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 Post subject: Advice please
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:40 am 
I would be very grateful for some advice, especially from anyone out there who is / has been a teacher in a secondary school.
My son started Year 7 at grammar school in September . He was statemented when in year 6 but the support identified in his statement never really got going in primary school - in any case they didn't seem to do much work for the second half of the year!
Now at secondary school he has addditonal support in the classroom but he is finding it hard to accept. The School agree that he needs the help and will struggle without it and we have been really pleased that he is finally getting the suport he needs. But he is now saying that some of the boys have been asking what's wrong with him, comments like you must be disabled if you have help. He knows and understands the problems he has but desparately wishes he didn't have them. Having had years of problems with friends at primary school he had seen secondary as a chance to make a fresh start. He is now saying that he would rather not have any help if that means he will be rejected for being different.
I don't think the othe children are being particularly nasty - just human nature to notice and comment on anything that's different - but my son is becoming increasingly stressed by it all to the point that it is becoming very large in his thoughts.
Has anyone had experience of this from a teacher or parents point of view?
He feels it is a stark choice - have the help, do well in school work or reject the help, accept the low marks but have friends.
And I thought getting the statement was battle won!
BTW I couldn't log in as greta as forgotten password and got locked out - hence greta2!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 9:10 pm
Posts: 1068
Location: Lincolnshire
Hello Greta,

My daughter has a Statement allowing her full time 1to1 help and is now in year 9. This was an issue for her particularly in the first year or so. She was acutely embarrassed by the questions being asked of her directly and to the learning support asistants and teachers. School thought it might be better if some explanation was given to the class about why she had help but she was adamant that she did not want other children to know what was wrong with her, though she did in fact tell a couple of the other girls some time into the first year (and so I suspect it has filtered through to become common knowledge).

Over time the two people who support her have become a bit of a fixture in her classes. When she is working OK and settled they are available to help others and this has helped her not to feel so conspicuous. They do withdraw also for part of the time in some lessons where she does not usually have much problem. I would suggest having a talk with the SENCO about what is happening and see whether they can help work out a way of making things more comfortable for your son. I think for my daughter things became easier also because the teachers became used to having an extra adult body in the classroom and to working effectively with them - some of them had not had experience of this before.

I do hope things settle down for your son. It is early days yet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:54 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Greta

How awful for you and your son - you have my sincere sympathy.

The only comment I can make is based on my son having learning support help whilst at Primary School. There was absolutely no stigma attached to having help because the school created a wonderfully positive atmosphere around the idea of learning support. I often checked with my son whether the other children saw him as "different" or "less able" because of the extra help he was having and it was not an issue.

My view would be that you must take this to the Form teacher or the Year Head and ensure that the school are supporting your son in every way that they can. The issue should have been addressed positively before the support was brought in, but I sense that the teacher has either swept it under the carpet or has become so used to having learning support staff in the classroom that he/she has forgotten that it can come with a stigma attached. Either way, this is firmly for the school to deal with. I would expect them to find a reason to take your son out of the classroom for 15 minutes and then talk to the other children about the situation and remind them that comments about it are unnecessary and can be hurtful.

You can of course help your son to learn positive responses to the other children's comments, encourage him to invite the other children home, etc, but I feel that the starting point must be the school. If he feels supported by the staff I am sure he will begin to feel happier.

Very good luck to you and your son - I hope things improve.
Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:37 pm 
Many thanks for your thoughts, Alex and Sally-Anne.
I also wondered about the school explaining to the class but like Alex's daughter, my son is mortified at the idea - not least beause of a hideous experience several years ago in primary school when a new EP did just that - she took him out, asked the rest of the class their views on him and then brought him back in to hear it all in front of his class! Needless to say we were mindboggled (and furious). The only good thing to come from this was that so many of the other children thought it was odd and were worried it might happen to them that they complained to the class teacher before we had even heard about it!
I am sure most schools would be a lot better than this and I have no reason to think that his new school would do anything quite so stupid but not surprisingly he doesn't want to take the risk.
I agree that if the LSA can be seen to help other children as well this might help.
I guess it's time to talk with the school....
It feels like, here we go again!
I find it very hard to know when to try and be involved but not to be seen as an overprotective Mum.


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 Post subject: TA support
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:45 pm 
Dear Greta2,
I'm sorry to hear about your son's worries about how he is receiving support in the classroom environment and how vulnerable it is making him feel. [As a secondary maths teacher, in a comprehensive setting, I see my students receiving help in all sorts of ways. May I point out that some students I've taught are very clever yet they receive so many hours TA support per week so it is not necessarily the weaker students receiving support.]
There are many ways TA's can support students and you may find it useful finding out from your son if the TA sits with him in every class, or near him, or simpy checks he's ok and then wanders around the room helping other students as and when required. Which of these would your son prefer? Then why not contact the school and talk to the Senco and explain the situation. As I've mentioned there are many many ways of supporting students in a classroom situation and these depend on the subject being taught as well as the specific needs of the student with the IEP. For example, the TA could stand at the back of the class whilst the lesson is being introduced etc then go and check with your son that he is ok before then checking others. Support can be given discreetly and I can understand perfectly that your son doesn't wish to stand out as being different in any way. Speak to the school, let them know he is sensitive about the issue and they should work with you. You want your son to achieve and be happy, as do the school.
All the best.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11954
I have been a SENCo at a Grammar school and it should not be like this - do talk to the SENCo - it may be the TA could be 'less obvious' - the classs should NOT need to know too much about your son's statement.
Are the staff well briefed about his statement? Does he have an IEP [individual education plan] setting out how he will get the support] he needs?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 9:03 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:39 am
Posts: 55
Location: Kent- duh!
I'm a qualified TA myself, (although I'm taking some time out) and have to say I'm absolutely appalled at your son's experience. Poor lad- no wonder he feels horrified at the thought of the teacher speaking to the class! I have been in a classroom where it was appropriate for the teacher to address the whole class about another child, but it was done very sensitively, with the teacher emphasising the fact that all of them need a little support from time to time. I'm so sorry he's had this bad experience.
I've worked with many statemented children and one thing common to every case is that sometimes the best way the TA can support 'their' child- is by helping others. Never have I spent the whole time in the classroom glued to that child's side. Part of the support is helping the child to be able to work independently and gain confidence in their own ability, so it shouldn't really be a case of the TA sitting beside him all the time.
I can only back up the suggestions that you speak to the SENCO and class teacher. Once they're aware of his feelings, they should be able to help. You could also speak to the TA- I had many conversations with parents, which really helped. Any TA should be more than happy to listen to the parents - it helps the working relationship with their child alot.
I hope the school find a way to offer your son the support he's entitled to without compromising his dignity. Good luck.

_________________
Of course I'm out of my mind! It's dark and scary in there!!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:47 am 
Thank you so much for your replies - it is reassuring to know that TA's and teachers out there are aware of the need to support children sensitively.
I spoke again with my son to understand why he doesn't want the help and as some have suggested the problem has been one of the TA's sitting next to him throughout the lesson. (like a limpet - his words!) He went on to explain how he had tried to shake her off yesterday by suggesting another boy looked like he was stuck... etc etc but she wouldn't go. The image is quite comical in some ways!
Anyway I have taken everyone's advice and contacted the school and to their credit I have had a really quick and positive response - they have spoken with the TA and teacher invovled and agreed all TA's will move around and help others as well as him. So fingers crossed things will improve.
My positive take home message has been that as soon as I raised it with the school they have dealt with it for which I am very grateful. As a parent of a child with SEN you can so easily feel that you are pestering the school. It has also made me realise that whilst they have his statement they don't really know him and I am not sure they actually understand his difficulties - so maybe I need to find a way to communicte this with them too.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:13 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:18 am
Posts: 4083
That is so reassuring to read, greta2. a happy outcome , one that sounds like it wi11 improve. Things can only get better.Best wishes.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Very glad to hear your news Greta - I hope things really look up for him now.

Time to invite a few new friends home soon? :D

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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