would be allocated to my son for his 27 hours per week (statement)


Most of all, I went with my heart and feelings of the school and staff. I wasn't bothered about academically as such because that didn't bother me as much as his happiness.


I made my desicion and thankfully it's been just perfect :dance: He has 2 different aides, they are very aware of his problems and can tell already when things might get too much for him and they treat him so well, they genuinely care about him and although I didn't think he'd cope in "Big" school he's doing well.


I knew when I questioned the special needs heads of these schools, who knew what, the school I chose seemed to know authors of books i'd read (my personal favourite then i know they at least understand A.S) and they didn't seem to have to do everything by the book...e.g. he goes into the special needs room at break and lunch times with a friend, he is not made to do things he has problems with, he hasn't done P.E yet since he started in September although he likes Drama!!!


Just ask as many questions as you like, if they are patient and don't rush you, you can sum them up quite well, although i must admit that some things different schools said sounded too good to be true but the school I chose for Dan was the best both for him & me.


Good Luck, it's not as daunting as I thought and I dragged my heels even going to look at schools, i'd given up before i'd even started!!! Hope you find what your looking for.


Love & Best Wishes,

Rach x

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I'm so glad that this question has been posted, because the thoughts of my dd going into a Secondary school brings me out in a cold sweat :(


Sorry to jump on your post Jomica but I too would like a guide as to which questions I should ask and what I should be looking for. I know that when we attend visits we will be told about resources, lessons, ratio of staff to pupils etc. One of my worries about dd attending a SEN school is, is it appropriate for an 11 year old girl to attend the same school as 18 year old boys both having learning difficulties and not d foknowing what is acceptable behaviour.


Another concern of mine is that we have the threat of closure of one of our SEN schools, which will limit our choice further still. :(



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Hi We looked at several secondary schools this year.Our younger son in year 4 has DCD and social communication difficulties.Our elder [NT] son is in year 6 but we want to keep the boys together [we think].I found that meeting with the Senco and asking ''How do provide for children with Asperger Syndrome ?'' Was all that was needed in several cases- :blink::blink::blink: looks =cross rapidly off list.

I also checked Ofsted reports for comments re SEN provision and talked to the SEN support team SLT to find where in the borough the other children supported by autism outreach have gone to.Regards Karen.

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Transition Advice sheet.


Choosing a school:


It is never too early to start thinking about planning your child?s transition between schools. In fact my advice is to start this as early as possible.


Even before admission papers are issued asking you to state your parental preference of school I suggest you start doing your groundwork. Visit any schools you are considering. Arrange to go round them on a normal day and see the school at work. It would be sensible to do this without your child as this means you will be able to concentrate completely on getting a good idea of how each school works. Ask to speak to the SENCo, get copies of the SEN and any other policies you want as well as a school prospectus. If you have specific issues you want to ask about write them down before you go. Take notes as you go around to refer to later. Most schools will be happy to arrange for such a visit. I'd be very wary of any that won't.


Once you have done that, compare your thoughts on them, this is where your notes from each visit will be useful as you can use them to compare responses to the questions you asked. Decide which ones are worth following up and then arrange for you AND your child to visit on a normal day. See how the teachers and TAs react to your child and your child to the staff - likewise the other pupils ? remember to have any new questions you have thought of with you (don?t be worried about your child wanting to ask questions too, after all, it will be their school in the end. Then sit down again and compare notes. If, when the forms come out the schools have open evenings (most, if not all, do) go along. Take a list of any new questions you have and take the time to speak to the staff. Then sit and talk it all through (AGAIN).


After all that, fill in your form and wait for March (normal time for being told whether you have got the place in the school of preference).


Once you know the school, get talking to them. Identify as soon as possible the important staff if you don't know them already. At this point we took our son?s new school a letter describing him, his likes and dislikes, the sort of things that would upset him and how he would react - how they should react to him. We also arranged for him to have around half a dozen visits to the school in the summer term so he could get to know the staff, layout of the building, noise levels between lessons and so on. This was in addition to the between schools 'Transfer Day'. All of which helped him to get a good idea of what to expect in the September. Through all of that and the normal academic exchange of information between the schools they had a very good idea of what he was going to be like. They told us the 'this is him' letter was a brilliant idea, what?s more important was the fact they circulated it around all staff who he would be taught by - we know this as we saw the copies!


Whilst all this was taking place we got to know the school staff ourselves and they got to know us. This meant that if problems occurred once he was there we knew exactly who we needed to speak to and they knew who they were dealing with. We also made it clear throughout this process that we wanted to work with them, for example, if anything happened at home that may affect his mood at school we phoned them to tell them. Likewise if anything happened there that we should know about they contacted us. We got talking. This meant that we all knew each other well long before he set foot in the school as a pupil.



Basically, be careful when choosing a school. Take your time and look into each school - don't go on other people?s opinions, what maybe right/wrong for their child may not be the case for yours! Make up your own mind on them.


Once you know the school it's all about; COMMUNICATION!




Transition advice for teachers.



Try and prepare the child in advance as much as possible of what to expect in your class. You could do this by providing a booklet, for example, including in it the following:


Photographs of:



Your TA, if you have one.

If the child is going to have a 1-1 TA they do not know, include them too.

The classroom layout.



Any other significant adults likely to be in the classroom.


Give details of normal day-to-day routine in a clear timetable provided in a way accessible to the child.


Take the time to get to know the child and their parents. Invite them in when school is finished one day so you can introduce yourself to them. Get talking to the parents before the transfer takes place and ask them what you can do to help settle their child into your class. Remember that the parents are the experts on their child, seek their advice. Don?t be afraid to say you don?t know the best way to deal with anything that concerns you; most parents will appreciate an honest approach far better than one where you try to bluff things through.





Suggested reading:


The following list of books and websites will help to give you an overview of Autism. It is by no means a definitive list, but, it will give you a basis to work from:




Delfos, M. and Attwood, T. (2005) A Strange World: Autism, Asperger?s Syndrome and PDD ? NOS ? A guide for parents, Partners, Professional Carers and People with ASDs. London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Attwood, T. (2003) Why does Chris do that? : Some suggestions regarding the cause and management of the unusual behaviour of children and adults with Autism and ASDs. London. National Autistic Society.


Howlin, P. (1998) Children with Autism and Asperger?s Syndrome: A guide for practioners and carers. Chichester. Wiley.


DfES (2002) Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Good practice guidance. Annesley. DfES publications.


















http://www.asdfriendly.org ? aimed at parents and carers of children/adults on the spectrum.

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my son is also in year 5.

i do have one particular school in mind that so far is the favourite (and also the catchment school) but i need to go and visit.


i will be ringing the HT this term to arrange a visit either this term or after easter. i want to meet with him and the senco and to have a look around while lessons are on.

i then want to take G during school hours so he can see it


Phasmid, your advice is great and i will be following it :D

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Thanks, everyone, for all your comments - particularly Phasmid who has reproduced just the thing I was looking for.


I'm not looking forward to this one bit, but needs must ...............


Will report back in due course!

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Hi jomica I am currently doing the rounds of secondary schools and to be quite honest it is doing my head in !!! The local SEN secondary school has just undergone redesignation and now takes a huge range of needs up to the age of 19. Plus points small classes and suitably modified curriculum minus points the range of the needs that staff will be dealing with now. I have been to see 4 secondaries all of whom gave a good talk but most of them are huge, possibility that dd will go to one of these with no friends at all. Dd's greatest needs now seem to be language and communication and that she has an MLD. I can't at the moment see how any schools I have visited will deal with this, and even widening my net to adjoining boroughs I seem to have hit the same problem. I have visited a mainstream with a SRP for communication. The unit was OK the rest of the school was dire. Noisy, rude kids with bad attitude! I have another mainstream to visit with a SRP of which annie will no doubt share her joyful experiences with me (thanks annie) Our transition review is at the end of April and I am beginning to get a bit desparate.

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