Moving DD from a smaller to a larger school due to friendship issues?

(26 Posts)
diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 12:05:36

DD goes to a very small village school where there are only a handful of girls in her year. She has had problems integrating with the other girls on and off for some years, but it has got more difficult in the last year, and I think the dynamics have become quite unpleasant. To be fair she is quite immature and oversensitive, so I've always assumed she's part of the problem really (as have her teachers in the past), but she's now become really quite unhappy, and I really don't know how to help her as I think her own relatively poor social skills are being made worse in a rather claustrophobic and difficult environment (I know several other girls are also very unhappy). I've talked to the teacher several times but she hasn't been helpful, and to be fair, I'm not sure what she could do.

I'm thinking of moving her to a much larger school where she would be in a class of around 30, but am worried she'll struggle there and be even unhappier- it's really difficult to get to the bottom of what is a result of her own social skills and what is the environment she's in. She very sociable and finds making friends easy, but can be quite intense and is not so great at maintaining longer term relationships / coping with fallings out etc. She's quite keen to look into moving schools. Half of me thinks I really need to give her the benefit of the doubt and even if she struggles at least she has some opportunity to meet children she may gel with and develop her skills. She's going to have to earn to be in a larger class anyway when she goes to secondary school in a few years, so again this may enable us to get a heads up as to whether she's likely to be able to cope. I don't want to try another small village school as I think the same thing could just happen again.

Has anyone been in the same situation, or have any advice?

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 12:45:22

Meant to say she knows some of the girls already through a dance class, but would imagine things could be quite different in school environment?

steppemum Mon 04-Jul-16 12:51:42

I would move her.
We used a tiny village school, total 40 kids from 4-11. Ds really struggled. He just couldn't fit with the very very few boys of his age.
He was much better after we moved, just a wider pool of kids to chose from. We moved to a school with one form entry - 30 in a class.

I have a bit or experience of this from the other side, as an ex teacher, in a tiny school, and I think it can be quite damaging in the long run, as kids end up thinking they are unlikable, as they can't find a friend, despite it being more to do with the small pool of children to chose from.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 12:53:43

Thanks steppemum - That's really helpful, and exactly what I'm worried about in terms of her confidence.

oompaloompaland Mon 04-Jul-16 12:55:05

How old is your DD? We moved our DD at the end of Y4 from a smaller school to a larger, admittedly all girls, school, and she is so, so much happier. In our case our DD was bullied/excluded for almost all of Y4 - as is often the case it was down to one or two "strong personalities" (the school's terminology - they were most definitely bullies) who decided to exclude our DD from absolutely everything.

A year is a long time in a child's life. If you can go to a larger school there are many more possibilities for friends. I wouldn't worry too much either about maintaining long-term friendships at this stage - our DD has a different "best" friend every week. And you've said that she finds it easy to make friends, which is a skill in itself. If you think she would cope with a larger environment then I would say go for it and move her. Are you moving within the private school system? I only ask as I wonder if there are any other schools locally to you that might fit her personality better than the large one you mention.

Good luck.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:01:43

Hi oompaloompaland. Thanks for replying. I'm not sure if I would say DD was bullied (although some of the recent behaviour is coming near it) but your DDs experience sound quite similar. She's 10, and we're looking within the state sector. There are other village schools, but I would worry about the same thing happening. When I say "big" it is a two form entry so probably nearer average size. In some ways it might be a good test for if she can manage a comprehensive - if she really struggles in a normal sized class then we may have to look at other options (including private).

steppemum Mon 04-Jul-16 13:06:06

she is 10?
so at the end of year 5?

Hmm, I would be much less inclined to move her just for one year, unless she is very unhappy.
I had assumed she was year 4 or below. (don't know why!!)

Obeliskherder Mon 04-Jul-16 13:08:24

I haven't been in the same situation but I seriously considered sending my easily overwhelmed DD to a tiny school, but ended up going with a 3 form entry school that looked enormous. I've been completely won over to larger schools. She struggled socially in YR but as soon as they mixed the classes she found her "people" and has been so much happier ever since. There's also tonnes of knowledge and experience among the staff - they have seen everything before - and there are resources for emotional learning support that a smaller school might not be able to afford.

I don't think dancing makes a difference one way or the other. Most schools will sort a new girl out with a "buddy" and if it's anything like our school, the kids will all be falling over themselves to be friends with her, especially if they're on the younger side.

One thing worth checking is whether they will be mixing the classes this year. Some schools do it every year, some none, and some in between. I think she'll have the best shot if they are mixing them. If they don't you may end up with the same problem again. Think of it as a long term thing though - her future BFF might be in a different class this year but they'll find each other in the end!

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:10:08

Steppemum, can I ask why? I know what you mean about the last year (and is maybe another reason why am dragging my heels a bit), but it would be going to a school where most of the children would go to our catchment school, so in many ways may would make that transition easier. I would actually be prepared to accept her doing a bit worse in SATS if she was happy and developing more socially.

Obeliskherder Mon 04-Jul-16 13:10:47

Sorry, cross-post. More difficult to move in Y6, and possibly not a fair test. She might struggle in such a long established group butbbe totally fine at senior school when they're all new together.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:13:21

Good point, Obelisk. To be honest I wish I'd been more pro-active earlier, but the problem seemed to come and go a bit. It's only in the last two terms it seems to be constant.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:14:04

It is a school used to lots of movement though (forces families).

Obeliskherder Mon 04-Jul-16 13:15:26

Difficult one, it might simmer down over the summer but if not, a whole year is a long time when you're 10.

Iamthegreatest1 Mon 04-Jul-16 13:21:07

OP Move her. It's not worth the hassle, let her joy her last year.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:21:47

Realistically I don't think it will change because of the characters involved. I think we'll go for a visit and try and get a taster day. May give DD some idea of how open the girls are to new friendships.

steppemum Mon 04-Jul-16 13:29:51

I would hesitate because year 6 tends to be a very established group of friends, and it can be hard to break in.

Having said that, ds class in year 6 had 2 children leave who had massive problems that had had a knock on effect on others, and one new child came. The whole dynamic of the class shifted in a very positive way and they all had a lovely year. So, anything can happen.

2 reasons why I would do it in your situation though -
-forces school, so kids move anyway, so less established year group
-she will move on with some of these kids to secondary, so she will have a foot in the door for year 7.

Go for it

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Mon 04-Jul-16 13:37:57

I went to a tiny village primary (about 50 pupils so the junior class had 18 covering three or four year groups). I didn't have serious friendship issues, but it was suffocating and if you did fall out with a friend there was nowhere to turn. When I had a year to go it converted to infants only so we all has to move to the local "big" juniors, what a relief that was! It was fantastic being with so many more children, and being able to make new friends, put distance from the ones I hadn't got on with before etc, and was great preparation for my 1200 pupil secondary a year later.

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 13:44:58

Thanks very much to all of you for your input. Very helpful. I just hate the thought of my DDs last year at primary being miserable.

uhoh1973 Mon 04-Jul-16 13:51:03

Our village school is tiny so I sympathise with your dilemma. As said before Year 6 seems a tricky time to move however a year is a long time....
There will atleast be a pause over the summer. Is it worth trying to work on things over the summer? Maybe talk to her about what she finds difficult with friends (if this is a tricky conversation you could try outsourcing it to an uncle / aunt etc). Encourage her to meet other children outside school and also organise some playdates over the summer with some of the more benign girls? If they have mixed age group classes you could also try girls in the year below?
If this isn't working just move her. Can it be any worse?

diplodocus Mon 04-Jul-16 14:01:29

uhoh - I've tried most of these options in the past. She has a lot of friends from outside activities. They are mixed class groups but the year she'll be with next year are quite well gelled and I think it's quite hard for her to break in - there doesn't seem to be a lot of strong friendships established between the years at the upper end of the school for some reason. I think this thread has really made me realise it's the end of the road, and we need to seriously look at moving her despite the potential disadvantages (and logistical difficulties!).

smellyboot Mon 04-Jul-16 19:44:42

I'd move her. At our 3 form school a few always join in yr6 and it's great - they make new friends before high school. The DC see,s to enjoy a new person joining them

rainbowunicorn Mon 04-Jul-16 20:23:49

I would move her. We were in the same position and I would not hesitate, I would never recommend a small school based on our experience. The larger school is so much better in every way. We found at the small school that it was not only the children who could cause problems but many of the staff had favourites and did not even attempt to hide the fact.

Grumpysfirstwife Mon 04-Jul-16 22:33:51

I would move her.
I actually did move my DD in the Autumn term of year 6 against everyone's advice (including her head teacher and class teachers) but she was so utterly miserable I felt it was worth the risk.
She always tells me that her time at the new school was the happiest 9 months of her school life. She went on to high school with no problems and having enjoyed the last few months of year 6 she found a new spark that had been missing for a long time.

smellyboot Mon 04-Jul-16 22:48:31

Ours is 3 forms in each year I should have said. I am a fan of big schools as lots of friendship options and they can mix with other classes.
I think yr6 can be a good time to move as they grow up so much that year

Dontlikethedailyfail21 Mon 04-Jul-16 22:57:23

Move her. Small schools are not good for shy/quiet children. There is much less chance of them finding a soul mate.

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