School – The next big step!

Next year Star will be going to secondary school.
Now is the time we have to choose which school she is to go to and I’ve been dreading this for the following reasons.

  • She has autism
  • She has Elhers Danlos Syndrome
  • She is disabled but has no special education needs
  • It really didn’t work out when my older kids went to secondary school with them both begin educated elsewhere within two years.

Going to mainstream primary school is okay. Younger kids are much more understanding of peers that are a little different. When they get to secondary school it’s so different.

On the autism front, we are lucky because Star is very high functioning, she is not disruptive (mostly) and wants to learn. She takes part fully in lessons. The main problems are her immaturity, which is exacerbated by the fact that she will always be the youngest in the class anyway being August born, and her concentration, if she is not fully engaged at all times she will stop co-operating.

With her EDS she gets a lot of pain but doesn’t tell anyone, which means she will suffer in silence mostly. If it gets too bad then she will get frustrated and that’s when her school work will suffer. Secondary schools are much larger than primary and there are often a lot of stairs and a lot of moving around during the day. It’s going to be tough on her joints. Then there are her gastro problems, which are hoping to get some help with, they could be problematic at a big school.

When a child has disabilities but no special educational needs I have found that the school finds it difficult to categorise them. Those with SEN can go into special classes, but this is not appropriate for a child who is able to compete with their peers academically. Also, Star’s disabilities are, mostly, invisible, which causes more confusion on how she should be treated.

My past experiences are from more than fifteen years ago, but they are still very raw in my mind. It is so difficult when school doesn’t work for your child. Obviously you want them to have a good education, but you also want them to be happy and safe in their environment. It’s not good when it all goes wrong.

Last week I took Star to visit a local Secondary School. It was one she had expressed a wish to attend, so I figured that was good place to start. We spent two hours touring the school, taking part in mini-lessons and speaking to the head teacher. Star was very impressed and I felt quite happy too.

Today, I had another visit with Star’s Dad in tow. We saw the school at work during a normal school day which was nice. We also had the chance to have a good chat about the future of the school and all of the worries I have about Star attending secondary school.

I was assured that the school has experience of dealing with autistic pupils from all areas of the spectrum and they were integrated into the classrooms and taught with their peers.

I was assured that because it was a small school that each individual pupil was known by staff personally and their needs always known. So if Star was having a bad day with pain or tiredness they would accommodate her by giving her extra time to get to her classes or letting her have lessons on the lower floor only. They are also in the process of building a new school which will have lifts for children who need them.

I was assured that even when the new school building was open that the school would still be a small school with a family like environment. I do think this would be better for Star, I like that the teacher’s will know her and know what her difficulties are. It would be much more difficult in a larger school.

So, at the moment, I am feeling quite confident that this will be our choice of school. I am not going to make up my mind without viewing other schools, but I doubt that we will be happier anywhere else. I am currently happy for Star to continue in mainstream school, I just hope I’m making the right decision.

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  1. September 25, 2015 / 1:56 pm

    Sounds like a really positive visit then. Seems they're reassuring you on so many of your main concerns, I do hope that mainstream education works out for Star. Thanks for joining in again with #WotW

  2. September 25, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    Awww I really hope it all turns out to be the best place for Star. It sounds really positive so far so good x

  3. September 25, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    How stressful – but it sounds excellent that you have planned in advance and hopefully this school will be the right place for her. It sounds like they are all set up so it seems v positive.

  4. September 25, 2015 / 3:28 pm

    I know how stressful finding a secondary school is – add on top the needs of Star, and I can imagine, even more so for you all. However, it sounds like you've found a positive school – hope it all works out.

  5. September 25, 2015 / 3:41 pm

    I can't imagine how stressful this must be for you, I really hope you find the best place for her and her needs x

  6. September 25, 2015 / 7:06 pm

    Which school is such a massive question! It sounds like you have had very positive visits though. When we were looking at schools I was shocked to hear that not all children with autism have statements, I thought it went hand in hand. I really hope the move goes well for her and you and that she is happy x

    • September 25, 2015 / 9:38 pm

      Star doesn't have a statement, and neither did her older brother, despite him going to a special school in the end!

  7. September 25, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    I am really happy that you have found somewhere great already, and I hope that it is the perfect choice for Star

  8. September 25, 2015 / 9:14 pm

    Wow, I can not imagine what you are going through. I am stressing over Maxi starting senior school next year and we have visited four schools and my head is spinning. Adding other issues into the mix would finish me.

  9. September 25, 2015 / 10:14 pm

    Personally I think a school that is familiar with this condition and hasn't got lots of pupils is a great learning place. I am sure you will make the right decision when the time comes. #WoTW

  10. September 25, 2015 / 10:48 pm

    Starting senior school must be like starting school for the first time! finding a school is so personal to the child but, you'll know when you find it that it's right for you
    Popping across from #wordoftheweek

  11. September 26, 2015 / 9:57 am

    If your gut is telling you that this school is it then you can't go far wrong. It sounds like you had a very positive visit.

  12. September 26, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    It really is such a huge decision – especially when there have been negative experiences in the past (believe me I know all about that – at one stage we didn't think J would ever be able to cope in any school environment). Finding the right place is so crucial and it sounds like you are doing all you can to ensure she will be well looked after. As an encouragement, despite all the odds J is doing well so far at secondary – He does seem to be in the right place for him (he does have a statement though we had to battle for it because academically he is amazing so they couldn't see the need for a statement even though he couldn't even survive half a day at school in those days!) So that enabled him to go to a school with ASD provision to support him emotionally but it is a super selective grammar school so it is meeting his academic needs too. From previous experience I realise things can be such a rollercoaster – but i am thankful that it is 'so far, so good' for him at the moment. Will hope and pray that all becomes clear for you about where the right place is for her. She is such a super girl and deserves nothing less than getting into the best school to meet her needs x

  13. September 27, 2015 / 7:36 am

    It sounds like a huge decision is needed, hope it works out well as being settled in the new school is so important #wotw

  14. September 27, 2015 / 10:19 am

    It sounds like the school you saw could work well for your daughter. Some big schools can work well for children with additional needs too – it depends on how they're organised and led. My son's at a very big school but it's divided in to Houses, has an excellent pastoral support system and SEN children are each allocated a mentor from the SEN team to support them and liaise with staff and parents. The school has excellent facilities, across the board, because it's so big.

  15. September 28, 2015 / 8:56 am

    We are currently looking at Middle School options for my son, it's such a daunting task! Hope you find somewhere that suits all your needs and where she can flourish x

  16. September 28, 2015 / 12:52 pm

    You sound happy with your visit, which must be a relief, and reassuring too on so many levels. Best of luck with school and I hope it works for both you & Star, school is a big step forward for everyone!

  17. September 28, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    It sounds from your description like a positive visit and that school are very understanding. I can imagine that it is very hard though; my son has autism but severe learning difficulties and hence stays at home as there was no school nearby that was willing to accept him 🙁

  18. September 28, 2015 / 1:32 pm

    My girl also has disabilities but no real special educational needs – however as you know, she doesn't 'blend in' quite so much, and I'm never sure if it's a good or bad thing!! Sounds like this school will be brilliant, they are definitely saying all the right things. Fingers crossed all goes well xx

  19. September 29, 2015 / 6:20 am

    It sounds like a lovely school and it is a good start that she actually wants to go there. I hope she gets the support she needs xx

  20. September 30, 2015 / 8:50 am

    Sounds like a lovely school. It is always a worry for us how our different children can have their needs met, but this school sounds like they are on the ball. I hope the transition is a smooth one.

  21. September 30, 2015 / 11:12 am

    Glad you are feeling positive and visits are going well. It must be hard to go down a path you feel unsure about and have experienced before. I hope things transition well.

  22. September 30, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    I am dreading looking at secondary schools! It's a couple of years off but I'm already worrying about it. Good luck with your decisions and I'm pleased it seems to be going well.

  23. September 30, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    It sounds like you have had a lot to consider to make sure the school is right for Star. It sounds like you've had a positive visit though and I wish you all well with the next step.

  24. October 1, 2015 / 7:22 pm

    I can imagine that it must be very hard trying to find the right school for Star that will meet her needs – the school that you're looking at certainly does sound promising. Good luck with the decision making process.

  25. October 1, 2015 / 7:29 pm

    Sounds like a good positive experience while visiting the secondary school. I can understand that its hard finding and making the best decision for Star.
    I wish you all the best in making the transition when it comes.

  26. October 1, 2015 / 9:02 pm

    what a really positive thinking school i love that they are so in-depth with their support, my best friends daughter has EDS and the school wouldn't even admit it was an issue never mind support so this is really fab to hear that this school is x

  27. October 2, 2015 / 3:43 am

    Wishing Star all the very best for next year and I hope she does settle in quickly and is happy in secondary school!xx

  28. October 14, 2015 / 5:21 am

    It sounds like a stressful time, but encouraging that you've already found a school that could work for Star. I'd never considered that a child could have special needs, but not be SEN, but I can see how that would cause difficulties. Good luck!

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A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

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