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Finding Suitable School

GuestGuest Posts: 1,968Member
edited September 2014 in Education and learning
Hi! I have a child with cp who is ambulant, has a seizure disorder, language disorder, hearing loss in one ear. He is attending local mainstream school. As he has a processing disorder and he is in a class of 30 I am concerned that this may not be the best school for him. He has a statement of educational needs. I would really be grateful if anyone has any experience of schooling with these issues and if you could advise what the best school would be. We live in Kent and are looking there. I'm thinking he might be better in a small class. Can anyone help me please?!

Replies

  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member
    Hi! I have a child with cp who is ambulant, has a seizure disorder, language disorder, hearing loss in one ear. He is attending local mainstream school. As he has a processing disorder and he is in a class of 30 I am concerned that this may not be the best school for him. He has a statement of educational needs. I would really be grateful if anyone has any experience of schooling with these issues and if you could advise what the best school would be. We live in Kent and are looking there. I'm thinking he might be better in a small class. Can anyone help me please?!
  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member

    Hi! I had a look at Valence School on yesterday and I agree with you about how severe they are. They did say to me my son meets the criteria for their school but as he is a walker I didn't think it would be appropriate to send him there. They did, however, say to me that if more children come in who are walkers they would let me know as then there would be an appropriate peer group. I have been told that Josh does not meet the criteria for Oakley or Ridgeview as they are predominately for very severe children. However, I don't feel that mainstream is appropriate for him either. The LEA have said to me that they don't pay for independent schools, but I have found out they do and I guess that may be an option, but again it is finding one that will take Josh. I have approached one in Chelsfield who say that he is too complex.

    If you don't mind me asking, what issues does Will have? Is he walking? Have you found it has got harder as the years have gone on for Will, i.e. was Reception easier to Year 1?

    Josh is chatty too, has language diffulties, mainly processing so needs to be signed with all the time. I think that's why Josh doesn't meet the criteria for Oakley and Ridgeview as there would be no benefit to his speech and language.

    Thanks for your help so far. Would be good to hear from you.
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Hi,

    It is so difficult isn't it.
    My son is in year 2 at mainstream - he should be in year 3 but has stayed down a year. It has worked well, but we are at the stage now where we feel it may no longer be appropriate - his academic progress this year has been minimal and his self esteem seems to have dropped.
    The problem is that the special needs schools seem to only now take children with such severe difficulties that he wouldn't fit in there either,
    We also live in Kent (Ightham). I looked at Valence School on tuesday - the class that my son would be in was largely children with severe cerebral palsy and consequently little or no speech - this would not suit Will as although his speech and language are delayed he is very chatty. I found also that Oakley School in Tonbridge is largely non-verbal in Will's year.
    I am intending to visit Ridge View, but don't hold out much hope and someone has mentioned a private special needs school in Rochester tht may be worth looking in to.

    Your caseworker should have a list of all special schools in your area and what their designation is.

    It is so hard - I don't think there is an ideal school for Will, unfortunately it is a case of best fit.

    Sorry I can't be of more help - maybe someone else can.

    Good Luck,
    Sarah
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Will has global development delay. He has low muscle tone and poor coordination and balance, but walks and runs - he only uses his buggy if he is on his feet for a long time.

    It has got harder at mainstream school as Will gets older. Reception and year 1 are one class at Will's school - in reception he did a 3 morning week for most of the year as his stamina was very low in those days. Year 1 worked well, but partly because he was still in with reception. We didn't think he was ready for the big jump to year 2 and revisited Oakley (a school we had originally wanted Will to attend part time with mainstream part time, but the head wasn't keen, so we decided to give mainstream a go.) A revisit to Oakley showed how much Will had come on and we no longer felt that Oakley would be appropriate and Will ended up spending an extra year in year 1, which did his confidence so much good and socially has worked very well. He is now just finishing year 2 and so has had 2 years out of year group.

    I always thought that Ridgeview was for children with more severe needs, but the deouty head at Valence said she thought it was less so now. I think the only thing to do is look and I'm waiting to hear back from them re a date for a visit.

    I have also had a chat with the head at Oakley who said there are now some more verbal children in Will's year and working at a similar level, so I am going back there next week.

    Also I have found a school called Parkwood Hall School in Swanley (http://www.lgfl.net/lgfl/leas/rbkc/schools/parkwoodhall) that is run by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, but most of its pupils are out of area. It does seem to be mostly boarding, but does take day pupils and they are having an open morning on wednesday.

    What kind of level is Josh working at? Will's reading is reasonable, but maths is something he just doesn't get -still struggling with adding/subtracting 1 where the rest of the class has been doing multiplication. How old is Josh?

    I'm sure Oakley would be good with language issues - they used to be designated as a school for children with communication disorders, before Kent decided to keep as many children as possible in mainstream.

    I'll let you know how I get on.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah
  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member
    Josh has global development delay like Will. He is 5 and a half and just finishing reception. The school he is at do not keep the children down a year which is a real shame. Josh can no just recognise his name and maybe a few letters, but has memory issues and soon forgets - so he is up and down all the time.

    I visited Oakley and were told that Josh does not meet the criteria as there were children that would be in Josh's class who were the equivalent of an 18 month old.

    Josh is struggling with his peer group already at school. I can see the problems already that will occur and I really don't want to wait until it's too late before I do anything.

    Josh sounds very much like Will. He gets very tired and is only doing part-time at the moment. He can walk but has a buggy when he tires.

    So did Oakley say that Will was too good for their school when you first contacted them?

    Has Will made any friends at school?

    Have the staff at Will's school been supportive?

    I hope Ridgeview turns out to be a good school for Will, but please let me know what you think.

    Take care and good luck.
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    I have just got back from Oakley and I do think it would now be a good school for Will. I am planning to revisit with my husband (who hasn't been coming on the visits as we didn't hold out much hope and he has a lot of work on) and if he is in agreement we will apply for Will to go there.

    You may well find that even if Oakley is not right now, it will be later as children more similar to Josh join the school. Do you think Josh would fit in at Oakley or be best placed there? If you do and you think Josh's needs can't be met at mainstream school, you should pursue this further. Oakley do in general have mixed year group classes.

    At reception age, we thought that Oakley may be suitable for Will, but at year 2 all his peers would have been non-verbal and so we decided it wasn't suitable for Will.

    When Will was first at school he played mainly with older children - who really "looked after" him. Then he did alot of pottering around himself - playing alongside, rather than with his peers, but now he is very much one of the gang at school - here is where staying back a year has really helped.

    The staff at Will's school have been very supportive, but they are not experts in special needs and there has been such limited input from specialists.

    Maybe you can find another mainstream primary school that is more suitable for Josh. Will's current school is St Lawrence in Seal.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah




  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member
    Hi!

    Thanks for your reply. It is good news that you feel that Oakley will be good for Will. Have you definitely decided now? Can I ask what are Will's main issues? I think you might be right that Oakley may be an option in the future. The only thing I do feel about that is waiting until things are perhaps really bad for Josh. What I don't want is his confidence to disappear. Have you heard of Grove Park in Crowborough? That is another option I am exploring at the moment. I did phone Ridgeview and they told me that Oakley are taking more moderate learning children at the moment. Grove Park have told me that also as mainstream children (especially Will's age group) are failing at mainstream and then need to go to special. Do you have the support from the LEA and the school for Will's move to special school?

    Hope to hear from you!

    Best Wishes

    KEH
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Hi,

    Will has global development delay. He has poor balance and coordination, low muscle tone, he is behind with his speech and understanding of language and cognitive skills in general. Although he is very sociable, he is socially immature. Having said all that, he has made great progress over the last few years!
    Will's school does support the move, but we are waiting to hear from "the powers that be" at Kent Education Authority. It probably won't go to their panel until the end of August and then I think the head of Oakley has to come and visit him in his current school. There also still needs to be a place available. So it looks unlikely that things are going to be in place for September which is a real shame - the bureacracy drives me mad!

    I don't know anything about Grove Park - it is really too far away from us.

    You need to decide what you think is best for Josh. There can without a doubt be benefits in staying in mainstream, but there does become a point when the negatives outweigh the positives and this is different for every child and also depends on their school. If you think another school is better for Josh then you should apply.

    The children I saw at Oakley were not in general too severe in their needs and many of them were verbal. I was asked if I was just putting out feelers or whether I'd sign on the dotted line there and then, so to speak and I replied (without even thinking) "I'm desperately hoping this is going to be the right school for Will". When it gets to that stage it is definately time to move on.

    Have you made any progress?

    Best wishes
    Sarah

  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member
    Hi Sarah

    Sorry haven't responded just hectic as I am sure you can imagine!! How are things with you? Has Will started at Oakley? I am still having battles with Josh's school and have telephoned Oakley to see if it would be suitable for Josh. They say they are currently full but I know it will be another battle to get him in there. Although there are lots of issues with Josh's current mainstream school they will not support a move to a special school as they feel that, although he has very complex needs, he should be with more verbal/able children so that he can copy them. I understand where they are coming from but Josh is not making sufficient progress and he is unhappy so I feel I don't have much choice. To be honest I don't feel there is the exact right school for him, but I am finding it very hard to make a decision and if I don't have the backing of his school, is there anything I can do?

    Anyway, it would be good to hear how things have progressed for Will if at all and if there is any advice you can offer me.

    Best Wishes

    K x
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Well we heard back from County Panel in August who deferred their decision as there hadn't been enough discussion at his annual review about moving school (although there had been lots outside of it!). So in september back to same school and we held another annual review largely to discuss appropriate school - his case worker came to this annual review. The paperwork was then submitted to County Panel. We then heard 10 days ago that they had agreed in principal to Will moving to a special school and had forwarded his papers to Oakley and Ridgeview Schools who now review his paperwork and consider whether they think they are the right place for Will - they then get back to the caseworker by the end of this week. Even if they think they are the right school there may not be a place available...
    Meanwhile we haven't even looked round Ridgeview as they don't let you until they have the papers...I did phone last week and they said they would be back in touch in the next couple of weeks ...its all very frustating! On a positive note Will has a great helper this year - a psychology graduate who wants to be an educational psychologist, so she has a real interest in Will and is very proactive in finding ways to help him. She is only here for 1 year...

    Will also needs to be in a verbal environment and many of the children at Oakley are verbal.
    We are fortunate in that we have the full support of the school for Will.
    I agree there is no perfect school for Will, but you have to go for best fit, which has been mainstream, but now I feel is Oakley. The key thing is the children's happiness - if they are happy they will learn better - if Josh is unhappy at school it is very likely the wrong place.
    Does Josh have a statement? I would speak to his caseworker if I were you and discuss your concerns.
    Have you considered moving to a different mainstream school - maybe a small one? We have been very fortunate in having a good small school so near to us.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah

  • kehkeh Posts: 6Member
    Hi Sarah!

    So sorry for not replying a lot sooner!! Been hectic as I am sure it has been for you! Has Will managed to move schools yet? I hope so!

    Josh has a statement - 30 hours. Have had an independent EP report who says that Josh is much more complex than first realised and that, although the school he is at is very good, it cannot be expected to meet his needs. However, the school think differently - so here comes the battle!!!!

    Any advice would be much appreciated as not sure what to do, etc.....

    Would be good to hear how you have got on.

    K x
  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Things are moving forward slowly...
    Both Oakley and Ridgeview let Will's caseworker know that they though that they would be suitable for Will. Only then did Ridgeview let us look round! However we both really like Ridgeview and it is now our preferred choice for Will. They group Key stage 2 children together and have 3 classes - severe autistic; severe profound and complex needs; and everyone else. There were some very verbal children in the "everyone else" class and some with similar abilities to Will.
    However, neither school currently have a place.
    So our caseworker referred back to County Panel who said to ask the schools whether they felt they could accommodate Will next september. Oakley have said yes and Ridgeview have asked for his papers again and said they will visit him in school. Even though Oakley have said yes, a more needy child may emerge that would take priority.

    It is amazing what a long and drawn out process it is and I urge anyone looking to move their child to a special school to plan early!

    Meanwhile, although not the best place for him, Will has been coping fairly well at school this year. What has made a real differnce is having a 1-1 who is on a career path (just finished university, starts teacher training next year and wants to be an educational psychologist), so is well motivated and is there most of the time - previously his 1-1s (all lovely people) have only done 2 or 3 sessions a week, so no-one took overall responsibility for him (well obviously the teacher, but she has the rest of the class too). His helper has now left (we weren't expecting Will to still be at this school - ha ha!) and been replaced with someone who starts his (mature) teacher training next year and is again very motivated.

    So if Josh stays in mainstream, I would try to ensure he has a well motivated 1-1 who is with him for the majority of the time.

    However, it doesn't sound to me that he should be in mainstream and bearing in mind the gap tends to grow bigger as the children get older and Josh is likely to become more aware of his difference in capabilities and the length of time it can take to get moved, I would take action now.
    The fact that the EP supports you means alot.

    What is the schools motivation for wanting to keep him there?

    I would speak to Josh's caseworker and explain the situation. I think that any recommendation to move school has to come out of an annual review. So at his next review, have Josh's caseworker there and the EP and any other professional that supports special school. Even if there is no consensus, the review should then state that parents and EP recommend move to a special school and presumably the Panel will then consider Josh's case. The caseworker will know. At the end of the day it is meant to be parental choice.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah


  • sarahprattensarahpratten Posts: 83Member
    Well finally ... Will has been offered a place at Oakley School . It only took a year!!

    We ended up with Ridgeview School as out first choice but there were no vacancies and although we were told there were no vacancies at Oakley, it appears there is now room for Will.

    To anyone looking to move from mainstream to special needs school, be aware it may take some time and you may have to make a nuisance of yourself - doing lots of chasing up. Also be aware that (in Kent at least) the recommendation for a move to a special needs school has to come out of an annual review.

    Keh - I really would take action now if I were you. It is a shame you don't have the schools support, but it gets harder for them the older the children get and with all the will in the world they are not special needs experts.

    Good Luck,
    Sarah

  • sam88sam88 Posts: 1Member
    I have a daughter that is 3 ad a half shes non verbal ad her mole stones r of a 18 month old which in ur opinion would be the best school Oakley or ridge view. She will be starting school next Sept
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