Special Needs Schools

Special Needs Schools

 

Here in the UK the school summer holidays have begun. Six weeks of trying to find activities to keep your special needs child/ren, (and your other children) occupied, and yourself sane.

There appears to be a lot of play schemes for ‘neuro-typical’ children, which come at a price, but a scarce amount of schemes for children with additional needs. These play schemes are very sought after, and are over subscribed, meaning that your child may only get a few days awarded. This isn’t enough sadly, and is something I may explore further in a future post.

J, over the years has begun to learn about the times he doesn’t go to school – he understands when I say it’s the weekend (although his concept of time is something I’m not sure has developed). The school holidays are a long, drawn out, unwanted time for J. He would be happy attending school every day. The routine, and the stimulation from lessons keep him active, both mentally and physically, and I cannot replicate that at home.

This leads me on to special schools. I cannot make a sweeping statement in regards to every special school in the world being superb, but I make my own opinions based on the SN (Special Needs) schools J, and my youngest son W, have attended.

J has now reached the end of his schooling, and during this time he attended three SN schools.
His first was when he was just a little boy of three, and he started in their ‘Rainbow’ unit, which was a nursery setting, but in preparation for him beginning school there. This school was lovely. I remember how easy it was to get him his EHCP (Education, Health, Care Plan – formerly known as a Statement), and how the school was suggested, I visited, loved it, and he was accepted. This easy route gave me false hope of the future though, as since then it has been a lot more stressful trying to get him and his youngest brother further help that is essential to their needs.

When we moved, he joined a new SN school. He thrived there, and to this day I am still in regular contact (and like to call them my friends) with several of his teachers and support staff, and they see J’s development and progress as he has moved through his secondary school. That school has since grown and grown, not just in pupil numbers, but in the building space. It is testament to the quality of staff, leadership, and skills that that school is in great demand.

His final school was different to primary, as it needs to be, and the shift from the cocoon of primary school to the more independent, ‘hands off’ approach was something I struggled with. J did at first too, (I wrote a post about it years ago, but to surmise he was placed in the wrong class setting – it was too academic, and expectations of achievement were far above his cognitive level). After requesting he be placed into a class that was aimed at his level, he thrived. His destructive self harming stopped (which had flared up when placed into the wrong class), and he loved going to school again.

My youngest son’s SN school is however my favourite by far. Maybe I am biased, as I am quite active within it, but the reality is that the school has the balance of education, care, staff, and leadership, spot on. When people give me the ‘head tilt’ and sorrowful expression when they learn I have two children with differing special needs, I tell them about the sheer joy and determination of all these children at their schools. The notion that a SN school must be quite sombre and sad is most definitely the opposite.
Being within this school’s grounds makes you happy. It is joyful to see all the children, many with complex health needs, being loved and respected by everyone else – staff and fellow pupils.

I decided to write a post today, thanking all these people who work with our special children. I went around the houses a little to get to this point, but it is something that needs to be said.
We as parents, no matter the child (whether they have a disability or not), need to have trust in our school’s staff, that they will care for our children just as much as we do.
Special education staff (especially those who are involved with my children) are an elite group of people, who work tirelessly to support the children in their care, and who champion every achievement, every success, every ‘little’ goal, and who treat all the children with respect.

I will finish on a short poem/quote I came across recently, that resonates with me quite deeply. I had it applied to two gifts I had made by a lady who hand stamps letters onto metal, and gifted them to two specific people who work with my youngest son, and for whom I have so much admiration and respect for. They both have an innate gift of seeing the potential in special children, encouraging them to be their best, and I wanted them to know just how much I think of them.

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