So, the time has come. We have had the letter and now we need to decide which schools to apply for for Tink’s reception year next September. The trouble is, we have no idea of what to do!
With H it wasn’t a hard choice. I had always wanted my children to go to my old school if we lived close enough and it’s a good school, so we applied and, fortunately, were just within the catchment area that year and he got a place. Tink was always going to follow in his footsteps, and we applied for a place at the school nursery before we had her diagnosis, and before we knew anything about what was to come…
So now, she’s been at the nursery for almost six weeks (already?! Where did that go?) and, despite the school’s promises and reassurances that they would be a great setting for her, could provide lots of support for her and for us and would get an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) underway immediately, I’m just not sure if it’s going to be the right school for her going forward.
This wasn’t part of the plan! She was always going to go to this school! Her brother goes to the juniors next door. She will get a place no problem, unlike some of the children in her nursery who will miss out. Are we mad to even consider looking at an alternative?
Maybe. But maybe it’s more mad not to. We absolutely have to put Tink’s needs first, way over and above our own hopes and dreams for a future education that is already going off in a direction we hadn’t even contemplated this time a year ago.
The problem now is that I don’t really know what our options are. As it stands at the moment, we can only consider other mainstream schools, as she doesn’t get have (and may not even get) an EHCP, so special schools and resource bases are out of the question. Which is frustrating. Really frustrating. I had wanted the option of looking at these to get an idea of which type of provision might suit Tink best. I like the idea of her remaining in mainstream, so that she is mixing with a variety of children with a variety of needs, both ‘typical’ and with additional needs. However, I’m honestly unsure as to how well she’ll cope in a more structured classroom with the demands and expectations therein, and I’m worried that the gap between her and her peers will widen further. And, if I’m totally honest, I’m worried about the disruption she more than likely will cause (we’ve just received a speech therapy report from the school – it wasn’t very happy reading!).
It may be that a smaller mainstream school might suit better, but the problem we face there is actually getting a place at a different, good school, as again, without an EHCP, we fall under the same allocation rules as everyone else – catchment area being the major factor. The good schools around here are usually well over-subscribed and we’re on the border of a town with some less-desirable schools that we could probably get into no problem!
I’m really quite annoyed that the school she’s at are dragging their heels about even starting the EHCP process, which they have said they definitely feel she needs. I can, and have been advised to, request the plan myself, rather than school requesting it, but even if I do that immediately, by the time it goes through – if it goes through – it will be too late for the application deadline mid-January. Grrrrr!
So, you can see our dilemma. It’s such a big decision, and I’m so scared of getting it wrong. Do we keep her where she is, a school we’ve known for years, where they are already getting to know her, where she’s mixing with children she’ll go to school with and may even make friends with, but where I’m already having a niggly feeling that is not quite right? Or do we try for another mainstream school, that we know nothing about, and they know nothing about her, but that may end up being perfect for her needs as they are at the moment – or not? We will go to open days to see what’s available, and ask to speak to SENCOs to see what they can offer her, but it’s just so hard to know if we’re doing the right thing, and it could have big repercussions if we make the wrong choice!