Moving to Secondary School – A parent carers view
For parents and carers of children with SEND, the transition between schools can be a hectic and even stressful time – and during lockdown, even more so! Here’s how one family managed the changes, with support from their schools as well as the local SEND Information Advice and Support Services (SEND IASS).
Covid-19 has been an extremely stressful time for my family, as I am a key worker with a child with autism, ADHD and a language disorder. During this time I completed an in-depth risk assessment, which was scary as I had to share personal information about how things had changed for my family and this left me feeling anxious.
However, my son’s school, Fernhurst Junior School were so supportive, and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCos) didn’t let our previous relationship break down just because we were in lockdown. They made sure my son, who was in year 6 at the time, had a place at school when the schools went back in June and communication continued. We had a few bumps, but each time we all learned together about what would work best for us as a family, and his educational setting.
My son thrived at school during the summer term, creating a new peer social group, and I also saw teachers who had never taught him before grow and evolve to their new normal.
A further concern was my son’s upcoming transition to secondary school, especially because of the lack of transition days and support that would usually be available. My son took it in his stride, but he became increasingly anxious the closer it got to his start date.
I emailed the staff at what would be his new school, Miltoncross Academy, and raised my concerns. I understood the COVID restrictions, but was still unsure what was in place to support him due to the ongoing changes.
The school acted quickly and invited us in for a tour of the building whilst it was still the summer holidays. They also explained how his day would go in a way that was easy to understand. This gave my son a great opportunity to meet his Teaching Assistant and start to build a relationship before his first day, and for me to understand how his needs would be met when he is at school.
The support, guidance, communication and contact we received has been better than I expected from previous children. I expected things to go quite quiet when my son got to secondary school, but this has not been the case and there have been regular emails and calls which have helped both sides to establish a healthy and happy relationship.
As well as this, by working together we have even managed in this short time to find a way to give him some independence by walking to and from school, which makes him feel happy.
Overall, my son is happy and is engaging in his learning and mixing with peers. He feels supported and listened to by the professionals, but not in a way that means he feels different from his friends, and this also means that I can relax and focus on my day.
It’s definitely been a bumpy ride for me – but whatever my son has been faced with, he has been met with such support and guidance he has just overcome the bumps without impacting his moods, behaviour or learning!
You can find out more about the services and support Natalie and her son used on the Portsmouth SEND Local Offer website:
Support with learning in school:
Portsmouth SEND Information, Advice and Support Services (SEND IASS):
Advice for parents and carers of children with SEND during the COVID-19 pandemic: