SEN in Secondary School

Old Dec 2nd 2008, 7:21 pm
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Default SEN in Secondary School

Hello all,

Is it possible for anyone to help me with the above? My son (12) has Specific Language Impairment - he has problems understanding and processing language, which affects all aspects of English and some other subjects as he does not always understand what he is reading. He also needs someone to explain things to him in language he can understand so, for example, at the moment he attends mainstream secondary school in UK and has a teaching assistant who breaks down any instructions/questions etc or homework that the teacher gives so that he is able to do his work.

I have looked at the Ministry of Education website in Barbados but it was not extremely clear about SEN help in secondary school. Is there anyone on this forum that can assist in any way as I will like to make the necessary arrangements in time for May 2009 when we shall be emigrating to Barbados. I understand that he will have to sit the 11 plus exam which in itself will raise problems as I am not sure if they would allow someone to read and explain the questions for him so that he can complete the exam.

Any help/advice gladly accepted....
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Old Dec 3rd 2008, 12:44 am
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

I hate to say this, but I'm afraid you will find ZERO help from the ministry of Education in this respect. and why if he is age 12 does he have to sit the 11plus. he would have gone through exams where you live (england I'm guessing.. unless i'm wrong) and you should be able to send his grades etc along.

having said that.. he may still have to sit.. He WILL NOT get a reader (they have no clue what that means) and they certainly will not allow someone to explain the questions. If they do, it will be a first in Barbados ever. and even if they did get a reader, unless your son actually understood someone speaking in a Bajan Dialect, it's likely he would still get no help.

I'm going to STRONGLY encourage you to talk to the Codrington School about taking your child in.. I would have also suggested St. Winifreds, which is now allowing secondary school boys (never been done before this year), but as the headmistress doesn't know the meaning of the words "learning dissability" and only wants students that can make her school tops in the CXC, I wouldn't recommend there either.

Another option would be to talk to Julia Hanshell at Learning For Life. She may be able to work with him in a specialized program.. http://www.smartstudying.com/ have a look at their website. This may be a more cost effective way of learning for your son..
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Old Dec 3rd 2008, 8:55 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

Hello Sunniebgi

Thanks so much for your reply, I have had a look at the l4l website and it seems fantastic but I am worried about the cost.

Codrington seems like the fantastic school for him but again I have to consider the cost implications. I wish there was another way of getting more assistance for him at a mainstream government school - so is there no assistance at all at government schools???
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Old Dec 3rd 2008, 9:42 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

The type of assistance you are refering too.. having someone in the classroom with him at all times, during test, etc, is likely NOT likely. Feel free to ask.. I'd suggest sooner rather than later, and I suggest via a phone number rather than an e-mail. make sure you get names, titles and dates of of the people you have talked too

the learning for life is going to work out cheaper than Codrington (likely) but it might be your only alternative.

I have a daughter who is dyslexic. We had been advised to try to petition the ministry for a reader for her 11plus exam, we decided against. Mainly because the ministry had never done it before and would have had no clue what they were doing.

The same year, they allowed a little boy who had suffered a stroke in November to take the exam in May via a computer (he has use of one hand but not both). Last year they allowed 2 hearing impaired girls to sit the exam with one of their own tutors in the room (which I didn't feel was right) so she could give them information as needed by the proctor of the exam.

While this means the ministry is "moving into the 21st Century" as I call it, they don't move fast enough. They would like to say they have assistance for children with learning disabilities, have and do are 2 different things.

I wish you much luck,, and if you actually get them to agree to this.. more power to ya.
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Old Dec 3rd 2008, 10:08 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

Sunniebgi

If you do not mind me asking what school does your daughter attend and how are they supporting her with dyslexia - is she coping with the Barbados curriculum and also are you originally from the UK or abroad and moved to Barbados?

Ideally I really want to move to Barbados as the discipline, level of education etc has dropped considerably in the UK and my other 2 children aged 10 and 4 would benefit tremendously from this move but I also need to make sure that my 12 year old is supported so that this move is also beneficial to him.
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Old Dec 3rd 2008, 11:18 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

All of my children have attended St. Gabriel's School, which is a private primary school. There are a number of private primary schools on the island that do not charge an arm and 3 legs for admissions but they are not easy to get into. An expat is going to pay on average of about 2500.00bbd per term (I'd have to get the actual figure but that is an average).

My oldest (the dyslexic) is classic.. she has issues with reading, but not much else. She attends St. Ursula's Secondary school, which is now the only all girls private secondary on the island. (the other one , St. Winifred's) just started excepting boys from this school term. At St. Gabriel's she was in a combined year class and most of the work was done at her own pace (well sort of, but that's what they said).. hindsite, I think she would have done better in the mainstream class, but.. she is doing very well now. still needs help in her reading, but is getting it.

As I'm not familiar with the type of problem your son has, I'm not sure where to guide you. At age 12, he would be working on his basic classes for the CXC's, which are like O Levels. It maybe better to have him work with someone privately for a little while to get acclimated to his condition and his needs.

St. Gabriel's, St. Winifreds, The Convent Schools (St. Angelas, which is the Primary school to St. Ursula's) along with Wills Primary, Providence and Codrington, would be my suggestions for private primary. (Obviously St. Gabriel's would be my first).
I would strongly recommend that you contact the schools about placement of the other 2 as well. when is the 10yr old going to be 11, because that will also depend on where he/she will go and if he/she will have to do the 11plus before moving on the secondary school.

I'm not an expert, by the way, just a concerned parent who has alot to say about my childrens education. I'm from the US (North Carolina) but have lived in Barbados now for 16years. All 3 of my children were born here. My husband is born and raised Barbados, went to government schools, primary and secondary, but prefers our children in private education.
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Old Dec 4th 2008, 6:35 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

Hi cassward,

As a former UK TA and teacher - I hoped to find some TA job here in BB (it's not possible, but that's not what this post is about) so I tried to do some research into TAs in schools. Guess what I found - NOTHING. I don't think schools here recognise the need for TAs at all. Somebody told me that you can occassionaly find a TA in a 'really large class' - that means they're there just for general help - not individual at all...

The 'good schools guide' provides some information on some of the schools Sunnie mentioned. Mostly, however, it says: 'no SEN' or 'SEN unknown' or 'SEN considered case by case', which sounds most promising. Have a look for yourself: http://www.gsgi.co.uk/countries/barbados

The attitude towards SEN kids is just another frustrating thing about BB on my list

I do hope you will find some good, uplifting answers though - just make sure, like Sunnie said, that you call them - nobody reads emails in this country

Fingers crossed

PS. Sorry for asking, but - are you moving to BB only becasue of your kids' schools? Wouldn't it be easier to move schools in the UK?
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Old Dec 4th 2008, 8:19 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

Hi there Minisoufka,

Thanks so much for your input especially being both a TA and teacher in the UK. Do you really think that the move is a bad one in light of the situation with my son? I will not be able to afford private school and was really thinking along the lines of government mainstream school plus private lessons on the side.

In your honest professional opinion do you think I am better off remaining in the UK, accessing the help his school is providing and carrying on with private tuition here instead of coming over to Barbados?

What about the discipline etc in the UK it just seems to be deteriorating over the years...
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Old Dec 5th 2008, 12:25 am
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Default This is a looooooong post!!!!!

Hi Cassward,

I do not in the slightest way feel entitled to tell you what is better in your situation, I can only share a few things I am aware of -

I don't know how serious SLI of your son is - I understand he's had support in all lessons so far? Is he in secondary school already? If so - then the help he's getting seems really great. In my old school (secondary) TAs and LSAs supported kids only in core subjects becasue of budget issues (and that was a huge school - 1000 students, so they did have some money for support, unlike some small schools). If your son is getting this support in all/most lessons then he's truly lucky and wherever you move, be it in the UK or BB, he will feel a bit lost. He definitely will gain more independence, but question is - how much stress will this being independent involve?

When it comes to exams all I found here was that a child with SEN is entitled to extra time - the parent needs to write a letter to the Minister I guess. I can't remember where I got this info from, might have been somewhere here:
http://www.cxc.org/index.asp
But I remember I didn't see anything about readers - just extra time (which I suppose may not be of that much help to your boy - it's the breaking down of the instructions that he needs...)

The resources in BB schools are not as good as in the UK. The company my husband works for was going to sponsor some computers for the schools as they haven't got enough of them; then I suggested interactive whiteboards, but I don't think anybody's ever heard of them over here - at least in the state schools. But then I read this article about schools needing things like water tanks and I thought to myself - whiteboards are the last thing they need... Now, whether whiteboards are of any importance and whether technology has an impact on 'real' education is another matter. I personally would like my child (not that I have one to have access to technology at school, but then again - having the technology at hand in the UK school means having to deal with the discipline you mentioned...

Now, I don't really know anything about discipline in schools over here. Not enough to form an opinion anyway. But people here are so polite to one another that it's hard to believe there may be some serious problems at schools. So I was shocked to see the the new 'Code of Discipline' which mentions corporal punishment... Here's the link if you don't believe me:
http://www.mes.gov.bb/documents/stud...discipline.pdf
On the other hand, you have discipline problems in the UK schools... I must say I haven't had too many during my time teaching in the south London school, but the one I did have made me cry. And I have seen a 13year-old yelling at her Maths teacher too. Teachers in the UK are sometimes helpless, kids are becoming more and more cheeky and rude, pushing it to the limits. And there is no corporal punishment to stop them But it always seemed to me that the organisation in the UK schools allows effective intervention. I always knew as a TA and as a teacher who to turn to with what sort of problem, who was in charge of what, what the consequences were for kids for doing this or that... But maybe I was just lucky with my school? Although, my friend working in a different school said she'd never had any problems with her classes... I don't know about schools over here at all - they're much smaller, maybe it's also much easier to keep everything under control?

I dare say - but that is just a personal feeling based on the comparison of UK and Polish schools, where I also taught before - UK schools are more open-minded becasue of a huge variety of behaviours and misbehaviours displayed by children but also thanks to the inclusion policy - because of that I knew how to talk to the girl with an Asperger Syndrome and how to calm down the one on the verge of ADHD. Now how would they be seen in a BB school? As 'stupid' and 'naughty'? Would their problems be recognised and diagnosed at all? Would they be allowed into mainstream school? I don't know, I'm just asking. I'd like to know and if there is somebody out there who does, please answer these questions. Becasue there is absolutely no information on this stuff anywhere on the BB websites.

And then you have the beauty of the island - the peace, the sea, the simplicity, the vicinity of nature, the heat, the politeness of the people, the feeling of being much more secure than you are in the UK. These are definitely huge benefits, consider them too In a few years your kids will want to go out and meet friends in the afternoon- where will you feel more worried about them? Definitely in the UK.

There are so many factors to consider... I think you need some more information from schools and the ministry. Would you not be able to afford a private school for your son only? I guess that would be a good option - providing he would get the support he needs. I'm sure your other two kids would be just fine in state schools - after all interactive whiteboards are not essential to learn Maths and you can teach the kids how to use PP on your home computer. It's just your 12year old that I'm worried about...

I think some more mums and dads could help us in this discussion. It's not an easy decision that you're about to make, Cassward. Why did you choose BB if you don't mind me asking?
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Old Dec 5th 2008, 8:27 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

with regards to Teaching assistance in the class room. I recall in my middle daughters first 2 years at St. Gabriel's there was a lady who came to school to assist a little girl who had some type of learning disability. She was paid by the parents (to my knowledge as I'm sure the school would not have paid the extra for that one on one TA) but was allowed to be in the class room with the approval of the headteacher and the school.

I really cannot say if this would be allowed in the government schools and I would have to say likely not.. but you will not know unless you speak to someone there directly.

I need you both (mini and cass) to remember this. We are technically a 3rd world country but with a very good by first world standards infrastructure. We are not slow, or uneducationed here in Barbados, but things like interactive white boards are worlds ahead and when the literacy rate in Barbados is 99pct, who needs interactive white boards, when chalk and black boards, and pencils and paper still seem to do the trick.

The discipline is good, but when you start telling parents they can't discipline their own children (like they have in the US and the UK) where do you really think discipline in the school is going to go.. straight into the dumper..
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Old Dec 5th 2008, 9:03 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

Oh thank you both so much for your informative opinions, I have decided that when I weigh up the pros and cons of both (Barbados and UK) it is better for us to move to Barbados.

I do understand that I will have to either sacrifice to send my son to private school or send him to government secondary and then pay for private tuition but in the long run it still works out better for all of them to move to Barbados.

After all, I have to think of all three children not just one and like Sunniebgi said with the UK government now dictating that we parents cannot discipline our children I dread o think what the UK will be like in the next 3-5 years.

I plan to call a few of the secondary schools directly on Monday and see what they have to say about the matter and I will also call the Learning for Life centre to enquire about their fees.

At the moment I have had to struggle financially to provide my 3 children with extra tuition to the tune of over 400 pounds a month so I'm certain that things must be better in Barbados after all one just has to look at the literacy rate in the UK compared to Barbados to realise that even though the UK might have more technology, it still is lacking in many areas.....
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Old Dec 5th 2008, 11:29 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

No read all the replies (sorry) but all I can add is that Condrington would allow a teaching assistant but you would have to pay for it yourself, as is the case with other schools here. You would need to ask up front whether the school can accomodate a child with the needs yours has, even though Codrington is a different style of schooling to the others on the Island it is not necessarily the best school for those with special needs.

I do know of a child at St Winifreds who has ADHD and other issues and is getting help within the school for it so maybe you should approach them directly...

I would personally contact all the schools you are interested in and ask the question directly...

Good luck with your move
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Old Dec 5th 2008, 11:32 pm
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Default Re: SEN in Secondary School

I'm glad you've made up your mind, Cassward.

Just - don't overestimate the literacy rate These are just figures - often based on what governments of a given country provide, not some objective criteria. I'm sure UK schools provide UK kids (forget immigrant kids who can barely speak English when they come to the UK at the age of 13 - aren't they who bring the literacy figures down?) with the same level of literacy as any other country. Or better

Your kids will love it here Good luck!
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