We are yet to come across a family who does not want the very best school for their child, but it is never truer than in the case of families whose child has a special educational needs or disability (SEND).
In many ways we are very lucky that we live in much more enlightened times than even 20 years ago and, particularly since the Equality Act of 2010, much more has been done to support students and their teachers in schools and there is far greater understanding of the need to ensure that as many children as possible are able to access a full school curriculum. Believe it or not, there is not a school in the country that does not have pupils who require some kind of extra support, the issue however is that sadly the quality of that support can vary hugely from school to school.
Over the last couple of years, appropriate provision for children with SEN has become something of an issue in the State sector, where budgets are increasingly being cut and the numbers in the classroom increase, and particularly as a knock on effect from Lockdown and the Pandemic, we have seen an increase in the number of children who are struggling to keep up and who are being advised that they might do better in the Independent sector with smaller classes and higher levels of teacher support. Unfortunately, however it is frequently not as simple as that, particularly in cases where the place at the Independent school is reliant on funding from the Local Authority through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Similarly, contrary to popular belief, many Independent schools are not able to provide the high levels of Learning Support Assistants in class with the teachers and so unless your child is able to access most of the curriculum themselves, with relatively minor changes made to accommodate them, the chances are that an Independent school would feel unable to accept him or her.
That is not to say that there are not a number of excellent Independent schools that provide specialist support for a wide range of needs, such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia for example, but again, as with any specialism, the school would need to assess the student through Educational Psychologist and medical reports as appropriate in order to determine that they can meet his/her needs.
Our expert at Debrett’s Education has extensive knowledge of SEND provision in the Independent school sector and would be very happy to speak to you in the first instance to see if there is a possibility that this could be the best solution for your child. Similarly, we have a number of associates we can recommend, in the field of Education Advocacy and Educational Psychology as well as the writing of EHCPs should you need to go down that route.
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Sioban has been a rock of support and encouragement for us these past few months. We finally accepted - quite late in the day - that our daughter's current school is not the right fit for J. We were overwhelmed with the prospect of finding a new school that could properly support our daughter academically whilst providing the right balance of pastoral care. I underwent extensive research into education consultants and after our first phone call, knew I had found someone I could trust in Sioban. Sioban spent the time getting to know us as a family and more importantly J. as a person and consequently was well positioned to find a school that we believe will help J. thrive academically and help her become a confident young woman. Having been through this process recently myself, I know how daunting the prospect is of putting one's faith in a stranger to manage the future of our most loved one and can hand on heart say we would not be on our road to happiness without Sioban.
We went to Sioban when we had nowhere else to go, we were desperate to find an appropriate school for our daughter and had come to a dead end. Sioban put our mind at rest and found a school that was perfect for us. I wish we had turned to Sioban first and years earlier. Since placing our daughter, she has kept in touch and advised us on how to approach certain aspects of schooling. I have no hesitation in recommending her services. She is a caring and understanding individual who appreciates that all children have individual needs. She is also widely connected and understands the capabilities of each school.
I can’t thank you enough for the help you gave me when my daughter was struggling at her school at the time. It was so such a support to me that you listened to the problems we were having and your knowledge about the other schools that were on offer was fantastic. All the organising of visits and talking to the schools about our requirements on our behalf helped us make a very successful informed choice of which school to move to. A. gained the grades she needed to get to the university she wanted which she would not have done without your help and advice to go to a school which she achieved in. She is in her second year at - university studying languages where she has this year achieved a first in German and Dutch and a 2:1 in Russian. Thank you again and I would highly recommend you and the service you provide to anyone looking for a new school.
We are from Bermuda and wanted help and guidance both with the process applying for boarding schools in the UK for the 6th form and selecting a suitable school for our son to do his A levels. We had an introductory interview with Sioban, with our son. We left it a little late but Sioban immediately put our mind at ease and guided us seamlessly through the whole process, finding for us a number of excellent schools which were well matched to my son’s abilities and interests and provided invaluable help with liaising with our short-listed choice schools and dealing with their requirements, including personal statements. We felt fortunate to have worked with Sioban, who is very knowledgeable, warm, friendly and caring - she kept in contact well after we had secured a place at a great school just to check up on us - and would highly recommend her to assist anyone looking for help, guidance and reassurance when looking for the ideal school for their child. “.
Admissions Officer (Lower Sixth entry) at Tonbridge School
Sioban has previously approached Tonbridge and owing to her insight, careful preparation and wisdom as an ex-Headteacher, we were delighted to offer places to her clients. Sioban is always calm, well prepared and most importantly kind. Her candour gives me confidence to work with her, in addition to her perceptive comments and knowledge of which school fits well for each client.
I have had the pleasure of working with Sioban for a number of years, since she first started working as an Education Consultant. In that time, Sioban has been thorough and detailed with her knowledge of students that she has recommended to me. She really understands the needs of the child and carefully selects schools that she knows have the relevant support for that child to flourish. Her passion in finding the right school is second to none and she works tirelessly with the families and schools to achieve that aim. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Sioban and I hope to continue working with her in the future.
Sioban has introduced a number of students to Lime House School which have resulted in very successful placements. Sioban 's knowledge of the educational system and the ability to place students in suitable establishments is testament to her professionalism and empathy she shows for each of her students. The continued support she offers her students is exceptional: from the initial introductions to the school to leaving the educational establishment and moving on to higher education should that be appropriate. Sioban is always keen to make firm and lasting relationships with any of the education bodies she works with and this is much appreciated by those schools. I have always found Sioban to be honest and hardworking. She is a credit to her profession and has played a pivotal part in the lives of so many students.