Taking my Child out of a Mainstream School

Today’s problem comes from our Life on the Frontline Mum.

A Problem Shared1

Those that read my weekly blog will know that my youngest son has massive anxieties around school. Whilst we originally thought that the local high school would be a suitable school for him to attend from year seven, we have now changed our minds. The school is already supporting my oldest son really successfully, through their learning support centre. This is a corridor in the school dedicated to helping those who struggle with a mainstream environment. The school receives additional funding to facilitate this as they are what our local authority calls an “enhance resources” school. However, the school has already indicated that supporting both our children, at the same time, will cause them problems, they have stated that both children will not be able to access Learning Support simultaneously.

As we already had fears that our youngest was nowhere near the same level of emotional maturity of our oldest or able to deal with social encounters as well, we have come to see that this high school could maybe make Smalls anxieties around school even greater
We have therefore identified an independent school, specialising in supporting children with emotional, social and behavioural problems. It is a new independent school with fantastic facilities, a small number of students and it is close by, although out of area.

My problem is that I do worry about taking my son out of a mainstream setting. All his friends from school will go to the local high school and many of the students at the other school travel long distances to get there. I also worry that his educational potential will not be fully realised, although I know that finding a safe place for him to be educated must come first.

Has anyone else taken their child out of a mainstream setting to attend a specialist school? Has it been a success for your child?
I know people have suggested homeschooling for my situation but, I really don’t feel that is right for us as a family or Small and he is dead set against the idea.
I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences.

9 thoughts on “Taking my Child out of a Mainstream School

  1. Helen Oakwater

    Due to her “emotional immaturity” (developmental gaps from unmet needs in infancy), I ‘backdated’ one of my children and between year 6 & 7 put her in a small therapeutic school for one year, before joining secondary. It worked quite well for a few years and was seen by everyone (afterwards) as a useful strategy. It required the usual debate/discussion/fight with the LA as it didn’t fit their model. They felt (naively) it would allow her to leave school before her exams – I responded she could do that at any age!
    Socially it gave her a new group of friends in secondary who didn’t have ‘history’ with her and a few friends in the year above, which did no harm.
    I think it’s useful to take the long view and think “what’s my long term goal” and adapt strategies as you go along. Parenting adopted children requires constant flexibility and adaptation. We never seem to travel the planned/hoped for route. Makes the journey interesting, though the deep dark valleys can be tough, so the more time you can spend on gentle winding paths in sunlight the better. GOOD LUCK and Take Good Care of You.

  2. Gareth Marr

    I really feel for you at this difficult time. School has such an important place in any child’s development and it is right that you have done all that is possible to keep Small in mainstream education. It is also encouraging to hear of the support the school has already provided and will continue to do with Big. I agree with all Helen says above. This could be the step that leads to a long term solution for you all. I have only been involved bwith Beech Lodge School for a short time but have seen both children and parents lives transformed by their therapeutic teaching. The school will understand and manage transition well and Small will make new friends to add to his existing ones. As Helen said the school might well be a place for Small to recover and rehabilitate and then return to mainstream education at a later date.

    You are doing a wonderful job for your boys in trying times. Keep strong.

    1. tasocial Post author

      Thank you for being so supportive and it’s good to hear about your experiences with Beech Lodge School.

  3. Suddenly Mummy

    I know I’m in danger of soapboxing on one of my fave topics here so I’ll try to avoid it! I believe very strongly that learning is lifelong and that there is no cut off point to learning and gaining qualifications. A person is in the best place to learn when their other, more elemental needs are taken care of. Small has a whole lifetime to enjoy learning – there’s no rush. Sure, gaining qualifications as an adult can be more challenging with work and family commitments, but gaining qualifications as a frightened, traumatised child might be near enough impossible. The decision is for your family to make, of course, but I’d encourage you to take a very long view when it comes to small’s learning opportunities. His social circle is also, quite rightly, a concern, but I wonder whether he’d find all of that easier as well, if he could overcome his difficulties around school?

    1. tasocial Post author

      I like you on your soapbox. I agree with all you’ve said and doubts about the decision are really only coming from those who don’t fully understand. Thank you for your response. x

  4. RachelB

    I don’t have much to add, except to say I completely identify with your story. We’re having exactly the same issue. We’ve just been told that Acorn has been assigned a place at the mainstream school we requested. However, his behaviour has deteriorated and his anxieties increased to the point his school are looking at dual registration with the local PRU, which would be a disaster in my opinion. We’ve been researching and found several special schools locally which we feel would both meet his emotional needs and offer him an actual education. (Acorn learns when he feels safe. He’s almost caught up with his peers, which is amazing considering the hurdles he’s continually having to leap).

    At the moment, we’re about to start negotiating with the LA about a managed move now or transition to an independent school for Year 7. I’ve no idea how to make the case or whether we’ll be successful. Any ideas welcome.

    I’m so with you in spirit. Best of luck and I’ll continue to read about your journey with great interest.

    Thank you for blogging.



    1. tasocial Post author

      That’s what we’ve been dealing with, dual registration with the local PRU. As I’ve said the small environment has been it’s main benefit and that the main teacher has taken a lot of interest in understanding Small, even though he’s not fully there. Good luck with your negotiations and keep me informed of how you are doing, I’d be interested to know.

  5. Daniela Shanly

    There is so much to say in response to this – too much for a comment section! I am the Proprietor of Beech Lodge School which is a small independent alternative provision school that sounds similar to the one you are considering for Small. Over half of our children have experienced early trauma and that is our area of specialisation. Obviously I can’t speak for other schools however I certainly don’t think you should worry about taking your child out of mainstream – frankly in my experience mainstream education is not all that it’s cracked up to be! Your greatest concern, which I am sure it is, is what is the best school for my child in order that he reaches his potential both socially and academically.
    I suppose the questions you should ask both schools before you make your final decision are:
    Are they an attachment friendly school? Use the attachment schools checklist if you are in any doubt.
    What therapeutic interventions do they offer?
    Do they have a Sensory Attachment trained OT?
    What are their pathways to GCSE’s / vocational qualifications?
    How do they close the gap between social & emotional wellbeing and educational attainment?
    How do they measure their results – not just academic?
    How will they spend your child’s PP (if they are funded)
    If you are happy with the answers then let that be your guide.
    If you would like to give me a call I would be very happy to discuss this in more detail.
    Good luck!



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