View Full Version : Mainstream or special school?
As mentioned in many of my previous posts, my son has a multiple diagnosis and currently attends mainstream school. Since summer he has been at Shirle Hill Hospital School 2 days a week but come the new year he will be back at mainstream full time again. He is statemented but only gets 9 hours help a week which is no use at all really. This averages out at less than 2 hours a day. The job has been advertised twice and had one applicant. All the people with the skills to care for my son and indeed, understand his needs already work in places such as special schools etc. His school are finding him very difficult to manage. He isn't running riot, hitting people etc but cannot sit still,, makes noises and is 'disruptive'. They refused to have him in one day last week as there was no support for him on that given day and won't have him in on the last day of term either as he will become too hyper and excitable and they can't cope with that! (my heart bleeds lol!)
I am now looking into the possibility of a special school education for him. There is a real debate about what is best for him. I just want him to be somewhere with people who understand his needs and won't just 'contain' him but allow him to develop. Some people involved in his care say mainstream is best as he will retain his identity but will need lots of individual support which the LEA just won't fund. Others say a special school or integrated rescource would be best. Obviously, I don't know which way to turn.
So, parents of kids with special needs, what did you do? Does your child attend mainstream or some alternative?
I'd appreciate your views on this please :thumbsup:
My son went to Oakes Park special school and he loved it there. Im not sure what to add to this, but it suited him perfectly, there were only around 30 kids in the school and they were outnumbered by the staff and I dont know of one kid there who didnt benefit immensely from it.
I don't know anything at all about this subject, so please forgive me my ignorance, but won't they let you go into school and support him? In cases like this, surely they could get a CRB check on the parent and allow them to help their own child? After all, given that you know more about him than anyone else, surely you'd be the best option?
One of my retired cousins used to go into a local school and help them with reading lessons, so they do let "members of the public" in to help out, and as a parent you have more claim than most to be there.
I'm not a parent of a child with disabilities, but I am an educator of adults with disabilities, and did research on provision for special educational needs from the recipients' point of view.
Almost without exception, as adults my learners felt that they were better provided for (and felt more at home and more able to relax and learn) in a specialist environment, rather than being supported in a general environment.
Granted this is a retrospective piece of research, and provision in mixed environments may have improved since the experiences on which the research is based, but I wasn't expecting the consensus that I saw from it.
I was expecting a message of equality and fitting in, and what I saw was a preference for segregation and being with similar individuals rather than being the 'odd one out' in a group of 'normal' people. My research started out being an argument against 'disability ghettos', but it finished by questioning the extent to which we push people to integrate when they may not want to.
Is your son able to express a preference FairyNormal? It must be so hard for you making a decision for him if he isn't able to.
I have two children on the autistic spectrum- my youngest, age five, is more severe and attends special school- he is thriving there. There is a great deal of emphasis on social skills and self esteem (why can't mainstream be more like this?) but I'm also pleased to say that he is learning to read and write, add up etc. Class sizes are small and the children get the individual attention they need. I was told he would probably cope in mainstream, but I want more for him than to just 'cope', I don't think he would learn in a busy noisy classroom, (I think he would just be bewildered) and I see him as being very vulnerable and an easy target.
My older son, age 8, is struggling in mainstream, he is at the early stages of being diagnised with possible ADD and asperger's. He doesn't have a statement and is struggling with both the social side and the learning side. He is extremely bright and is on the gifted and talented register for maths, yet school are finding it very hard to get any actual 'work' out of him. He is easy to wind up, and therefore a target for bullies, but also can be quite disruptive himself as he overreacts to situations. He currently very anti-school because of the stress and therefore anti-learning at school, though at home he loves to read up on things and is a great source of information. However, I don't feel special school is right for him, as he is sociable and wants and needs friends in the local community- his current school is very supportive, but I don't think they have the resources and knowledge to help him make the most of himself. Hopefully when he's been assessed further he will get the help he needs, but it's so frustrating when time is ticking away and he's still unhappy.
COuld you take him to visit a special school FN? Having met your son and knowing a little about him, I imagine he might enjoy seeing an alternative and gauging for himself, plus you could watch and see for yourself.
He's a nice lad, I hope you can find somewhere for him and which makes you happy, it's a shame to see the system failing again and to see an individual suffering the result.
Im not a parent of a special needs child so I cannot give that point of view. However, I used to teach in a mainstream primary school and had a number of special needs children in my classes over the years. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time observing teachers in a special school (I went to gain insight into the strategies they use). I came away with the impression that many, but not all, children with special educational needs who were not thriving or whose needs were not being met in mainstream, would be much better catered for in a special needs unit or school.
The staff to child ratio is much higher for a start. Classes are really small. Individual attention is possible. But most importantly, the staff are trained and experienced in working with children with special needs. A normal class teacher like myself was given hardly any specialist training in this field. I can remember an afternoon of lectures around the code of practice and statementing and thats about all. If you had to choose between your child being in a class of say, 10, with 3 specialist staff and a class of 30 with one mainstream teacher and a few hours support the choice would be clear cut. But please see past the stigma of the special school and go and look at one or two yourself. Im sure if you are considering this option you will be allowed to.
Thanks everyone. I am going to make arrangements to visit some special schools and integrated resources so I can get a feel for what is available. It's a hard decision to make and I want to make sure I make the correct one. I am meeting with the Parent Partnership tomorrow and will see what they say about the whole thing (it's all pretty complicated and everyone seems to have their own agenda)
Thanks again :thumbsup:
There is a support group for parents and carers of children with special needs called ray of hope that meets in hillsborough at the next meeting the SENCO from myers is coming along to discus their IR. pm me for details