Trouble At School

“Mrs Lazarus, can I have a quick word?” So I walked down the steps to the school playground to the awaiting teacher. The walk of shame. The other parents shaking their heads and tut tutting but with a silent prayer being thankful that their child was such an angel (or perhaps that was just my perception).

School was tough for my son. It didn’t suit him. Too many restrictions, boundaries and rules.

Too often our children with ADHD find themselves in trouble at school. Being shouted at, told off, sent out of class, in detention, isolation, may be being restrained and the final act of humiliation, permanent exclusion. We know that a child with SEN is six times more likely to be excluded. Shameful.

It is no wonder your child may have a low self-esteem, feeling useless, broken and damaged.

But you can change that.

We know so much more about ADHD, positive behaviour management and how to help your child flourish and thrive.

RELATIONSHIP WITH SCHOOL

At the very start, build up a good relationship with key members of staff. Find the one person who will be your child’s ‘champion’. Request regular meetings to discuss positives (and maybe some negatives) and follow up with an email. Do not wait to be called in when there is a problem.

SEND PLAN

Parents must be involved in drawing up a SEND Plan and reviewing it once a term with the SENCO. This may be called a Pupil Passport, Individual Education Plan, Support Plan or similar. The Plan must include details of your child’s difficulties and specific ways that they will be supported in school.

REASONABLE ADJUSTMENTS

According to the Equalities Act 2010, schools must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable young people with ADHD to have full access to the school curriculum and environment. This means equipment or procedures should be in place, which may be different to the other pupils. These reasonable adjustments should be included in the SEND Plan. So equipment such as laptop, sensory, software, timers, planners. Procedures such as movement breaks, quiet place to work, standing up to write, help with organisation, mentor. The list goes on…

MISSING BREAKTIME

This is a well-known trick up a teacher’s sleeve. Finish your work or you won’t go out to play. Be disruptive and you won’t go out to play. Unfortunately this can be a disaster in behaviour management. A child with ADHD needs movement and a dopamine fix. Take that away and they will struggle to focus. Why were they distracted and didn’t finish their work? Was the work suitable or were there reasonable adjustments in place? Punishing a child and missing play is detrimental and will make the child cross and angry. You know your child has a huge sense of what is fair, and in his eyes this is very unfair! Not conducive to a great lesson after playtime.

HOMEWORK OR COURSE WORK

Is the work appropriate, suitable and differentiated? Children with ADHD find large tasks overwhelming, they will procrastinate, put it off and then not do it and get into trouble. Meet with the SENCO and come up with a plan. Give shorter deadlines, make the work achievable or abandon homework altogether…

DETENTIONS

Why is your child in detention? Have all staff received a copy of the SEND Plan? Have the actions and recommendations on the SEND Plan been followed by all staff? If you feel the detention is unfair, then email and set up a meeting with SENCO or Head of Year. Look at the school’s Behaviour Policy and request there is flexibility based on your child’s ‘disability’. You are not making excuses. You are requesting that if your child finds it hard not to shout out, the threat of a detention will not be a deterrent. But using a whiteboard so she can write her answer is a great alternative.

ISOLATION

This practice is now considered damaging and useless. Pupils’ emotional and physical health suffers and there is no change to the underlying behaviour difficulties. Reasonable adjustments must be in place to avoid the confrontation and disruptive behaviour that staff feel deserves this punitive punishment. If your child is consistently in isolation, look at the school’s Complaints Procedure and contact the SEN Governor.

EXCLUSIΓ“N

“Can you come and collect your daughter early?” is unlawful. Reduced timetables are unlawful. The only reason why your child isn’t at school full time, is if you have received an official fixed period exclusion letter from the Head Teacher. It is the duty of school to provide a full time, broad and balanced curriculum to your child. Anything less is unlawful according to SEND Code of Practice 2014.

Unfortunately many of children find themselves officially permanently excluded despite your hard efforts.

EDUCATION + HEALTH CARE PLAN – EHCP

If you feel that the school are not able to provide the support and help your child needs, you are entitled to request from your Local Authority an assessment for an EHCP. You do not need to provide private reports for a request to assess. Keep emails, school reports, behaviour records and provide them as evidence. It is a long process but if you are awarded an EHCP it is then a legally binding obligation for the school to put in resources and provision.

NEXT STEPS

If you have tried to get your child the appropriate help and support in school but there is a constant trail of detentions, isolations and fixed term exclusions….then perhaps it’s time to consider another school. Making the leap is tough, but sometimes the jump is worth it.

TRAINING

My finally piece of advice, is to encourage the staff to receive ADHD training. Most teachers have not been trained to understand ADHD. So they have no idea that a pupil is ‘misbehaving’ because she may be disorganised, losing focus, forgot the lesson, experiencing sensory challenges, socially lagging or emotionally over stimulated. All they’ll see is a pupil squirming in their seat and not on task. Cue the shouting and the punishments. Please pass on my details to your child’s school: www.yellow-sun.com/adhd

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