The path to school (Part 1)

When we reached the point in her life when we had to leave her lovely nursery and find a school for Emma, the path was one well trodden.  We asked around, we looked at ofsted reports, we made visits… all to get a better understanding of what was available and what we felt would best suit our daughter.

With Alex it’s been a little more… oh, you know… complicated.  Emotional. And a little more finger-in-the-air too.  There is not a lot of choice available.  There is only one additional needs school in the town in which we live and Alex, with all his many and complex needs, cannot be crowbarred into a mainstream school.  It would be unfair on him and also unfair on the school.  We toyed with looking at other schools that were out of catchment, out of town and I agonised over this for quite some time.  Would I be failing him by not looking at these schools? would I be letting my little boy down?  Thankfully parents with similar children reminded me that Alex was still very small, very young and why not try the easy option first?  When someone else puts it like that… Of course.

The available school is a good one, but it is small.  When Alex starts school the next youngest child will be 6.  As I have posted previously, he has thrived at his nursery, loving being surrounded by other children, watching what they do, interacting with them and just got used to being in a noisy, everyday situation.  It has been so beneficial for him.  We didn’t want to lose that.  So we have gone for what is known as ‘inclusion’.  The additional needs school will be his main school and the mainstream school across the car park – the one Emma attends – will have him for up to 1 day a week, and this time can be split over the week.  This will mean he gets to join in with the fun activities, the non-academic ones, that are so important for a boy like him: play time, music time, story time, arts afternoons… all with the children his own age.  Keeping him involved.  It’s important for us not to hide him away in a corner, for our little boy – with all his disabilities – to access the world as much as he can, with whatever help is available, as much as is humanly possible.  I am excited about his starting school now in a way that I definitely wasn’t when I first realised my boy, my baby, would be starting this September.  He is ready I think, for all the new experiences that are coming his way… and we are catching him up.

Alex napping

I will be very ready Mummy, right after I’ve done some serious napping…

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3 Responses to The path to school (Part 1)

  1. fisefton says:

    I just found your blog after reading the article in the Telegraph, via SWAN on Facebook.

    I wish we’d had the option of “inclusion” when my son was starting school. Unfortunately, it was 15 years ago and it was either get a place at the special needs school or the mainstream school with, for my son, very limited additional support. My son attended the mainstream school for Early Years and then moved to the special needs school in Year 1. Move on to Year 6, in a different town, and they built a new primary school which incorporated one of the mainstream schools with the primary school part of the special needs schools. This means that although the children have their own lessons they have some lessons and break/lunch time together. I like this and wish that they’d also done this with the special needs senior school instead of keeping just a “satellite” class in a separate school.

    • Hi, I really like the idea of inclusion, for many reasons, but mainly just so it keeps mixing them up. If we keep separating our children into ‘normal’/ ‘needs more help’ we will never get used to one another, we will always be ‘other’ and that can’t be good for any of us. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on the blog. Please keep me updated on your journey!

      • fisefton says:

        I was glad that my son was at the local primary school, and play group previously, for his Early Years but due to his learning disability he would have felt even more different when progressing through school and may not have progressed as well as he has. He will be going to the local College in September to continue his education. He did, however, go to swimming lessons at the local swimming pool and karate at the local club until he was 16 when he decided he didn’t want to go any more.

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