Finding Meath School
Trying to find a primary school for Peter* seemed to be one of the most difficult challenges we had faced. We knew he wouldn’t be able to be truly included in a mainstream school where he was one of a class of 30. I imagined him spending most of his classroom time with a Teaching Assistant doing separate activities as he would not be able to keep up with the pace of the mainstream class. I dreaded to imagine how he would manage playtime in the playground. In addition to his difficulties with communication and speech production, he is also visually and hearing impaired and we didn’t know where we were going to find a school which would be able to accommodate all his needs. After much deliberation we decided that his vision and hearing couldn’t be altered and any school would have to make the accommodations needed to let him access resource such as enlarged print, but his communication skills were an area where improvements were still possible and that was what we decided to focus on.
A friend suggested we visit I CAN’s Meath School, and from that initial visit I immediately knew this was a school where Peter would fit in, where he would be included as a true member of his class, and where he would, fingers crossed, thrive. The small class size and welcoming school seemed a more gentle environment than the average primary school and we knew that would support his sensory needs. But Meath also appeared to be somewhere he would be robustly challenged to learn and develop.
It’s hard to convey exactly how nervous we were before he attended the two day assessment, but I remember sitting in the car outside knowing this was a huge chance for him and hoping that the staff would “get him” in the short time available and see the potential to develop his communication skills.
The assessment went well, and we then held our breath for a few days whilst we waited to see if Meath would feel they could meet the other needs – in addition to the speech and communication needs Peter has…when they said yes we were elated!
Now 6 years on we are about to embark on the search for a school once again! As Peter has just one and a half years left at Meath before it’s time for him to move on to Secondary school. It’s not something we are relishing as his parents and it seems hard to imagine that he’ll be fortunate enough to find somewhere which fits his needs as well Meath School.
But one thing I am sure of is that Meath has set him up to succeed at the next stage of his education – his speech has improved massively and the intensive speech therapy he has received at Meath has certainly had an impact which will benefit him for the rest of his life. Not only has his ability to communicate improved, he has exceeded our expectations in many areas of the school curriculum and definitely achieved our number one aim which was to be a fully participating member of his class and school.
If you are looking for a school for your child with speech and communication issues, I would urge you to arrange a visit to Meath.
For more information on I CAN’s Meath school go to www.meathschool.org.uk
*Name has been changed