Talking to school about DS starting and when? Help, please!

(61 Posts)

Hi, well, a bit of a roller coaster here! Friday I was asking about pre-school and am now considering deferring ds's place in big school.

Please engage with me by message if you want more details about me but really I want to pick your brains experienced adopters, please.

I found a fab leaflet this leaflet called 'Let's learn together, from adoption UK. It is huge and helpful (from what I can see) BUT not really something I can take to the head or the future teacher!

So I need to ask...

1) What kind of things did you say when talking to school about your child starting (if they joined your family by adoption)?

2) Did you have any conversations about deferring a place or about starting mornings only etc?

3) How did you get the message across succinctly that children who joined the family by adoption will have different needs etc?

4) Was there a (smaller/briefer/less imposing) leaflet you gave to school?

No offence at all to non-adopters or newbie's like me, please do chip in your two-peneth (as I have done on MILLIONS of occasions).

If you are an experienced adopter I would especially like to hear your experiences about how things went and how it worked out.

So far have emailed head (twice) about pre-school and got no email back, just verbal message passed on angry. Spoke to pre-school teacher and now feel it is too early (DS only been with us about a month).

So I now need to stop being on the train tracks and just plodding along with what everyone else does (what I would have done with non-adopted DD) and start to think about ds and what he needs!!

Thanks for reading, I know it is long!

And it's all about ME and my son (love saying that) and not a reflection on anyone else who did anything else differently! Thanks grin

PS, when I say what everyone else does I mean what non-adopers do, sign child up for pre-school, sign child up for school etc. It's what I did as birth mum and it is usually fine but when the child is newly in my care I now feel that the fact he has been to preschool before might be a read herring. Actually he can sit still, he can count, he knows his colours etc, he can talk to people nicely etc etc. So preschool is not about making him able to go to school - in this case,

fasparent Sun 08-Jun-14 23:10:51

Choice of school's for ds and dd was a bit of a conundrum for us, ds has special needs. We visited every suitable school in surrounding area took our time until we chose what we thought was best for their needs. are both in different LA area's but has worked out very well. The SEN school has a very good parent support group, even pay's for parents too go on courses and social outings, has dedicated permanent support worker, all parent's meet with OFSTED at inspections freely. They both went too pre school, but was only until we found suitable school's , just went half days. did not disclose any personal information at this stage knowing it would not be permanent, used just as a taster of school for us too see and observe children's adaptability too school situation. On our visits too other schools were able too discuss and find out all they had too offer and had in place for looked after children and children leaving care. Took some time.

odyssey2001 Mon 09-Jun-14 00:03:10

Hi. Me again.

Just want to get am idea of where this is coming from because after only a month, it is really early to start questioning these things and making these decisions. Once you are four/six/eight months in, everything will be so much clearer.

When do you need to apply to school by? If they are going to start in September 2015, you cannot apply before November 2014. He will have been with you for six months by then.

Also, what makes you think school isn't the right place for him? I agree, for some adopted children, school in the traditional sense isn't right and phased introduction / homeschooling / reduced hours / additional in-class support / out of class intervention etc may be needed. But for many, it is good for them. Just because they are adopted doesn't mean that school isn't the right place for them.

So, 1) why are you worrying so early into placement and 2) why do you think school in the traditional sense is wrong for him already?

odyssey2001 Mon 09-Jun-14 00:12:09

Hope that didn't come across as confrontational. I didn't mean it to. It is just that your answers will help me formulate my advice. I hope.

fasparent Mon 09-Jun-14 09:39:31

Think you very much have too go with the flow unless their is significant reasons , why ds would need, all support and networking you mention., we have other children as well including BChildren , all have presented their own individual requirements when starting pre school or mainstream, and going too senior school. Some are in senior school are doing well Adoption not mentioned at all, children know it is not an issue hopefully never will be . Although other's require support , as can be with any child or family.
Two children I mentioned in last post had significant problems and trauma so was a need too seek out best option for long term. Others were quite different.

candycoatedwaterdrops Mon 09-Jun-14 09:52:44

How old is he now? I have a feeling he is nearly 4, so he'll be at the younger end of the year anyway, so you may be able to defer until the term before he turns 5. Adoption side, many parents make this choice for their summer born children. Forgive me if he's not the age I think!

Is there a particular reason you feel you couldn't give the leaflet to the future teacher/HT? I worked in a pre-school and we found it helpful to read information from the parents when there were additional needs. It was helpful to all the staff, not only the key worker.

Have you spoken to DS's social worker - what does s/he think? I mean, obviously you know your lovely son best and it's your decision but maybe another opinion will be useful in helping you organise your thoughts?

Best of luck with whatever you decide. smile

tethersend Mon 09-Jun-14 09:56:31

Hi Italian- I'm not an adopter, but an advisory teacher for LAC, so may not be able to offer the specific advice you are after.

Just a couple of things:

-What made you choose this particular school?

-When is your DS due to start?

- WRT deferred entry, LAs now have to consider each request to place a child out of year on its own merit, and cannot have a blanket policy of refusal. In practice, this does not mean that they have to honour the request to place a child out of year group, but they MUST consider it. Professionals' reports supporting this would be very helpful.

- You can accept a school place and not start your son until the term after he turns five; although, with a late-summer born child, this may mean starting school in Y1 and skipping reception altogether, which is not ideal. Requesting to place him out of year group may be a better way forward.

tethersend Mon 09-Jun-14 09:59:41

Absolutely give the leaflet to the school- IME, most schools are very pleased to have additional information on the issues LAC and adopted children face, as there is often a significant gap in staff knowledge.

In fact, it would be a very useful tool with which to gauge their response... If they are dismissive of the leaflet (which is a great document IMO), then this may indicate that this is possibly not the right school for your son.

Kewcumber Mon 09-Jun-14 11:54:16

My direct experience of starting school isn't much relevance to you as DS was old for his year and had been home 3+ years by school start and also our school at the time did mornings only for the whole first term which helped him enormously.

I also had taken the big decision to not go back to work (I had been off on sick leave earlier in the summer) and resigned so that I could be around to help him settle better. This was partly because having been very ill DS was very clingy and partly because settling him at nursery had been a problem.

I think you need to find out from the school whether you can defer him starting for a year and whether you can send him mornings only for the first term. Once you know that then you can decide whether to take one of those options or whether to send him perhaps in January.

I know someone with an adopted child who was young for his year who decided to send him just for the last term of reception and he did settle just fine.

You need to know what your options are before spending too much time thinking about them as I understand it is very difficult to get agreement to defer a year and start in reception (I think it would be pointless deferring a year and starting in year one). My understanding (which may be wrong) is that you need to convince the HT and governors in order to get them to defer him a year and start in reception but if you say that your other alternative is to take the place but then not take it up until the summer term it may convince them. I have no idea.

I agree that I'm not sure why you don't feel you can give the leaflet to the school.

candycoatedwaterdrops* thanks, I felt the leaflet was way too hard for any teacher to read.

Thanks for your replies.

I will not be posting any more about my ds on this topic but will try and reply by message to anyone who has replied to me. Please feel free to message me if you wish to, I would rather speak by message if you do not mind. Thank you.

Sorry candycoatedwaterdrops way too LONG not too hard. I mean they would not have time to read it.

Kewcumber Mon 09-Jun-14 15:00:16

Ha ha - I was wondering how dim teachers were!

Kewcumber Mon 09-Jun-14 15:00:49

Some adoption depts do presentations for schools which might be more appropriate, I know ours does.

Kewcumber Mon 09-Jun-14 15:01:15

No reply required will PM you if I think of anything else.

wonderpants Mon 09-Jun-14 15:57:02

Virtual school might also be able to provide support as they look after LAC. Might be worth a chat with them?

tethersend Mon 09-Jun-14 16:11:06

Most virtual schools don't deal with children who are adopted, unfortunately. Their remit stops once the child leaves care.

It may still be worth contacting them to find out.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 09-Jun-14 17:02:33

OK as I see it you have the following options
1) Start reception just the same as other children in school
2) Start reception but ask to stick with mornings only
3) Delay starting until Jan or Easter
4) miss out reception altogether, go straight to y1 in Sep 2015
5) Formally defer for a year, start reception Sept 2015.

1) Might be OK, but your little one will have only been with you ~4 months by that time, which to me seems a little early to be away from you 5 days a week 6.5 hours a day.

2) Your child will be 'different' to the others, which might cause some raised eyebrows and questions. However he would be getting the main 'teaching' and would be in his appropriate year group. The school may be reluctant, but a sympathetic school should be able to make it work no problem. You can then extend as you and he feel happy to.

3) A more usual delay, but may cause gaps in phonics unless you do it at home. (They learn up to 5 new sounds a week). But of course if LO isn't ready and is anxious he probably won't learn anything anyway.

4) Would be good for bonding, and if your child is bright enough it could work in theory, but it's no a route I would want to go down. You kind of would have to 'home ed' for a year, otherwise he would be behind when he started.

5) Should be easier now than a couple of years ago as new rules have been introduced making it easier to defer. Especially as LO is young in year. If he is at all delayed eg speech, physical etc, together with the looked after status I would hope this would be possible. You would need to get it in writing from LA that he can stay one year behind for the rest of his schooling, otherwise you run the risk of missing y7 when you more to secondary.

My DD2 was globally developmentally delayed. Luckily she is old for her year, so the delay just puts her with the younger ones iyswim. Had she been a month older and in the year above she would have been sunk.

So in your case what would I do? Not 1 or 4.
I would consider 5 if child already known to be behind in development (especially if also small as the physical difference will be less).
Otherwise I would discuss with school making late decision at end August between 2 and 3. By end August you will have had more bonding time and you will have a feel whether he is ready to be regularly parted from you.

Sorry it's so long, but I thought it might help you if I clearly listed what I see as the options.

The bonding and feeling secure is the most important. An anxious child won't learn anyway.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 09-Jun-14 17:05:57

DD1 was in juniors when we adopted her. She missed 2 weeks of school and then went full time. I do kind of wish she had gone half days for half a term or so as it would have helped bonding. (On the other hand she was pretty demanding of attention, plus I had DD2 too so the break was good for me).

tethersend Thank you. I have pmed you. I just feel leaflet so large most teachers so busy!

Thanks Sanders. I am not a huge fan of pressure for children and the learning at school is, as you rightly say, very much dependant on children's ability to learn. EG They learn up to 5 new sounds a week I would say may be taught those but who knows what they actually learn!

I will pm you.

mummytime Mon 09-Jun-14 19:33:36

Non - adopter mum, but a mum of dc with SEN/SN. I would say provide the school with a lot of information, but maybe also an "executive summary" to highlight the main points in respect of your child. A teacher might not have much time, but they have even less time to find out information for themselves.
With my "teacher hat on" (I was once), I would say the class teacher and the SENCO need that leaflet. As a teacher I would have valued it as a resource, especially if you could have got it to me before the summer holiday or another holiday when I might have a bit of time to read it, but I would probably also like to keep it to refer to.
Most teachers are great speed readers, and whilst they may not dwell on every word it would help. The amount of training the average teacher gets in SEN (all kinds) is pretty minimal, and adopted children is probably even less (I remember more on Romany children and EAL).

Do not feel rushed or pressurised into a school if it is not the right one for your LO.
Hoping all the best for you both.

Kewcumber Mon 09-Jun-14 19:58:47

Out of interest Sanders did your DD1 stay at existing primary or start a new one?

mummytime thank you that is such a lovely post. I do feel pressurised, he has arrived and we are already kind of thrown into decision making etc. We have no problems with little one, at the moment. But it is a stressful time and with a birth child too it is all quite a lot to take in. No amount of preparation seems to have prepared me!

TrinnyandSatsuma Mon 09-Jun-14 20:09:40

Hi,
Our boy was a little older, so had already started school (reception), so might be less relevant.....

We went to look round the school before we were matched, so talked iin general terms about the needs of a child who had been moved into our home etc. They have experienced of looked after children and were understanding, but also quite pragmatic.

Our social worker said he would visit the school and talk to teachers if needed, but it hasn't been necessary. Our sons teacher is very well informed and is intuitive to his needs.

I think we just got lucky.......so no pearls of wisdom I'm afraid.
He did start school quite early into placement with us though. Some people might say top early.....every child is different and for him, that is what we all felt was best.

Feel free to PM with any questions.

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