Is he ready for Big School by Claire

Of course the New Year means many things to different people, but to us parents of summer-born children, January brings with it the second academic intake of the year, when the youngest of the reception class patter off to school, clutching neatly ironed PE kit and a pristine lunch box (how long will it stay like that I wonder?).

I have to say, my Christmas is somewhat spoilt by the thought of his start date looming so soon after the holiday. My thoughts of planning the Christmas dinner and the festive baking are somewhat interrupted by worries of separation anxiety and fears that he won’t cope with the lunch time routine and how on earth is he going to manage to wipe his bum for pete’s sake! And of course all my worries are compounded because my little 4-year old-not-5-til-August is on the spectrum and already decided he “doesn’t want to go to Big School”.

“Well, all you can do is your best and leave the results to God” says my old mum. And I’ve done all the right things! I met with the SENCO* from his nursery and the SENCO from the new school, who I already know quite well as my eldest who has Asperger’s Syndrome goes to the same school and we meet regularly twice a term to discuss his targets and set new ones. We all sat down together and talked about what Samuel was good at and where his difficulties lay. The old SENCO explained the strategies they have in place now to help him cope with things he finds difficult such as changeovers, like tidy up time and how he needs lots of warnings and encouragement to move on to new activities.

If I’m honest, I have my doubts that the school is ready and able to meet Samuel’s needs. I brought my concerns to the LEA at the end of last term when I applied for a Statutory Assessment of Special Needs for Samuel but I was turned down. A Statutory Assessment happens because each LEA has a “continuing duty to identify children with SEN, assess them and ensure provision” (DfES Code of Practice for SEN) if it is felt that their needs are not being met. This was difficult to prove because Samuel wasn’t in school yet. I will have to wait and see how he (and the School) copes before I appeal against the decision not to assess him.

So, if I’m a bit more anxious than other parents who will be watching their children traipse off to ‘Big School’, can you blame me? And of course, because Samuel is the youngest, the place will be eerily quiet without him. Sob! Sniff! What will I do with myself? Ah well, more time for blogging I suppose!

*Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.

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