Just had a SEN (special educational needs) coffee morning at the junior school. Great idea in theory, in practice, could do better.
We had a little chat from the infant school SENCO (SEN coordinator) who introduced the junior school SENCO and their Educational Psychologist. This was slightly confusing as the Ed Psych was quite noticably a different one from the one that works in the infant school (different gender for a start) and who had told at least one other parent and us that she worked at the junior school as well so there would be continuity. Someone else asked about this and it turns out that some Ed Psych time, namely that to do with statemented children (who are apparently quite rare), is paid for by the County Council, but other Ed Psych time is paid for by the school from their budget. The infants use the same Ed Psyh for both, the juniors school have chosen to buy in a different Ed Psych to the County Councils choice, so there are two Ed Psychs working in the school, doing different things, but we were reassured that they communicate. So an understandable complication of modern life but one that you don’t get unless someone tells you and it’s mildly frustrating that you have to ask for the explanation.
Later the infant school SENCO explains to me that she thinks it’s actually a good thing there are two ed psychs. I find her generally pleasant and helpful but I can’t help finding her a little defensive and with a tendency to miss the point sometimes. Confusion/frustration at not understanding why the ed psych you’ve just been introduced to is not who you expected is not the same as being cross that there are two different Ed Psychs involved.
Anyway, hubby and I have a quick chat with this new Ed Psych, because it’s suggested we might want to, so even though we don’t know what we want to chat to him about (because we don’t know what involvement he might have, we’re still a bit confused about how this works) we figure we might as well. He seems quite sensible and he seems to get our son from our description. In relation to our comments that he doesn’t always change task well (eg continuing to read the book he’s engrossed in when it’s time to come and sit on the carpet and listen meaning the teacher is saying his name over and over again) he asks if the teacher is giving him countdowns to changing task (e.g. you need to come and sit down on the carpet in 2 minutes) – we have no idea if this happens, it wasn’t on the Ed psych report, but this is something that we do at home constantly. So I like him. He also points out that we shouldn’t judge how things are going to go for our son, but wait and see if there are problems. This has been said to me before. Hmm, I think I am doing this, maybe I’m not. Or maybe my desperation to try and communicate clearly to the multiheaded beast that is the school system makes me seem to be making mountains out of molehills, when in actual fact I’m just trying to get someone to listen to my description of the molehills.
So, next up, new Senco. She seems nice, but the conversation is a bit unstructured. She starts of reading something from a piece of paper and talking about the physical movement intervention he had in reception. I realise we’re getting side tracked and interject with the more recent Aspergers suspicions. Anyway, she seems to take on board the fact that we’ve felt communication hasn’t been optimum at times without getting defensive (as its not her responsibility) and gets straight away that he doesn’t like being talked of in front of him and suggests they could email us instead, yay! She also asks me to write down his colour deficient mix ups (blue/purple etc) so the teacher is aware, very practical. And when we recount the problem he had at the out of school group he goes to, when he decided to leave the room as they were singing a song he didn’t like and they thought he was trying to leave the building and a scene ensued, she suggests they could find him a safe space at school he can go to if he needs it. I’m not sure if he needs it in the school setting, but it’s a nice idea.
So, so far so good. And then I end up chatting to the infant school SENco again after hubby has left for work. And I ask her for a copy of the boys Thrive documents as I figure that not mentioning it to her in person and then writing a letter about it would probably seem rude. She says of course I can see them, I just have to ask the class teacher (I have asked her for this before and I think the class teacher too, but somehow my explicit requests don’t seem to get heard). And then she tells me that I will have been shown them before. I explain that I don’t think I have. And back she goes, every so nicely, politely and insistently, onto the defensive. And I am back trying to explain why it feels like from my perspective that there’s a pattern of not being told things. And she is back explaining that I would have been told things until I start to doubt myself and wondering if I’ve just forgotten it all. Plus she keeps reiterating that it’s the class teachers job to tell me. And then she says she thought the class teacher had talked to me about my concerns and that she’ll tell her of them again.
Noooo. This is a repeat of before. When I mentioned in an email to the SENCO that I think the parent communication part of their SEN policy has room for improvement and then I had the class teacher defensively explaining to me in front of my kids that she had told me stuff and that it was unreasonable for her to tell every parent every time they’d done something different with one of their pupils (which I didn’t think was what I was asking for) and I felt like crying afterwards. And now it’s going to happen again.
I cried all the way home from the coffee morning, I was proper snottily sobbing by the time I got in the door. I don’t want all this aggro, I don’t want to justify myself and argue, I don’t want to make people defensive, I just want a copy of this blinking documentation. They seem to think I’m making a fuss out of nothing, but all I want is for them to just stop being defensive and telling me there isn’t a problem and give me a copy of this document (and actually just acknowledging my frustration rather than telling me I’m wrong would be nice too, but I’d settle for the document). It’s probably quite short and uninteresting. I may have seen it and forgotten about it as it was so dull. If so I will apologise when I recognise it.
I cannot wait until the end of July when he leaves this school and I can work instead at starting off on the right foot building up effective communication with the new school.