This is the story of Rory’s journey so far through primary school – the challenges he has faced, his hard work and subsequent achievements which we have all celebrated along the way. Rory started at our local primary school in 2014 at just 4 years and 3 months old with the educational odds stacked against him as a summer born boy, with a learning disability.

We always wanted him to attend the same school as his sisters and pre-school friends and were aware of the research which concludes that children with Down’s syndrome make better progress in all aspects of their learning if they attend inclusive mainstream settings. Unfortunately It wasn’t all plain sailing as when we applied initially, the (then) Head teacher suggested there were ‘other schools more suited to meeting his needs’.  Thankfully there were other schools more suited to meeting her needs, (namely training in inclusion!) and she moved on. The new Head teacher’s fully inclusive approach has fostered a strong partnership between home and school and this has been the key ingredient in Rory’s successful inclusion in all aspects of school life.

During the first couple of years in school, Rory was diagnosed as having Sensory Processing difficulties.  Rory’s school (and in particular his brilliant Teaching Assistant – Mrs Stride) have worked (and continue to work) really hard supporting Rory to self regulate his sensory seeking behaviour. UpsnDowns offered invaluable support in the form of an Occupational Therapist who gave school practical strategies using weighted products (like lap pads), adding weight to his back pack, sensory circuits and regular ‘fun’ OT breaks, built into his visual timetable. In addition, UpsnDowns have supported Rory’s learning through monthly Speech and Language sessions, fund matching to purchase sensory products and regular training for Rory’s teachers (in the specific learning profile of children with Down’s Syndrome) as part of the countywide educational training the charity provides.

National standardised tests are never going to give Rory (or children with SEND) a chance to shine. However, with the support of his teachers, his family and UpsnDowns, he has shone in so many other ways. There are many highlights of his school career so far; winning star of year 3 for PE , school performances (mostly freestyle and ad libbed!), star writer award in year 3, getting his pen licence, receiving the head teacher award and regularly winning the lunch time supervisors award for eating his cabbage (and everyone else’s!).

Rory’s Head teacher wrote this comment in his end of year 3 report (summer 2018)

‘It is a privilege to have Rory in our school – he inspires us all with his positive attitude towards school and the amazing progress he has made this year’

It has truly been a team effort and there have definitely been ‘UpsnDowns’ along the way (and we’re not complacent about the bumps in the road ahead!). However, Rory’s experiences are testament to the fact that, with a truly inclusive approach and the right support, it is possible for children with Down’s syndrome to succeed in primary school and beyond.