School Allocations: With Special Needs #SEN

It was an exciting day as the school allocations arrived, either by e-mail (in the early hours of the morning for the dedicated parents), or by post. LOTS of disappointment this year with some sort of baby boom and people not getting into their first, second, third and even fourth choices! But what they did know is that some sort of decision had been made, and they could either accept it or fight appeal it.

startingschool

When we decided to have a fourth child, one of the reasons was because I didn’t know that my third son, would be my last. So when we decided not to have any more children I wanted to saviour every moment with my fourth, and final, son.

So this last “letting go,” of my very last baby, was meant to be such a special time. Currently I do not know which school he will go to. I’m not sure which school is even right for him. I’m not sure if I’m worrying too much, too little or just enough.

I know I have been saying for quite a while that I *think* he is on the Autistic Spectrum, but this has neither been confirmed or denied, as yet. He does have a Global developmental delay, Communication and interaction difficulties and Sensory processing issues.

I had made a parental request for a Statement of Special Educational Needs. His preschool were amazing and did all the right things, and got all the right people in. His preschool statement arrived and it gave me 15 DAYS to make a decision on a school for him!

I could barely read the draft Statement, I cried and cried.

My oldest son never needed a Statement, and guess I just figured he wasn’t severe enough. My youngest has obvious needs, but sometimes, when everyone is telling you not to worry that it is  just his age/gender/temperament it is easy to listen. So to get confirmation that he is different/has extra needs was emotionally draining in itself.

Luckily I had met with the Educational Psychologist and she had advised me on a Communication and Interaction unit to send him to. Trouble is he has to be referred there (no problem the paediatrician also said she would do it), have a statement, and then a panel would decide if his needs met that of the unit AND that he would fit with the other children. Again as luck would have it I had been told to book a visit and so we went within a few days of receiving the draft statement.

It was AMAZING. They had EVERY communication tool I could think of. As well as all the visual aids, they had a trained dog and the opportunity for the children to go on horse riding lessons. Mixed in with the fact that everything was tailored for the individual child, and that if they could cope with something in mainstream then they would be taught in the mainstream (the CIA centre is a room within the mainstream school). That they are included the whole time – if that is what they want/can cope with need. With the other children in the mainstream being very aware of the centre children’s needs.

So obviously I named them on the Statement.

But then things started to get a bit more complicated.

I decided to move my other children schools, so that they were closer to home, and my friends were more able to help me out if needs be, picking up etc (the centre is 10 miles away). There were lots of other considerations which I wont go into here. My 5 year old really didn’t want to leave his friends (he’d been to the playgroup there since he was 2 years old), and cried hysterically at his new school.

But then it turned out that because my youngest hadn’t been seen by the Communication and Interaction Team, (and communication interaction has to be to be the primary need of the child to attend the unit) the earliest point the panel could realistically meet to discuss him was June 26th. There was an earlier date of May 8th but there was no way that he could be assessed properly by this date. That I should then know by the end of June if he has got a place there.

I had rang up school admissions and asked if I could change my normal school allocations option (from his siblings old school to his new one), through the normal route, due to my circumstances and they told me to e-mail it in. So I did.

When I didn’t hear back by the week before allocations I rang them back up and then the Statementing team then told me that they didn’t think that he would get in at the centre. That I needed to amend the Statement to put the local primary down. This would also mean that the Statement for school could be started and then transferred. I spoke to the Educational Psychologist (and later Parent Partnership) who both agreed this was normal procedure and to make sure that I put ‘Pending the Communication and Interaction Centre’ on it.

But when normal school allocations did come out they had not changed my choice (I’d only put one as should have got in with siblings there) to the new school, as it was after the deadline, even though they told me they would because of the circumstances. He was allocated his siblings old school. My local school ALWAYS has spaces – but not this year, it is also over subscribed.

I’ve been told that he can still go there if the Head wishes to accept him (as the statement was amended to name the school), unless she thinks that there is physically not the space. She is carefully considering it, and talking to people. But she has until today to decide whether she will accept him or not. She also knows that I’m trying to get him into the unit. There shouldn’t really be any reason why she wouldn’t accept him and it all sounds pretty positive, but until she does I have to hang onto a school place where I have just pulled my other children out of – just to ensure that he has a school place to go too!

But now the Communication and Interaction Team have come out, apparently there’s some concern that because he is seeing another team (on a waiting list and looking at August) to determine whether he is Autistic or not, and there hasn’t been a decision on whether he has Sensory Processing disorder, then they may not make a decision until AFTER it has all been decided!

If he gets a full statement for school he would have a one to one there with him – but not sure if he’d get playtime hours (although I have been told this morning that he wouldn’t be put in at risk and would be assessed). The C&I Centre would just be catered for him, but not actually have anyone just for him (as far as I’m aware, but to be honest, it is all rather confusing!). The mainstream school would be easier for me (local, son already there), he’s already familiar with the place and some of the routine, he’d have his brother there, easy to get there if there’s a problem, able to drop off/pick up both boys, friends going there,

Not exactly leaving any transition time either.

The draft preschool statement came with 3 lists of schools. “Special schools” – which it didn’t tell you anything about; “Mainstream schools” – which it didn’t mention about the attached Communication and Interaction Centre; and Independent schools – I *think* for the whole of the UK (it was a LOT of paper). I’m not sure if anyone will even help me decide what next if he gets into neither, or if he gets into the local primary and it is not suitable. But I have to cross those bridges when I come to them, if I need to come to.

The Communication and Interaction lady (very nice woman actually) tried ringing me three times yesterday but I missed her!!! She wants to arrange a home visit and talk to me about her visit at preschool.

I know I need to relax and am sure everything will work out for the best but it all feels so ruddy complicated!!

Sorry if this doesn’t make sense and is all jumbled, I think I just needed to get it out.

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