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What makes a good school? Answers on a postcard please...
  • mazhawes
    Posts: 18
    We met with representatives from CAMHS, the LEA and Ed Psych today to try and progress Oliver's schooling issues (or lack of). We were trying to discuss what we should be looking for in a school- special or maintstream. For those of you with successful placements, what do you put this down to? How important is an understanding of PDA? Class size? Learning support? flexibility of approach? I'd be really grateful to learn of some techniques and approaches that have worked and can be passed onto other teachers. Are there any teachers out there who would be willing to join the forum? It would be so useful to pool our experiences because I get the feeling there are a lot of us in the same position- let's not reinvent the wheel.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
  • gram
    Posts: 18
    Sorry no answers, just more info, this time from 'Learning to listen - positive Approaches and people with Difficult behaviour' by Herbert Lovett 2000, p12 ' - it makes sense that, instead of trying to make people with intellectual handicaps act and appear "more normal," our energies would be better spent in learning to respect the existing skills of people and the choices they have already made as our first step toward a fully inclusive society.'
    'Inclusion requires behaviour changes, but we have consistantly looked in the wrong places to achieve them. Inclusion requires behaviour changes of the majority currently content with the status quo. When we professionals assume that people with behavioural differences have to change (and cannot really belong in society until they have changed), we run the risk of becoming the most dangerous kind of protector oppressors: people who not only keep others oppressed but also insist they are helping while they do it.'
    Also, p13 ' ,- I cannot think of a single time I was invited as a psychologist to consider how we might change our behaviour or professional practices.'
    I quote this without predjudice, or personal judgement of any kind.
  • I am a TA working in a specialist unit within a mainstream school, I think we have the best of both worlds, the children join in with mainstream classed but have the unit to go back to when things get too much for them, we have seen much improvement from all the children since leaving mainstream (and some even special schools) and coming to the unit. The children learn a lot of social skills from playing and learning with the mainstream children but can still be their own little characters, the mainstream children also learn a lot from them and vice versa.
  • MHO
    Posts: 111
    The idea of a specialist unit within a mainstream school sounds fine, in theory, and I'm glad it works for the children you work with, Tracey. However I know from experience that it's not the right solution in every case. I suppose it depends on the size of the unit, the mix of children within it and, of course, the teaching methods used and the general ethos. When such a unit was suggested for my granddaughter some years ago, my daughter was not enthusiastic because at that time she was keen on her child receiving a mainstream education, but I thought it would indeed offer the best of both worlds. It proved to be a total disaster. The unit was too small, the other children were quiet autistic boys and my granddaughter was given no opportunity to associate with the mainstream children so she had no friends to play with. She seemed to find the unit claustrophobic and, in her frustration, became violent. Now, some years later, she is at a special school where she is happy, has friends and is making progress academically too. Unfortunately this excellent school, along with so many other special schools, is scheduled for closure. However for the time being it's carrying on with the good work to the benefit of my granddaughter and of all the other pupils who were fortunate enough to be found places there.
  • i was very lucky, my daughter got a place at a mainstream school that is excellent for special needs children. i put her name down for the school a while later i had to move but not to far away. i got a place offered and the new local school but was unhappy with the way the spoke. she was 3 years old (undiagnosed) still in nappies and they kept saying they i should try and get her out of nappies before she started, i insisted that i have tried and she isnt ready and i will not persist in something she isnt ready for, they insisted i tried anyhow, so i left feeling if they are not understanding about the nappies then what else will they not be understanding about so decided i will not take her there. about 6 months later i got a call from the original school i put her name down for and they said a place has come up, i told them that ive moved out the catchment area and they said it shouldnt be a problem. they came to visit me and i told them that jasmine has alot of problems and that they will need to get extra help in for her for their own sanity, they said that they will wait till she starts and see how it goes but i insisted that they organise things now. they looked at me like i was some wierdo and didnt say more and left. when she started they told me that they had a think about what i had said and they had applied for extra help although it still hadnt arrived but they have funded extra help themselves. they did say that they was glad they took my word on the extra help because they did need it.

    shes now in her third school year which makes her forth year of being there and although i have had some problems with the school and their attitude towards me (she was only recently diagnosed and i was blamed for her behaviour) they do an excellent job with her and they have done so much to make her fit in better. they have kept her class with her when she has moved teachers, they have moved her special needs teacher from infants to juniors both of which is something they dont normally do. they have had the max 22.5 hours one to one since she was at nursery and sustained it. they helped me get her a statement of special needs (rare in nottingham apparently) they helped me getting disability benefit.
    they have been an excellent school and i feel very lucky to have got such a good school for her.

    all i can say is ask around for schools recommended, talk to them and see what the situation is with special needs there and if they dont have much of a thing going on there id look elsewhere. if there is anything they do or say which makes you feel slightly unhappy look elsewhere. you should really be happy with the school before you accept a place.

    as an extra note my daughter came out of nappies a few months before she was 4 and she was dry straight away day and night with not one accident. dont let people tell you to do something (because it seems like a fashion statement to have your child out of nappies first) you know isnt the right thing for your child, you know your child best and know when your child is ready for something.
  • Hi all, and thanks for all the comments over the last few months- I've been keeping a watching brief. From the end of August we have educated Oliver at home (when I say 'we' I really mean I !!- my husband being busy breadwinning- so I have given up work- a whole other story...) and though there have been ups and downs, life is generally a whole lot easier- well, less stressful anyway. I would point out that Oliver has always been relatively easy to cope with at home, but presents totally differently in school- an almost total refusal to participate, culminating in violent explosions, resulting in exclusions, change of schools etc (see my other postings). So ultimately it wasn't a difficult decision to homeschool. We had to leave the most recent school, having been told ' he won't cope with year 3' (i.e we won't /can't cope with him..) and having looked at all the local schools, within a radius of a 45 or 50 minute drive, and failing to find anything that comes even slightly close to what we need, it was clear what we had to do. Ironically he has a full statement and would get loads of help...if we could find a school... Of course this dowsn't translate to helping him at home, tutors etc- it doesn't work that way! Fortunatley I'm in the position to do it, though it's not easy. He's made great strides, mostly in terms of his confidence, though it still feels like early days. He actually asked to write a story last week- having never voluntarily written a whole sentence in his life before! Still, we get days when we achieve nothing, and I've had to back off- I often feel like I've got something to prove, and that I must get him to produce something tangible. Needless to say this doesn't fit Oliver's agenda, but I'm learning to relax a bit more about it.
    Maryann, your note rang lots of bells with me- especially the nappy thing- Oliver was just the same. He has always done things on his own timetable, no matter what the pressures have been brought to bear on him. We mustn't forget we know our own children best and must trust our judgements.
    Good luck to you all,
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