We loved being part of what we called Portage (really Early Years Educational Support) and when they ‘discharged’ Charlie they organised a meeting between all the relevent schooling bodies to have an Early Help Meeting. The idea of this meeting was not to lose Charlie ‘through the gaps’ and to continue the really useful help that we felt we had been given.
Charlie has been very lucky, his CP has had very little effect on his intellectual capacity- he is a very clever little boy. However, his physical disability will impact his schooling and he will need some support. As Charlie’s CP is slightly worse on his right side he tends to find using a pen or pencil a bit easier in his left, despite often wanting to use his right. He does struggle to draw letters and numbers and regularly will try to move away from things he finds difficult, often using his social skills to distract us or his teachers away from a task. He does struggle to get to the toilet and ‘get organised’ himself so in all likelihood he will need a bit of help in school- whether a 1 on 1 or a TA (teaching assistant).
The Early Help meetings have allowed us to tie-up support between his pre-school, OT and physio and his prospective new school in September. Doing this has meant we have already started a ‘transition’ and hopefully means everything will be in place with school long before he even steps foot in the door.
On advice given at his 1st Early Help meeting, we arranged a visit to the school he is due to start in September so we could have a look; see the layout, the toilets and all the areas where Charlie will be. In actuality the staff taking us around introduced Charlie into all the junior school classes! It was very cute as all the school children chorused their ‘Hello Charlie’, ‘Goodbye Charlie’ calls as we entered and left.
Fortunately the school seems great in terms of its layout; wide corridors and ample sized rooms for Charlie to get about. Hopefully he will get about mostly using his sticks and frame but his wheelchair would also be fine in the school too.
We haven’t really needed to encourage Charlie about going to ‘Big School’- he’s already desperate to go; to wear his red jumper and see his big cousin. We have steadily increased his hours in pre-school too to try to get him used to the idea of more days and more hours. Charlie does enjoy pre-school and it is such a nuturing atmosphere but his CP does mean he gets tired, both cognitively and physically so adding hours hopefully will aid his transition into school.
We also got to meet his reception class teacher, headteacher and more importantly, his SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator). The SENCO is the teacher responsible for the additional needs of children within the school. We thought it was vital to introduce ourselves and book a meeting with her so she could help prepare what was need within school but also meet Charlie and see him before term started.
Meeting the staff and seeing the school was great and helped reduce the worry. Lou still worries about bullying but looking at Charlie, he is already the size of the 5 year olds and kids tend to quickly ‘see through’ his frame and mobility issues simply due to the charismatic and friendly kiddy he is. The nice thing too was how the kids in school responded to him- he felt like a mini-celebrity already!