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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:32 am 
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Thank you so much everybody for the kind support and advice I've had so far. I thought I would start a new thread so I'm not cluttering up the Crystal Ball one if that's okay? It's not yet an appeal so I hope it's okay here, if not please feel free to move it to a more appropriate place. It's a fairly long post but I didn't want to leave anything out.

To summarise - DD missed out by 0.04 miles getting into Chesham. Her two friends, including her best friend, did get in. Ten days ago, DD finally got a diagnosis of autism which I had long suspected. We haven't yet received the report, but I was verbally told by the assessors that it is very important for her to stay with close friends due to her obvious social deficits so she can make the best possible start. She comes from a lovely primary school with lovely children which is very close-knit, and wonderful teachers who have always dealt with fallings out immediately - they never even suspected she had autism as a result, as they dealt so well with pastoral matters. Any secondary will be a very different matter.

Whilst most of her classmates are going to her allocated school (which I've been talking up the positives for, of course) they're all on/off friendships with some fallings out, and from my reading of the situation, often due to her social deficits. The only friend who she can rely on, has been close to all primary, and she's never fallen out with is one of the girls going to Chesham. Her assessors said it was important that she stay with somebody she can trust and was glad to hear she had applied to the same school as her close friend. Obviously friendships change at secondary, but to get a stable start would be priceless.

The assessors also said that a grammar school would be much more suited to her due to ASD - Chesham is the only one we are in reasonable transport reach of. This was pretty much our main reason for applying in the first place, even before diagnosis we knew our daughter and what would be most suited for her. She's very academic, exceptional at English and Maths, and had a high passmark.

Daughter was extremely disappointed, and wants me to do all I can so she can go to Chesham - she's had her heart set on it since she heard about it in Y3 when we first started looking at our options. She knows herself and knows what kind of environment she would prefer. She was fully expecting to go there (despite my worries when the distance shrunk last year which I tried to prepare her for) which is upsetting for any child, but for a child with autism with very fixed ideas and a need to feel in control, it's a huge shock to her system and I worry for her already not great mental health.

For the record, we're out of county, just across the border in Hertfordshire, although her primary has a very long tradition of sending a few children to Chesham each year, and there are some links between the schools.

I was just reading through in detail all the stuff on Bucks CC site when I came across this:

https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/edu ... sion-rule/

It seems they can take a fresh submission under the social and medical needs rule if I do so by March 15th if new evidence has come to light. I would say a recent diagnosis of autism would count as that. Obviously we don't have an EHCP or anything as this is all fresh.

If I can (somehow) get something together by then, this could remove the need for an appeal maybe? It would mean getting a report very very quickly from somebody, which could be "interesting" if it's NHS, given it took almost two years from referral to get her diagnosed. We're happy to pay for a private one, but it would obviously be better if it were from the lovely people who assessed her.

Any thoughts, or pointers very welcome. This is all very new to me! And I don't have much time..

Thanks!!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:14 am 
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Hi sparklies
Looks a sensible approach to me but I will confess that I don’t know much about the EMSAR processes. Presumably a successful outcome would push you further up the waiting list for the following allocation round? I suspect (and hope) that it won’t be needed because at 64m outside the allocation distance, you must surely be one of the first, if not the first, to be allocated a place when someone else withdraws.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:36 am 
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Hmm, that's a good point. If all it can do is push her further up the list (rather than giving her a place) then it might not be that useful to rush it at this stage. It would put her ahead of any late movers to the area I guess, but there can't be many. It's not totally clear from the link but it's possible you could be right, and it is just a waiting list thing at this stage.

I'm also quietly optimistic that Bucks CC's new waiting list policy might generate more movement in the second round than it might have in previous years (i.e. automatically shifting children when a waiting list place comes up, rather than waiting for parents to decide) but that remains to be seen!

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:42 am 
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"Children who have exceptional medical or social needs which can only be met at this school supported by evidence from an independent professional person"

EMSAR tends to be applied quite strictly - the above wording implies that no other school would be possible, so I think a lot depends on how strongly the support from the relevant professional is worded.

EMSAR is admission rule 5 for Chesham. (Lower than catchment.)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:07 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Etienne wrote:
"Children who have exceptional medical or social needs which can only be met at this school supported by evidence from an independent professional person"

EMSAR tends to be applied quite strictly - the above wording implies that no other school would be possible, so I think a lot depends on how strongly the support from the relevant professional is worded.

sparklies, this is a crucial point. From your description and if I am to be critical of your reasoning for the purposes of helping, your case needs strengthening. I don’t infer from your description that CGS is the only school that can meet your daughter’s needs. I think that pinning the case on attachment to one particular friend is risky and probably undermines your case rather than bolstering it. What if that friend declines their place or moves away early in her time at the school? What happens if (as is common in some schools) primary classmates are separated into different classes at secondary level? A panel might reasonably think that friendships come and go in teenage years. If the majority of her friends are going elsewhere, why is CGS still the only suitable place for her?

I think that it would be much better for your case, if you go down the EMSAR route, that you give some evidenced reasons as to why the school is the most suitable environment to meet your daughter’s needs, not the circumstances around admission, friendships, where she would like to go, etc. What is it that CGS provides that makes it uniquely suitable for your daughter? She’s already proved the academic case, so I would think you are looking for things like their pastoral support structures, particular sports or clubs with which she has a strong and proven interest, their processes for assisting with ASD and autism and so on. And for any of those, that CGS offers something that the alternative school does not offer.

I hope you take this constructive criticism in the spirit it is given. I really do hope all of this is irrelevant in the end.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:42 am 
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anotherdad wrote:
Etienne wrote:
"Children who have exceptional medical or social needs which can only be met at this school supported by evidence from an independent professional person"

EMSAR tends to be applied quite strictly - the above wording implies that no other school would be possible, so I think a lot depends on how strongly the support from the relevant professional is worded.

sparklies, this is a crucial point. From your description and if I am to be critical of your reasoning for the purposes of helping, your case needs strengthening. I don’t infer from your description that CGS is the only school that can meet your daughter’s needs. I think that pinning the case on attachment to one particular friend is risky and probably undermines your case rather than bolstering it. What if that friend declines their place or moves away early in her time at the school? What happens if (as is common in some schools) primary classmates are separated into different classes at secondary level? A panel might reasonably think that friendships come and go in teenage years. If the majority of her friends are going elsewhere, why is CGS still the only suitable place for her?

I think that it would be much better for your case, if you go down the EMSAR route, that you give some evidenced reasons as to why the school is the most suitable environment to meet your daughter’s needs, not the circumstances around admission, friendships, where she would like to go, etc. What is it that CGS provides that makes it uniquely suitable for your daughter? She’s already proved the academic case, so I would think you are looking for things like their pastoral support structures, particular sports or clubs with which she has a strong and proven interest, their processes for assisting with ASD and autism and so on. And for any of those, that CGS offers something that the alternative school does not offer.

I hope you take this constructive criticism in the spirit it is given. I really do hope all of this is irrelevant in the end.


Sparklies I think the above advice by Etienne and anotherdad is spot on. Athough ASD is a social communication disorder and in your Dd it may be most noticable to you in how she interacts with peers I think you need to provide an argument for the school rather than for her to stay with her friends.

Have you been in contact with the National Autistic Society? They may be able to offer advice in some way too.
I can't remember if I've said before but both my Ds have autism (although both very different), they are 20 and 21 now and we have waded through many obstacles so feel free to pm me if I can help.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:53 am 
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Thanks all, constructive criticism is extremely welcome simply because the last thing we want is to be lulled into a false sense of security. Any panel is going to be very critical so that is what we need to be aware of now.

Etienne - Hmm, so if EMSAR is rule 5 (I'd assumed it was rule 2 from the link, but of course it's an academy, not a community/voluntary school) then it's probably not going to give us any advantage at all, unless there's somebody still on the waiting list who is up to 64m closer. This seems statistically unlikely. And I'm also assuming that even if she did then get considered under rule 2, it wouldn't guarantee a place.

That said, would we prejudice an appeal by trying this? However I am not sure we could get a report together in time by the 15th, all we would most likely have is her diagnosis report which won't be specific to this circumstance so it may not be worth it.

anotherdad and petit-pois - I think you are quite right in that putting weight on just one friend does not look good, even if it's true. We know it's mainly to do with the settling in stage as that can be so crucial, but a panel could well not feel that's sufficient.

At this stage, we don't really know enough about the school to know how good their pastoral support is, or how good particular sports or clubs are compared to others. She plays an instrument she is intending to continue, is serious about drama, and is very involved in sports at her primary school so there are possibilities there, although I have a feeling her allocated school does well at those things! I will need to ask around, I have a friend with a son in Y7 at Chesham who I am sure could help me a bit. I have also read that in theory (although I know it is different in practice, DD's current school is above and beyond brilliant for ASD DS, but most would not have been) any secondary should be able to adequately support a child with ASD so that can't be used as a reason.

It's quite awkward because in theory (if we ignore the friendship aspect) then any grammar school would suit her better than her allocated school. But only Chesham (and I looked into this in some detail) even if distance criteria were not an issue, has realistic school transport there for us. And I'd hate to base a case on that.

The main reason for a grammar over her allocated is simply that it suits her best. She thrives in a higher pressure environment, and slacks off if she doesn't have as much competition or finds it too easy. She's also very distracted by disruptive behaviour, and whilst a grammar won't guarantee anything, and streaming in a comp will help, the odds are better. Ironically DS (6) is a disruptive child himself due to his ASD which manifests very differently, so I do genuinely see both sides! But I can't see that those reasons are any different to any other child wanting a place.

It's going to be a struggle if we don't get a waiting list place.

Thank you for the offer petit-pois! I definitely know just how differently ASD can manifest - DD and DS could not be more different, opposites, almost! But the anxiety, social issues, control needs and the existence of meltdowns are very definitely the same.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:00 pm 
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What about talking to the SENCo at CGS? I know they used to have a good reputation for supporting SEN - is there anything on their website that would help?

Here is their SEN policy? https://docs.google.com/gview?url=https ... edded=true

I'll have a quick scan for you.


Last edited by Guest55 on Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:02 pm 
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In what way is the transport more realistic? If it's more straightforward and less stressful for Dd that could be a helpful point to focus on?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:49 pm 
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Thank you Guest55 - that looks handy. I had a quick read and didn't see anything that stood out aside from some lunchtime support groups. I need to see if her allocated school has something similar - I should compare the statements. I had heard anecdotally that Chesham had a good reputation for SEN, but is that enough to go on when all schools are supposed to provide enough support?

petit-pois - CGS is the only grammar we can reach in a reasonable timeframe. There is a bus half a mile from us that goes directly to Chesham. There's no feasible way of getting to any other grammar unless we paid a small fortune for a taxi every day! DD's allocated school is, uh, ten minutes walk away. But in some ways that kind of proves how much she (and us) would like CGS and how we feel it is the right school for her, given her allocated school is so close and is quite reasonable.

I do realise we are very lucky compared to many other people who didn't get their top choice in that we do have a good fallback option, but it is very frustrating when children three minutes walk away don't have to justify to anyone why they preferred CGS over their local and are now celebrating! I know there has to be a cut-off somewhere, but historically when those who qualified from that school have always got in and DD is the first one who hasn't, ever.. it does feel rubbish.


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