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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:58 am 
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Posts: 27
The eleven plus experience was pretty horrific for my family. And the whole experience left me feeling this is a flawed system that ignores the needs of the more vulnerable up front, with the justification that the appeals process will clean up any errors. Yes, we had a successful appeal that found discrimination had taken place, but the whole process was not worth it and I do feel that if I knew then what I know now, I would have withdrawn my child from the eleven plus test.

My daughter has Asperger's and for the most part gets on very well. She has been a victim of her own success in many ways because she achieves well in school and people forget that she has many areas she does not cope well in (mostly social). So she gets no help. This had disastrous effects when it came to the eleven plus. I had reservations about it before hand but was told that my child would get board at an upper school. So I let her test and watch as she severally deteriorated at the beginning of year 6. She did miserable on the eleven plus, which was as could be expected given the circumstances. No allowances were made for her, and they never are at her school.

When it came to the appeal, I did everything wrong. The appeal letter was 4 pages (but given the points for our case, there was not much that could be cut out), several trees sacrificed their lives for all of the supporting evidence (most of which were reports as to what occurred because of the state she ended up in at the beginning of year 6 but did include reports from her initial diagnosis from years earlier which detailed her exam anxiety issues). Although we did not have support from the school (2,2) we did have a lot of academic evidence from both in school (school reports, level 5's in year 5) and outside school (academic activities and certificates). I went into the appeal, sat down, and cried. The appeal panel were lovely. We had not gone in on grounds of discrimination, but on extenuating circumstances. We won, and I got the feeling that they were all shocked by the lack of support given. Even the county representative seemed concerned and asked what could have been done to help her.

But the main thing here is that everything was preventable, but in my experience, if an individual with a disability is cognitively able, no one makes any allowances for them. No one wants to acknowledge that they are under performing for them if they are doing well for their age, and no one cares about their emotional state and general level of happiness.

Why is it to get SEN help, it has to be an emergency? Why can't the help be given before? Why are children forced to fail before they are supported?

The only good news is she will be going to a lovely grammer school that is supportive of those with ASD and does understand that just because someone with ASD is clever it does not mean they don't need any support.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:46 pm
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Location: Bucks
Atilla

We had similar circumstances with our DS.

DS was diagnosed with Aspergers at the end of Year 5, he too had a very stressful start to Year 6 and took time to settle. We home tutored for the 11+ as I knew he would not react well to going to a tutor once a week and knew he would struggle with the exam. We managed to get him an enlarged answer sheet (as we had already identified that he had issues marking his answers on the answer sheet), separate room and break but extra time was refused although evidence from an EP and other professionals was submitted.

During the 11+ he only did about 3/4 of each paper and his scores as expected were extremely low. We appealed with the support of his school and the help of this board and dearest Etienne. It was only when my appeal pack arrived 10 days before our appeal that I found the invigilators report (which I had not seen or know existed) which reported how my DS had got extremely upset and shouted out during the exam had not wanted to run around during the break and did not seem himself. It makes me angry and breaks my heart (and still upsets me as I write) to know that I had to put him through the 11+, so he could fail, so I could go on to appeal!!!

At appeal I too felt the panel were astonished that my DS had not had support, the LA rep also seemed sympathetic and slightly embarrassed that DS had been let down by the system. DS's scores were disregarded and they then focussed on the academic evidence. We too won our case.

I was so fired up by the process that I decided to go on and apply for a statutory assessment and ultimately a statement , something many people had told me I would never get for DS. It took a year but we finally go a statement last April.

He is doing well and the support he gets from his GS is fantastic. He is definitely in the right place but the getting there was not for the faint hearted.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:46 pm
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This is so similar to my dd case, she was diagnosed with aspergers after the 11 plus and I have now recieved a letter saying that she is entitled to a room on her own and extra time. How I will get on at the appeal I don't know. But the reason it has taken so long is because she has no behavioural problems at school and is at the required levels. I have had so many problems with teachers and their 'opinion' of my dd. Extremely fed up!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:36 am
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Smartie, I have been there with the school not noticing. The but she doesn't seem unhappy. She seems fine. They forget that her body language skills are all learned mechanically. She has to remember to put on a sad face, it does not happen naturally. Her version of not doing well looks very different to a NT child. Some teachers dont understand because they are not required to have training before teaching an ASD child. The system is broken.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Some schools are excellent with SEN pupils - please don't condemn them all.

Quite a few teachers have had SEN training and do understand the needs of a wide range of SEN.

However I do agree about the 11+ and I don't think enough allowance is made in the testing procedure. Saying that 'an appeal will sort it out' is naive in the extreme. Not all panels have the understanding to know how SEN can impact on a child.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:01 pm
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I had to fight disability discrimination within the 11+ exam system -was told that my dd who is severely dyslexic and highly intelligent was not able to have a reader or extra time in the Essex exam -but after going all the way to a pre action protocol letter (final step before judicial review that tells them you are going to judicial review) they finally changed their mind and took advice-their indep ed psych then awarded 25% extra time in English and 10% in VR with reader for maths and VR papers. Unfortunately for my dd they then produced terrible exam conditions and messed up the reasonable adjustments in the exam itself. Upshot is : all 11+ exam bodies should have a policy and process for providing reasonable adjustments for disabilities. They are not allowed to have blanket policies that discriminate and I am shocked at their whole approach in this day and age. I know that some schools are better at providing these adjustments but the policies were from the exam governing body. I would also like to see an environment which enables disabled children reasonable access to the grammar schools.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:36 am 
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I realise that I am exposing my own weaknesses here but will do so because it might help.
I think that part of the problem here is that SEN provision is generally very bad in this country, in terms of qualifications required, ie none. I have worked in SEN in mainstream settings and in a Special School too, and have no additional teaching qualifications to do it. This shocked me and I assumed that I would need to do something additional, but I have held several SEN jobs with just a PGCE. I have to admit that working in the special school was rather scary to start with...kind of feeling my way, reading lots about different learning disabilities etc in my spare time, going on some courses and making some huge mistakes, I am sure. Not one of my colleagues started out with anything other than a primary teaching qualification: one or two went on to take specialist qualifications but they did it 'on the job' and taught the rest of us as they learned. Even things as simple as not putting displays on the walls when working with autistic children- it was something I noticed and asked about and had to learn it that way. The sign language we used at school was taught on the job; the classroom assistants, lovely and dedicated and fantastic as they all were, were 'just' TAs like anyone else and had to pick it up as they went along too. This is a very well regarded school which parents have to fight to get their children into - another issue - not enough places.

In other words, I think, very sadly, that SEN is badly under-resourced; most SENCOs are just 'ordinary' teachers who are learning as they go along. It is in my view pretty shameful that there is not a separate training path for teachers in SEN. I was taught absolutely nothing about it on my initial teacher training course. So it is probably true that some teachers might appear to lack knowledge and insight - because they do! Until SEN is not seen as the poor relation of education, I fear many children, especially those of less 'switched on' parents, will continue to be badly let down.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:31 am 
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I can add to that. It's nothing to do with Asperger's but SEN related. I am doing a module with the OU called "understanding and approaching literacy difficulties". It is for qualified teachers. I am 99% certain that you could do this particular course, and do very well in it, but come off it with absolutely no idea how to teach a child to read who was struggling with reading, SEN or not. Worse still, one could come off the course probably with some very bad methods that you had picked up from some of the very dated course DVDs.

So you can beware the people who even do have the SEN qualfications - a lot of it is outdated or hocus pocus. Best thing you can do, is what you all do, find it all out for yourself.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:40 am 
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Actually mystery I think it is a feature of teacher training generally. In most countries teachers have to train in psychology, didactics, pedagogy, philosophy and child development. Here, it is all curriculum - what to teach - and control - how to keep the little monsters in check while you're teaching it. Very little on the knotty business of actually teaching - how to do it. And it's getting worse - with no fewer than 32 different routes into teaching in this country, and less university time, it is becoming a bit of 'on the job training' which de-professionalises teachers, and not only those in SEN.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:50 am 
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That's interesting. When I did my PGCE (not saying when!!) there was absolutely nothing on control. The assumption was that if the lesson was good enough, they would all be engaged, and there would be no need for "control". I didn't find it entirely true, but it wasn't too far off the mark. However, I would have appreciated some more about "control". How do they do this nowadays?


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