Choosing the right high school for any child is daunting but if your child has extra needs then it makes it even more so. We are going through this process at the moment with Madam, so I thought I’d share some of things I’ve been told/advised/found out for myself.
But before I do, this post is based on our circumstances, obviously every case is different. Sir is affected by Fragile X to a much greater degree than Madam, he’s never been in mainstream education and there was no doubt as to which school he would be attending. Madam has been in mainstream since pre school and she has a statement.
- Do you have a specific school in mind?
- Look at the school’s website, what does it say about their SEND/Learning Support? Does it tell you who their SENCO is?
- Contact the school, ask for a prospectus, ask if you can have a chat with the SENCO.
- Ask if you can have a look round, most schools will be happy to give you a tour during the day. If you go whilst your child is in school, you will be able to look in peace, also you will be able to see a little of how the schools works on a *normal* day
- Take a copy of your child’s annual review or statement with you, this will give the school a broad outline of the issues without going too in depth and also saves you from having to list them all 🙂
- Write a list of any questions you may have.
- There are many *non educational* things you might want to look at, for example:
Is it on one level?
How many sets of stairs are there?
Is it nice and light? Is it dark?
How wide are the corridors?
What is the dining area like? Can your child sit somewhere else to eat lunch if they find it too noisy?
Is it easy to navigate?
Do they have a dedicated learning support area?
How far away is the school?
Is there transport? Could your child walk there on their own? Would you have to take them? What is the parking like
- Check the Ofsted reports by all means but don’t let a “bad” Ofsted report put you off contacting a school that might be best for your child. Speak to them yourself, ask about the things that concern you.
- Look at more than one school, even the ones you don’t think will be suitable, you can then definitely cross them off your list or they might surprise you and may provide a good alternative.
- Do any of the local schools offer *taster lessons* to the local primary schools? Is your child going to one? How do they feel about the school? Ask their teacher/key worker for their opinion too.
Lastly, if you are happy with your choice of school and your child is happy then that is all that matters. Just because one of the other mum’s sister’s daughter’s best friend’s boyfriend heard that someone’s child didn’t get on too well there doesn’t mean yours won’t. Go with your instinct. Good luck!