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special school or mainstream?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by greta444, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    Depends on the specific problem but in general I find that mainstream is best while the child is young but there comes a time (possible year 4/5) where the child is so different (for want of a better word) from their peers that a special school is the best option.
  2. Depends on the specific problem and the facilities at the mainstream and the special school. Early on, children may benefit from being in mainstream, especially if there is appropriate support, which is implied by the statement. It gives the child chance to see a bigger picture for their learning and chance to establish friendships among children with differing needs. If their needs or behaviour impacts on the rest of the class, then both the statemented child AND his/her peers will benefit from special school.
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It depends on the individual child's needs. Special schools have resources/facilities/specialists on site that mainstream can only dream of.
  4. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    My son has special needs and has managed in mainstream up until about now (he's Y6). It's been a big deal for the school, and, in the main, it has been a very positive experience for not only him, but us as a family (we needed to feel normal), and for his classmates, who are the most accepting, tolerant children I have ever met. However, he difference between him and his peers is now so great, and he school are struggling to know where to go next, that it is time to move on. So, I suppose I'm saying, along with everyone else, that each case must be judged on its merits, every child, and every school is different. Good communication with the school(s) is essential - I would encourage your sister to ask them to be 'honest' with her about how her daughter is really managing. Go and visit alternatives, listen to what they have to say - and hopefully nothing is set in stone, because children do nothing but change the whole time...bless 'em! Hope this makes sense.
  5. Elfreda6969

    Elfreda6969 New commenter

    It is a bit of a misconception to believe that special schools have the facilities and specialism to deal with children with special needs - in my experience they DON'T.
    The expectations in some special schools can be extremely low, so educationally children fail to achieve. My brother has SEN and attended a mainstream primary but special secondary school. My parents and I were dismayed at his lack of progress in special school. When we looked at his books during parents evenings he appeared to be repeating skills in yr 7 that he had mastered in year 5! My parents have had to consistently push for more challenging and appropriate work for him. They have now hired a private tutor and he is making excellent progress.
    We also frequently hear that the teachers in his special school have problems managing the behaviour of many of the pupils. A number get excluded quite frequently. My brother often complains of the disruption in the classroom.
    Comments from the teachers also suggest that the teachers do not truly understand teh nature of the special needs of the pupils. My brother has ASD, they frequently complain about his lack of organisation (a feature of ASD) but have failed to put anything in place (my mother set up a visual planner and asked the school to implement it!).
    Academically, we are unsure if the decision to move him to the special sector was the right thing. However, socially, I think that my brother feels more accepted and less isolated in a special school than in a mainstream. He has friends and I think is more confident. He also has access to subjects he would not get in mainstream, such as personal care etc.
    In my opinion, it depends on the nature of your child's needs. If s/he has social difficulities and significiant learning difficulties, then a special school (due to its size, modified curriculum), may be the best option. If his difficulites are physical then exploring a mainstream that can accommodate may be the best option.
    Do not assume a special school is the only and best option. Good luck!

  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    They do in my area. I've visited a few in my role as SENCO and they have hydro pools, sensory rooms, SaLT on site, OT on site, trained staff for tube feeding etc and ratios often as low as 1-2.
  7. roise

    roise New commenter

    Depends on so many factors. The characteristics of the particular mainstream school and their approach to statemented children, the characteristics of the special school and it's expectations of the children in it's care, and most importantly the specific needs of the child themselves. In our school we have had children with high functioning autism who have been supported well and because they had stayed with their peers till year six have achieved well academically and developed social strategies that will help them to deal with a world that thinks differently from them. We have had other children who needed things that we could not, like regular access to speech therapist or just an environment that did not completely overwhelm them every day. I would advise your sister to take her time, look at each setting on it's own merits and decide where her daughter is mostly likely to get the education that will help her achieve her full potential and be happy.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    totally agree
  9. dancinginthecity

    dancinginthecity New commenter

    I'd agree with Rosie and add my own views.
    I have visited special schools and been impressed at the way the range of needs have been met. The expectations of those who in that setting are the more able have been high. In contrast I have seen some children in mainstream who are seen as 'low ability' and not 'pushed' to achieve more. The children in the special schools I have visited have been very much included in the activities in the school and are part of a community. In mainstream I have seen special needs children spending a lot of time with their 1 to 1 TA and although physically in a class with others they are on the edge of the class community. The day to day lessons in mainstream school are often not relevant to the lives of some children.
    Before I became a teacher I would have said including children in mainstream was a positive thing but after seeing what happens first hand I'd say it depends a lot on individual schools and even individual teachers. Some development of life skills, social skills and self esteem/confidence may be better served in a special school.
  10. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    This is very much he conclusion we have come to. Flexibility, and leaving aside feelings of failure are good things.
  11. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Also when looking at different special schools whether now or in the future, look at more than one. My friend has a child with downs, who has been in mainstream until Y4 and has now moved to a special school. Her nearest school teaches children of a higher ability and one further away teaches children of a lower ability than her son. On paper they initially felt that the nearer school would be best and that he wouldnt be pushed enough at the school further away. However having visited the schools, the nearer school was like a prison, with every internal door locked and with many children with behavioural problems associated with ASD. The school further away had a much more mixed group of children and was much more homely. They decided that the school further away was better for their son and they havent regretted it. The school has managed to maintain and develop his good reading skills, whilst preparing him for life skills he was very much lacking in and which mainstream would have struggled to provide.
  12. In my experience I would suggest if she has the chance of a Special School Placement grab it with both hands. If she is to be statemented it means she has particular needs that are very different from the norm.
    It is not usual for a child to have an IEP and be in main stream but it is rare for a statemented child to remain in mainstream school without a lot of support. It does happen and sometimes it means it is 1 to 1. Thus a person will be employed to be with your child during their time in school.
    Special Schools often have resources that mainstream do not and can by virture of the fact that it is catering purely for children with special needs can offer a more flexible timetable.
    With knowing why the statement is being considered we can't comment.
  13. From a teacher in a mainstream's point of view:
    If your sister does decide to send her daughter to a mainstream school please please ask her to bear in mind that the class teacher might not have any training with dealing with the specific SEN. I have a pupil in my class that has a severe SEN that results in her not partaking in almost any of my lessons. She has a support assistant that works with her all day in a side room. We tried our best to have her part of the class in Sept. but she was so disruptive that I had to think of the other children. Her support assistant is brilliant and they have a great relationship. As I have never worked in a special school I cannot say whether this child would get such attentive care and support every minute of the day if they had attended a special school. But the bottom line is, her parents sent her to a mainstream school so she could benefit from a class of 'unSEN' and it has not worked.
  14. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    A statement for 18 hours is madness. What will the child do for the other 7 or so hours a week? What will the classteacher do? If the poor child cannot manage without support for 18 hours, they sure as heck aren't going to for the other 7 or so.

    If the child is unable to make and maintain friendships then she will not be very happy in mainstream. Being sociable and having friends is a massive positive on being in mainstream school.

    As others have told you already, the child is likely to have 1:1 support from a TA, not a teacher, who will probably have no training or experience for most of the week. In a special school they will have trained professionals with the right resources.

    If I was the child's mother I wouldn't be hesitating for a second. I'd be accepting the special school place in a heartbeat.

    If I was the potential classteacher in mainstream, my heart would be sinking, knowing there was no way I could possibly meet this child's needs. Nor indeed the rest of the class's needs for the time this child does not have support.
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Have they given your sister any indication at what developmental level she is at?
  16. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    I'm more than happy to talk if they want. PM me if you want. I can't make your sister's decision for her, but she is more than welcome to talk to me about our experiences.

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