One of the most important decisions that a parent of a child with ADHD will undertake will be to have carefully chosen the most suitable secondary school which can offer the level of understanding and support required.
It is a big jump from primary to secondary school for all students, but especially for those with ADHD with the range of variables that come with the secondary school experience.
Examples include the potential of independent travel and the organisational skills required to negotiate up to 10 different classes on potentially a two week timetable.
The choice of school that parents will make should be both informed and also pragmatic and some of the issues that parents will need to consider are the following:
- The attitude of the Head and Senior Management team of the school with regards to ADHD. Is the school committed to inclusive practice and have they had training with regards to supporting children with the condition?
- How will the school support organisational issues and do they have a policy of differentiation of class work and supporting longer term assignments?
- Does the school have adaptive plans to support issues of homework?
- How will the school plan to support students with ADHD in non-structured time including breaks, lunches and field trips?
- Has the SENCO experience of supporting other children with ADHD in the school and how do they communicate with teaching staff on issues of teaching and learning?
- What is the level of pastoral and behaviour management support?
- How often will the school communicate with parents i.e. on a daily, weekly, monthly basis on learning and behaviour issues? Will this be by email, phone, text or face to face meetings?
- Who does the parent contact if they have information they wish to pass on?
- What is the schools attitude to potentially working with outside agencies on behalf of the child with ADHD?
- What are the arrangements if the child needs to take medication?
And one last tip and probably the most important for parents to consider is that don’t think that you are lucky to have found a school for your child. Think instead that the school is lucky to have your child.
Fin O’Regan, Behaviour and Learning Specialist www.fintanoregan.com