high school

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Summer Update

Published July 17, 2015 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a while since I blogged, sorry, in fact the last time was the middle of May half term and things were going well.

You’ve probably guessed that the rest of May half term didn’t go as well. In fact, things went very downhill very quickly after that.

Big girl has been super stressed for a while now about her move to high school, I suspect it started way back in October when the whole class went and visited a local high school for the morning. Recently things have just became too much for her. The return to school after May half term bought SAT’s, there was talk from peers about ‘leaving’, there was talk and practice for leavers assembly’s, sports day practice, sex ed talks, treat days, non uniform days, more high school transition work and lots of general off time table winding down.

She became more volatile than ever, raged with anger and aggression like we’d never seen before. Of course in school, she mostly presented as she always does, smiley and compliant, but her anxiety was noticed and the rage in her eyes seen. Fortunately the relationship that I’d been able to build up with school meant that they were really understanding and supportive of the situation. Big girls teacher (our key worker) did her best to support us all,  and even took away all ‘expectations’ of big girl to actually do any work hoping it would reduce her anxiety. Sadly it wasn’t enough. Big girl was raging on an almost daily basis, baby girl and middle girl were terrified and MrFO5 and I were covered in bruises.  Middle girl and Baby girl were showing signs of anxiety in school, both developed some OCD type behaviors and neither were sleeping. They were constantly on high alert waiting for big girls next ‘blow out’ and so was I.

Something had to give. We pulled out of school early for the summer, almost 3 weeks early. It was a big step, I didn’t know if it was the right one and I was super worried about getting in trouble with the LEA. But in light of the fact that CAMHS, whom we’d contacted earlier in the year regarding big girls mental health, were failing to provide any help for big girl (we’re still fighting to be seen even now), we were left with limited options.

We sat big girl down, we told her we knew she was struggling, the idea of leaving school, the transition to high school and school its self had all become unmanageable for her. We told her we’d be finishing school for the summer soon. We set her up an email address and encouraged her to swap details with people from her class. We physically saw a weight lift from her during that conversation.

Just under a week later she went to school for her last day. We told her it was her last day, we suggested she give her friend a discreet hug etc She wasn’t supposed to tell anyone it was her last day, but she did. Baby girl and Middle girl also finished a few days later (I needed them to be in school for their class transition days). School have been very understanding and supportive of this decision which has made things easier and less stressful. Nothing worse than worrying about being in trouble with the LEA for ‘wagging’.

So that’s us. Things have been much calmer. The calendars have all been put away so they have no idea of the day never mind the date, Big girl has carried on with her visits to high school and her transition preparation is now complete. They’re all sleeping much better. The bickering has stopped. Big girl hasn’t had a blow out for 3 weeks (except one, which I’ll write about separately). We’ve stopped treading on egg shells!

I’m physically exhausted, the house is a tip,  but I know now that we made the right decision.



Big School, Huge Decisions!

Published October 3, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I mentioned a week or so ago that we were currently looking desperately searching, for a big school for Big Girl for next September.

Well the search is over!

I’d love to tell you that we’ve found the perfect school and that I’m totally confident with our decision and that its a school she’ll thrive in, but I cant, Its just the best of what was on offer. When I say ‘best’ I don’t mean it has great achievement records or that all the teachers teach to the highest of standards or that its a school with amazing facilities, In fact in all honestly I have no clue about any of these things because none of these things are important to Big Girl, feeling safe is all that matters, without that, the rest is unimportant. So when I say the ‘best’ school, I simply mean, its the best of the bunch to suit Big Girl’s needs. In fact it is the only school that I think she has even the remotest possibility of managing. So we’ve submitted our application, its a school way outside our catchment area but it is the only school we have put her name down for. All the other schools wouldn’t be manageable for her at all, so we felt there was no point in naming 2 other schools on the application, it really is this or Home School, I really hope she gets a place. She stands a good chance because being adopted, in the same way as being a looked after child, she will get priority over all of the other applications.

I’d like to tell you why we chose this school over all the others, and it really did just come down to size. All of the local high schools here have over 1000 students on the roll, and are situated in very large very complex buildings, this one has less than 450.

This school feels small, in fact when I first arrived I sat in the main reception area and I thought to myself how much it felt like a primary school rather than a high school, the floors were carpeted, the walls nicely decorated, it felt quite homely. So that was the first box ticked.

I was invited to the ‘Student Support’ department which is where I expect big girl will become quite familiar with, It was a small area with small tables and lots of friendly looking staff on hand. Next box ticked.

I was invited to walk around the corridors during one of the ‘class change’ times, I was surprised to see how calm and quiet it was, it wasn’t over crowded like all the other schools Id visited, the ceilings weren’t low, the corridors weren’t narrow, I didn’t feel claustrophobic. Another box ticked.

I was shown pretty much around the entire school which really only took a few minutes, the school is pretty much a square shape and mostly all on 1 level with only a library, staff room and couple of computer rooms on the upper floor, so really easy to navigate and not much chance of getting lost. Another tick in a box.

During my walk around the school I noticed lots and lots of lockers, so no having to struggle with coats and PE kits and bags and books, cause honestly, this would be too much for big girl to manage, she’d be super stressed hauling her stuff between classes and then be expected to sit down and learn. So big tick in the box.

They allow the vulnerable children to spend time in the ‘Student Support’ department during lunch breaks and have specialist staff available in the lunch hall to sit with vulnerable students whilst they eat, so no more feeling scared and lonely for big girl at lunch time. A huge tick in a box.

Just before I left the bell went for morning break time, I walked through the dinner hall and was greeted by lots of hungry kids looking for their morning snacks and toast. I didn’t feel intimidated, cramped or deafened, I felt relaxed, it was calm. Another tick!

I couldn’t tell you what Ofsted think about this school, and I couldn’t tell you what exam results they have produced over the last few years, I don’t know what subjects they specialise in and honestly, I don’t care. I just know that of all the schools I’ve visited, this is the only one she has even the faintest chance of coping with.

I’m not sure when we’ll tell Big Girl, most of the children in her class seem to already know they’re going to the local feeder school, she only knows that she is not.  She isn’t the same as most of the children in her class though, she is emotionally many years behind them so whilst they can manage this information so soon, I’m not sure she can. We wont get confirmation of her place until next March, but I’m not sure we should should wait till then?!  will telling her sooner be too much for her to handle!? I really don’t know when will be the right time to tell her, this is the next hurdle for us to figure out and hope we get right.

So is the this the right school?  did we make the right choice?  have we got it right? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that If big girl manages to see out her full education here, no, in fact if she lasts a year, I’ll be happy with that!




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