School report aibu to punish him? WWYD

(221 Posts)
Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:19:48


My son has just received an appalling report for his end of year. Basically he hasn't reached his target grades in nearly all subjects and his class work and prep is 'unsatisfactory'. DH is furious and I am disappointed - he is exceptionally bright but clearly not doing the right things to achieve.

He is a full time boarder and comes home some Weekends and holidays - which we thought was the right thing - but I am beginning to question the decision.He is in year 7

DH is threatening to take his beloved xbox and birthday present away and to make him work all the summer break.

WWYD - is it unreasonable to punish him or is this report just a reflection of him adapting to big school?

Eyesunderarock Tue 18-Jun-13 13:22:02

Does he like being at boarding school?
Why is he there?
What is the school's explanations for the grades?
What have they done to help him study?

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:22:09

maybe he needs more parental guidance and supervision..

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:23:31

Maybe the work is too hard for him?
Maybe he is having problems settling at big school?
Maybe he is being bullied or having other social problems?
Maybe he is lonely and unhappy and wants to leave so is deliberately failing?
Maybe he's just got the fright of his life and will knuckle down next year?
Maybe he's - ahem - not exceptionally bright, simply average?
Maybe his predicted grades were too high?

But maybe punishing him will be easier than sitting down and working out the answers to some of these questions?

DeepRedBetty Tue 18-Jun-13 13:23:34

Well I wouldn't have sent him FT boarding at 11. ~And I'd expect my school to have talked to me before the end of the first year if my child was making a pig's ear of things.

Depends! Of that's his genuine level and he's worked hard but is just struggling then no that's not his fault and ywbu to punish him.

If he's been deliberately lazy then yes.

BeauNidle Tue 18-Jun-13 13:23:50

Is this his first year boarding.

No I would not punsh.
Discuss it with him. Find out why it is going wrong. Is there something worrying him, or upsetting him.
I hate it when I read that parents go full on to punish without finding out the facts first.

RoooneyMara Tue 18-Jun-13 13:23:54

Sounds harsher than necessary tbh

Poor kid

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 13:24:02

I'd be looking for another school.
How exactly are you supposed to have an effect on his class work and prep if he's not at home. Is this the first report you've had? I'd be livid.

5Foot5 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:24:16

I think you need to talk to him about it first before wading in with the big guns. Can you discuss this with his form teacher or equivalent? I don't know how boarding school's work so I don't know if there is an equivalent to a Parent's Evening but there must surely be somebody you can take your concerns to.

Is he disappointed with his report or doesn't he seem to care?

It could be he has been lazy and silly in which case perhaps some holiday work to catch up would be in order. And a serious conversation.

But maybe he is having trouble adjusting or succumbing to peer pressure or something.

Basically I think you need to know more before you just react.

ImperialBlether Tue 18-Jun-13 13:24:30

That poor boy, that's all I can say. Even if he wanted to go to boarding school, even if he begged to go, how do you know he's happy there? He has potential and he's not living up to it so ask yourself why, rather than punishing him.

Your husband sounds like a bully, tbh.

pudcat Tue 18-Jun-13 13:25:24

Is he homesick? Is he being bullied? Are school's expectations too high? Is he really suited to boarding school? Does he miss his primary school friends? I would be asking myself all these questions before even thinking of punishing him.

diplodocus Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:05

So you're saying he's a full boarder at 11, and you're not sure if he should come home "some weekends!? How would that help at all?
If he's been a hard worker up until now surely your priority should be finding out what the problem is, not punishing him? What does he say? Is he happy at school? Is he homesick? Bullied? Angry with you for sending him away? Being "exceptionally bright" does not always mean you have the social skills to cope with such major change at 11.

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:12

I can just imagine a husband ranting about all the wasted money.. while an 11 year old boy is missing being at home with his parents..

ImperialBlether Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:12

I'm surprised that this is the first you've heard about his grades. I thought schools kept in touch with parents to tell them if they were slipping, either by phone, email or during parents' evening. Surely his school does that?

ParadiseChick Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:21

Oh dear. Surely the school should be keeping you up to date and contracting you about any issues?

Why is he boarding? Does he like it?

youbethemummylion Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:32

I would find out what was going on before punishing him.

I would also be questioning if the school is doing enough for him. Presumably if he is boarding and no one has mentioned this to you before then the school have failed in their job to encourage him to improve.

lottieandmia Tue 18-Jun-13 13:26:47

I don't think punishing him is going to resolve anything.

I would first of all want to find out whether he is generally unhappy about something - he's only 11. Could bullying be an issue?

If you want him to do better positive reinforcement will get better results than punitive measures imho. So you could give him an incentive to work for.

Eyesunderarock Tue 18-Jun-13 13:29:05

Didn't the school give some indication of problems before the shock of his end of year report?
How supportive have you been of him over the year?
How involved does he feel you are? What are his reasons for not having lived up to your expectations of him?

BeauNidle Tue 18-Jun-13 13:29:07

Oh and by the way, my ds's also go to a fee paying school (they don't board) but I take no notice of the target grades. I just look at the effort they have put in. If yours is similar there will be effort grades, and that is enough for me.
Speak to him, and find out what is going wrong.

IWipeArses Tue 18-Jun-13 13:29:58

This is a wind up surely?

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 18-Jun-13 13:32:48

Why on earth would you punish someone for a lack of attainment?

diplodocus Tue 18-Jun-13 13:32:48

I wondered that IWipe

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:14

Sorry meant achievement?

JakeBullet Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:37

He is 11 and boarding full time.

I would be asking how he is coping with missing home etc before punishing him.

I'd also ask the school why this is the first you had heard if him struggling.

More than anything I would be talking to your DS though. He needs his Mum and Dad's support and not their wrath.

Gubbins Tue 18-Jun-13 13:33:53

I'd have thought it more effective to sit down with him and try to get to the bottom of why he's not achieving as much as you think he should; not punishing him with no investigation of underlying reasons . And speak to the school about why you were not made aware that he was struggling earlier.

It's not clear whether you are questioning your decision to board him or questioning your decision to allow him home at weekends. If you think that having him under school supervision for more of the time would help then think again. My parents thought that my boarding, with supervised prep with my peers, might encourage me to work a bit harder but got it completely wrong. I ended up doing bugger all. As long as the prep room was quiet, no-one cared if I was writing my essay or reading Just 17 under the desk. I had had much more effective supervision at the kitchen table under Mum's beady eye.

JakeBullet Tue 18-Jun-13 13:34:36

If I was 11 and had the threat of work g all summer I would be rebelling big time. Good luck OP, he might become a very difficult teenager and this could all backfire.

BeauNidle Tue 18-Jun-13 13:34:52

IWipearses I doubt it. Very sad, but not unblievable.

Too many parents think that because they are paying their child will excel in every subject, which his horrific.

Poor boy.
My boys are happy, that is why we pay for their particular school. Not A* children, but comfortable with what they are doing, and the levels they are getting.

DontWannaBeObamasElf Tue 18-Jun-13 13:35:41

It's not fair to send him away from home and then punish him for it affecting his work.

When I was 14 I had a bad report/parents evening and my dad really laid in to me. It was horrible and made me feel stupid and worthless.

Don't punish him, support him.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 18-Jun-13 13:37:56

Perhaps you need to look at changing his schooling as boarding at this one is having a detrimental effect on his education.

Fakebook Tue 18-Jun-13 13:37:59

Poor boy.

How about asking him why he's not doing well instead of punishing him?

Ducking out of parental responsibilities and then being disappointed and furious at the end result. Good one.

Poor child. Sent away from home and then punished all summer.

You are presumably paying a lot of money for this. The content of an end of year report should never be a surprise. School are not doing their job properly if they haven't mentioned this before.

Oh wait, this is a wind up surely??

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:39:32

first post from an op who doesnt come back...


AnonYonimousBird Tue 18-Jun-13 13:40:20

If the end of the year is the first you have known about this, you need to be asking the school why the hell this has not been brought to your attention sooner!!!!

Porka Tue 18-Jun-13 13:40:29

Sorry but I think the school is shit if this is the first you have heard of it. Is there no contact with the school during the year? Is prep not supervised?

Either you son has undiagnosed special needs or there is something going on at school that prevents him studying. Either way the school should have spotted it. Frankly I would be straight on the phone to the school to find out wtf is going on and considering moving him to another school.

BeauNidle Tue 18-Jun-13 13:40:42

Of course, the other angle is, that he may be very happy at school, and settling in with all the messing about with mates in the dorms sort of thing and not getting alot of work done. In which case, he may achieve more next year. Removing him from school may not be the right option.

He has undergone huge changes in the last year, so a bit of leniency would be a good thing IMO

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:40:47

Sorry went to hang the washing out:

1. He wanted to go to boarding school - he had a choice (day and boarding) and choose this school over several others
2. He boards because we work erratically and didn't think it was fair that he would be doing homework when we might not be around (we have a good nanny but it is not her job TBH)
3. School think he is a daydreamer, lacks focus, lacks concentration, is the class clown etc.
4. The school have done lots in some subjects (where he is doing well) and not done anything in the subjects he isn't. He does have a very weak tutor
5. He gets significant guidance and support from us and our other family who live nearby- he comes home 1 weekend in every 3 and holidays. The staying at school over the weekend- he stays when his friends are there and comes home when they are not (excluding exeats)
6. The work is not too hard for him and he is working at level 7 in most of his subjects (but then again was before he left primary) it seems to be an attitude problem rather than capability
7. He is happy - we offered a day school to him (even during the May half term holiday) so it is not that (we think - nor do they)
8. He has had some very minor social problems to start with (one child in the boarding house) but it effected everyone and that seems to be all done and over now
9.We have had other reports - which have been variable, but this one is dire

Hope that answers the questions - btw DH is not a bully in any sense, he is worried about his son and how children are ever going to get a break in this world - and yes - like everyone else he/we both work hard to try and give them the best we can - if the state schools in our area were any good - he would have gone there

BalloonSlayer Tue 18-Jun-13 13:41:58

So you send him away to school all year, only have him home "some" weekends and holidays, and now when he comes home after the end of a year like that, you're considering taking away his x-box AND his birthday present and making him work all holiday?

I am sitting here open-mouthed with actual shock.

May I suggest a nice friendly local comp, where you get to look at his books every night when he brings them home, you supervise his homework and see where he is struggling, and where you can call the HOY or email teachers if you are worried. Oh and you save a bit of money.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:42:59

BTW they do have 1.5 hours of supervised prep a night - so I am thinking time is not the issue.

He has a lazy tendency also - which is reflected in his effort grades

We wondered if it may be that the primary was so supportive to the individual that now there are more kids to focus on, his is being left to get on with things.

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:44:03

How can his report be 'appalling' if he's doing very well in some subjects?

Could it be he needs stretching more? If he's bored and dreaming in class?

Don't feel bad about the boarding as many parents who are in the army and move around a lot etc choose this option for the stability and continuity and I think it's an incredibly brave thing to do cos you must miss him terribly.

I would focus on asking the school what their plans are to engage him

marchart Tue 18-Jun-13 13:44:52

I would ask to meet with the head of year, and ask what the plans are for helping your son move forward.

Is he disappointed with his report? Does he think it's fair?

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:45:43

We wondered if it may be that the primary was so supportive to the individual that now there are more kids to focus on, his is being left to get on with things

That is kind of the very definition of big school though. And many children dip when they move on to more subjects, self-led homework, etc. Sounds like that 'lovely prep' focused on getting them through the entrance exams rather than teaching independent study skills eh? Who'da thunk it....

WillSantaComeAgain Tue 18-Jun-13 13:46:01

"poor boy"??? FFS, none of you have the first clue about boarding schools. Boarding is not "being sent away" - some people, amazingly enough, love it and thrive on it. I speak from experience.

While its possible that the boy is miserable, it could very well be the exact opposite - the boy could be having the time of his life, having far too much fun with his new friends etc etc to bother getting down to the boring task of work.

Just because its boarding, it does not mean he's miserable.

But, OP (if you are genuine) - talk to him first. If he's miserable, you need to do something. I'd also be v disappointed in the school's pastoral care if he's miserable and you haven't heard about it from them. If he's loving it and it really is a case of not having worked hard enough, use this as a chance to set the ground rules for him. Year 7 doesn't matter, so far better that he gets this out of his system now. But the year before GSCE courses start (or whatever they will be) he really needs to be taking it seriously so he's in the right sets to achieve his potential in GCSE years.

If he leaves it till then, he could be too far behind, so next year he needs to start working.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:46:19

Thanks caffeine - I dont feel bad about the boarding - but clearly some other people do.

I will be speaking to the school about it as well - it seems that in some subjects there is some jostling to get them settled in - which means they are seated in friendship groups.....clearly very bad for my DS - but where he is in a set he performs better (Science, Maths, English)

ShadeofViolet Tue 18-Jun-13 13:46:57


Punishing him is beyond unreasonable, especially when you dont see him that much as it is. Why not try and get to the root of the problem rather than lashing out?

Do you want him to hate you?

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:47:11

Never seen the point in having kids if you just shunt them off to boarding school out of the way... sad

Children need their parents, and family life.

edam Tue 18-Jun-13 13:47:14

It's only been 20 minutes since the OP posted, give her a chance!

Melancholy, clearly you are upset but there's some good advice here and some very pertinent questions. You need to speak to the school to find out why this has come as such a surprise - why have they not spoken to you about ds struggling with his work before now? And you need to sit down with ds and find out what is going on.

Perhaps transition to big school, bullying, homesickness, perhaps the targets being set too high for him (even though you think he's super-bright, it can be a shock moving up from prep to a very academic senior school, where there are lots of very bright people which it sounds like this one is).

Does dh always over-react btw? Seems like an extreme response.

cazboldy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:48:20

i think punishment would be wrong about setting acheivable targets instead and then rewarding him?

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:48:27

He will only just have seen the report - so I dont know what to expect from him!

He is definitely living it up and having lots of fun - so maybe he just needs to knuckle down.

Not genuine! Seriously.......

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:49:50

Thanks Squeaky - personally I never saw the point in having children and not trying to do my absolute best for them, but thats just me

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:49:59

So again, he's doing OK in Science Maths and English, but his report is 'appalling'? I'm really not getting why everyone's world has fallen in for a report which simply seems a bit uneven... I suppose that's what happens when you buy in an education though.

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 13:50:54

You're not listening.
You've opted out of parenting him by sending him to boarding school and now you're wondering whether to punish him because he's failing.
Whether he says he wants to be there or not is a red herring. He could have all sorts of reasons for wanting to be there which don't mean he should be there; he's not the best judge of that because he's 12.
I've had 2 dcs at boarding school, one much younger, btw, so don't kid yourself that we don't understand the reasons he's there and the pressures you're under.
This isn't working.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:51:36

Yep Wilson - we did buy an education and for good reason. It is not so much his attainment (he will be sitting some GCSE's next year anyway) but his effort and independent learning grades which are appalling and the words used by the teachers - which describe many a boy that I have taught but I didn't think it was my son

You live and learn

IWipeArses Tue 18-Jun-13 13:53:17

do you see him enough to judge what he's like?

IWipeArses Tue 18-Jun-13 13:54:06

I mean, they change so much at that age.

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Jun-13 13:54:25

I think most 11 yo boys who are attaining, would find it hard to put in further effort. And as I said earlier, perhaps he's never been taught independent learning skills. Honestly, this sounds like a mountain out of a molehill. Tell him to pull his socks up. Let him fail. But don't punish him for being cocky enough to manage his work without putting in any effort.

xylem8 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:55:15

If he is working at level 7 in most of his subjects at the end of Y7, then he is doing very very well! If the school have set him higher target grades than this, then it is the school at fault! What grades did he get in his SATS-
Your poor boy is performing exceptionally well!
You should be giving him a big hug and taking him out for a meal to celebrate

xylem8 Tue 18-Jun-13 13:55:50

Oh and get him out of that crap school!

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 13:55:56

I agree that they change a lot during the months - we see him about every 2 weeks and sometimes more (his school is in a city that I fly into every 3/4 weeks) Over the Autumn and Spring terms we saw him about once a week - and his GP's take him out after chapel on a Sunday.

There is lots about him I dont know but there is lots we do (and even more when I used his phone the other day!)

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 13:56:28

It is normal for pre-teens to be hormonal,it is normal for them to need to adjust to new circumstances, it is normal for them to entertain a certain amount of rebelliousness.

The fact that you have worked hard to give your son a break doesn't actually change any of that: it is a nice thing you have been able to do for him (assuming that he is enjoying it), it is not a contract that binds him to become a high achiever.

But the chances of his achieving to the best of his ability will be greatly enhanced if you can keep channels of communication open. Ime knee jerk reactions are bad, bad idea with this age group.

Gubbins Tue 18-Jun-13 13:56:51

He sounds like me. I wasn't the class clown, but I was a dreamer, who was an expert at postponing work until the last possible moment, which was often after it was due in.

I loved boarding. The freedom, the lack of supervision (There were about 25 girls in my boarding house, with 2 members of staff looking after us. Poor women didn't have a clue.) the ability to muck around with my mates rather than getting down to my prep. I wan't naughty; the staff all loved me; but in terms of getting work done it was the worst possible situation for me. It wasn't until O levels when girls who were considerably less clever than me outperformed me by dint of sheer hard work that I began to suspect that I might need to put a bit of effort in.

Looking back I think the best thing for me would have been day school, with a tutor once or twice a week to stand over me and crack the whip.

gymboywalton Tue 18-Jun-13 13:58:35

how is he failing if he is working at level 7 at age 11?

that is exceptionally advanced.

his targets are too high.

Take the boarding away for a second. If there's a reason whereas he's upset or struggling or needs help then yes that needs intervention now and working with school to achieve this.

If the subjects he's failing in are genuinely subjects that he struggles with and won't achieve as well in as that's just his academic level and is doing well everywhere else then again that's just something you will have to accept and not punish.

But he's 11 and old enough to understand how to behave at some point the boarding issue has to stop being an excuse for disrupting classes and not putting effort in to his work. After all that's something you would tell any kid his age at state or private school.

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 13:59:47

"There is lots about him I dont know but there is lots we do"

see, I find that an incredibly sad thing for a parent to be saying about their CHILD...

mercibucket Tue 18-Jun-13 14:01:33

he was level 7 in primary, he is level 7 now? maybe primary had a funny idea of what level 7 is or something? i am not seeing a problem here, unless it is one of grade inflation

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:02:29

Squeaky - it would be sadder if you knew everything about your DC's - they have to grow into independant people and me not knowing everything about my 12yo is part of that. Heck - I dont even know everything about my 9 yo!

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:03:05

My ds is in Yr 8 and he isn't working at level 7 in any subject as far as I'm aware. I still have hopes that he will make his way in the world, if not necessarily in the way I had envisaged.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:03:57

Yep - his targets could be too high, that is possible - he is bright but kids grow into it and attainment changes over time - he may have levelled out?

lottieandmia Tue 18-Jun-13 14:04:43

Level 7 is surely very good for the end of year 7. I think you are being very hard on him.

It's also important to remember that children don't always make progress in a way that is linear. They may make leaps and bounds and then plateau the next for a bit.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:04:52

Very common for some overlap of grades between primary school and secondary ime: in primary you get so much support and they do sometimes tend to be a little kind in their interpretation of achievement. So it does look like dc are standing still or even dropping grades when actually they are just learning in a different way.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:05:34

and what lottieandmia said about the line of progress

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:05:49

Cory - I think you are definitely on the ball about the Primary....

piprabbit Tue 18-Jun-13 14:05:56

I'd be looking to the school - they have your DS under their influence almost full-time, they are professional educators, your DS has been struggling all year and they have not tried to address the issue with you, they are charging you for the privilege.

I would want to know a) if their expectations of your DS are reasonable b) when did they realise your DS was struggling c) what steps they have taken through the year to address the situation.

Thanks Squeaky - personally I never saw the point in having children and not trying to do my absolute best for them, but thats just me

See, I don't see the point in having children and then at the age of 11 shipping them off and only seeing them once every 3 weeks....but that's just me!!

I used to work with a guy who went to boarding school. He openly admitted to me that he didn't really love his parents as he hadn't lived with them long!

I must say though, when I was a kid and read the Mallory Towers and St Claire books I begged my mum to go to boarding school.....luckily what I wanted at that time was irrelevant.

PrettyKitty1986 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:08:11

What are his target grades? If level 7 is not hitting them?

To my knowledge of grades, isn't level 7 supposed to be above average for a year 9 pupil?

lottieandmia Tue 18-Jun-13 14:08:15

I don't think it's fair to judge the OP for sending her son to a boarding school. That isn't any of our business.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:08:22

I will be contacting the school - we were at a parents evening (should have been in January and they rescheduled for May).....none of this came out although we didn't speak to all teachers.

Thy pride themselves on their pastoral support, but they have 2 kids who are a bit problematic in the house and I think this may have been their focus - not excusable but understandable

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:09:25

His targets are 7 for most and 6 for those subjects he didn't do at Primary. They all suggest he is capable of it

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:09:43

I don't think boarding school always has to be the wrong option; I have known people who were very happy at boarding school and for whom it was almost certainly the best option.

But what I do think is harmful is the notion that you have to become a certain person, you have to achieve according to our expectations because we are paying. I have known people faced with that expectation to devote their adult life to disappointing their parents.

Scruffey Tue 18-Jun-13 14:12:52

The boarding aside, it is bad that the school only let you know this stuff in the end of year report. You should have been informed earlier.

At this stage punishment is not the way to go. You need to get to the root of the problem on order to find the solution. Rather than punishing, I'd get a tutor to fill in the gaps over the summer if I was in your position. If you suspect lack of effort, then a lecture would be in order as well!

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 14:13:24

I don't think it's fair to judge the OP for sending her son to a boarding school. That isn't any of our business.
It's not our business, but she's asked for advice and the fact that he's boarding is germaine to the issue here. The parents aren't happy with his performance although they're not in a position to change it as he doesn't live at home. The only time he is at home they're considering punishing him.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:13:38

Fair points - but it isn't about money or him achieving to our expectations ( i think this is true for my DH also - he has an upbringing which is related to much of what he wants for the kids) - it is about him doing the best he can - and we have told him that several time.

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 14:14:11

My stepchildren have all grown into being happy independent adults without the need to throw them out of the house before they even reached their teens.

I think judging regarding boarding school is perfectly acceptable as a personal opinion.

humptynumptyfall Tue 18-Jun-13 14:14:48

Do you think maybe he wanted to go to boarding school because he knew he would be so lonely at home?

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 14:15:14

Prioritise your relationships with him op. concentrate on finding a way for him to feel self motivated.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:15:16

Actually I don't know if boarding is relevant or not - this report could have come from a dayschool where there is no parent to supervise homework I suppose

Justfornowitwilldo Tue 18-Jun-13 14:15:47

I think it sounds like that isn't the right school for him. Not because he is unhappy (you think he's happy) but because he sounds like he needs more supervision and a push to focus and do his work and the school obviously aren't managing to do that.

I'd be very unimpressed if this is the first you'd heard of it from the school. I'd make sure to rule out unhappiness, bullying, difficulties with the work etc and then make it clear to him that if he doesn't try much harder and get on with his work and if you don't get reports of a much better attitude from his tutors by Christmas you will be looking to move him to another school.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:16:42

Ok so he had these targets. Set by the school, whether rightly or wrongly. And now he has failed to meet them.

Imo (and I think I have MN behind me here) one of the most important lessons in life is how we deal with disappointment. Our own and that of other people. Not living up to expectation. Things not coming off as they were supposed to.

The people he will look to as models for this will be you and your dh. So how do you deal with this disappointment? Do you rant and rail and throw your toys out of the pram?

Or do you approach the problem calmly and analytically, talk to him as an adult to try to decide if there is a problem and then discuss with him what he could do about it?

Whatever you do now is what he will learn from you. And that will decide how he reacts when later in life he doesn't get the job he was hoping for, or fails to get into the university he wanted, or the big business deal falls through.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:16:48

He was lonely at home - he has his brother but because of our location he didn't see his friends outside of school (unless we were at home or our nanny could manage it). He was also brought up in a boarding school - so it was quite natural for him really

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:17:46

Cory - that is really helpful, this is certainly now what i intend to happen

lottieandmia Tue 18-Jun-13 14:18:09

I don't think punishing him is the right thing to do, particularly in the situation described. Surely rewarding him for progress is a better approach at this age. Any child who has just started secondary school will need some time to settle in and will have to get used to a different way of working.

PrettyKitty1986 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:18:21

Why could you not supervise homework if at a day school op?

Are you not at home any evening?

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 14:18:32

I couldnt imagine putting my career and salary above my child.. thats just me.

The most critical point for me is your #9 "We have had other reports - which have been variable, but this one is dire"

So either his work and attitude has been "dire" for some significant time and the school hasn't properly drawn your attention to it before (which should never ever happen and reflects extremely poorly on the school) or your son's work has only tailed off in recent weeks and that's what the report reflects (in which case you need to get to the bottom of what's changed in recent weeks).

lottieandmia Tue 18-Jun-13 14:19:11

cory - very good post.

MrsOakenshield Tue 18-Jun-13 14:20:37

squeaky - you did read the bit were the OP said her DS had chosen boarding school? Because your comments suggest otherwise. The OP has stated that she and her DH work erratic hours - surely they are trying to give their DS some stability and a good atmosphere, like many army/diplomatic parents etc (I suppose you think they shouldn't have children either) - and it hardly sounds like he is unhappy, just perhaps not applying himself as he should to his education.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:21:02

Tolliver- good point, you can read between the lines on the teachers comments - and for some of them - it was a bit - he has been like this all year but we were initially optimistic. Maybe they saw his targets and expected him to be an awesome student - rather than an unsatisfactory one

Isatdownandwept Tue 18-Jun-13 14:21:15

I am finding it very hard to find the right senior school that will push academically able DCs whilst not hot-housing them, and am slowly learning to sniff out the ethos beyond the prospectus, but its still hard.

I can't say whether your DS is at the wrong school, or is not yet at the stage of being able to apply himself properly, but its one or the other and I'd be down at the school asking the head of year & housemaster some awkward questions. The pastoral support already seems poor by the fact this has come as a surprise.

If it were me and I loved the school I'd be inclined to give him next year to turn it round, with a view to lining up an alternative school for 13+ entry. And I wouldnt be punishing. If he loves the school enough he will try and if not you can find a school with a more ' interventional' ethos

By the way, the 90 mins of prep is a red herring. DS uses his prep time to read skulduggery books.

squeakytoy Tue 18-Jun-13 14:23:24

Yes, I saw that the boy had chosen to go to boarding school... because he was lonely at home.

Nobody is going to convince me that this is right.

Floggingmolly Tue 18-Jun-13 14:24:17

He's working at Level 7 in most subjects - so what were his targets and how far off the mark was he, exactly? It depends on what your perception of "dire" is, really...

xylem8 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:25:03

I would be very dubious about how is primary school arrived at deciding he was working at L7

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 14:25:41

I have a ds just a year older than yours who in many ways is very different from my expectations of him: he is not interested in reading, he does not care about doing well at school, he is not interested in the kind of career dh and I might have envisaged for him.

I have had to make a very conscious effort to distinguish between the kind of behaviour I expect of him because that is how decent people behave (e.g. not disrupting the class when his friends are trying to learn, not being rude to the teacher by deliberate laziness when she is working hard to support him) and the kind of achievement I might have expected of somebody sharing my genes.

The first is non-negotiable, the second is (in a sense) neither here nor there.

Especially as the last 6 months or so have revealed that he does actually have interests and is very knowledgeable in some fields, they are just so totally different from what I expected that I failed to see them for a long time.

babyhmummy01 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:25:52

melancholy I remember bring punished for appalling school reports so I don't think you are being unreasonable providing you are certain that the reason for the poor grades is laziness and not something more deep rooted.

Personally I would talk to him and see if it is a case of bored cos its too easy/too hard. If it isn't then perhaps given that he has only been there a year and lots of kids, esp boys struggle with the move from primary to secondary, it might be better to put something a bit different in place. Punishment is one of those words that for some means a loss of privileges ie taking away Xbox and for others it brings about images of beatings etc.

If it was me I would look at the following;

1 stop the privilege of staying at school at weekends enjoying time with his mates, make him come home and study for part of it til he can prove his work has improved

2 ask the school to change his tutor as you describe them as weak

3 ask the school for a weekly report on his progress

4 if u think the target grades are too high ask for them to be reassessed

5 when he does well or gets comments about significant improvement agree rewards for that ie earning a weekend at school with his mates.

Hope this helps, and ignore the posters criticising your choices, if I could afford private school for my kids when it comes time I would love to be able to send them as the stare schools nr me are rubbish! And if he wanted to board then why not let him have the experience, just be prepared to change him to a day school if he has found boarding too hard.

GibberTheMonkey Tue 18-Jun-13 14:26:18

If he's not yet 13 could you move him to a prep for the next year (or is it 2).
They tend to be smaller and the children less independent. It might give him the extra year or so to mature before moving up at 13.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:28:52

Gibber - that is an interesting idea, he is the smallest and nearly the youngest in his year. We did consider 13+ entry but he wanted to do it 11

BabyH- good plan - I will take this all on board

humptynumptyfall Tue 18-Jun-13 14:29:37

I'm sorry but no 11 year old is mentally mature enough to make a decision to be away from home for that amount of time.

He must feel like the family don't want him around..I couldn't be away from my children for that amount of time nor would I let them make such a big decision.

I think the school are expecting way to much from him, he will be hitting puberty and his mind body and hormones will be totally all over the place, on top of that he doesn't see his patents often enough to have the emotional support that he needs at this age.

And to be and your dh are expecting way to much from him as well

BalloonSlayer Tue 18-Jun-13 14:31:33

I would wonder whether the primary school ahem inflated his grades a bit, and maybe he was at a Level 6. Now he really is a Level 7 it looks like no progress.

I would also wonder whether he really is a level 7 now because Level 7 is a fantastic grade for a Year 7 student, and even if this is a top selective I would really doubt that someone getting Level 7s in Year 7 would be getting an "appalling" report.

IndridCold Tue 18-Jun-13 14:32:18

No, I wouldn't punish him, or make him do extra work in the holidays.

I would be having a talk with him towards the end of the holidays about school, see if there are any underlying problems and try and come up with some helpful suggestions on how to organise himself a bit better. Even though he is still young I found that if you begin to emphasise the fact that they now have slightly more adult responsibilities sometimes plays well; letting them know you are treating them like a grown up rather than a child can make more of an impact. You could even offer an incentive for improving his performance next year - very strictly enforced though, nothing too easy.

I would be wondering about the school though. Did they not raise this issue earlier? At DS's school we have full reports every term and I would have expected to have been alerted to this at the end of the Christmas term, not have it sprung on me at the end of the year! I would expect any school worth its salt to have tactics to deal with this themselves, (your DS is by no means the only bright dreamer out there) and to have already have put them into practice. I would also be wondering how it is that they don't seem to have managed to capture his imagination.

PiratePanda Tue 18-Jun-13 14:33:11

Seriously, plenty of children, especially boys, take a while to get into their academic stride in the teenage years. It really doesn't mean that they won't achieve well at A Levels of whatever.

I wouldn't punish him no; he will know you're disappointed, and he probably is too. Try to talk through the reasons why. If he hates boarding, consider a local day school (independent or state). If he loves it, or simply if he's been a bit overwhelmed by the transition, give it another chance. But do let him know that he matters to you (not the money), and that you're concerned to get to the bottom of what his anomalous grades mean.

Has he been told he is 'exceptionally bright'? Because both my experience and research has shown that children told this are lazier and less motivated to try than other children. He has coasted along at primary, now wants to coast along at Secondary because he is bright and doesn't think he has to work.

I was this kid. I got a hell of a shock at University. Sounds like his shock has come earlier.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:35:07

Balloon - I think that is the point - he is achieving target in several subjects and his teachers note this but the poor prep quality, performance in class and independent learning is where the report is very bad - where he is not achieving target - they say is due to these issues not capability.

nancerama Tue 18-Jun-13 14:36:20

There's a great book - How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. It might be helpful for you and your DH to read it before DS comes home and agree on a strategy to get him to open up.

I was privately educated, although not in a boarding school, but hated it. I was well aware that it was costing my parents a lot of money and I was scared to speak up in case they thought I was ungrateful. Every time I got a bad report, I was yelled at it was awful. The truth was I was struggling a bit, but didn't know how to ask the teachers for extra help and they didn't offer it. I was branded with the lazy brush and figured it was easier to go along with everyone's perception of me than to speak up.

I'm not saying this is the problem with your DS, but I hope you can find a way to get him to volunteer what is going on.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:37:30

MrsTerryPratchett - too true - he definitely thinks he can get away with things and coast along.

PP - I think the transition (work wise) was demanding but we thought he had got into the work - clearly not!

babyhmummy01 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:39:22

balloon you make a very good point about the primary school!

melancholy make sure ur dh calms down and that you agree on a plan before your ds comes home!

christinarossetti Tue 18-Jun-13 14:40:38

I've only skim read this thread but the two things that strike me are...

1 - if his report really is 'appalling', why haven't the school been in touch well before end of year?

2 - I think you and your husband need to talk about and think through your own feelings before doing or saying anything to your son. From being 'appalling' and not meeting his target grades in nearly all subjects in your OP, it seems that he's actually working well above his years across the board. I'm not sure exactly what you hope or expect from an 11 year old, but I think the problem lies here rather than with either your son or even particularly the school tbh.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 14:41:11

Nancerama - just ordered the book on Amazon - should be with me tomorrow. Thanks!

I will make sure everyone is calm - he is due off on a long school trip on Friday and dont think before this is the best time to raise it

Blu Tue 18-Jun-13 14:42:36

He will be sitting GCSEs in Yr 8?

Maturity and ability are very different things. It may be that he simply doesn't have the maturity to reach L7, let alone GCSE standard, and especially if he is young in his year. L 7 in subjects like English require quite grown up understandings of things.

I am amazed that an 11 year old can be expected to reach a L6 in subjects that they have never studied before - such as a language.

I would talk to him about specific points like prep being 'unsatisfactory', and talk to the school about the realisticness of the targets.

If he has had a nanny helping him structure his time , is he mature enough to manage his own prep and study time away from home? My 11 year old can barely remember to eat his breakfast, he is so scatty. He starts a piece of work and then forgets he is doing it. And he is a high achieving child.

I would go down a route of finding out how happy he is, how supported he is, and how realistic the expectations are.

In my book removal of sanctions is for bad behaviour - actual naughtiness. He needs to understand that under-achievement is it's own punishment as he is robbing himself of his own potential. And that you and the school are there to help him achieve the best he can.

Secondary transfer is a huge transition for kids.

Burmillababe Tue 18-Jun-13 14:43:47

Possibly going against the majority, but I agree with your DH - your DS needs to realise that working hard is necessary, everyone has to do it, and I believe it's a good message to learn at that age.

50shadesofvomit Tue 18-Jun-13 14:45:54

I haven't read the replies but I have a y7 son in a excellent comprehensive and I went to boarding school as a child.

First thing Id do is talk to your son and find out if he agrees with the report. If so, get him to talk about what he can do to change things.

The biggest lesson my y7 son has had to learn this school year is to organise himself. He has to make sure homework is done, he takes in correct books and kit etc. last weekend he asked me to replace stationery which was inadequate- all stuff that the school expects a y7 to learn this year.

I went to parents evening and met his subject teachers. In my opinion, some were overly strict eg. The history teacher moaned that my son and many of his classmates couldn't write essays properly but my son left primary with level 5 Literacy so must be able write something and if so many failed to write adequately then it's up to him to surely teach them how to write history essays?

My son is a daydreamer and has a good group of friends he likes to matter with but apparently it's not a problem as a quick reminder from the teacher to focus leads him to recover. His lessons are 50 minutes long so I think that learning to focus is just one of those things.

I would not punish your son. The summer holidays are needed to keep him fresh for the new school year and I think that it's the time to do stuff that he can't during term time.

Dackyduddles Tue 18-Jun-13 14:48:54

His school have highlighted his poor record just now and you want to punish your boy?

Where's the ongoing dialogue with the school your paying? I think all three of you are at fault but him least.

IWishIWasSheRa Tue 18-Jun-13 15:06:22

Cory has offered brilliant advice and op the book you were recommended is great.
Hope everything works out for you all.

allmycats Tue 18-Jun-13 15:35:01

Intelligence and maturity don't go hand in hand, so whilst he may well be able to function academically at a certain level he almost certainly won't be mature enough to use his own time effectively.

You must be aware that if he is attaining level 7 in some of his subjects then his report is NOT DIRE - you need to have a meeting with the school and your boy as to how to deal with the situation you and your husband feel you are in.

Perhaps he is not really at level 7 in all of the subjects, perhaps he does mess around a bit, and there would be something seriously wrong with a child of this age if they did not mess around.

You say that his year tutor is 'weak' - this would be my starting point, if
he knew your son was coasting ( and he should know because it is his job to do so) and not preparing his work as was necessary then he should have taken the situation in hand some while ago and workded with your son to help him manage his time more efficiently.

IMO you are putting too much pressure on your son to achieve what YOU want him to, not what he is capable of.

ConferencePear Tue 18-Jun-13 15:49:18

I would be worrying about the school rather than your son.
Why on earth are you only finding out towards the end of the year that he (for whatever reason) is not coping well.
I would be giving serious consideration to changing school. How would he feel about that ?

McNewPants2013 Tue 18-Jun-13 15:50:13

I wouldn't punish him, but if he is not working to his potential I would be threating that he will be home every weekend if improvement are not made.

Sparklysilversequins Tue 18-Jun-13 16:15:12

I went to boarding school for two years and I never did a stroke of work. This is because when I WAS at home my parents totally overreacted to everything I ever said or did and flew off the handle and terrorised me over school and parents evenings etc at the day school I was at. Never had a good word to say about anything i did. Quite frankly at boarding school and away from their OTT reactions to everything I simply couldn't be arsed to do any work at all, so I didn't.

Any chance this might going on? What with your DH being so "furious" about this?

ohnoudidnt Tue 18-Jun-13 16:17:32

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 16:27:07

Thanks ohnoudidnt - just the sort of sound advice and opinion I was hoping for

LiegeAndLief Tue 18-Jun-13 16:37:46

I went to boarding school. We had supervised prep as juniors but all that meant was you had to sit in a room for an hour quietly and look like you were working. No one actually checked what you were doing, and the supervisors were in no position to know whether you had even been given any prep. Maybe he's just found the transition to a greater level of personal responsibility a bit hard and will get better with maturity.

Remotecontrolduck Tue 18-Jun-13 16:40:27

Strongly disagree with with boarding school, maybe your circumstances mean boarding is the best option though. Anyway, that's irrelvant. Your choice.

I would be concerned that they've left it a whole YEAR to tell you this? In state schools I've experienced you usually get a termly outline of standard of work, approximate progress etc. I would go to the school before getting angry at your son.

Maybe he doesn't want to be there. Without wanting to be rude, isn't it your job to look after him and talk to him, with him being your son, that you chose to give birth to? Ok, that was rude. But it needs to be said.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 18-Jun-13 16:47:12


I could have written your post of 14:25 about my 12 year old.

How wise you are smile

wonderingsoul Tue 18-Jun-13 16:48:44

i think the school is to blame to for s ome of it, if he was struglinh you should have been made aware of it sooner.

how ever it seems he is getting good grades in some but not others.. well thats life you cant expect him to win in all of them, its just natural. even the ones hes not getting good it still seems to be at the level thats expected of his age.

which leads me to belive that ethier the school have set expertantions to high or YOU are expecting to much. imo its abit of both.

the fact you . or your dh think disapling him for when he is at home i find extreamly sad about.

enjoy your time with him, go out, actually get to know him and allow for talks about school to come freely with out pushing him or scaring him.

BalloonSlayer Tue 18-Jun-13 16:56:11

I do think it's sad that you seem to have "outsourced" all responsibility for his education to others [school] but then when it's not working well he gets all the blame, from both school and you.

He's only 11, he needs support, if he's not doing well. Which he isn't getting.

And he is doing well, actually. So he needs praise. Which he isn't getting either.

JohnnyUtah Tue 18-Jun-13 16:56:20

My younger boy is in year seven,in an independent school though not boarding. I wouldn't punish. I would talk as cory says. I would want to talk to the school in person ASAP - why is the last report so much worse than the others! What have they been doing?? I would want to talk to this year's tutor and also next year's before September, to sort out a plan. Twelve is very young, this might be the wake up call he needs?

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 17:01:06

Meloncholy, you're doing your son and yourself a disservice if you disregard all the advice you've had here because of one intemperate response.

Meloncholymum Tue 18-Jun-13 17:04:20

Thanks helpyourself - thankfully I have taken the advice and intend to put much of it into practice - although why you would have thought otherwise I cant think!

I came for advice and got it- along with a load of reasons why I am a bad all in all its been a useful afternoon

WireCat Tue 18-Jun-13 17:12:27

I would say he's ahead if he's going level 7 work in year 7. He's bound to struggle of some stuff.

Please look at the positives. For his sake.

WireCat Tue 18-Jun-13 17:12:44

Oh & you're not a bad parent.

Helpyourself Tue 18-Jun-13 17:13:52

You're not a bad parent. I think the school should take the lion's share of the responsibility and you should prioritise your relationship with your ds.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 18-Jun-13 17:19:27

I don't think you are a bad parent either. There is a lot of prejudice on this thread about Boarding Schools.

But having a 12 year old myself I think you do need to delve a little deeper, and probably cut some slack. I don't think removing X boxes, being furious etc is a rational response (from your DH).

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 18-Jun-13 17:21:50

Good post Blu

member Tue 18-Jun-13 18:01:40

I have a dd coming to the end of year 7 at a state comprehensive so accept that there will be differences between her experience & those of a fee-paying pupil.However, the highest level that she could be assessed at in yr 6 was a L6 with the introduction of the higher level SATS. At parents eve last week, I was told that she'd achieved 7a writing & 7b reading in her most recent assessments (English) with the teacher emphasising that is what she'd expect from top set yr9. At the same parents evening, it became apparent that the German target level was somewhat spurious, as to achieve that level, you have to know two tenses; the second isn't taught till yr 8!

I would therefore never punish for a poor grade, would praise him for the level he is working at but underline that knowing he is trying his best is more important than the numbers tbh

I don't think your a bad parent either. I believe he's there for the right reasons, you are doing your best to be as involved as possible and I don't believe that boarding school automatically means rejected, emotionally unstable upset children. Obviously there could be an underlying issue and I'm sure when you speak to the school that may well become clear. I think the school should well have informed you before now so that definitely warrants a meeting with the class teacher. I am surprised though at how few people seem to consider the possibility that he's not doing well because he's being lazy, messing about and not doing his work. I think it's quite clear that it would be that that would be an issues requiring action not the failing itself.

I hope you manage to resolve this op

Prawntoast Tue 18-Jun-13 18:10:36

Haven't read all the replies but I would never punish for attainment grades. A lack of effort is different and I would want to know why effort has been lacking. It's more difficult as you haven't got as much control over that with him boarding. I would be asking the school some very searching questions if this is the first indication that you have had that something isn't right. My DD is at an independent day school and we have a report each term, with effort, attainment, participation and behaviour in class grades for each subject. In addition if there are issues they are communicated to parents attention pdq.
Her junior school was somewhat lacking in communicating with parents regarding performance and it was one of the reasons that she didn't continue into its senior school.

derektheladyhamster Tue 18-Jun-13 18:26:53

Well this could have been my son last yr grin pretty good reports throughout the year, but when it came to the summer he slacked off and became complacent. He'd got used to the teachers and class.

We did let him know that we were really disappointed, but it's pretty hard to keep that disappointment up all summer grin

He's now in yr 8 and his attainment and effort grades are much better (although prep is still a bit slip shod in some subjects). His Housemaster I think also had a word about maintaining effort in his subjects, which made more of a difference than Mum and Dad moaning!

And yes, I think he was having too much fun boarding grin

AmberLeaf Tue 18-Jun-13 18:26:58

Level 7 at yr 7 is appalling?


hackmum Tue 18-Jun-13 18:43:56

I bet he knows how to spell "melancholy" though.

cosydressinggown Tue 18-Jun-13 18:59:49

A school report shouldn't come as a shock, if it's a good school. I'd be more concerned about lack of communication from the school throughout the year than your son's grades.

If he's failing this badly, there is a reason, and at year 7 he is only a child and so someone else has failed, not him. Even if he is lazy, that's not his failing - someone has not been supporting him enough, and since you've chosen to step out of the responsibility, you need to get cross at the people you are paying to be his parents for most of the year.

I feel sorry for him, very sorry indeed, and hope he is not punished for the failings of the people who are supposed to care for him.

Yellowtip Tue 18-Jun-13 19:07:24

I think you and your DH are being unutterably unreasonable, yes.

What are the domestic or social reasons for him being at boarding school aged 11?

RedHelenB Tue 18-Jun-13 19:19:57

The key things he is struggling with all require HIM to do it - quality prep, independent learning. I would have a chat with him to ensure that he understands that he will get out of life what he will put in. Private school pupils did traditionally suffer when I was at uni ( though I think with all the outside targets state schools are going the same way now)to work independently cos they were used to being spoonfed the answers.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 19:22:22

"If he's failing this badly, there is a reason"

What? Getting levels 7 in Yr 7? I hope you never get to meet my ds, cosy.

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 18-Jun-13 19:25:08

pushing a child to achieve if they simply cannot do it is like trying to roll treacle up hill.....messy, not productive and ends in a huge mess.

why not just accept that he is having problems. talk to the school. My dds school give several "mini" reports throughout the year, so we can monitor whats happening.

she was dx as dyslexic at 15. She had real problems putting what was in her head on to paper. With help, she has done much better, but i cannot ever ever see the point in punishing an under achieving child - there will be a reason. find it first.

I agree red HE would have to do it whether he was at a state school or a boarding school. I've lost count of how many people on mn who say that kids far younger should be independently doing their homework. Or be allowed to stay home for half an hour while mummy goes to the shop. I think people are just trying to make the op feel bad about having him boarding and ignoring the fact that 11 year olds are old enough to take some responsibility for their learning.

WhiteBirdBlueSky Tue 18-Jun-13 19:53:34

YABU to consider punishment for this.

Shitsinger Tue 18-Jun-13 19:58:53

Do you actually care how your son feels.hmm
This is making me feel sick - as long as your investment pays off and he gets the grades .Poor child.

echt Tue 18-Jun-13 21:25:00

My school has a very good rule about reports: no surprises. If the school has been doing it s job, then persistent patterns of poor work habits/lower than expected attainment should have been picked long before the end of year.

Don't they have interim reports? These are usually tick box, mostly work habits-based. Your son's school is not doing its job.

hettie Tue 18-Jun-13 22:29:24

mmme... well I think one of the things that it's important to remember is that there is a difference between ability and motivation....For me there was often a big gap between the two... I didn't do a stroke of work (over what I absolutely had to to now be thrown out) for much of my secondary school career. I still managed to achieve good results (although below what I could have attained). Motivation (work ethic- call it what you will) is a hard thing to teach or enforce, partly because it's related to fairly stable personality traits....You sound in danger of getting cross with him and focusing on what he does rather than understanding who he is... maybe he is a bit of a (smart) dreamer and will need to find something that really flicks his switches before he 'applies himself'. Does it matter? Does it matter what he does/ends up doing, or does it matter who he is (is he happy?)....

McGeeDiNozzo Wed 19-Jun-13 05:17:15

OK, I'm ex FT boarding, and I went to a school in the rear end of Yorkshire which had exeats every 3 weeks. Perhaps I can help.

Before that, all the people laying into the OP for the initial decision to send her kid to boarding school - it was actually the boy's decision, so cool it.

Some observations:

1. It's probably not likely that he's missing home. In my experience not very many boys were homesick, and the ones that were weren't really treated with a lot of sympathy by the other boys.

2. Peer pressure is much stronger in a boarding school environment than in a day school environment. On days, you at least get to go home to your parents and get away from Alan McSmell and his Cunning Plan to Superglue Mr Sproston's Hand to the Desk. Boarding, that is not an option. You will be pressured during school, and then, if you're unlucky enough to live with your pressurer(s), you will be more-or-less co-erced into pillowfights (yes they do happen), 'dorm raids' (where boys from one dorm go into another dorm and whack everybody with pillows) or the old Take Dave's Mattress And Hide It Two Floors Away in the Library game. So you'd want to check that he's hanging out with the right crowd.

3. There's just no point in taking away his exeats. I never, ever came across anyone at school who had been kept in over the weekend because their <parents> had taken disciplinary action: only ever the school.

4. Which brings me to my next point... expectations. Boarding school is a frightening mess of expectations, not necessarily of academic excellence, but of behavioural excellence. There are squillions of petty rules. Staying in line can be difficult, particularly if you're brainy - you'll want to rebel against the massive pressure to conform to what seem to be deeply unreasonable standards. At some schools, it's also difficult if you're not sporty, because excellence at rugby and cricket gets you a free pass with some teachers, and the reverse gets, well, the reverse. How to get around this? Find other extra-curricular stuff to be good at. It might be drama. It might be music. It might be computer programming. There is always tons of stuff to do.

5. Finally, prep time. With a softie teacher or a bored sixth-former on duty, it's easy to muck about in prep time, and I'm assuming your son does. They did in my day. They once glued a set of encyclopaedias to all the desks, one book for each desk. But the simple truth is that if you don't get work done during prep time, you're very unlikely to get work done at all. There is so much going on at other times. I can't stress it enough - he's got that 1.5 hours to do his work, and he should damn well use it!

I can't think of anything else at the moment but I'm sure I will later. Feel free to send me a message outside of this convo if you want.

luckymamaoffour Wed 19-Jun-13 05:55:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

I'm sure the op would live to have her child home. If you read what she's written you will see that her local state schools are crap. To you know what happens when people move around alot? They can end up with massive gaps in their education. This is exactly what happened to my dp who left school with appalling literacy problems. My six yr old can read better than him. This is because his parents didn't think stability was important and changed his schools constantly. And because they didn't fight to get him into a decent secondary. They made do with the shitty local one which failed him big time.

So yes I go think the op has the education of her son In mind as opposed to wanting to pass over parenting duties.

If you are lucky enough to not have to make that decision then good for you. But you only get one shot at a child's education. Schools vary enormously and we all want our kids to attend a good one rather than make do with bad ones just cos someone else may disagree that boarding is the right thing.

sashh Wed 19-Jun-13 07:08:37

I have no experience of boarding (other than Harry Potter and Enid Blyton).


I think when you transition from primary to secondary, from secondary to college / VI form, to uni then if there are going to be any wobbles it will be in that first year.

He is 11.

He wanted to go to boarding school. Did you just say 'yes OK' or did you have any expectations?

I worked with someone whose parents basically said she could go to boarding school as long as her grades were at a certain level, if they dropped she would have to leave.

Maybe draw a line under this but make a plan for next year, with him, you and dh and the school.

If he wants to stay there he has to work/behave.

He is doing enough and many 11 year olds do just that, enough.

cory Wed 19-Jun-13 07:35:54

For those, laying into the OP:

she has already accepted (in repeated posts) that punishments are not the way forward - you can stop agonising about that bit

she has explained why her ds is better off at boarding school- she does not explain the exact nature of her work, but it is clearly one that involves international travel, so she can't take him with her

she has also explained that their home (presumably for work related reasons) is in an area where the ds would not have access to friends

and that local schools are inadequate

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 07:46:01

Can anyone explain why level 7 at year 7 is appalling please?

Or are we talking about some other level 7 that I don't know about?

primallass Wed 19-Jun-13 07:47:13

Yes but cory all those things are choices. The parents do not have to live and work somewhere that makes it impossible to have their children live at home or have any friends close by, they choose to.

So everyone in the army, or in the medical field, communications field or any job that could require regularly moving or possible temporary transfers or postings it training should just not have kids or give it all up despite the end prospects mean supporting your family well. All be side some strangers disagree with boarding. hmm

Beside? Because-iPhone fail

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 08:07:03

There are lots of parents with children in boarding school who are not in the army.

For them it would appear to be a choice, but tbh being in the army is also a choice.

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 08:12:49

Can anyone explain why level 7 at year 7 is appalling please?

I am assuming it's because his effort is appalling and the comments about his attitude. The school has set targets for what he should be able to achieve (in their opinion) and he hasn't. There is nothing wrong with L7 unless you are actually more than capable of achieving much higher.

cornyblend37 Wed 19-Jun-13 08:13:35

Amber I also can't understand why L7 at Y7 isn't acceptable.
It's above average surely? confused

Helpyourself Wed 19-Jun-13 08:17:13

wheremy I think it's more that, for whatever reasons you send your DC to boarding school, as a parent you have to acknowledge that the input you have into your child's education is different than if they were coming home every night.
You can't influence a child who isn't physically present for most of the year in the same way as one who lives with you.

Alwayscheerful Wed 19-Jun-13 08:21:17

OP - I sympathise, I/ we have a DSS, at an independent day school, his reports are "dire" at the moment, not so much the results, which vary from good to below average. It is the attitude we are cross about, reading between the lines he is lazy, disorganised and occasionally disrespectful to teachers and other pupils. It's the classic case of class clown and dreamer, my DSS is a minimalist he will do as little as he can get away with. I feel some of the posts are harsh on you, can we please have some posts about motivating boys like ours.

cornyblend37 Wed 19-Jun-13 08:22:28

was he actually formally assessed as working at L7 at y6 or was this the Y6 teacher's opinion?

Level -4 level 7 level 50 it doesn't matter. If he's not putting work in and pudding about in class that's not ok just cos he still happens to do better than your kids. It's the la l of effort the op is concede ed about. Something that's not a result of boarding as he should be working independently wherever he was.

Pudding? Pissing-iPhone strikes again

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 08:30:03

My dc are at a day and boarding school (state). I know lots of the boarders, and their parents, and what you describe is a widespread problem, Meloncholy. Apart from the children who are very self-motivated, the rest have a fantastic time and do the minimum of work. Drives their parents insane.

JRY44 Wed 19-Jun-13 08:32:31

May I ask why you thought it was the best thing that he was a boarder, with just some weekends home? Does he have siblings? Maybe he is bright enough to think that if he misbehaves and doesn't work then you will take him out and he can come home?

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 08:34:48


I would agree about work ethic at boarding school. I boarded - had a reunion a few weeks ago & I had forgotten quite how naughty we all were (and I was generally seen as well behaved! I hid a lot of what I got up to). While the time set aside for homework was fine during the term I used to have to sneak off to the loo to do revision for tests or exams. BUT I was a girl and clearly, looking back, motivated, I can't imagine any of my boys coming up with that that idea - they need to be superglued to the table & growled at to do any work (I don't think this is ideal - I would love self motivation above brains tbh - but it seems absent in my boys and from talking to friends in many of their boys too).

valiumredhead Wed 19-Jun-13 09:06:50

I would presume ds was very unhappy or something was very wrong if he suddenly came home with a dreadful report.

Wrt your nanny - homework IS a nanny's job, of course it is!

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 09:09:37

it's more likely he's far TOO happy, valium. They have a fab time these days, no time to do any work. Even at prep they sit in a room with all their mates and an adult vaguely "supervising."

Then the school can just blame the child (which isn't unfair) if it doesn't do work in the allotted "supervised" time.

It's just a bit unrealistic. As I said before, only the really self-motivated work unless they are on their own with a parent glaring at them nearby...

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 09:10:05

I would presume ds was very unhappy or something was very wrong if he suddenly came home with a dreadful report.

In DS2's case, I would presume he was being lazy and the school had not properly applied the cattle prod.

valiumredhead Wed 19-Jun-13 09:12:07

I did post 'ds' as in my ds.

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 09:12:54


MortifiedAdams Wed 19-Jun-13 09:13:16

OP I am loving how much you claim to know about your own son - with whom you only spend a third.of weekends with and school holidays. HOw do you know what he is like - he isnt part of your daily life.

valiumredhead Wed 19-Jun-13 09:13:19

It's just a bit unrealistic. As I said before, only the really self-motivated work unless they are on their own with a parent glaring at them nearby...

Snort grin

JRY44 Wed 19-Jun-13 09:36:58

hullygully I did read the thread - my questions were why does he only come home some weekends - as a parent I would want to see my child every weekend regardless of whether he wanted to stay with his friends or not. It was aimed at why the parent didn't insist he came home.There is mention of a sibling, not siblings - wondered if there was more than one. My point was maybe he is not trying (although L7 is not underachieving!) because he wants to be at home - but doesn't feel he can tell his parents for fear of upsetting them.

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 09:45:25

My point was maybe he is not trying (although L7 is not underachieving!) because he wants to be at home - but doesn't feel he can tell his parents for fear of upsetting them.

Given he is choosing to stay with his friends that seems rather unlikely doesn't it?

Badvoc Wed 19-Jun-13 09:50:09

Why is a level 7 in year 7 bad?

It seems his problems are more to do with his effort and behaviour rather than actual attainment.

Behaviour in class, yes that can be addressed by talking to the child about it.

A day dreamer is possibly under-stretched, something to look at.

And the tutor's role would need examining; what is he/she actually doing to help the child? And what is the school doing?

Effort, well, moving from primary to secondary is quite a step. It's a change from the lovely support you get, to having to work independently, and many children have trouble making that adjustment.

In addition, working independently requires new skills that aren't always taught as in my experience quite a few teachers seem to believe a child will magically acquire those skills.

At DD's state day school, they have a weekly lesson they call cognitive learning. This is how the school is teaching them the skills to work independently, how to research, how to think around problems,in fact, many of those useful skills that aren't part of a subject but which will help them to achieve their targets. These lessons are proving to be very useful. DD is top set for most subjects (except PE, bottom set there, she's never going to be sporty grin).

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 10:03:04

Why is a level 7 in year 7 bad?

There is nothing wrong with a 7 unless you are capable of more and are doing no work. As the OP said right at the start: he has not achieved his target grades, which the school believe he is capable of achieving.

ChestyNut Wed 19-Jun-13 10:06:27

He chose to board?!

An 11year old may also choose to eat nothing but sweets and energy drinks and play x box all sure that choice wouldn't be allowed.

Seriously can't understand why people have DC to only see them a weekend or two out of a month sad

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 10:13:17

Level -4 level 7 level 50 it doesn't matter. If he's not putting work in and pudding about in class that's not ok just cos he still happens to do better than your kids

I don't recall mentioning how well my kids have done? and actually it does matter because because by no stretch is level 7 bad!

It's the lack of effort the op is concerned about. Something that's not a result of boarding as he should be working independently wherever he was

No I disagree there, if one of my children is not making enough effort, I can have a daily input into that and supervise what happens, that can't happen with a boarder, so maybe the OP needs to press the school on what supervision is given?

Badvoc Wed 19-Jun-13 10:20:33

If I were the op I would be much more concerned about the fact that the school did not mention any of their concerns until e end of year report!
That is dreadful practice and would never happen at my sons state school.

So are you all saying that secondary school kids, kids trusted to get to and from schools themselves maybe even left home alone , should not be able to sit down for half an hour and do some work without mummy breathing down their neck the entire time?god no wonder so mAny kids don't ever leave home cos they aren't taught to think for themselves!

Hullygully Wed 19-Jun-13 10:58:36

not "should not"

more "can't be"


olgaga Wed 19-Jun-13 11:01:18

I'm surprised this is the first you've heard of it!

I'd be going in with the big guns to the school, not directing them at your son. He clearly isn't getting the support he needs.

pianodoodle Wed 19-Jun-13 11:02:13

I haven't read the whole thread just the OP but without wanting to be rude - it could be a combination of other factors too - but how sure are you that he's exceptionally bright?

I wouldn't be happy with the tone of lack of warmth and lack of support I'd be picking up from a report like this from a school who are not only providing an education but also care for my child.
Would seem to me that they're trying to encourage a culture of blame of child and unrealistic expectation which I find very negative.
He's doing well, he's settled well, what more do they and you want of him ?
If they've given him these high targets I'd be expecting them to help him to reach them ! They can't pass the whole buck onto him, he's only 12 !
Also, he's doing well anyway, and I'd expect more acknowledgement and praise of that fact, especially in his first year as a boarder.
Basically not a balanced, supportive, or warm report.
I'd be much more unhappy with the school than with my DS.

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 11:06:10

No Im not saying that at all Wheresmycaffeinedrip.

Im saying, if an issue arises, I am available to address it if need be.

I have two secondary aged children and for the most part they get on and do what they need to do...independently.

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 11:16:22

if one of my children is not making enough effort, I can have a daily input into that and supervise what happens

Are you with them at school, supervising them? I am a SAHM and I have no input as to whether my children are putting in the effort during the school day.

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 11:18:01

because because by no stretch is level 7 bad!

It is if the child is capable of, say, level 8

EugenesAxe Wed 19-Jun-13 11:23:34

I agree with Blu and would advocate a nurturing response here. He's either lazy, or rebelling because he's unhappy and wants your attention. Punishment risks either making him rebel more to play into your image of him (in spite of his own future prospects depending on it), or seek more drastic ways to get your attention.

I also think everyone saying that the school needs to buck its ideas up has a point.

ilikemysleep Wed 19-Jun-13 11:36:42

I went to boarding school (parents working abroad in country with no affordable secondary provision). I coasted through y7, did very little, and came top of my year. This was because my y7 work was entirely work I had done at primary. It made me very lazy. Year 8 I thought I could do the same, and came half way down the class, which was a tremendous shock to me. I don't recall my parents ever saying anything about it, but it taught me that I cannot do lbugger all and expect to be right at the top. It was a very useful lesson to me. I would not say that I totally transformed, but I never did that badly again, I did enough work.

My dh went to a rather crappy 80s comp and a sixth form college, got very poor results given how bright he is, but with no work. He didn't learn his lesson in how to fail until university (for some reason they let him in without required A level grades, he scraped through 1st year and crashed and burned in second year ). He still says failing that year at university was the most important thing he ever did. He now works very hard, is a company director on a very nice salary. I'm sure if he'd kept in scraping through with no effort, that wouldn't be the case.

But this is happening in class amber you aren't there then.

Badvoc Wed 19-Jun-13 11:41:21

Perhaps the schools targets are unrealistic?

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 11:41:56

Are you with them at school, supervising them? I am a SAHM and I have no input as to whether my children are putting in the effort during the school day

I meant at home in the evening, but Im sure you knew that really. Surely it goes without saying that I am not at school with my children.

The point is, as my children are not boarders, I can have that daily input.

because because by no stretch is level 7 bad!

It is if the child is capable of, say, level 8

No it isn't. It may not be what the child is capable of achieving, but it is still not bad.

GiveMumABreak Wed 19-Jun-13 11:47:38

Maybe he is missing home?

My son is in year 7 and has needed constant support, encouragment and more love and attention this year than ever before.

It has been a challenging and gruelling year helping him learn how to be more organised and take responsibilty for his belongings, homework, revising for exams etc. (but he has excelled this year, emotionally, socially & academically)

I think he needs more support from you, and not punishment?!?

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 11:48:10

But this is happening in class amber you aren't there then

Lots of things happen in class when Im not there, but I am available daily to address those issues and I do.

valiumredhead Wed 19-Jun-13 11:50:15

Given he is choosing to stay with his friends that seems rather unlikely doesn't it?

Possibly not. I remember watching a programme a couple of years ago, maybe a Dr Winston Child of our Times, there was a teenager who on the surface LOVED boarding, never wanted to come home as he had too much fun with his mates and was too busy doing activities. When pressed though he said he found going home too hard as it made him realise how much he missed his parents/home life and it was just easier and less upsetting if he stayed at school.

mumeeee Wed 19-Jun-13 11:56:38

Children in year 7 quite often go down a bit from the grades they were getting in year 6. The levels sound the same but they are actually different hope that make sense. Also year 7's have q lot of changes to cope with, Secondary school is much bigger than primary schools. You DS has had an even bigger change as he now boards, I wouldn't punish him yes have a talk to him about his report but give him a break and let him enjoy his summer holidays. I would contact the school and ask them why they haven't made you aware of? these problems before.

SoupDragon Wed 19-Jun-13 11:59:03

Well, Amberleaf, you may think that a child under achieving isn't bad but I do.

And yes, you may well have meant you have input at home but the point is , no matter how much input you have at home you have no influence into what they do at school. Which is where the OPs son is.

And yes, you may well have meant you have input at home but the point is , no matter how much input you have at home you have no influence into what they do at school. Which is where the OPs son is.

But that was her whole point -- that parents of children at non-boarding schools have regular touchpoints with them in the evenings to pick up on any issues, and that parents of children at boarding school don't. So either (a) don't send them to boarding school (which is the approach of many posters on this thread) or (b) you need to be sure that the supervision they are getting in the evenings is good and can properly substitute for that level of parental involvement (which is what I think Amberleaf was saying).

A child slightly underachieving but still very significantly ahead of expected levels for his age may be "bad" but is it really "dire" and "appalling" and something that merits consideration of being punished all summer? And that's leaving aside the points that others have made that his primary levels may have been over-inflated (which the OP has agreed could well have been an issue with his primary) and that even if they hadn't been over-inflated it's very common to level off a bit in Y7 as you get used to a different way of working and being assessed. So the OP's son may not really be underachieving particularly anyway -- it may be that incorrect targets were set. Certainly when the OP saw and talked to the staff teaching her son in person no more than six weeks ago none of them suggested that he was underachieving.

valiumredhead Wed 19-Jun-13 12:16:29

Very true about the 'year 7 dip mumee

AmberLeaf Wed 19-Jun-13 12:19:14

Thanks TolliverGroat, yes, that is what I was saying.

I agree with your second paragraph too.

And would anyone care this much about a comparable Y7 at an ordinary (state school) ?
It's like the annual Trinity/Whitgift thread ... can you imagine anything similar for your two local schools ?!

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 19-Jun-13 13:06:30

It might be that during prep he chooses to spend the time on the subjects he enjoys/with a strict teacher rather than on subjects he does not really like/can get away with scrappy work in. He is an 11/12 year old boy. Whether he wanted to go or not this year has been a huge change for him. Work missed in Year 7 can be caught up but fully adjusting is far more important. If the school have not brought this up before I would guess that certain teachers have not been very proactive and so, being an 11 year old boy, he thought it was fine to carry on as he has been.
I would just have a talk with him about doing better next year and perhaps have a push over the summer on how to organise yourself.

mountainspring Fri 05-Jul-13 01:11:49

He's probably working hard on his social skills which takes a lot of energy and perhaps a reason why he chose to board.

This skills improvement may not have surfaced yet or be on his report - they don't set 'levels' for these - but there's no such thing as a lazy child, only one that's busy in an area you can't see or don't know about.

So, like all children, he is a survivor and knows what he needs to work on better than his teachers or parents.

When he's got these skills sorted and he's happy with him, he'll be strong enough to resist peer pressure and start working. The worst thing you can do now is show your lack of confidence in his good intentions causing a loss of the confidence he's been working on.

Social skills don't come naturally to everyone, especially to boys - and they are hard work to develop - adults go on lots of courses to improve them because they bad ones hold you back - well, maybe he won't have to go on all these courses as an adult now?

I wouldn't undermine his choices just yet and only suggest a move of school if he insists that's what he wants.

Innacorner Fri 05-Jul-13 07:50:15

Level 7 at year 7 is actually very good isn't it? But what do I know, my DC attend a state school?

Floggingmolly Fri 05-Jul-13 09:19:07

Of course it is, Innacorner. But that's the point, isn't it, op would not have posted about punishing him for his appalling report if he'd got Level 4's...

stealthsquiggle Fri 05-Jul-13 11:31:13

OP - this didn't come as a shock when you got the report, did it confused? If so, what other feedback do you get from school. DS's (mostly boarding) school send monthly work reports, which are focused on effort rather than attainment, with attainment content only in end of term reports.

I wouldn't punish him. I would sit him down and do the "serious talk" about next year and what the impact of coasting through it would be - presumably he will be doing CE? ..and then have the same talk with the school, because if he is bright but lazy then the day to day job of keeping his nose to the grindstone is theirs

internationallove985 Fri 05-Jul-13 12:08:05

I think your D.S needs both yourself your D.H and his boarding schools support not punishment!. xxx
Talk to him and see how you an make things better and discuss with the boarding school what can be done to help your D.S
Perhaps the whole top and bottom of it is is that he is missing you. However I wouldn't pass judgement on you for putting him boarding school as I don't know your reasons. xxx

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