Sunday, 31 May 2015

Handwriting hell

J's handwriting is, it's safe to say, a nightmare. There are several reasons for this but the bulk of the issue appears to be his hypermobile joints which mean he finds handwriting difficult and gets aching hands and fingers when trying to write for any long period of time. 
At junior school handwriting was less of an issue because although J can rush he could be told to repeat work and slow down.  At secondary school the pace is much quicker and he is keeping up at all. At the end of September I asked the SENCO if I should buy some handwriting practice books to try and help J increase the speed and accuracy of his writing. I was told there was no need because they woukd do a handwriting assessment and they would look at alternative methods of recording work for J. At the beginning of March this had not happened and I was told again that they would do a handwriting assessment. Today we are almost at the beginning of June, J's academic progress is going backwards and his handwriting is virtually unreadable. I have asked him if anyone has assessed his handwriting or sat down with him to check how fast he can write things down. The answer was a predictable "no". 

So a whole academic year has gone by, much has been promised but little has been delivered apart from a once a week session with his lovely key worker who is good with him. Things that should have happened have not. 

So tomorrow I will be in the school and waiting to speak to someone or arrange a meeting. The Local Education Authority can expect a call too. I want J out of this school and placed in an educational establishment which can meet his needs properly and which won't make plans and promises they cannot keep.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Tears and Frustrations

J has now been in his secondary school since September, to say it has been rocky is an understatement. The school carefully chosen for its small size and good reputation for special needs is proving to be something of a let down. To be fair this is not the fault necessarily of the school but of the whole "one size fits all" approach of mainstream schools. To be frank, most mainstream schools will struggle if they have a large cohort of students with special needs, the staff don't have the experience, teachers are overworked and underpaid for the job they are expected to do, Statements and support plans will be skimmed over rather than read properly and the funding has decreased in a major way. Schools now have to find far more of the funding for their students with additional needs than they used to.

J is struggling, the SENCO has noted that he is more subdued than before (good observation skills there, as J can be pretty "full on"). In addition his results academically are going backwards despite the Statement and despite a meeting at the beginning of March which was goug to address the change in J's needs.

Now we have a letter, like all "not good news" letters from schools this arrived on Saturday morning right at the beginning of half term.  It says that they are not happy with J's level of work or his effort in class.  So okay.....I need to address this with J and with the school as the letter is meaningless without some detail.

Is J being lazy and difficukt in class? Yes that is possible as J can be very lazy if a subject doesn't interest him or he finds it difficult. I have ways and means of tackling this.

Is J not showing sufficient concentration? If this is the case I have recently had an appointment with his paediatrician who feels that based upon his weight and height he needs a higher dose of Mediknet so it's been increased. If this IS the issue then we should quickly see a change in the situation.

Is it down to homework not always being completed? This is possible too as J hates homework and doesn't see the point of "schools stuff" at home. Homework is a regular nightmare here not made any easier by the fact that it is not always written down for J as it should be or even worse....J is left to write it down at the end of a lesson. Given his dyspraxia and hypermobile joints this is a disaster as even if he DOES record it in the right place (rarely), the fate he is rushing means it cannot be read by me and more importantly by J! The annoying point here is that I have asked the school several times to ensure an adult writes down J's homework for him so I have a fighting chance of u dear standing what is being asked of him.

Whatever the reasons are I need yet another meeting with the school to try and address what is happening. I have noted that J is frequently mentioning run ins with other pupils once again...and on Friday when I collected him he mentioned difficulties that day. Apparently he stormed from one classroom after being teased by another pupil, in another lesson a teaching assistant had to take him out and wait while he calmed down after a similar incident. Again, if these issues have contributed to the letter then I need to raise it with the school.

I think what is making me the most uneasy though is the fact that nowhere on the letter does it mention any liaison with the SEN department and my concern is that they know nothing about it. If this is the case then I have a decision to make as I cannot place my faith in a school where departments and staff do not communicate....especially when the subject is a child with special needs who is showing obvious signs of struggling.