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High school dilemma?

By Padoof - 1 February 2012 10

My 12 yo daughter is about to start year 7 at the public high school her sister also attends.  Whilst this school is brilliant for my older daughter, I’ve not been convinced it would be the right environment for my younger daughter who suffers from anxiety.  The fact that the public school does not have a school uniform really doesn’t help either, I’ve already had tears about the shoes and shorts she’ll be wearing.

Last year I did make enquiries at a southside private school, but decided to go ahead with the enrolment at public school with the view that if it ‘didn’t work’, I could look at changing schools then.

To make things interesting, my 12yo decided to let me know two weeks ago about how the words that jump around the page and that this has been happening for years.  So now we’re looking down the barrel of dyslexia; it actually explains a lot about her.  I rang her high school yesterday to be told that they don’t have a counsellor on staff yet (and was asked how to spell ‘dyslexia’).  Alarm bells are getting a wee bit louder.

My daughter is a highly intelligent child, her high school offers academic extension, but I know already that they don’t deal with unruly kids and now know that they do not have a counsellor to offer support and guidance.  I am thinking that I need to look more seriously at the private system for the support that my daughter will need.

I’d appreciate some comments about your experiences in the private school system, which ones have done what better.  I am a single income family, so any comments regarding experiences with fee relief would also be appreciated.

Many thanks.

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
High school dilemma?
Merle 8:26 pm 01 Feb 12

SupaSal said :

I went to Radford, as did my 2 older brothers. My brother has ADHD as do I. He required a lot of additional support which was given to him from year 7 (Back when we where at school Radforf was 7-12). Instead of him trying to learn another language or 2 he was given additional assistance in English – Language in Use (LIU) was great for him. I will reccomend a school that assists with basic skills for life (English, grammer/spelling etc), assisting with assisgnments and homework, ask specific questions – How they assist other students with anxiety? What they offer for Dyslexic students? Answers you require are about exam modifications, seating arragements, teaching with special needs training etc.

My sister is currently at Radford. She has multiple learning difficulties along with serious epilepsy, and the school has been very accommodating and supportive. She’s allowed to use special equipment, given extra time on tests, receives a lot of support both from teaching and pastoral care staff etc. They’ve really been very good through the whole thing.

Watson 5:15 pm 01 Feb 12

I agree with others that it will really depend on the particular school, not on whether it is public or private. Though having said that, someone mentioned here a while back that larger public schools are more likely to have funding for additional resources like remedial teachers or whatever their equivalent is these days. And a full-time counsellor! I looked at some of the services the larger schools in our area offer and this seemed to back up that theory.

I hope you will get some responses from parents who have dealt with these issues and have had good experiences with specific schools. I would also recommend organising meetings with principals at various schools to discuss this and ask if they can help.

I have a friend in Melbourne whose daughter suffered from severe anxiety in her first year of highschool. She was diagnosed with ADHD. Got to the point where she hardly attended school anymore. She then switched to a small catholic school in last term and things improved dramatically. And my friend has some funny stories about staff telling her god told them to look out for her daughter, but it works.

PBO 3:15 pm 01 Feb 12

Get her some pinhole readers

Gungahlin Al 2:11 pm 01 Feb 12

Did you know there is now a special font designed to reduce dyslexia problems? It is called Dyslexie: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-font-helps-dyslexics-read

dtc 2:04 pm 01 Feb 12

You can’t really tell because it often depends on one or two teachers or random govt funding or something that the school cant really control. For example, my son’s public school had a fantastic ‘extension learning’ teacher last year who could deal with all those smart but difficult kids with ADHD, aspergers and so forth. She got them organised and learning at very high levels. However, she isn’t there this year – nothing to do with the school. The replacement may be great, or may be average.

Private schools – the expensive Anglican ones – do have far more resources than public schools and its much harder to slip through the cracks, as there are people whose job it is to keep an eye on all the kids and deal with issues (housemasters, ‘tutors’ etc) – those roles don’t exist in public schools. However, the private schools don’t necessarily have specialist staff members who can deal with the problems, or teachers who are sympathetic to the problems (many private school teachers work in private schools because the students are generally much less disruptive and easier to deal with, so they arent sympathetic to the kids who are disruptive).

On the other hand, a public school might have funding for a learning disability teacher (or an extension learning teacher who is great). Or they may not.

I know this isn’t an answer, but there is no answer. SupaSal has excellent suggestions – ask questions, talk to the people at the school who are meant to be dealing with the issues. But keep in mind that those people might leave next year or might stay for 6 years.

Fee relief is pretty limited at most private schools, although some of the Catholic ones have more options. Most of the school websites have details.

gourmetmumma 1:59 pm 01 Feb 12

I can’t offer any help re: schools, but regarding the dyslexia..have you heard of the Alison Lawson Centre in Weston? One of my kids was referred there for some blurred/double vision by the optometrist – turns out it wasn’t the place for him but they seem to do fantastic work with children with dyslexia
http://alison-lawson-centre.com.au/

SupaSal 1:44 pm 01 Feb 12

I went to Radford, as did my 2 older brothers. My brother has ADHD as do I. He required a lot of additional support which was given to him from year 7 (Back when we where at school Radforf was 7-12). Instead of him trying to learn another language or 2 he was given additional assistance in English – Language in Use (LIU) was great for him. I will reccomend a school that assists with basic skills for life (English, grammer/spelling etc), assisting with assisgnments and homework, ask specific questions – How they assist other students with anxiety? What they offer for Dyslexic students? Answers you require are about exam modifications, seating arragements, teaching with special needs training etc.

Best of luck for your daughter, school is a hard place even when you don’t have learning difficulties, add these to the mix and your lucky to get out alive.

Tell her to keep her chin up, I have just completed my 2nd degree but it has taken blood, sweat and tears to get through – I just hope I can support my Children as much as my parents have support my brothers and myself.

Zeital 1:10 pm 01 Feb 12

I agree with BenMac some of the private schools aren’t any better some are but idk what ones. Some of the public schools in canberra are really good with special needs, you might just have to look around at some more schools that are out of area that have the people to provide the needs that you are looking for

good luck!

gumby34 1:00 pm 01 Feb 12

Private schools are not necessarily the answer. I moved one daughter from private to public as it was better suited to her needs. The one with dyslexia I have left at the private school but this has more to do with the need for stronger social support issues and anxiety that often comes from the Dyslexia. – I don’t think she is necessarily getting a better education.

I feel your pain. When you add dyslexia into the mix choosing schools becomes harder. I would only say that a big price tag doesn’t mean it will be the best for your child. Just do your research and then back yourself.

BenMac 11:38 am 01 Feb 12

I’m not sure if the private schools will be any better. I know of a family who sent 3 of their kids to Radford. All 3 kids had issues involving learning and socialisation, but the school didn’t want to know about it. They just let the children’s education slip because they didn’t have time to focus on individual children.

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