Boarding dilemma

(240 Posts)
difficultpickle Wed 25-Sep-13 23:34:28

I've name changed for this thread as under my usual name ds is pretty identifiable.

Ds did flexiboarding last year and loved it, so much so that I had to limit the number of days he did as I thought he was too young to do as many as he wanted (year 4). Now in year 5 he doesn't want to board at all.

My dilemma is that he needs to do some boarding nights to stay at the school as it is too far to drive every day. Also the activity he loves doing at school means that he should be doing some nights boarding and building up to weekly boarding over the course of the year.

I have said to him that I have no problem with him choosing not to board but that he will have to cease the activity he loves and change schools to one that is more local. He was more upset at that than at the thought of boarding. However he still says he won't board.

Not sure what to do. Do I perserve with his existing school (which he loves, has lots of friends, has support that he needs and gets to do an activity he is passionate about) or do I move him (he will know a couple of people there, bigger class sizes, limited support - he would need a statement which may be hard to get, no possibility of continuing the activity he loves)?

IndridCold Wed 29-Jan-14 18:24:07

Oh dear, it sounds like you have one heck of a year ahead of you! Wishing you, and your family, love and strength - especially over the next few months.

Very best of luck with your treatment and I hope things get back on track for your DS.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 26-Jan-14 11:21:00

Also thinking of you and ds. I hope your treatment goes well and things look up for you both. thanks

Paintyfingers Sat 25-Jan-14 23:23:14

Thinking of you and DS thanks

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sat 25-Jan-14 23:13:39

Oh I pray that things may get easier with the school from now on.

I hope you will have all the support you need during your treatment. And some luck.

Honestyisbest Sat 25-Jan-14 23:01:13

Very best wishes for you with your treatment and to your son, hope you both gets lots of support. Xx

RandomMess Sat 25-Jan-14 20:37:16

I am so sad to read your update that your treatment is going to be even more severe than you initially thought.

I've been periodically thinking about your ds and wondering how it is going.

Big hugs to you both x

happygardening Sat 25-Jan-14 20:33:25

Good luck with your treatment OP and let's hope your RS now gets the support he needs from his school.

summerends Sat 25-Jan-14 18:07:08

Difficult with all going on with you, you must think the head's behaviour and previous lack if action laughable. I continue to think it is outrageous, even if he did n't realise exactly what was going to happen with your treatment. Luckily you have the strength to continue being politely insistent and it sounds as though you may be getting somewhere for your DS. Keep us posted if you have the time.

difficultpickle Sat 25-Jan-14 13:45:51

Bit of an update on 'my' thread (sorry very long)! Good news is I have two 100% matches for a transplant. Bad news is cancer has developed and I now need chemo before I have the chemo for the transplant. Found out this week I will be in hospital for nearly 6 weeks with this first lot of chemo - 10 days chemo followed by 4 weeks monitoring to see if it is worked but may take longer. I was told mid December I'd need chemo but was told it would only be 3 week in hospital.

At the start of term ds wanted to board. I emailed to say he would be boarding one night starting the second week of term and got an email and phone call from the head telling me ds was 'banned' from boarding and that I shouldn't make promises I can't deliver hmm

I politely pointed out that bearing in mind the success or otherwise of ds's boarding was due to be reviewed at half term and this would be hard to do if he wasn't allowed to board. Needless to say ds's behaviour at school deteriorated as he associates boarding with being a choirster and sees the ban as a ban on ever resuming his chorister position.

I got called in for a meeting and I think the head had a light bulb moment and finally understands quite how ill I am (hard as I look very well). I think like most people he thought that I have cancer, I'll need a bit of chemo, a few new blood cells and I'd be cured. I was able to communicate the difference with the chemo I will be having (consultant described it as 'brutal) and my odds (100% chance of being dead in 2 or 3 years without a transplant, 25% chance of being killed by the transplant).

The head said that he saw no reason why ds couldn't be a chorister without boarding, albeit he needs to board to be a 'full' chorister. Apparently the decision to suspend ds from being a chorister was done without his involvement and he doesn't know what was discussed at the meeting (he does from me as I told him in December but he seems to have made no effort to talk to his staff members who attended the meeting).

Needless to say I was left rather gobsmacked. There is a meeting this week with the head and the psychologist (head asked to met psychologist end of last term but he (head) has not made himself avaliable despite repeated requests). The psychologist is fab and I have every confidence she will be able to help move things forward. Also attending will be the ed psych who originally identified ds's severe anxiety. She is fab too and works closely with the school and really likes ds. I am not allowed to attend as it is a meeting for 'professionals'. I have asked, and the head agreed, for the meeting to be minuted.

Fingers crossed things get sorted soon. I have to go into hospital next month and will most likely have the transplant in April (if they manage to get rid of the abnormal cells first). It means I will be out of action for months so I am keen to get some sort of resolution for ds before I become too ill to do anything.

On a positive note my employer is being absolutely fab and hugely supportive.I wish ds had 10% of the support from school that I have from work.

Mary2010xx Sun 15-Dec-13 12:32:02

DP, very sensible. I was told by my solicitors (on divorce) that my children's father would have rights to those of the children under 18 if I died even though the children would not want that and even if we said otherwise in my Letter of Wishes (in our case he has not had much contact for a decade, pays nothing etc and older siblings would have the younger children if I were to die). However I did not seek the kind of waiver you have and thankfully in my case I am well and secondly the younger children are heading for 16 anyway.

Make sure any funds are not given to the person who has the residence of the child in case the father ignores the waiver and claims the child to get control of the money.

I knew someone whose wife sadly died. They were not estranged but she thought her husband would use her money after death for things other than the children's education (he was not as committed to private schools as she was) so she left her half of their assets to her mother and sister for the education of the children. He accepted it in good part as he loved her and her relatives now pay the school fees etc. out of that money. I am side tracking a bit , sorry.

It sounds like you are very well organised and he will probably stay at the school. Hopefully you will get through your health issues anyway. Good luck. Do make sure your life insurance and pension policies are in trust for the child so they fall outside of inheritance tax. If I die as I have no spouse my children are homeless as we have to sell the house to pay 40% IHT although of course they could buy a small house or flat after that so it should be okay.

summerends Sun 15-Dec-13 12:24:24

Difficultpickle, having prepared for the absolute worse, you can now start being realistically optimistic again. I assume that if he is not back to boarding again by the time you have to be admitted, you have friends to look after him. Although circumstances with the school have been singularly unhelpful, it must be a good thing to have the input of a psychologist at this stage to help to deal with chronic worrying sooner rather than later in life

antimatter Sun 15-Dec-13 12:15:18

Very sad yet it was predictable how school would act. Imho they show that they are incapable of looking after kids in their care.
Have you written to the governors yet?

difficultpickle Sun 15-Dec-13 11:58:22

Thanks again. Not overly worried about funding. If I die ds will be the beneficiary of a net estate of over a million. In any case his chosen guardians would also be able to fund school. One of our favourite senior schools is close to where they live so that will be a good option in the event I don't survive until ds is senior school age. No father contact (father's choice) and I am presently getting my will updated and letter drafted for him to sign waiving his rights to ds.

Mary2010xx Sun 15-Dec-13 10:47:58

Having read that post last night and given just before I was advising to go by what the boy wants, I think he should stay at the school.
It sounds like you had a very good conversation with him. A new school would be more stress and might be worse, not better. He will be moving at 13+ anyway as it is. Are there arrangements for where he might go at 13+ particularly funding? (Life insurance, wills in place, guardians just in case of the worst? I cannot remember if his father figures - not read every thread above).

longjane Sun 15-Dec-13 09:52:27

I think you son needs a new school. A good church choir. That guy that does the choir shows is on face book he might be able to help.

I think the school is done with your son. And boarding really should not be pushed now as you are so ill. I think he need to spend time with you.

Good luck and will be thinking of you both.

schoolnurse Sun 15-Dec-13 09:24:00

Bloody auto correct!
I'll start again. Another choir school? To have the opportunity to do something that he clearly enjoys and is good at in what is going to be a difficult time for him will be very therapeutic

schoolnurse Sun 15-Dec-13 09:20:42

They to say in what is going to be a very difficult time.

schoolnurse Sun 15-Dec-13 09:19:50

I'm sorry OP I hadn't quite grasped that your mother cant help full time. Another choir school? Children must drop out all the time. If he enjoys singing then in what is going to be a difficult to be able to do something he loves and enjoys is going to be very thereputic.

RandomMess Sun 15-Dec-13 08:06:49

I'm glad you have had that conversation with DS. Did you both discuss whether he actually wants board or not, or the practicalities that not boarding isn't really an option sad

summerends Sun 15-Dec-13 03:09:15

Difficult I imagine that you must be emotionally wrung out after that conversation. It sounds a great idea taking your DS to the hospital with you for exactly the reasons you say. I imagine that he will also be helped at this or other visits by the opportunity to voice some of his questions on your care directly to your medical team.
It is good that at least some key people at the school are warmly supportive of your DS and hopefully will make up for the woeful lack of compassion by the head and head of pastoral care. The choirmaster is obviously focusing on the music and not wanting to get involved.
The one aspect that troubles me is that although it is important for your DS to build up his own defences against bullying, his withdrawal from boarding seems to signify a lack of confidence that he can rely on the boarding staff to deal with any future problems immediately. He should n't feel that it is all up to him (when you are not there).

difficultpickle Sat 14-Dec-13 23:38:16

Having his grandma care for ds won't work for more than the occasional night unfortunately. She is elderly and disabled. She also won't cope at all with looking after ds and worrying about me. She was unable to cope at all with my father's terminal illness nearly 20 years ago. She really isn't coping with my news now at all. So much so that I've not been able to tell her that the prognosis is terminal without a transplant (I did try to tell her but she just said that what I said can't be true). I've also tried to explain the mechanics of a transplant and she can't deal with that either.

schoolnurse Sat 14-Dec-13 23:31:22

Summer I agree that you don't want to keep moving him but I can't help but feel that the OP needs to sort out an alternative solution now before she requires a long period in hospital. I suspect that 1. she wouldn't be able organise a place at a suitable prep be it boarding or day in the next few weeks and 2. as her DS is not exactly embracing boarding with enthusiasm at the moment trying to get him to settle in a new boarding school will require significant input from his mum who is probably to unwell to do this at the moment and that 3. Although I personally believe in boarding and even full boarding at prep school her DS would also be better off being looked after and cared for over the next few months by someone he knows; his grand mother. Let's be realistic here he will get much more one to one attention and help if he's at home than he ever will in a boarding school however well intentioned the staff.

difficultpickle Sat 14-Dec-13 23:23:56

I had a long chat with ds this evening about why I am ill and what the future looks like. We went through all of his questions. Probably the hardest conversation I have had with anyone ever. Some tears on my part but not too many as that upsets ds. He seems ok about arrangements in the event of my death but said that he wants to take care of me. I hope that our visit to the hospital this coming week will reassure him that there are lots of people keen to take care of me too and that some of them may even be able to make me better.

I said I would be very sad if he stops being a chorister as I know it is something he truly loves. I don't want him to make what, at least to me, seems to be a pointless sacrifice. We are also seeing the psychologist this week and I hope that will continue to help. Ds certainly is much stronger when it comes to dealing with any further bullying so the psychologist is really having a positive effect. Interestingly he says he has only really been worried about my health since half term. Which seems that the worry about bullying has been replaced by the worry about my health. In an odd way I'm glad it is a recent worry rather than something that has been going on in his head for months.

There are some very kind people at the school - the chaplain is lovely and the head of ds's part of the school is fantastic. Very supportive and really understands ds. Ds says he is happy to talk to him and the chaplain about his worries. I will ensure that I limit the involvement of the head of pastoral care as she just seems poisionous to me. I'm not alone in thinking that (other parents have said the same but I've not shared my view with them).

Despite everything ds is happy at school and I don't want to move him unless I really have to.

Thank you for your comments and support. It is so helpful to be able to write what I think and worry about. It is so hard to tell people in RL without them worrying even more than they already are.

Methren Sat 14-Dec-13 21:58:17

Difficult I'm almost beyond words at the disgusting behaviour of your DS's school. They are effectively punishing him for being worried about you. By suspending him as a chorister they are also denying him a part of his identity that he values greatly and removing a potential source of solace and emotional sustenance at this very difficult time. Dreadful, callous behaviour on their part.

Assuming your DS leaves that school (and I find it hard to see how either you or DS could have sufficient trust in the school ever again after their actions), it seems from your description of DS that a new school would need to be one which would enable him to continue his music at a high level. If you have a BMT, you are likely to be hospitalised and in isolation for some time, even if things go relatively smoothly - DS may be unable to visit, and once out of hospital you may be advised to avoid contact with large groups of people for some time in order to limit exposure to infections until your immune system fully recovers. So the level of contact you have with DS and involvement you have in school life might not be much different if he was at a local day school or another boarding school while you have a BMT.

If DS wants to try boarding again, would Salisbury be a bridge too far? Salisbury Cathedral Choir School has a new head this year who was deputy head of pastoral care at St Paul's Cathedral School, in which role he had a fantastic reputation (I know of him from the latter school).

Sorry if all this is a bit rambling - I'm trying to think of anything that could possibly be helpful.

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