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What would you be looking for in a secondry school if you was having to choice one for your child?

OK so year 4 is almost over and we are thinking about secondary school's alread for RB as we get his application forms not that long after they go back to school in September.

I was wondering if any parents/career could advice me what to llok for in a secondary school for a child who has delays in his literacy and has 1-1 support for that on a daily basics some days twice a day, has asthma, hypoglycemia, is hyperactive (queried autism/ADHD), has a heart murmur which has been linked to his asthma flare-ups and last week was diagnosed well 80% diagnosed with addison's disease.

I was thinking along the lines of:

Asthma policy

Easiness to find the school for paramedics

Frequency of school nurse

How many members of staff are first aid trained

Literacy support groups

Medical trained staff

Is there anything I am missing or do you think I have it covered.

I have already rang 2 secondary shools an both of them have literacy supports groups and on site school nurses every day and one of them even has everty member o staff first aid trained and medical trined and every child who goes to th school with a medical condition are assigned a medically traine member of staff and both schools are easy to find too. Best of all btoh shools have classes dedicated to cooking as my son wants to become a chef and open the first allergy free restaurant in Nottinghamshire. I really hope his plans go ahead as I have night mare having family meals out as it is so hard finding places tht eal with dairy free food. I always rin and say do you cater for vegans and can you guarrentee the food is vegan and not contaminated at all by diary products

3 Replies

for the autism/adhd side of things, have you thought about a 'quiet place' that he could go to if he found him self in need to calm down?

i have mild adhd myself, and throughout secondary school, this has been invaluable. Also learning support staff, and student well-being can also help.

some schools put on special classes designed for students with different needs, i wish my parents had looked into more schools, rather than picking the most local - good luck on finding somewhere :)


From an asthmatic English teacher's point of view!! long post alert...

Secondaries tend to be fairly well equipped, as I think you're discovering!! IT's a very different environment to primary though, and teachers are often having to be aware of 50-60 kids with differing significant medical issues, as well as the hundreds with less significant, but still important!! In subjects where the student is only seen once a week for an hour (music, DT, history, geography etc.) this can become very difficult to manage, and sods law says it'll be in one of those lessons that things happen.

Wherever you end up sending him, ensure you send him with a written action plan for all his conditions - a copy of which goes to the nurse, the head, his head of year. Update this as necessary, ideally yearly. A simplified version should also be in the school office for those moments when they can't find the right people. His photo should also be up in the staffroom with a clear explanation of the conditions and emergency signs (in case of incidents in corridoors etc.)

Apart from the staffroom one, which needs only say contact x, y or z and do a, b, and c whilst you're waiting, this should be very clear stages, i.e. (for the asthma) at what point to administer ventolin / nebs / when to call the green meanies/ what to observe whilst waiting for green meanies etc. There should also be one for a suspected hypo, and anything to do with the addison's / heart (i don't know much about addison's myself). Stress in particular anything that may not be 'normal' for that condition - i.e. my school nurse and medical room person is aware that I don't wheeze (yep, I've sat in the medical room awaiting green meanies alongside vomiting year 7s!!). It's about leaving no margin for error, especially if (as sometimes happens in a school) the nominated people can't be found quickly enough.

Ask also (and I only discovered the use of this last week when I was in classroom alone and having a mega asthma attack) how teachers can get help in an emergency. If they're relying on sending a runner to the office, there's 10 minutes potentially lost (5 mins to get there, 5 for help to come). I have a button on my school register system (SIMS) which send an emergency alert direct to the office who know if it's me, to assume it's asthma rather than naughty child. That way I get the first aid trained senior leader, rather than the normal senior leaders expecting to remove a disruptive student. A phone would be just as good.

You should also have a clear protocol for when you want him sending home. It might be an idea, if he misses a lot of school, to get a box at home that your child can bring home work from each subject teacher (""busy work"") so he doesn't fall too far behind. I had a child with cancer last year who found it very useful, partly because it eased the boredom of hospital, but also because it meant he didn't feel he was missing out on too much.

Discuss also their policy about training staff in individual issues - over the years I've been epilepsy / epipen trained (bloody useful when she decided to mega fit on me!) as well as all the usual adhd / aspergers / diabetes training. All class teachers should be aware - and this doesn't just mean a note on his IEP. The school nurse can easily arrange training for all staff who come into direct contact with him on a regular basis.

Be careful when they say all staff have been first aid trained. Basic first aid (as i'm sure you're aware) only covers when things have become very very dangerous and students are unconscious etc. It's just the resus, recovery position and injury management - useful, but rarely enough. You want to know who holds the full 3 day course, how in date it is (3 year limit), and how they're spread out amongst the school (i.e. no good if all in PE and child is in science at the other side of the site - even worse if split site). When they say the nurse is on site every day, check they don't just mean the person who mans the medical room. This person will be full first aid trained, but may not be a qualified RGN. The school nursing service usually shares nurses out amongst areas - ours does our secondary, our three feeder primaries, and their nine feeder infants. So she's on site for half a day a week. Yours might be different, but something worth checking. Receptionists often think medical room person is school nurse. They (usually) aren't.

Further on the medical side of things, check the SENCO and their team are up to date with all the conditions. Most are very savvy with asthma / diabetes, but doubt they'll be as familiar with addisons.

For the academic side, get the SENCO to assess for extra support. This may mean withdrawal once a week for intensive catchups (literacy support groups) but also one-to-one in class etc. Depending on how far behind he is (and whether he is statemented, school action+, school action) then he may be entitled to this. Make sure his English teacher in particular is aware, and they'll adjust their work accordingly. If he is statemented, ask the SENCO how often he is reviewed, and who gets consulted on that process.

Bear in mind though, it may be the case that he ends up in bottom sets due to being further behind - often compounded when you're talking complex medical needs as well as behavioural (hyperactivity). This makes support more likely, but also means his issues are likely to get worse. You must (and I know you already are, but it annoys me how many people just drop them at school and say 'right, your turn!') keep a close eye on his behaviour, as often just being in with naughties makes children with attention issues naughtier and the cycle becomes unmanageable.

Hope this helps relax you a little - and gives you some things to think about.


Thank you so much for your replies. I have been extrememly busy with researching schools and his medical conditons. It's half term next week which is good as he is missing the next 3 days of school as he has been taking into hospital today for tests and because his asthma is really bad again at the moment.

We had his parents evening last week and we wa surprised to find out that he has had a dyslexia test done and the test they did on him shows him as being on the boarder line of no he doesn't and yes he possible does have dyslexia so w can't get any more support for him for that but his reading age has gone from 6 years 8 months to 7 years 2 months this academic year which is good for him but he is only comign in as a 2b in literacy and reading which hasn't changing since last acedemic year and he is on a 3b/3c for maths which has gone up from a 2b last academic year but maths has always been his strong subject/ He also did a science exam as well recently and for that he got a 5b which is a whole year ahead of where he is but the exam was about the chemical reaction that happens while cooking a cake which is something he love doesing and we are always experiementing, evaluating and predicing wht is going to happen to a cake that is cooked on different heat levels and different timings so I was not surprised at all that he did so amazing in the science exam.


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