Mixing up classes for September- I'm not happy with the school's decision

(61 Posts)
InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 14:24:10

DD's school announced a few weeks ago that this year, they will be mixing up all the classes for September. There are 3 classes in each year, and up until now the classes stay the same for reception to year 2, then are mixed up for year 3 and stay the same until the end of year 6. We had the new form list 2 weeks ago, move up day was last week.

A brief background- DD (year 3) has only been at this school since the week after May half term, after having to change schools when I became her guardian under a private fostering agreement. Academically she is behind but catching up, socially she has struggled but was starting to settle with a group of 5 other girls in her class, (friends A, B, C and D). In the new mixed up classes for September friends A and B are in class 1, friends C, D and E are in class 2 and DD is in class 3. DD and I have been through her new class list together and there seem to be very few from her current class, meaning as she's not been at this school long a lot of the children in her new class she won't know at all. I'm not particularly happy with this, I feel she's got enough to be coping with at the moment. She's doing much better than anyone expected at school and I don't want to jeopardise that by forcing her to start all over again friendship wise in September. I emailed the school expressing my concerns and requesting DD be moved to either one of the other 2 classes so she will at least have a few others she's friendly with in her class. They said they'd get back to me.

DD missed school last week as I had to go abroad- not ideal but unavoidable and less disruptive for her to miss a week of school than to be left with my mum given the circumstances. Because of this she missed move up day, although at this point I still hadn't heard anything from school. Still nothing when we got back yesterday so when I dropped her off today I went in to ask what they had decided. The head of years 3 and 4 (who's had very little to do with DD so far) has decided not to move her, because if she moved DD to be with her friends she'd have to move others to be with their friends (I'm guessing other parents have also complained). She thinks the change will benefit DD, in that she's had this half term to get used to the school, and now she can start 'properly' in September. I'm concerned it's going to be one change too many, and seems completely unnecessary to move her again when she's already started settling in. I'm now kicking myself for not making more of a fuss.

Is there anything I can do about this now? It's now the summer holidays as of 2 hours ago so not sure who I complain to and how I complain to them, of if it'll even achieve anything. I just feel this is completely the wrong thing to do for DD's sake and I'm kicking myself I didn't get it sorted sooner.

MrsJamin Wed 24-Jul-13 14:32:09

To be honest I think you are too late to do anything until September. It's not too late after the term starts- you must state this is a special case as your DD did not start along with everyone else.

LIZS Wed 24-Jul-13 14:34:08

I'm sure she won't be the only one placed without specific children . Were they asked to nominate anyone to stay with ? I can understand your anxiety but think it is unlikely to change now, as they would have done so before move up day, and you really need to put a positive spin on it for dd so she can look forward to September.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 15:09:20

They were asked to name 3 children they wanted to stay with, yes. DD named A, B and D. What's happened I think is that A, B, C, D and E who have all been in the same class all year (and were in combination in the same class through infants) have named 3 of that group, but not DD as they didn't have enough options. So the five of them who named each other in some combination have been split into a 3 and a 2, and DD as the child who no one named has ended up in the third class. What I would have hoped the school would take into consideration is that DD had been at this school less than 2 months when they were asked to name children they wanted to be with, and therefore hadn't had the chance to form any firm friendships. I would also have hoped that given DD's history they would have had the sense to at least keep her with a couple of children she's started to interact with.

So far in her school career DD went into a foreign equivalent of reception a year and a half later than she would have started reception in the UK due to differences in the school system while living abroad with her mother, did a year and a half there (mid year 1 equivalent) and then came back to the UK last October and went into year 3 here. She did October-May in that school and then had to switch to the current school in May after I was given custody. My concern is that she's had enough fresh starts already and it's getting to the point where it's just disruptive for her.

clam Wed 24-Jul-13 15:18:05

Hmm, I see you point, but if there are three classes being jumbled from scratch, it's going to be a new start and disruption whatever group she's in. I doo agree, however, that it's a shame she's not with some of the people she's begun to be friendly with, but might there be other reasons why they've been split? I mean, you never know, but might one of the other parents have asked for their child to be in a certain combination for a particular reason - that the school won't be able to share with you.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 17:05:44

I've had another look at the class lists. DD's current year 3 class is of 30, new class for year 4 is of 31 and she will be one of 6 from her current class, 3 boys she hasn't had much to do with and 2 girls who are very best friends joined at the hip- there were a few incidents when DD started interacting with the other children at break time when she asked to play with these two and after a few minutes they would tell her she had to go because they were having a "private talk". One of these girls had been chosen by her teacher to be DD's 'companion' for the first few weeks and to look out for her and encourage her to join in hmm New class is also very boy heavy, so she has a very limited number of girls to mix with as it is. I'm also slightly confused as to how the school can give me a report indicating that DD has been very slow to settle and make friends (made no effort to join in with the other children until her third week at this school) but is now settling down and starting to interact, and then tell me they think what she really needs is a completely fresh start away from the friends she's managed to make hmm Obviously she isn't going to be with all of the children she's becoming friendly with due to the mix around, but I would have hoped given the circumstances they would have put her with at least a couple.

DD has been on a playdate to one of her group of friends in the last couple of weeks and have 2 lined up with others for the summer holidays, so I don't think it's a question of DD is tagging along and the parents have requested she's not placed with them.

I do feel the school have promised more than they have delivered in terms of helping DD settle in, they knew the history and the circumstances when they took her on and to start with it was all very positive, coming up with strategies to help her join in etc. But there have been a few thoughtless incidents, the highlight being a school trip a few weeks ago where they split them into groups to go round with parent helpers/teachers/teaching assistants etc, and put DD in a group of 6 with 5 boys. She came home upset because they were misbehaving constantly and there was lots of shouting (she's not a fan of loud noises). When I inquired about it I was told the head of years 3 and 4 had drawn up the groups, she hasn't taught DD but she was told she needed keeping an eye on. There had been a breakdown in communication and she had assumed DD needed keeping an eye on because she was badly behaved and therefore needed to be in a group with a teacher rather than a parent helper, not she needed keeping an eye on because it was her second week and because of her recent home life disruption. It's just a general theme of assuring me they're doing everything they can to help her settle and then doing things which just seem thoughtless given DD's particular circumstances.

Unexpected Netherlands Wed 24-Jul-13 17:06:21

This seems to be all about how you feel though? Nowhere have you mentioned that your dd is upset/anxious about the change. Please don't project your worries on to her. Although she has had a lot of change to date, so far she seems to have coped well? She will presumably still see these friends at break/lunch and you could try over summer to have some of the children who will be in her class next year over to play.

CaptainSweatPants Wed 24-Jul-13 17:11:53

I think you have to trust the school & see how she gets on in September

Try to enjoy the holidays & stop worrying smile

Aquamildred Wed 24-Jul-13 17:27:38

DDs old school used to do this EVERY year. I was assured that the children would still play with each other in the playground but in all honesty they did not, dd just had a different friend every year.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 17:31:09

She's almost coped too well with all the changes so far, no diagnosis at the moment but she has a child psychologist referral as there are concerns she's showing signs of some form of attachment disorder. She showed very little distress at being separated from her mother and has been very reluctant to interact with both with other adults and other children. She never really settled at her previous school either, didn't really have any friends and spent most break times playing by herself, so it's been something of a breakthrough that in the past few weeks she's started joining in with this group of girls in her class. My concern is that to separate her now from the first proper friends she's had certainly in the past year could be detrimental in terms of the progress she's made this half term. Her current teacher and the head of years 3 and 4 think she's just a bit of a loner and will settle down in time, hasn't clicked with anyone in her current class and that a fresh start come September is just what she needs. I'd rather not risk it.

jennycoast Wed 24-Jul-13 17:33:09

Normally I'd have no sympathy with someone whinging about not being with friends after a class shuffle. I do think this is very different though.

I'm sure the head will be in over the holidays. Is there any way you could get a message to them, explaining all of this, and asking for a meeting during the holidays to discuss. Looked after children are meant to get additional support, not less.

Lilka Wed 24-Jul-13 18:05:07

I agree with you OP - your DD has been through a huge amount of instability and following such huge life changes as having to move homes and have new parents it's common sense (and in the childs best interests) to minimse any further disruption in their lives.

Many children in your DD's situation have real issues with trust and attachment (and attachment disorder is epecially serious, it's good that DD is actually going to be seen by a professional about it). Since it's no mean feat for many kids with these issues to find consistent playmates in the first place, again it's silly to split them up.

Also, as mum of 3 kids who all have varying attachment issues, I would say that the reaction they give is not always a reflection of how they feel on the inside. A lack of obvious upset at the split might, for a child with attachment issues or disorder, actually be expected behaviour. And not a good sign either, it doesn't mean everything is ok - especially since you've said she also hasn't shown real grieving after leaving her mothers care. That's abnormal and suggests something is wrong.

The school should be treating DD as a special case given her history, regardless of her legal status (if this is a private agreement, I'm assuming DD doesn't have LAC status?)

I advise trying your best to contact the head (or whoever else could change DD's class) before September, because starting one class and changing is another disruption.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 18:47:43

I've looked at the new class lists again and the numbers are:
Class 1: 31
Class 2: 32
Class 3: 31

DD is in Class 3 so I can see the school saying that moving her will skew the numbers in the other two classes. Moving DD now wouldn't be particularly disruptive to her IMO as she wasn't in school for move up day, to her next year's class is just a list of names on a sheet of paper. Though obviously too late to move another child into DD's class to allow her to swap. They're not going to move her with those numbers are they? sad

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 19:01:17

I am going to email the head, what I'm going to say is yet to be decided. All the various incidents we've had seem to be decisions made by the head of years 3 and 4 (who doesn't teach DD and has barely come into contact with her hmm ), don't know if complaining about her is a good move or not.

She doesn't have LAC status, no, I have tried to get her classed as LAC and come up against the private arrangement brick wall. Even though had this private arrangement not been set up, sooner or later she would have been classed as LAC.

My other concern is what the dynamics of a class of a class of 31, 9 girls and 22 boys, is going to be like, especially given by process of elimination 19 of these boys are coming from previously being spread across 2 classes as opposed to 3.

Hulababy Wed 24-Jul-13 19:09:20

I think due to the circumstances I would still push for a change.

Even if school is closed for summer I would imagine someone is checking e-mails so it may still be worth contacting them now. Often the school office is an email such as admin@schoolname.lea.... etc and often the headteacher you simply just change the admin/office at start to the word headteacher, or sometimes name ege surnamefirstinitial@

pusspusslet Wed 24-Jul-13 19:29:32

Hi OP,

Since DD has only recently moved to you under the private fostering arrangement (or at least that's how I read your OP) it seems very wrong to me that the school isn't taking special care to make sure that she's with girls she knows. As you said yourself: she's already had tons to cope with. Sounds to me as though somebody has dropped the ball, and I feel they should be willing to confirm to you now that they will alter their initial arrangements.

Good luck, and best wishes to you and DD.

thaliablogs Wed 24-Jul-13 19:46:33

I am with you OP and think you do now need to kick up a big fuss. It is not the case that the head would also have to consider other moves as your dd's situation is completely different and requires lots of thoutful support to make it successful. Does dd have a social worker? Can you get them involved?

I would also write a formal letter outlining the other unhelpful things they have done, that school trip sounds awful for her. They really need to step up and help her be successful and settled.

lougle Wed 24-Jul-13 19:47:21

In this instance you are totally justified in pursuing it. DD2 moved school in January. She had to do a preference list for next year, then came to me a week or two later and said 'I put the wrong names down.'

We went and mentioned it to her teacher, who asked her to write new names down. She told me that she probably couldn't do anything about it now.

After the class lists had been released, she told me that she had ran through to the the person co-ordinating the lists and had swapped some names around to make sure that DD1 had at least 1 of her 3 preferences.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 20:15:22

I'm assembling a complaints list now, going to send it all together I think and emphasise again the need for DD to be in a class with at least a couple of friends. I've had a chat with the mother of one of DD's friends and the other 6 girls in DD's allocated year 4 class are all coming from the same year 3 class. So 22 boys, 2 girls from current class who are joined at the hip and have already excluded DD from their games at break time, 6 girls who've been in the same class all year and are established friends and DD. I'm not buying into this fresh start thing hmm

Would the school be allowed to run 3 classes of 30, 31 and 33/ 30, 32 and 32 though? Surely they have to keep their class sizes as close to 30 as possible?

DD has a social worker but they have very little involvement because of it being private fostering, we basically are left to get on with it. Due to DD's relocation to mine she's had to switch social worker, so the one whose had limited involvement since she's been with me is not the social worker who was involved while she was still with her mum. I could get the pediatrician to write school a letter but school are taking the stance of nothing wrong with her until proven otherwise over the concerns of attachment disorder, they think she's just a child who likes her own company. There have been a couple of incidents at school which I think are reluctance to trust adults, school think are bad behaviour.

admission Wed 24-Jul-13 20:54:54

The honest answer is that the classes are junior classes and therefore there is no maximum and 31 / 32 in a class is not unusual.
Deciding on new class organisation is definitely an operational matter for the school and I can understand why they do not want to make any changes. They will simply set a precedent that will launch an avalanche of similar requests.
Having said that your last post does highlight a real potential issue, that maybe the school simply have not appreciated in amongst all the other difficulties of trying to be fair to all. I would send a letter to the head teacher along the lines of the post above and say that you have real fears that this will not be positive for the pupil but very counter-productive and ask them to reconsider given the circumstances and the short time they have been in the school. Putting something in writing is always preferable as it makes it impossible to just fob off. If they still say no then I am afraid there is little else that you can do as any appeal to the governing body will just be rejected as it so obviously an operational issue for the head teacher to make a decision about.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 21:36:42

Thanks admission, the number thing is reassuring. Judging by some of the conversations I had at pick up today I strongly suspect I'm not the only one to complain, so I do see where the school is coming from. On the other hand, I would hope that given DD's circumstances an exception could be made.

I've been making a list of incidents of general thoughtlessness so far this term, so far I have this, the school trip incident mentioned above, DD having who she had to sit next to on the coach for aforementioned trip dictated to her in what was a strategy of splitting up the troublesome boys and putting them next to quieter ones they weren't friendly with to control behaviour on the coach, lack of promised intervention when she was spending multiple break times by herself on the friendship bench to name a few. This is the school who promised me she would settle in fine and was in safe hands hmm

Ragusa Wed 24-Jul-13 23:03:08

I yhink your concerns are entirely justified. I am just wondering whether there are some key phrases - eduspeak - that might at least get the school moving. Something along the lines of mentioning safeguarding concerns/ concerns about what the school are doing as regards your foster child's social and emotional development - both things schools are judged on by ofsted.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the school have placed your DD in the other class for a genuine reason connected to her welfare ( eg the nominated girls are actually cliquey and exclusive) though it doesn't sound like it if the person who did the selection has not had any interaction with her.

I would think that putting your concerns in writing would be sensible.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Wed 24-Jul-13 23:23:28

Thanks Ragusa, that's a good point about the key phrases. I haven't written anything yet, I just have a list of reasons I object to the class DD has been placed in and a list of other incidents in which I don't think DD's best interests have been considered. Constructing is a job for tomorrow.

I see your point about cliquiness, the issue in my mind though is that the two girls she has been placed with from her current class have been joined at the hip since reception and have never really mixed in with the others (I have this from DD's friend's mum). Surely that's a worse environment to put DD in? confused In the words of DD's class teacher when I had a meeting with her a couple of weeks ago before the class lists were sent out, she's starting to make some 'lovely friends'. I think it's just a case of the year of years 3 and 4 blundering in again without thinking it through and not wanting to have to admit she's wrong.

InViennaWeWerePoetry Thu 25-Jul-13 14:34:19

I've had an email from one of the other mums who is unhappy with the class arrangements for next year asking if I want to join forces to complain to the school about it. I'm not convinced given we're unhappy for different reasons- her daughter is upset she's been separated from her best friend and doesn't have the same social and emotional need not to be separated, not to my knowledge anyway.

Ragusa Thu 25-Jul-13 18:15:55

Think you're right. It will diminish your case and make it look trivial when it's not, if the other girl has no additional needs at least.

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