DPDC Discussions: Secondary school options for your deaf child

Question: I have started thinking about Secondary Schools for my child, does anyone have any advice regarding statements, schools which would help me?

One parent said that they are considering Mary Hare, but are concerned that their LEA will turn them down, as they have done so in the past. One parent said that Mary Hare often pay the fees for one year for children whose LEA’s have refused to fund their place. In that year the school collects evidence to demonstrate to the LEA that the deaf child is better off at Mary Hare and needs to stay at the school.

One parent recommends that parents who need support, advice or just want their child’s statement to be checked to contact the NDCS Family Officers, as they have often been very helpful with supporting them in changing their statements and dealing with the Local Education Authority.

NDCS Family Officers: helpline@ndcs.org.uk

One parent said that the statements are about to change and that from next year you can put the name of any school in your statement.  In the new statement, the wording is changed from ‘Parents Preference’ to ‘Parents Choice’.

One parent said that he/she spoke to Mr Shaw (Mary Hare School Principal), and he said that more and more councils were agreeing to send children to Mary Hare, but there are some councils who are still stubborn.

One parent asked if the council can be requested to pay to transport kids to and from Mary Hare School at weekends. No one in the room knew if that request has been made and fulfilled elsewhere. It is a good question, who pays to take kids to and from school?

Weekends at Mary Hare were discussed, several parents said that the culture had changed, pupils used to stay at Mary Hare most weekends, but now the school encourage pupils to go home every other weekend (except the Irish and other overseas kids) to maintain and build family relationships.

One parent said that she has a friend who is always updating her status to say she is on her way to pick up her child from Mary Hare, and this is every weekend, she is amazed as its a big journey!  Everyone wondered about the petrol costs!

One parent said they were given some advice from an NDCS Family Officer who encouraged them to start thinking about how their statement deals with the transition from a mainstream school to a deaf oral school.

Example: Child goes to a mainstream school and has his/her own BSL Level 6 Interpreter. Parents then want child to go to a deaf oral school where there is no signing.  The statement has to be changed in all parts and the change in preference needs to be explained, and the need for the change needs to be proved.

One parent asked how does everyone feel about going from a BSL environment to an oral one.

The majority agreed that unfortunately most people cannot sign, but it was important to have a solid BSL base to start off with.

One parent said that he/she was not sure about Mary Hare, as they felt that the school did not provide the right emotional support, as they were not convinced by pastoral care in the boarding houses.

One parent said that he/she came from an BSL family, went to a BSL school and decided to go to a oral school as a child. The parent added that it was the best decision ever and he/she had a brilliant 5 years at the school. Friends helped with the interpreting, life long friends were made and he/she was given the belief and confidence to be the person he/she is now.

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If you have further advice, questions, resources or information we would love it if you could share this with us in the comments section beneath the post. Thanks!
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