Friday, 25 September 2015


Today I attended a lovely coffee morning at Grove House school. We were raising money for the Macmillan cancer nurses. Cakes were made, displayed and eaten. Tea was consumed by the bucketload. 

At the end of the morning we'd raised just over £186.

A few of us had got together as well to begin forming a Parents and Friends of Grove House School committee. It felt good to begin talking about how we could start giving something back to the school. 

Lovely to meet some of the other parents too. We all understood each other and had experienced similar issues. 

Watching the pupils at break time was also interesting. All playing in groups but generally doing their own thing...and J did not look out of place among them. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Ups and Downs.

One of the issues J has is that he cannot cope with being teased. He gets upset and angry when this happens as he does not know what to do. 

Conversations with him over the past few years have frequently gone like this. 

"How was your day at school?"

to his response of....

"X, Y or Z teased me and I hate that f***ing school so get me out of it". 

Then would follow an evening of increasing stress while he raged. 

So far since he started at Grove House we haven't had this raging all evening. The days have been far from stress free for him but somehow he is leaving it all behind in school.

I feel a little sorry for the teachers as all the children are new and having to adjust. It's stressful for all the children and the reactions to this big change in their schooling is impacting on their behaviour in some cases. 

For J this has manifested itself in a very short fuse with the boy teasing him. 

Yesterday J managed to ignore "the boy who teases" and I gave him lots of praise for this as he finds this ignoring if teased very difficult. 

That was yesterday though and today was another day. 

So "the boy who teases" said something provocative to J and J responded by thumping him. The teacher got a thump too as she intervened to stop the boys fighting. J was mortified about that and to be fair I don't think he would ever knowingly hit a teacher...and never has in the past. They are the people he looks to for safety. 

The deputy head who phoned me was fantastic, once J had calmed down he promptly said "I shouldn't have hit X (the boy who teases) but he provoked me".

This on its own is good as he recognised that he made a poor choice. The school are going to get him involved in writing a plan for when teasing happens. How he can ensure he doesn't hit out. 

This is good but I am still concerned, I've never known J to hit other children who have teased him. 
In the past he has raged and left the classroom or playground when teased, I have never known him to fight back. 

In a way it's good that he IS fighting back but thumping someone is not the answer. And that's where the work begins on helping him find other appropriate ways of responding.

Aghhh! Damn the autism which makes it so hard for him. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

We love Grove House school

So J has been at Grove House School for just under two weeks now. It's safe to say all the students are still settling in and the staff are starting to get to know J!

J has already found issue with another child who lacks the self control needed not to mimic J or name call.  As a result J has melted down nearly daily and required support. 

As always it is difficult to get clear information from J and so I am not sure if he has been able to share this with the school. 

Last night J drew this to describe what was happening. It was a great piece of communication and I have lots of praise. I wrote in quote marks what J told me. I am going to share it with the school. 

However despite this one boy J is struggling with all seems good.
This is what his class thinks of him

That's now up on the wall.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

First Day

J has now done his first two days at Grove House School. He has returned home happy and relaxed on both days. 

It can be difficult to get information about the school day from J but I have elicited the information that "it's much better than my old school". 

I can well believe this as mainstream school no longer suited J. 

The other information he remembered was about what he had for lunch. Chicken Korma on Thursday "the chicken was chewy" and "fish fingers and chips and a dark chocolate crispy cake" on Friday.

His home/school diary notes that he has had a great start to the term and is happy. 

Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

School Visit

Yesterday we visited Grove House School and rejoiced.
The school is tiny compared with the mainstream secondary school which J was attending. There are very few classrooms at Grove House although this will change with each year as they fill to capacity.

The deputy headteacher was lovely, I've met her previously when I visited the special school she used to teach at. She was fabulous then at looking through J's Statement and advising me. I am overjoyed to find her at Grove House.

Building work on the refurbishments are in their finishing stages and will be complete by Thursday when J begins.

There will be speech and language therapists within the classrooms and occupational therapists at other times depending upon the subject.  There will be two LSA's and a teacher too, the classes will be small ....around 10-15 children per class so lots of support can be given.

I am so relieved that J has the opportunity of attending this school and am keeping everything crossed for a successful launch.

I will also join the PTA and fundraise for them. They are going to be so supported by parents who have had to wait for this much needed school.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

We've done it!

Finally, after all the sheer worry about how J was being let down by the mainstream school system we have hope.

J has been offered a place at Grove House School in Brentwood from September 2015.

It is no exaggeration to say I cried when I got the email from the Trustee dealing with admissions. It is such an enormous relief to know that he will be in a school which supports his learning in a way he can access it.

I am angry too, angry that it's been such a fight to reach this stage when it really should not have been. I get the impression that had I not been proactive as a parent, had I not had the strength and confidence to fight the Local Authority then J would have been left to flounder in a mainstream school and getting continual negative  messages. It makes me wonder how many more children are out there, not succeeding in mainstream but just being left because their parents cannot "rock the boat" and demand a better service.

So J has a school place and I now have to find the money to buy a whole new uniform.....this will be a struggle as it was last year but I will do it. The new uniform has a bottle green blazer with the school logo on the pocket, white shirt, grey trousers and a black tie with a yellow and green stripe going through it. It will suit J very well and I can't wait for the first photo of him wearing it.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

So they turned us down....

On Friday I received the phone call I was dreading. J's case file had been discussed by the Panel for a special school  placement and they turned him down. They didn't feel he was right for one of the C.L.i.P (Community Learning in Partnership) schools. They DID however suggest  Grove House School a new specialist special Free school opening in September 2015. Interestingly back in March this is the same school they told me would not accept J. They said in March that he wouldn't meet the criteria ...apparently now he does!

I have given them permission to send J's file over to Grove House school for consideration. Not wanting to leave anything to chance I emailed the school to say that J's file was coming to them and had the positive response of an email back the next day to say they had received J's info and would discuss it at an admission's meeting next week. I will know by the end of the week if J has a place there or not.

If he does then great, the write up looks amazing and here are only 10 pupils per year group. Teaching will be done with speech and language therapists on hand to support pupils who need visual aids and receptive language support (like J). An occupational therapist will be employed full time to support with sensory needs too and there will be a sensory room. If accepted then J could stay until he is 19.

If J is not accepted then we will go to tribunal for a place at the special school.

I am keeping all my fingers and toes crossed.

The other positive thing I take from this is that the LA have recognized mainstream education is not right for J and that he needs a different kind of teaching.