Both my boys will be starting school in September. They're not twins - there's 14 months between them ("Irish Twins" - it's called in our family) but Cheeky starts Reception at our local mainstream and Little H will start in the nursery class at our local special school. Apart from the to-be-expected feelings of anxiety and melancholy of losing both my children to the state education system at once (don't you DARE ask me what I'm going to do with all the spare time - I'm sick of that question already), I'm actually a little excited for them both. Cheeky is well ready for school, the child was born ready for school, and I expect he will thrive. Little H is much healthier and has been making good progress in his development so I think he too will gain a lot from the varied experiences he'll get at school. It has been a strange few weeks though, preparing for that transition. There have been similarities of course - expensive school uniform for one (although, to be fair H doesn't need to wear one but I think I'd like him to). However, it's the contrasts between the experiences that have been most striking.
I chose a school for Cheeky based on the fact it was the closest Roman Catholic school and I'd taught there in the past so knew it well. We had one visit to the school to look around and then applied through the online form from the local authority. I found out he'd been allocated a place at our preferred school via email in April.
I rang the council for a list of special schools for Little H when he was just two years old. Over the coming months I rang them all and asked about the type of children they taught then visited four of the schools most suited to his needs. He had numerous assessments from local authority professionals (Educational Psychologist, Teacher for the Visually Impaired, Early Years Teacher) and a statement of special educational needs was compiled. The process took a year. His papers were sent to the school of our choice who agreed they could cater for his complex needs. I negotiated (with some degree of difficulty as they wanted him full time immediately) that he could start with a part time place and gradually increase it over the year to a full time place for Reception.
Yesterday I met with the class teacher's at Cheeky's new school. They provided information about the curriculum - literacy, maths, religious education - and discussed (in rather unnecessary detail, I thought) the school's behaviour policy. They impressed on us the importance of education, ensuring good punctuality and attendance and the progress our children could be expected to achieve within the year. We were given an example of the school dinners provided and told to ensure the children's clothes were named and their shoes had velcro on so that they could put them on themselves.
Last week I met with the school nurses at H's school. We talked about his need for a 1:1 carer to be with him at all times and went through his epilepsy care plan. The deputy head said (much to my delight) I could pick the days I wanted him to attend based on the lessons I thought he'd get the most from. I'm planning to send him on the days he has hydrotherapy and time in the interactive-creative room. There was a chart on the wall detailing the times, rates and volumes of the children's tube feeds.
When asked if we had any questions;
I asked Cheeky's teacher if there were after school clubs and extra curricular activities for the children.
I asked H's which hospital the ambulance took children to in an emergency.