Is private school the answer?

(40 Posts)
finefatmama Sun 10-Jun-12 23:17:45

I started a thread on this in the primary education section and have been given some food for thought.

ds2 is 5.9yrs and in one of three reception classes in a popular catholic school His teacher hasn't had much success engaging him and we end up in a cycle of meetings about his behaviour and her stressing that she is not allowed to vary the curriculum as it should be 80% play and his child led activities are not 80% play because he keeps going back to the classroom to do academic stuff and will sneak back to class if asked to play, no she can't extend him as he HAS to do 80% play and she needs to focus on the kids who are behind in his class, he is naughty etc.

That has not been our experience at home or that of his other teachers - tutor, flute teacher, martial arts teachers, out of school and holiday club workers, babysitters etc .He is coping with all his activities and asked to add guitar lessons and football classes to his activities. We are barely managing to get him to all the lessons and coping with the ABA therapies for his older brother.

DH, who has been overseeing all his activities and currently works 9:30 to 2:30 within a mile from home, has been promoted to a full time role over an hour away. We are wondering if moving him to a private school will provide him with the right environment and all the desired activities in one place. We may have to stop these activities altogether and this may increase his boredom and perceived behaviour problems at his current school. I suspect the solution to defining and finding what constitutes the right educational balance for him is somewhere in between but can't get my head round it.

The schools around her are fantastic for disabilities but not really for SEN. Most parents I have spoken to send their kids to privates schools in nearby areas with varying degrees of success. How do you know when a school is right for your child?

morethanpotatoprints Sun 10-Jun-12 23:32:39

Hi, Finefatmama. I think I may have responded on the other thread, not sure.
I could be mistaken but I think even in Indie schools reception and part of y1 is mostly child led activity through play. If there seems to be a constant problem with his behaviour (according to school) it may be a good idea to move him. My ds2 many years ago was exactly the same, in a very good Catholic School. The problem imo is they expect children to all be the same like little soldiers in a box. Kids are all different but it seems some Catholic Schools don't share this same ethos. However, you could move him as we did ds2 and school still not work. Please don't leave him in school forever if it never seems to work. We did and listened to all schools call him naughty. At 17 he has finally had an Aspergers diagnosis. Please pm me if you like, will help if I can

EdithWeston Mon 11-Jun-12 06:49:54

Here is the other current thread from Primary Education, on which there are already many comments.

I link it here, because this version includes nothing of your DS's behavioural issues (all of which will be relevant in any decision to move school). I realise that copying comments from thread to thread is sometimes bad form, but I have done it anyhow as I think the parts you omit here are so very relevant, and would become more relevant in many independent schools (where troublesome pupils are "counselled out").

As noted above, private schools also now must follow EYFS. You can just as easily find a teacher in the independent sector who will point out your DS's achievements are not necessarily a sign of unusual cleverness, and that his behavioural difficulties are his major challenge in the classroom. And to put it bluntly, if it has got to this stage in the school year and he is winning the class bear for his first day with no misbehaviour, then there is a lot that needs to be tackled before he will have a happier time in the classroom.

Moominmammacat Mon 11-Jun-12 08:18:49

What's next year's teacher like? Might it get better?

SoupDragon Mon 11-Jun-12 08:23:10

Private school is not necessarily the answer, no.

Year 1 is different, being KS1 rather than Early Years.

Why does he have a tutor at 5 though confused

Sandalwood Mon 11-Jun-12 13:02:22

Is your DH on board with the idea? As he'll be commuting and working longer hours for your DS to be doing the activities he's already doing.

finefatmama Mon 11-Jun-12 13:07:36

Edith, I would like to add that having worked in challenging secondary schools and having an ASD child, I can categorically say that he isn't badly behaved - he is a curious, compliant 'please' and 'thank you' child who tries to attend to his brother personal care needs to help us out. I believe his behaviour issues mainly stem from a lack of proper stimulation on her part. He is not a problem child IMO although he is precocious and asks lots of questions. His classromm disruption (barring one incident which has not been repeated) is largely around asking questions and making observations.

His supposed playing rough with other kids I have accepted from his teacher but she has not once responded to my 'what does this behaviour look like so that I can address it properly?'. is it pushing them off playground equipment, No, is it biting, no, is it hair-pulling, no. I have assumed he's wrestling or pulling the kids towards his preferred game like he does at home with his brother and told him not to do it. He told us of a couple of occassions where he was spiderman and the other kid was the hulk and when he was demonstrating his martial arts moves (the school does not approve of martial arts and have told me so). I have asked her to keep alog for me anyway and she has provided no concrete examples.

The other teachers have no behaviour issues and his tutor thinks he's quiet. He will work his butt off for praise anyday and is hypersensitive when he feels he's being dismissed. His pre-school did not have that either and they worked really hard with him on socialising and engaging him. I have stickers, rewards, commendations and certificates from the others fgs. Why is the behaviour not generalised acoss other settings if he's the problem?

Soup Dragon, we were working with him at home and the teacher said we were doing it all wrong so we went for tuition with qualified teacher. He is unusually clever and we have a few assessments and an ed psych's report but that's besides the point and it hasn't done us any favours.

Since your DH's FT job is a done deal, then the right independent school might give DS2 the option of doing a lot more of his activities in/after school, thus addressing the logistics problem. That is certainly one of the attractions for me - my DC have a longer school day, but do a lot of stuff at school which I would otherwise end up organising outside school with associated logistical nightmares.

However, that doesn't mean that an independent will deal any differently with his issues with social interaction and behaviour. As others have said, they have to follow EYFS, may or may not have different attitudes to behaviour (but might well be more strict than current school), and may or may not have any real SN provision (a lot of independent schools will expect parents to pay private rates for any additional learning support / OT).

There is no more a "typical" independent school than there is a typical state school - you will just have to look at the schools in your area.

EdithWeston Mon 11-Jun-12 13:27:46

I didn't realise he would have a multiplicity of teachers in reception.

And the behaviour issues can be different in different settings (eg can he translate the self-discipline and standards he'll be learning in a martial arts class to other parts of his life?)

I think you do need to talk to the teacher again, warning her in advance (again) that you would find it helpful to know what behaviour is the problem in the classroom. Even incompetent, inexperienced teachers do not give a reward for a 'first day with no misbehaviour' lightly, and it does seem you still lack her proper account of what is going on.

finefatmama Mon 11-Jun-12 14:13:15

must have been a typo although there are 90 kids in 3 reception classes

I think stealth has helped focus my mind better. That and walking the corridors after half term.

- We want him to have access to lots of activities without the logistical nightmare.
- He follows instructions without queston in martial arts, flute lessons and with his tutor which needs to be generalise across settings.
- So we need a school with the right range of activities and stimulation which can assess properly, give him the right social and emotional development opportunities and work with him as he is.

Can someone help translate that into what to look out for in a school? How does one probe social and emotional development activities in a school?

flexybex Mon 11-Jun-12 15:39:45

How 'unusually clever' is ds?

....we were working with him at home and the teacher said we were doing it all wrong so we went for tuition with qualified teacher....

Surely, rather than rush out to find a tutor for a 5 year old, you ask the teacher what you should be doing and work with the school, with the same aims. There are obviously several teachers in YR at the school - there must be a head of EY to talk to.

I'm also a bit hmm about bad behaviour continuously being excused by boredom. Perhaps there is another reason for the bad behaviour. Ds is obviously having social problems - perhaps a club that is less prescribed would be a good idea so that he can mix with other children. (Tutor, martial arts, flute lessons are all 1:1 or instructional.)

SoupDragon Mon 11-Jun-12 15:53:01

we were working with him at home and the teacher said we were doing it all wrong so we went for tuition with qualified teacher

That worries me. Please tell me you are letting him just be a child too? It sounds like he has far too many rigid activities in his schedule. 5yos need fun not extra tuition and from what the teacher appears to say, your DS doesn't know how to play if he's choosing academic activities all the time.

LIZS Mon 11-Jun-12 17:41:43

I was going to make the same observation about the 1:1. However he needs to learn that he is not the only child in the class and be able to occupy himself without the need to distract others or become distracted. Does he go to play at others' houses or have friends around ? Not sure how your older son is and his impact on the household but maybe ds2 needs some relaxed social time with his peers rather than additional activities led by adults. You in turn are running yourselves ragged to get him there, so reinforcing that his "needs" are above everyone else's. It won't harm him to have a break form the music if needs be - if he enjoys it he can resume later on especially the flute since he won't be developed enough to make the most of it yet.

finefatmama Mon 11-Jun-12 18:29:42

lots to think about.

We spend less time with him actually. He goes to an after school club 3 days a week and does these activities so that dh can have more time with his brother. We run an ABA program at home and are learning sign language for DS1. They were both harder to handle when they didn't have activities. Our nerves are less frayed now even though there's more to do.

GnomeDePlume Mon 11-Jun-12 18:53:15

You havent mentioned here though I think I recall from your earlier thread that your DS is one of the oldest in his year. At his age this will be having a massive influence. If I recall correctly the impact of this (September vs August birthday) continues until a pupil is around 15. It is very difficult at this stage to really say that your DS is very clever. At his age physical development and intellectual development do seem to be closely linked (from my layman's experience).

Before you go down the private school route IMO you really need to think about what you are wanting to achieve. It is a huge financial commitment and not one you can easily step back from in the years to come if your situation changes. Many schools are cutting back on the financial support they offer so IMO you shouldnt rely on that.

finefatmama Mon 11-Jun-12 19:29:13

he is the oldest in his class. His advance was noted before the age of 2 by an ed psych as part of a study. On telling his nursery, they said they knew and he was already in the 3-5 room. last year his reading age was assessed as 8.3yrs and maths age was about 7.9yrs. That was before the tutoring began.

From all the feedback maybe what we need is an ed psych's assessment in the first instance?

BabyGiraffes Mon 11-Jun-12 20:08:31

Read both your threads and feel a bit hmm that so many posters have jumped on the behavioural issues even though you have made it clear over and over again that he is only 'naughty' in his classroom with this teacher, not in any other setting. I am not playing down the bad behaviour but to me this is a child shouting for help because him and his teacher seem to be a match made in hell. I agree with those posters who said that there is no reason a bright child should have a ball in reception, working at their own pace and playing at the same time.

If a teacher had spoken to me about my child in such dismissive and sarcastic tones I would have moved him immediately. Too late now but if this is a three class intake, could he have moved to one of the other classes?

If I were you I'd find out who his Y1 teacher is going to be and ask for a meeting with him/her now to get a feel for their attitude. I would also investigate other schools including private.

Hope you find a good match for you ds. 5 is quite an early age to be frustrated and disillusioned with learning in a school environment!

GnomeDePlume Mon 11-Jun-12 20:13:55

In your situation then I would be looking at further assessment. Your younger son's family situation is obviously very different from many others. An assessment might help you to understand how this is affecting him and what you can do to support him.

Unless you are planning to home educate him (and you havent mentioned this so far) he will need to fit in within an educational system. While he follows 'the rules' in his various activities, these are all obviously fairly short bursts and I guess they are things he enjoys. At school he will have to follow 'the rules' (social and written) all the time whether he is enjoying school that day or not.

This is not necessarily something where simply throwing money at the situation will improve things. Private education is not a panacea.

BabyGiraffes Mon 11-Jun-12 20:44:33

'should not have a ball in reception'

accountantsrule Tue 12-Jun-12 13:49:50

I did comment on your other thread too, I do have some sympathy in your position as we too have a fairly bright DS. There are no social or behavioural issues with him and although they do not sound like particularly serious issues it is still unacceptable to just go back into class to do whatever he wants rather than following the instructions given to the rest of the school.

There is absolutely no need for a 5 year old to have an academic tutor and it was mentioned previously something about your DH not letting him watch tv (this thread or the other???).

I can't imagine how difficult things must be for you as it sounds like you are juggling all sorts - the bit of advice I was given regarding DS1 was to not push him further and further ahead academically but to expand his activities as you are doing like languages, music, sports. He is bound to be bored at school if you are paying for additional tutoring for him that is pushing him ahead by 2 or 3 years.

If you are unhappy with the school then you should move him but always remember it may not be any different else where - private or not. I really hope you find somewhere suitable as this situation can be very frustrating for the parents.

finefatmama Tue 12-Jun-12 19:41:02

thanks accountant. I agree that we should cut back on the tutoring and finding other things to help. We are keen to remove him from the environment where he appeared to be actively ignored because dh is working with ds1 and I'm working late.

The tv thing is usually either his dad withholding tv as punishment or him taking a statement literarily "If you don't finish your food/ are not careful with that/asleep by the time I come upstairs, I won't allow you to watch tv till weekend".

AS possibility is now back on the agenda so we will go to ed psych

isleofwightmum Tue 19-Jun-12 01:11:03

Having a DD with an IQ of 160+ it sounds like your DS is very bright wants to learn and is held back by a short sighted teacher. My DD has suffered from this short sightedness and is now happy in a private school with a scholarship. (DD is 6). My advice is go with your gut feelings. If the tutoring and outside classes are what makes him feel happy continue them(if you can manage them). Don't forget yourself and DH in the equation. Keeping everyone happy is what we mums do best.

Honestyisbest Wed 20-Jun-12 08:35:06

I think the right indie school is the answer. We opted out of the state system for secondary, should have moved my son earlier. Lots of the boys at his school were a 'problem' to their primary educators,but this indie secondary knows how to handle bright, inquisitive, at time challenging boys!

finefatmama Sat 23-Jun-12 00:34:59

Thanks for the response.

To paraphrase a previous au pair, you get carried away with these interesting engaging conversations with him and then he says something really silly like "look, I can move my nose" or "lets do the hockey kockey" and you are left confused and worried about him until you remember that you are dealing with a 4 year old (he was 4 at the time).

Have decided to visit a couple of indie schools to get a feel for the environment and put him in the right one especially as we are getting exhausted with having to co-ordinate all the activities ourselves. Will still get an ed psych's assessment to help inform our final choice of school.

I'm grateful to everyone for the support and input, and for challenging me to take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities.

finefatmama Sat 13-Oct-12 22:14:09

had ed psych appointment and she suspects that he's a very very clever 98th percentile IQ kid with sensory issues and AS. He was a bit too literal with limited social context sad. Would benefit from smaller class sizes and some speech therapy to help with pragmatic language issues. School is still unsupportive as they are oversubscribed and there are many children waiting to take his place.

not sure where to go from here as indie schools probably don't want AS kids in their schools either confused. will binge on chocolate and wine in the meantime

lisad123 Sat 13-Oct-12 22:25:13

When I saw your post my first thought was HFA! Sorry to hear I might be on the button sad
Please don't panic yet. Dd1 has HFA and is at an idie school and it has made a huge difference to her in the five weeks she's been there. However, she doesn't have behavioural issues as such as most of her issues are internal resulting in self harm, depression and eating issues.

Please be very clear with any new school about his issues especially an indie school as they can and do pick and choose. Try to find a nice school that isn't too focused on grades and has a good pastoral care team.

sashh Sun 14-Oct-12 06:16:21

He sonds ASD - but I'm not an expert, and this is the internet etc etc.

BUT I think he would benefit from being taught as if he is AS.

What is the tutor doing with him? Rather than academic stuff maybe the tutor could explain idoms, not taking things literally etc etc - ie give him the skills to survive in social situations.

I can remember being 5 and being told by a teacher "No more play dough", which I thought meant "Do not get any more play dough out, but you can carry on with what you have already". Then I wondered why I was in trouble.

I'm dyslexic (diagnosed) and possibly on the AS (undiagnosed) and social situations to me are something I have had to learn the rules of, as you would learn the rules of a game. What I find instinctive is not what other people expect.

finefatmama Tue 16-Oct-12 22:47:24

I have been recommended a book by an english teacher called 'It's Raining Cats and Dogs: An Autism Spectrum Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors and Everyday Expressions' so here's hoping we make some headway in that department.

Thanks.

strictlovingmum Mon 22-Oct-12 19:53:54

If it is the Indie school you are after, then keep it in mind they will all differ in what they have to offer, first port of call should be the Head and a very frank discussion on your part, in terms of what you are looking for.
It may very well be that your DS will benefit from small class sizes, generally less noise and calmer environment, if it is the sport and music lessons, one to one you are after, again some indie schools are better then others, look around, and lastly factor in the cost long term, once you have your DC in indie school it is a huge financial commitments long term.
Any behavioural issues will be flagged up promptly at indie school too, bad behaviour will not be tolerated no metter how clever DC's are and just because "you pay", good luck.
When and if you find the school that you really like, put him for a few taster days and see how he gets on.

RiversideMum Sun 28-Oct-12 15:49:24

You are into year 1 now - are things improving at school? I wonder if all the activities that your DS does after school are contributing to his sensory overload? I've taught many children with ASD/AS and they often hold it together better at school than they do at home. Your child seems to be the opposite. If he is having to cope with sets of rules about flute, guitar, martial arts, football and so on, then having to learn rules at school, where self control and self reflection is required (rather than being told what to do by an adult) may be too much for him.

finefatmama Thu 01-Nov-12 00:25:44

Thanks for asking. Year 1 is better as he does half of his classes with year 2 and his spelling homework seems to be a little more challenging (traditionally, gradually, concentration, celebration, imagination, extravagant, temperature, adventure etc). He still likes bumping into others and is in need of social emotional literacy. He says school is better, school dinner is yucky but there's no science (i.e. space and planets) and no times tables yet.

I called the OT to request a sensory profile and was informed by the OT in charge of DS1 that the autism referral list is closed till next year.

We have been recommended time out for reflection which we think will help. the school are adamant that he is in no way particularly advanced as per the national curriculum even though the ed psych's report puts his spelling and reading comprehension at 9 years and word reading at 14 years (is that hyperlexia?).

I'm starting to think he may just be refusing to perform at school especially with maths. The school have said that they only get so many SEN and ed psych days per year and such limited resources are better targeted at severe cases. they do not think they will be putting in too much into helping him due to constraints. We are thinking of changing schools anyway as the school have once again hinted if we don't want to accept what they are offering, there are other children waiting to take his place. DS1's school told us they get the same response whenever they try to implement autism programs as part of their outreach work at that particular school.

sieglinde Thu 01-Nov-12 16:32:54

Short answer is no. Most private schools are wretched at catering for gifted children. Believe me, I do know; message me if you'd like me to explain.

finefatmama Thu 01-Nov-12 18:21:13

sieglinde - have tried to pm you.

finefatmama Thu 01-Nov-12 22:23:10

pm doesn't seem to be working today sad.

sieglinde Fri 02-Nov-12 14:49:24

Hi, have made contact with ffm. If anyone else wants the same information, message me.

RiversideMum Sun 04-Nov-12 07:50:40

Spelling and reading of 9 yrs is not hugely unusual for Y1. I'd say word reading of 14 is maybe a 1 in 100-150 in my experience (so anecdotal!). There is an issue with access to Ed Psychs - and it seems to be made worse by the fact that they are selling their services to Academies so the maintained schools are even more rationed than before - in our LA, we have to "bid" even for a child to get o a list to see an Ed Psych.

But what the school will be thinking as well is where will the appt with an Ed Psych lead? Usually they are a critical part of a statementing process. If the school does not think your child will qualify for a statement (and they are flippin' difficult to get these days) then they are indeed better (for themselves, not you since a statement = money) prioritising other children.

I think that a private school may or may not be the answer - although I've had several children in my classes over the years who have been "asked to leave" private schools because of SEN. What probably would be a good answer is to find a state school which has a better attitude towards SEN, with teachers and TAs who have lots of experience with ASD - because even if your DS does not finally get a diagnosis, there are obviously traits there that would respond to certain types of structures and ways of handling him.

sieglinde Mon 05-Nov-12 09:51:00

Yes, good point on being 'asked to leave' private school because of SEN. I had a good friend who was asked to take her severely dyslexic but very clever son out of a top prep...

They are really not the Holy Grail, and IMHO are ONLY worth the money if you have loads. If you have 6 figures after tax, maybe.. They are not worth the sweating, straining, no-heating kind of money.

slalomsuki Mon 05-Nov-12 10:01:34

Not an expert here on special needs but I have a son on a scholarship to an independent school which does cater for children with special needs and socialising issues. I looked at a couple of them before deciding on the one he is in and one of the schools just concentrated on the academic side and was proud of its results. But some of the kids including one I know have not developed or been supported to develop their broader social skills or the ability to cater in unfamiliar situations. I feel that while this wasn't an issue for my son it reflected overall on the school.

The one we chose has a programme where it caters and supports the development of the child as individuals and at the same time recognises that children develop and mature at different stages. We didn't go for the cheapest option but went for the one that we felt would support our child the best.
My point is that independent schools do not always provide the answer and the environment that you think is the best. Make sure that you talk to the head and also drop in to the school unannounced. Any decent school would be open to this. We went 3 time before we took the plunge and I feel it was the thing to do.

finefatmama Mon 30-Sep-13 00:49:02

I know this is an old thread but thot it was worth updating.

We decided to move ds anyway as the deputy headteacher was still a nightmare somehow blaming parents for the inability of the supply teacher to control the class when the regular class teacher went off sick with stress for 6 weeks. Her parents newsletters includes statements like "...if you can take some time out your busy schedule to listen to your child read..." "we know you have better things to do but it would be nice if you can attend..."

We saw the nhs salt and paediatrician who carried out a series of assessments and have decided it's just the manifestation of asynchronous development. He started a new state school in january and he is doing amazingly well. loved by the teacher and his classmates who look up to him as the leader. He's a free reader on some Marpugo books and has decided to also pick up the violin at school in addition to his flute.

The Head teacher at the new school is supportive and trying her best to turn the school around. We had a follow up trial day at a school we had applied to when we were considering a move. He did really well and I think the head was quite pleased with his school report and the trial session as she offered us a 50% discount for the year of we accept their offer of a place. We'll be debating that a home as our LEA is in the bottom 10% of the counter although the school is in the top 100 most improved.

I am so glad we went with our instincts and moved him and rather than accepting the previous school's assessment.

tiredbutnotweary Wed 02-Oct-13 11:57:28

Finefatmama - thank you so much for posting an update, many threads trail off and leave me wondering. Well done for following your gut, I'm so pleased for you and your DS that the move has worked well for him!

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