As children develop and age they have to take steps forward in their education. For a majority of the time these steps are small and are made between classes. But from Year 6 to Year 7 or between junior to middle and then secondary school, the changes usually involve movement between schools.

Every school is run differently according to the ethos of the school’s head teacher and board of governors. Many secondary schools specialise in a specific area of education: science, sport or performing arts, for example. Other factors shaping schools are the national curriculum and local policies and educational support services.

This information has been created to help children and parents to plan the move into secondary school and to build a partnership between school and family.

Contents

Planning the move

When should I start to plan my child’s transition?

It is always a good idea to start to think about the move to a new school two years before it happens. This will give you an opportunity to explore the schools available in your area and to collect school prospectuses and arrange visits. It is, however, a good idea to plan a visit knowing what services and education you are looking for.

If added support will be needed to ensure that your child is able to access as many educational opportunities as possible, it is important to build the assessments and application process into the planning time.

It becomes more difficult to establish an educational need once the move to secondary school has been made so work with your child’s current teachers to identify any physical and educational needs so that provision for support can form part of the move process.

Which school will be best for my child?

It is important to remember that each child is different and their needs for future education will depend on their strengths and weaknesses.

It is always useful to sit down with your child and their current teachers and make a list of your child’s strengths at school and another list of the challenges they face. Remember to include the physical challenges, for example, how they find moving around school.

Junior school teachers know about the strengths of the secondary and middle school education in your area. Ask them what sort of education is available and, most importantly, ask them where they think that your child will be happy and fulfilled.

Your child’s wishes must be taken into consideration, but it is also important to balance their wish to stay with their friends or the idea that they would like a sports school against which school will be able to give them the best support, education and preparation for an independent adulthood.

What questions should we ask at an initial secondary school visit?

When planning a visit to a secondary or middle school, go with a prepared list of questions. Here are some initial thoughts but use the following sections to add your own.

  1. What sort of education does the school specialise in?
  2. How many pupils are there in each class and how many in the school?
  3. What current support is there for a child with a disability?
  4. What sort of special needs provision is available?
  5. What is the sport provision available?
  6. What is the distance between classrooms?
  7. What are the canteen facilities like? Are snacks available throughout the day?
  8. How long is each lesson and how much time (if any) is there in between lessons?
  9. What transport is available into and out of school?
  10. What is the homework philosophy?
  11. What extra-curricular activities are available?
  12. What staffing and care provisions are in place for school trips?
  13. Can you see the school’s anti-bullying and inclusion policies?
  14. What sort of school trips are planned and what provisions are in place for inclusion?
  15. Is there a lift / what is disabled access like?
  16. Does the school have a pastoral service?
  17. How is homework communicated with parents?
  18. How long are break and lunch times?

When you have gained all the answers to the questions, see how they fit with your ideal school.

Use the templates below as a guide for the areas of school life that you might like to explore.

We made sure that we spoke to the Special Needs/Learning Support department, PE department and Head of Year at Andrew’s new school as early as we could to see what they would be able to do to help. Andrew had no extra help in his primary school apart from his Healthcare Plan so there wasn’t great communication between the schools and we were glad that we had made the contacts. The PE department explained that they had had other children who couldn’t do contact sports for various reasons (Andrew is on Warfarin) so they would make sure that with things like rugby they always did a non-contact tag rugby group.The SEN area said that they would work with the Head of Year in allocating form rooms to ensure that Andrew had an accessible room in the main part of the school where he would be able to get to his locker at all times if he needed to drop off books at extra times during the school day. They gave him a key to the lift in one of the other buildings. They also arranged for Andrew to have an extra visit to the school, separate from the rest of his classmates when he could ask extra questions and have a bit of an extra tour – this helped a lot.

Transport to and from school

  1. Is the school within walking distance?
  2. Is school transport available?
  3. Is there support on the school transport?
  4. Where does the school transport depart from?
  5. Is disabled parking available close to the school entrance?

Medical care in school

  1. Does the school have a nurse on site?
  2. What sickness provision is available on site if my child should become ill?
  3. What is the policy for medical appointments?
  4. Does the school use Healthcare Plans?
  5. Are children allowed to administer their own medication?
  6. How will the school cope if my child has a prolonged period of illness?
  7. Can parents go into school to update teachers about their child’s condition and its effects?
  8. What provision is there for disabled children?
  9. Does the school have previous experience of children with serious health conditions?

School meals and snacks

  1. Is breakfast available before school starts?
  2. Are snacks available throughout the day?
  3. What canteen facilities are there at lunchtime?
  4. Can children bring packed lunches?
  5. Is water available throughout the day?
  6. What is the school’s policy on healthy eating?

Movement throughout school

  1. Are there many steps in school?
  2. Is a lift available? What is the school’s policy about access to it?
  3. What is the distance between classrooms?
  4. If the school is spread over a large area, what provision could be made to ensure that my child can move between lessons?
  5. How long is each lesson and how many times does a pupil have to move around the school each day?
  6. What provision is available for children to sit in practical lessons such as food technology or science?
  7. Is a school locker available in the centre of school, on the ground floor, for storage of books and school kit?

PE lessons

  1. What sports are available during a PE lesson?
  2. How many sports teachers are there?
  3. What provision has been made for disabled children’s inclusion in sport?
  4. Which parts of a PE lesson would the school feel confident to include heart-disabled children in?

Subjects

  1. What core subjects are taught in Year 7?
  2. What science lessons are available and how is the curriculum taught?
  3. What practical lessons are available and how are they taught, e.g. art, metalwork, engineering?
  4. What provision could be organised to ensure that my child can take part in the physical sections of each lesson, e.g. standing to do an experiment?

Educational support in school

  1. Who is the school SENCO?
  2. How is a child referred should they need their support?
  3. What support is available to children with an educational need?
  4. What is the school’s experience of supporting children with an Education, Health and Care Plan?
  5. What added support is available, e.g. psychologist, speech therapist, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), physiotherapist?
  6. Does the school have additional transition days for SEN students?

Exams

  1. What is the school’s exam structure for Year 7?
  2. What is the school’s assessment process?
  3. What is the school’s exam structure for GCSE and how many subjects must a pupil take?
  4. Does the school have a sixth form?
  5. What subjects might be available?
  6. Does the school have provision for altering individual pupil subject numbers if necessary?
  7. What assessments are available to ensure that pupils have access to support during exams?

School trips

  1. What school trips form part of the curriculum?
  2. What school trips are offered for fun and extra-curricular activity?
  3. In which school years are residential trips available?
  4. What is the school’s inclusion policy when organising a school trip with disabled pupils?
  5. What staffing provision would be available on a school trip?

Back to top ^

 

Day-to-day challenges

As you assess each school’s suitability to teach and care for your child, it is also important to remember that the school will want to know about your child. The following section talks about the day-to-day challenges that the children may face in secondary school.

This section explains how your child’s heart condition may affect their secondary school education. Schooling should be a positive experience and so it is always a good idea to approach teaching staff in a positive way.

Teachers can be very concerned when they hear that a child has a problem with their heart. It is important to clearly set out any challenges whilst helping them to have confidence in the abilities of your child; this will enable them to look for positive solutions to any problems.

Medical needs

When explaining your child’s heart condition to a teacher it is important that they have a general understanding of:

  • the conditions and treatments;
  • the short- and long-term medical effects of the condition, i.e. that your child will always have only half a heart;
  • the day-to-day medical needs of the child, e.g. the effects of medication, their exercise tolerance and how to treat breathlessness;
  • the effects that the condition has on normal child development and on your child’s ability to learn.

All of this information should be contained within their Healthcare Plan. You can ask for an LHM Information Filofax and a further copy of this booklet for the school to keep on file.

When they are unwell

It is important that as parents you are always thoughtful about when to send your child to school. There will be some days when you are unsure as to how well your child is. If you have any doubts that your child can cope with a day at school, either arrange to speak with the school at midday to check their condition or keep them at home. Although it is always important that your child is able to attend school as much as possible, it is very difficult for them to achieve if they are unwell and it is also difficult for the teacher to support them adequately in the classroom.

If your child misses a great deal of school because they are regularly unwell or very tired, talk to the school about how their day and their week can be balanced.

If long periods of absence due to ill-health or hospitalisation are anticipated, tell the school. If a child is away from school for an extended period, home tuition will be organised.

When he started he was given a ‘medical pass’ which he can show a teacher if he ever feels unwell and go straight to the medical room, without having to answer too many questions in class. He was also given the option of leaving class a few minutes early to have extra time to get to his next lesson. So far he hasn’t used this and still goes with friends, which is great.

Medication

As children’s independence will be encouraged in secondary school, children who take medication during a school day will be expected to gradually take on the responsibility for their medicines themselves. The school nurse or another designated member of staff will be assigned to help children taking medicine.

Ask the school for their medication policy and ensure that they understand the daily medication needs of your child. There is new statutory guidance for schools about the administration of medications which sits within the Children and Families Act 2014 in a section entitled the Management of Medical Conditions in School.

Effects of medication during a school day

If your child is on medication that might affect them at school, it is important that all of their teachers understand the implications so that they can support them during their school day.

Ask the school if they have a hand-held information slip or medical card that can be produced in class to affirm their need for support.

Diuretics

If your child is taking a diuretic, e.g. Furosemide, in the morning they will need to be able to go to the toilet throughout a school morning. It is important that the teachers know that there will be some urgency for your child to go to the toilet and they need to be allowed to go when they ask to be excused.

Anticoagulation

Children on Warfarin are more susceptible to bruising and bleeding if they bump or cut themselves. Teachers, support workers and playground support need to be aware of the added risks to a child and understand the way to manage any bleeds. See LHM Living with Anticoagulation booklet. It is important to explain that your child may also have other conditions where school medication will be necessary, such as inhalers for asthma.

MedicAlert bracelet

Most congenital cardiac specialist nurses and anticoagulant nurses recommend MedicAlert bracelets for children with single ventricle heart conditions, especially if they are taking Warfarin. Supporting emergency medical teams are able to access information about the child’s heart by ringing the number on the MedicAlert bracelet. A range of designs are available.

As well as the obvious benefit in the case of any emergency, many parents report that the MedicAlert bracelet is a useful way of discreetly reminding teachers of your child’s heart condition.

This bracelet should not be removed during a PE lesson as it is one of the high-risk times. This may need planning as the wearing of jewellery is not usually allowed during sports lessons.

Physical challenges

Every day at school creates different physical challenges.

Medical emergencies

It is important that teachers know what to do if a child becomes exhausted at school.

Sometimes a child will just appear to be tired or may have a headache. Parents may set in place a simple response of allowing the child to rest, whilst observed, and then for school staff to contact the parents.

They may cut themselves or bump themselves in the playground which may need a swift response if a child is on anticoagulant medication.

More seriously, children may show signs of breathlessness and cyanosis (blue tinge to lips and fingernails), especially following exercise. Allowing the children to rest, sitting upright in a supported position, until they regain their colour and their breath must be encouraged. If the child does not show a swift recovery it is essential to get them assessed by a medical team. Calling an ambulance to come to the school means that treatment will start straight away rather than waiting for a parent to arrive or attempting to drive them in a teacher’s car.

It is important that teachers have permission to escort a child to the local medical unit. They will need an up-to-date written medical information sheet available to take with them to ensure that they have the right information about the child’s medical care.

To help set out all medical needs and treatments a full Healthcare Plan must form part of your child’s school records. For further information on Healthcare Plans, look at the Healthcare Plan in the Educational Support page. This should contain a clear response process for all medical questions or concerns so that a child can always receive a timely response to any medical problem.

Many children with single ventricle heart disease have some sort of restriction with their physical abilities in comparison to their peers. Having only one heart pump doing the job of two will restrict them but it should not exclude them from taking part.

PE

Children with single ventricle heart conditions are usually able to participate in PE lessons, and should be encouraged to do so. However, their exercise tolerance will be lower than that of their peers, and they may be unable to participate in a whole lesson.

Provision should be made to allow them a rest when they need one. If PE is being played outside, provision to keep the children warm must be made during times of inactivity.

Sport becomes more competitive in secondary school and many children with cardiac problems would like to be able to compete with their peers. This makes the organisation of PE lessons a challenge for an inclusive teacher. It is important that parents and their children work with the school to ensure that they are able to reach their full physical potential in PE. For further information refer to the section on Sport and Exercise.

Physical activities

Other physical activities may cause similar issues to PE, for example, drama, dance, science and home economics lessons – any activities involving standing up for long periods. The same support considerations should be incorporated in every lesson.

Moving between classrooms

Secondary school education is spread throughout the school; many classrooms may be in different buildings or require movement between floors. A careful assessment of each child’s ability to get around school must take place and thoughtful solutions to any problems sought. For example, extra time can be allowed to move between lessons. Classrooms can be changed around for lessons where stairs are a restriction and in some schools the use of the lift can be arranged. A buddy system can be put in place for friends to help carry books between classrooms. It is also useful to think about how children get homework books to and from school.

Hospital visits

Throughout your child’s life they will need to be seen at the hospital for check-ups and possible treatment. It is important that all teaching and support staff understand that this is a normal part of your child’s life.

Their absence from school should not be questioned with them in class and they should be supported in catching up with any work missed.

If a longer stay in hospital is planned it is important to also plan the absence from school and the return to school.

Returning to school, especially after a long absence, needs careful planning with a slow introduction back into the classroom and an understanding that the hospital experience may have affected your child’s confidence. Work with teachers to gradually build your child’s confidence in being back in the school environment.

Every time a child visits the hospital it brings their heart condition to the fore. Throughout their school life children with heart problems want to appear ‘normal’ to their peers. Hospital assessments and treatment remind them that they are not as fit as their friends. An increasing awareness of their mortality can create an added strain throughout their secondary school years. (See Psychological effects).

It is helpful if the school can take an active part in explaining congenital heart disease throughout the school although it is important not to make the child with the condition a target for bullying or questioning. An invitation for Little Hearts Matter or other heart-orientated charities or organisations to take an assembly can raise general awareness throughout the school’s pupils and staff.

Extra-curricular activities

In many schools, extra-curricular activity in sport and games is offered after school or in the holidays. Although the added energy needed to take part in school clubs may need to be balanced, many children can take part in music, drama, computer skills, literature, language, cookery, board games, writing (on a computer if necessary), science and technology clubs.

School trips

Throughout a child’s school experience there will be opportunities for trips away from the classroom. It is important that teachers think about the needs of disabled children in their class as they plan such trips as it should always be possible to include them in these fun educational activities.

What questions should you ask?

  • Will extra staff be needed to support the child’s physical needs, e.g. pushing a wheelchair, accessing a toilet or time for rest?
  • Will staff be informed of any special needs and treatments?
  • What is the medical provision in the area of the visit?
  • Will they be able to access all areas of the site to be visited?
  • Will they need medications whilst away?
  • Will they be safe during the activity, especially if it is physical?
  • Do they have any dietary needs?

Some trips involve an overnight stay so it is important to ensure that children with special physical needs have help in coping with the challenges of staying away, such as activity beyond the school day, different diet and sleep patterns, the need for added concentration and the need to be more independent, which is often the aim of the trip.

It is really helpful if parents can work with teachers and the staff at the visit venue to ensure that everyone knows what challenges the children might face and, most importantly, what can be done to get around the problem. All trips are now risk-assessed and the provision for disabled children forms part of the assessment.

This should be a very positive experience for the children and they should be as excited as their friends about the event.

Keeping warm

This can be a problem especially during the winter months but even in the summer on a cold, damp day children get cold. It is useful to make sure your child and school staff understand how important keeping warm can be, and to think of suitable extra layers, e.g. vest, gloves, hat, warm coat. This is of course increasingly difficult as the children succumb to the influences of their peers. Gradually, they need to take on personal responsibility with encouragement from home and school.

On particularly cold days, staying inside at break and lunchtime may be the most sensible solution. In these cases, the school should be encouraged to think about a safe indoor environment where your child can stay with a small number of their peers.

Concentration

Everyone needs energy to concentrate. Children with complex heart disorders have lower energy levels than their peers; they often have difficulties concentrating, particularly towards the end of a school day or towards the end of a week.

Some children show this difficulty in concentrating by fidgeting, which can make it hard for their teachers to understand the real problem, and it can be interpreted as disruptive behaviour.

In junior school, the day is structured to include most core lessons in the morning but that will not be the case in secondary school where a full lesson timetable will spread all subjects over the week. Sometimes the timetable is spread over two weeks, allowing for longer lessons.

A lesson of longer than an hour can be a struggle for the children. A planned break for a rest and water can be included in each lesson; this will benefit all the children in the class.

If tiredness and lack of concentration become an issue, it is important that you and your child work with the school to find a solution. Sometimes it can be helpful to plan for a subject to be dropped, allowing for free lessons, or planned afternoons off can be helpful – although work needs to be caught up. Planning a balance between achieving at school and becoming too tired to enjoy and benefit from school often takes time and requires a good relationship between parents and school teachers.

Homework

Homework is an essential part of secondary school life. It offers a continuation and consolidation opportunity for lessons taught in the classroom. For some children, the time needed for homework adds to their tiredness and stress. Teachers are usually more than happy to offer an extended plan for homework, allowing a week for it to be completed.

If the children become worried or stressed about the amount of homework they receive it is important to work with the school to ensure that the children can take part in home working but in a positive and productive way. Use of the homework diary to communicate how much effort was put in at home ensures that both the teaching staff and parents work together to support not stress the child.

Nutrition

Children born with only half a functioning heart have a greater need for calories. Some of them are used to power their body, which works inefficiently, and some for growth. However, it takes energy to eat food. To ensure that each child can cope with an activity-filled day at school it is important that they eat little and often.

Planned snacks should be available throughout the day. As many schools are now employing a healthy eating protocol it is important to ensure that teachers see calorie-filled snacks as part of these children’s treatment. Their school day will be far more productive if planned snacks are allowed. It may be helpful if you provide the snacks each day. Bear in mind the healthy eating policy; dried fruit, peanut butter sandwiches and cereal bars are healthy but filled with calories.

Drinks

Some children need extra fluids, for example, if they are taking diuretics, e.g. Furosemide, or to prevent the risk of blood clots. It is sensible to discuss with the school their policy on drinking within class. Many schools now encourage all children to drink water from a water bottle throughout the day; this should be encouraged.

Lunch

In secondary school most children buy their lunch from the school canteen though some do bring a packed lunch from home. Peer pressure often leads to a swift lunch break with much of their food being left as they rush out to the playground with their friends. Unlike junior school, there are few lunchtime supervisors. The children are encouraged to be independent at meal times.

To ensure that your child has enough food during the day, you might like to think about some of the following suggestions.

  • Ensure that the children have a good breakfast. Some schools provide breakfast.
  • Make sure that they eat a snack at break-times. Some schools provide breakfast at first break and have healthy snack machines.
  • Ensure that lunch choices are suitable; salads are healthy but they do not provide enough calories for the afternoon activity.
  • Pasta, rice dishes and jacket potatoes are easy to eat and with added sauces and vegetables are filling and provide an energy boost.
  • If children take a packed meal it is often helpful to ensure that it is filled with easy-to-eat food such as small sandwiches, pieces of cheese, cubed vegetables and pre-cut fruit.
  • Biscuits and chocolate may not be allowed but cereal bars and dried fruit may be.
  • The children will need a snack for the trip home as they are often starving when they leave school.

Encourage the children to take control of their meals at school but also instil in them that where there is choice there needs to be responsibility.

Most secondary schools have a digital or cashless system for lunches. It is usually possible to obtain a printout of what your child has been purchasing for their lunch which allows them independence, but also gives parents the opportunity to check that they are purchasing nutritious food.

If the school has a nurse, make sure that they are aware of the nutritional needs of your child.


Back to top ^

 

Developmental delay

Repeated surgery, low oxygen levels and regular interruptions of normal family life for hospital appointments lead to varying degrees of developmental delay. There may be evidence of delay in the development of fine and/or gross motor skills.

If a child is showing that they are having difficulty with a physical or mental activity that should be within the developmental range of their peers, it is important that they are offered the opportunity of a full educational assessment. It is extremely important for parents and teachers to work in partnership to identify, and then support each child to ensure that they reach their full potential.

Teachers in your child’s junior school will hopefully have identified any problems that they think will still be present as your child transfers from one school to another. Any support mechanisms should be put in place and transfer with your child to the next school. It may be necessary to formalise the support structure for a child by using the new assessment and support structure set by local authorities. More information can be found in the section Support for a Child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) within Nursery, School or Further Education.

Good liaison between schools via the special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) and careful forward planning can ensure that the move between schools goes smoothly. Pre-transition visits can help both the child and you as parents have confidence in the move.


Back to top ^

 

Developing independence

One of the most important aims of education is to gradually build a child’s independence and an ability to learn enough to support their independent life in adulthood.

Each child’s ability to take on this independence is different. For some, the challenges of life at school are taken in their stride; for others, it is more difficult, especially if they have a delay in taking on personal responsibility.

In secondary school a great deal of emphasis is put on achieving independence. In Year 7 the children have to take on a great deal of personal responsibility; time keeping, remembering school books, handing in homework, buying meals and care of their PE kit, to name just a few things.

It is important for the children to learn all of these things but the teaching staff also need to understand that it may be a challenge for them.

Careful planning for each day at school the night before can help the children cope with each day. The use of the homework book and regular communication with form tutors will ensure that the children can keep up with their peers and reduce their stress levels.

Where necessary a formalised review process can be put in place and is often helpful within the first half-term after transition.


Back to top ^

 

Psychological effects of congenital heart disease

It should never be underestimated how individual children are affected by the restrictions that their heart condition creates.

Encouraging each child to become confident in their areas of strength rather than always stressing their weaknesses will help to strengthen their worth and reduce their frustrations. For some children every physical and educational restriction is seen as a challenge and they are happy to work to solve any problems. For others the fact they are ‘different’ from their peers is a problem, especially if they are restricted in an area of school where their friends excel, for example, sport.

Fears for their future health and physical ability are magnified through the physical and emotional changes in adolescence. It is important for the school to understand why a child with complex heart disease may rebel more than their peers, why they may appear less co-operative on occasions or why they may withdraw or lose self-confidence. It is important that any concerns seen in school or at home regarding a child’s mental health are discussed so that swift treatment can be sought where necessary.

It is important for your child to build a relationship with teachers who they trust. As well as talking to you as their parent, they may also need someone to talk to about school-related issues. They should be encouraged to express their worries and woes and work with the school team to find solutions to their problems, always remembering that there may be issues where compromise is the only way through.

The school’s rules and punishment scheme must be understood and acknowledged but if poor behaviour is reprimanded through a detention system it must be planned that your child’s physical condition is not compromised through an extra evening at school, for example.


Back to top ^

 

Curriculum

Secondary school lessons in Year 7 are planned to give each pupil a broad understanding across the subjects. More time will be spent on core subjects such as English, maths and science but the introduction of the humanities, languages and business lessons as well as practical subjects like art, drama and design technology will allow your child to explore their strengths whilst building on the foundations of learning that they bring from junior school.

Your child will also be introduced to life skills sessions. These are invaluable lessons where they will learn how to manage money, and think about insurance, sex education, alcohol and drugs. It is important for your children to attend these lessons with their peers but it is also important for them to realise that the general advice given may not relate to their own circumstances.

It can be helpful for parents to have a breakdown of these sessions so that they can ensure that they have additional information on sex, drugs and drink to add to what has been taught in school. It can also be helpful for the life skills teachers to have an understanding of any differences so that they can support your child in class without making them appear different.


Back to top ^

 

A positive move into secondary school

Having spent time thinking about all the issues of educational transition it is important that this is also seen as a really positive move for your child.

They are growing up, becoming independent and seeking new friends and educational challenges. All of their friends will be excited, if slightly nervous, about their move up and this must be encouraged in your child as well.

The new uniform, school equipment, new friends, PE kit and science coat should be excitingly new and a thrilling prospect. The children should look at secondary school as a big step forward. Careful planning that includes not just the parents and school team, but also your child, should help to make this move a really positive experience.

Evangeline is due to go for a visit and spend time in a Year 7 class for a few hours next week, and then for a whole day in June, so that her new school can plan how she will manage, and also so that she can gain confidence. In addition, she will go on the general taster day with her peers from junior school. She will be allowed as many opportunities to visit as she and we feel she needs.

Back to top ^

 

Key terminology and people

Community paediatrician

A specialist doctor who is an expert in looking after children with long-term health needs and who will link with other medical and educational professionals.

Congenital cardiac specialist nurse

A nurse based at your child’s heart unit, who can help with many aspects of life at home, including education.

Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan)

When added educational support has been identified, formally assessed by the LA and a formal plan outlining education, health and social care support has been set in place.

Healthcare Plan

A document held in school relating to your child’s medical condition(s), identifying the level of support your child needs throughout the day, signs and symptoms to look out for and what to do in an emergency.

Key Stage 3

Also known as KS3, this is the phrase used for the three years of schooling that cover Years 7, 8 and 9 (when your child is aged between 11 and 14).

Key Stage 4

Also known as KS4, this is the phrase used for the two years of school education which incorporate GCSE education in Years 10 and 11 (when your child is aged between 14 and 16).

LA

Local authority (previously Local Education Authority or LEA).

Ofsted

The government agency which inspects schools, early years settings and LAs in order to improve standards of education and childcare.

School nurse

Provides support for children’s medical needs in school and will help you to draw up a Healthcare Plan.

SEN – special educational needs

Describe the extra or different help that a child with learning difficulties needs in pre-school settings or school.

SENCO – special educational needs co-ordinator

Person responsible for the setting’s/school’s special educational needs policies and children.

Setting

Where education takes place, e.g. playgroup, nursery or school.

Special educational provision

When a special educational need has been identified the school-based provision plan sets out the added support for each individual child.


Back to top ^

 

Preparing for your school of choice

Having visited all of your local schools you will have decided which school will offer the best opportunities for a supported and successful education. The next task will be to revisit the school to plan the way forward.

Here are ten top tips to help you plan your meeting.

  • Initially arrange a meeting with the special educational needs co-ordinator and the Head of Year 7. This team will form the core communication team. The school may suggest other members of staff who offer pastoral and educational support. Contact your child’s cardiac specialist nurse and see if it is possible for them to visit the school with you.
  • Take a copy of the LHM Filofax so that the school can understand your child’s condition. It can be useful to add any up-to-date medical information to the pack so that the school has information about medications and any side effects that they have, for example, Warfarin. The school team need to know what is normal for your child so that they can react if your child is ill.
  • Take copies of your child’s Healthcare Plan and Education, Health and Care Plan if they have one.
  • Make a list of all the areas of school that might create a physical challenge for your child, for example, lots of stairs.
  • Make a list of subjects that might create a physical challenge for your child, for example, standing in a science lesson.
  • Talk through the plan for a PE lesson that ensures inclusion but also takes into account your child’s disability.
  • Formalise the process that will be employed by the school if your child falls ill in school, e.g. who do they go to, who will they ring for external support, where will your child’s medical information be held, etc.
  • Plan access to food and drink and any added provision for snacks that can be used to boost energy levels.
  • Formalise the contact route from school to home and back.
  • Approach your first meeting with the school as positively as possible. The school team need to know about your child’s educational challenges but they also need to know about their interests, skills and ambitions. This will help you all to work together to support your child to achieve their full potential.

The SENCO has given us her contact details, and has actively encouraged us to talk to her, so that we can iron out any issues and help Evangeline to have a positive and productive time at her school.

Back to top ^

 

Further information

IAS Services (previously known as the National Parent Partnership network)

The Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Services Network provide information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SEN, and their parents. They are statutory services which means there has to be one in every local authority.

www.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)

Independent charity offering advice to parents about state education in England and Wales.

Tel: 0808 800 5793

www.ace-ed.org.uk

Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (IPSEA)

Free independent advice on all aspects of special education.

Tel: 0800 018 4016

www.ipsea.org.uk

Children and Families Act 2014

This new act adopted in 2014 sets out the provision for children with disabilities within all areas of their life.

www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/6/contents/enacted

Equality Act 2010

The disability section of the Equality Act is a law to end discrimination against people with disabilities and sets out their rights in employment, property, education and use of transport.

www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents

Please contact Little Hearts Matter for further advice, support and signposting.

Updated: November 2015

Review due: November 2018

Be social with us - our latest tweets and posts