When the Reception allocation announcement for September arrived on my doorstep the other week, I had no doubt. Macsen had been offered a place at our first choice. The school is never oversubscribed. There are no issues with class sizes.
Despite the offer from the school of my choice, I still had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I still felt that there was something missing. There was still a part of me that worried I wasn’t making the right decision for Macsen.
A few days later, another letter came through the letterbox. From the LEA, advising us that Macsen was being considered for admission to the Speech and Language Unit at an out of county school. I knew the application was happening, but I didn’t really think anything would come of it. I know how valuable places at these units are and this September there are just two places available.
The teachers at the unit have met Macsen and in just that short time, she actually got our boy. She could understand him. She managed to sign with him. She communicated with him. He responded well to her. He enjoyed the time spent with him. It was such a positive experience. Hearing her feedback on Macsen and his abilities caused me to cry. I sobbed down the phone to her and told her how much of a difference it makes to hear something positive about him. The phrase that most sticks out is: “he will benefit from a smaller class. He’s a bright boy and he needs the chance to progress and he needs to make friends’.
I agree wholeheartedly with her. He does need friends. Macsen’s world away from his family must be so lonely. He must feel so shut off from the rest of the world. He WILL benefit from being in a classroom with peers who face the same difficulties he does. He WILL grow in confidence communicating with adults who have the time to understand him. He WANTS to learn and attending a specialist speech and language unit will help him to reach his full potential.
Irrespective of my worries about his journey to school and back, I have to do what is best for Macsen. If one of those two spaces is offered to Macsen, then I am grabbing it with both hands. I will sign on the dotted line before anyone can rescind the offer. Being perfectly honest, if bribes were considered legal then I’d certainly be offering one right about now.
Macsen is not a naughty boy. He is a bright, intelligent boy who feels shut off from the big wide world. He is isolated and frustrated by this. I hope we can help him ease this frustration.
When I spoke to the Key Stage 2 teacher at the unit, she explained the application and admission process in more detail. I have included a brief summary below.
- The first stage, which had already happened by the time I spoke to her, is a panel meeting. Members of the panel meet and discuss all the children who have been put forward as potential suitable candidates. The unit receives admissions from 4 local authorities. `
- Stage 2 involves the staff meeting the children who appear to be suitable candidates. They do this in the child’s current educational setting. During the session they interact with the child and assess the child’s abilities – the children who attend the unit are all of average or above average intelligence but have severe speech, language and communication difficulties. If the child isn’t suitable, parents are informed, and the application does not continue.
- Stage 3 is to speak to local authorities and update them on the progress. Invitations are offered to parents of the suitable children to visit the unit.
- Stage 4 involves going back to panel and discussing which of the candidates are more suitable. The 2 most suitable will be offered a place while any other’s will be placed on a waiting list.
It’s a long winded and complicated process and I feel privileged that Macsen is being considered.