Opinions please - awful school situation

(44 Posts)
howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 19:31:24

Firstly, I will confess I have changed some details as the real situation will identify me completely. If my story doesn't add up, it's because I am crap at sticking to the story and the changes, not because I am lying totally!

DC started school at school A. Was lovely to start with but a child there was a complete nightmare, causing injuries to lots of children, huge disruptions etc. DC got hurt on a number of occasions, as did lots of others. School refused to deal with situation and actively lied. After a severe head injury, we moved schools, to school B.

DC settled wonderfully. Less than a year later, the child also moved to the new school sad. They left before being excluded from school A.

We were devastated, as were a number of other parents - this child is well known throughout the local area. We decided to move schools, but school insisted they could cope, so we stayed.

Initially all was fine. However, on moving up to next class the situation has deteriorated massively. I have struggled to get DC to school. Some DC have already left the school because of them. Many children have been hurt. The school, whilst initially on the ball are floundering and now becoming defensive. There are fights everyday, which are ignored.

It is a small village school and the ethos has changed completely. The school and governors are not dealing with this, the children do not seem to be being punished - not kept in, not excluded - for extreme violent behaviour.

The incidents are so extreme we, and others, are concerned about safety. Some parents have contacted the LEA and are awaiting response.

We have contacted some local schools and have identified places.

But, should we move again? What if child leaves again and comes to new school -we didn't believe it would happen the first time so now anything seems possible. If we wait too long, spaces could fill up, school A is now in special measures so children could be leaving both school A and B. We don't want to move and then they exclude anyway, but we have lost a lot of faith in the school and can see DC personality changing.

We are going in to see the head again, but just don't know what to do sad

Any advice anyone?

XBenedict Thu 16-May-13 19:35:09

Was going to suggest a face to face meeting with the head but you have already done this, will the chair of governors also be present?

Wow what an awful situation for you. I think if it was me I would be asking the head for an action plan and being very open about getting the LEA involved if they don't seem to be sorting this out to your satisfaction.

Euphemia Thu 16-May-13 19:36:35

I would wait for the response from the local authority.

Something is going to have to happen about this boy; the current situation cannot continue.

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 19:38:36

The situation is actually worse than in my post. Another parent has met face to face with governors and had promises but its getting worse instead of better.

I am worried about the effect of moving again but genuinely concerned for dc safety and mental health.

Euphemia Thu 16-May-13 19:40:42

It's been escalated to the LEA so make them deal with it. If they don't, who's next - OFSTED? (I'm in Scotland so I don't know.)

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 20:07:18

Does anyone have any experience of complaints to the LEA? We believe the school are not recording many of the incidents, yet the children are all saying they happened. If the LEA investigate, will it just look like 'on paper' this isn't happening?

The teacher who they have had this year and will have them again next year has now resigned. Many siblings will not be attending next year due to concerns over safety.

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 20:12:17

How about you rally parents and all agree to keep DCs at home until proper measures are put in place? Hmmmm- I can see this won't really work on a real world basis (due to working parents etc etc) but I think something dramatic is needed to get the school to sort it out.

ajandjjmum Thu 16-May-13 20:12:54

It is horrific that one child can have such a detrimental effect. Would the parents of any of the children that have been hurt involve the police, so that the school will have to take action? What is the problem with the child? Are they ill, or is it bad parenting?

Feel for you - although we went through the 'naughty' child following DS to three schools. Now they're older, it's fine, but there were some dodgy moments!

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 20:14:30

Actually due to the lack of childcare available many of the families have one parent at home. That's a really good idea. Everyone is being very careful to make the complaints about the school, rather than the child as at the end of the day this is a young child, but feelings are starting to run very high!

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 20:18:07

3 schools ! this is our fear!

The child is under the age of criminal responsibility. The police have already been called and cannot become involved.

They have diagnosed behavior problems but parenting also seems to be a factor - they just do not seem to see how serious it is. They are over the moon with the school as they are doing much better academically than at school A

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 20:24:03

I think the school need to sort out their behaviour policy. We had a new head and the behaviour policy is on the school website, clear for all parents to read should they wish. Do you have this? It shows the processes that are followed if incidents occur.

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 20:31:08

The one on the website is 4 years old and out of date - I will request a copy tomorrow.

The main problems are at break and lunch times, although lessons are constantly disrupted. The incidents are often just ignored, or there are words had by the teacher after. But the published behavior policy talks about red and yellow cards (which I know they use) and that red cards mean a missed break time etc. They are always out at break and lunch times.

Other children are still punished as they should be, but this one is not. Other children are starting to exhibit low level naughty behavior. The whole school is changing

lunar1 Thu 16-May-13 20:40:40

I think the idea of keeping all the children away is a good one. It sounds like the only way they will listen. What a horrible situation for everyone.

CalicoRose Thu 16-May-13 20:55:01

I'd move school.

Even if child follows you'd have some peace until that happens.....

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 20:59:33

What we're thinking of doing is securing a place for September elsewhere, but seeing how it pans out at current school up to July.

I feel like a mad school hopper but it is genuinely affecting DC

Willsmum79 Thu 16-May-13 20:59:59

Go back to school A. There isn't anything stopping you from doing that and also the main reason was to remove your child from the company of the aggressive child was it not?
Chances are, the aggressive child will not go back to the very school who was about to exclude him otherwise the school will record, deal extensively with all situations the child is involved in, in order to have him permanantly removed.
This sounds so familiar to me (not saying I know you as the situation that this reminds me of, involves twins in your situation!)

Pyrrah Thu 16-May-13 21:04:07

Sounds horrific - could you get all the worried parents together and organize so those without childcare could leave their child with a school friend and just boycott till you can all arrange a face-to-face meeting with the HT, the Chair of Governors and the LEA?

RandomMess Thu 16-May-13 21:06:24

Just wanted to sympathise, awful situation for you to be in sad

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 21:06:32

School A is an option, but DC associates it with such a horrible time, I am not sure we could over come that.

I thought we could not possibly be the only ones dealing with this, but already 2 people have had, or know of, similar situations!

ProphetOfDoom Thu 16-May-13 21:14:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 21:26:33

willsmum and ajandjjmum - can I ask what you / other family have done in this situation?

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 21:28:09

Sorry, scrap that. I was assuming the situation continued at the new school but you didn't say that!

I also have to consider younger DC who starts school in 1 1/2 years so need to get this right

tethersend Thu 16-May-13 21:30:27

This school is meeting none of the children's needs.

They are not meeting the perpetrator's needs if they are allowing him to hurt other children; they are clearly not meeting the victims' needs by not keeping them safe.

I would be asking how they planned to keep all children safe.

Have the staff had appropriate training to physically intervene and restrain if necessary?

Are the school using support effectively?

Has statementing been considered and an SA1 raised?

Has the council's behaviour support team become involved?

Has the EP become involved?

The school do not have to answer questions directly relating to the child, as there are issues of confidentiality, but it may prompt them to look at their options.

CatPinoy Thu 16-May-13 21:52:01

What will put the fear of God into the school ?

A group of parents going to the local or county newspaper.

A letter from a solicitor reminding them of their duties under the Education Act xxx etc etc

mummytime Thu 16-May-13 22:06:36

I would complain to Ofsted if you you are in England, this kind of thing could trigger an inspection. They keyword you want to include is "safeguarding" as in "I do not believe because of x y z the school is safeguarding my child, and my child is worried about their safety".
The real issue is that this is a SN issue which is not being dealt with, with possible home factors.

I would tend to think that neither of these schools are truly "good" if they cannot cope, by ensuring outside resources are brought in.

insanityscratching Thu 16-May-13 22:12:59

It sounds like the school aren' accessing the support that they could access if they were documenting incidents properly. There will be a behaviour support team that school can access to work with the child and advise on strategies. Likewise school could request funding for TA support for the child whilst an assessment of his needs were made. To access this there needs to be proper documented evidence though so sweeping things under the carpet or turning a blind eye is helping no one.

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 22:15:01

Can you go straight to Ofsted without following the complaints procedure of the school (they are keeping this close to their chests, I will ask again!)?

Without being specific, other agencies must (I assume) be involved to a degree as the child doesn't actually live with the parents, but a family member who has taken on the role. There is clearly a lot going on for this child. But I think the school are pretending they can cope alone and ignoring anything that indicates otherwise.

I want to see the school work it out and get better, but I also don't want to see my child suffer while this happens.

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 22:17:48

Ah yes, actually Ofsted may be a good idea and an inspection would force the school to sort it out. I don't know how these things work, but you would think that if enough parents expressed concern something should happen.

Equally, putting pressure on the LEA could bring about a change. You may need more parents to contact the LEA and kick up a fuss. I would go in strongly at your next meeting with the Head and tell him that as the school isn't sorting out these serious behaviour problem internally, you have lost faith in the school to keep your child safe. You need the head to bring in an advisor from the LEA to guide the school on this and bring about effective change (sounds like they need this at least).
If he does not agree you will be forced to contact media/go to LEA via parents etc etc (choose your strategy) and of course this will put his leadership in question (hmm, or words to that effect!).

Good luck!

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 22:18:06

I am pretty sure the child doesn't have a statement so there is no funding for extra support. And, as you say, them ignoring the behavior is not getting anyone anywhere.

It also makes me wonder what else is going on at the school. It used to be the local 'sink school' but improved dramatically under this head, which is why we chose it. I now assume the head isn't as good as we thought!

howsyourluck Thu 16-May-13 22:19:57

Is Ofsted & LEA at the same time a good idea or will that annoy either one of them.

I am so out of my depth here!

tethersend Thu 16-May-13 22:29:08

It might be worth urging the school to contact the council's Virtual school/Virtual head/Advisory teacher for LAC if they have one.

I am an advisory teacher for looked after children, and I would be very concerned if a child I was working with was so out of control that they were hurting other children. This will obviously serve to further alienate them from their peers, and is good for nobody.

The school need to involve other agencies as a matter of urgency.

Unfortunately, the school cannot discuss this with you- this is why it is a good idea to urge the school to liaise with Children's services.

freetrait Thu 16-May-13 22:33:39

I don't know I'm afraid, hopefully someone will offer good advice. We had a shocking Ofsted and one of the first things that happened was that LEA advisors were brought in to help the school. I think the main thing is that the school need to bring in outside help- as tethersend says.

Maybe this is the thing to push the Head with, he needs to realise that he needs help, that it is not satisfactory (far from) to keep mismanaging this, he is out of his depth and get whoever in and then hopefully things can move forward.

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 16-May-13 22:36:37

Firstly get a copy of the school's behaviour and complaints policies. Make notes of when and how the behaviour policy has not been followed then make a complaint. Follow the complaints policy to the letter. It's normally class teacher first, then head, then governors (chair first then complaints committee). If you can get a group of parents (group not mob) to make a joint complaint so much the better. If that doesn't help you can then escalate to LA on the grounds if ineffective governance.
It can be long drawn out so start sooner rather than later.
If there are any instances of violence resulting in injury to a child I would contact police as they can intervene if a child's safety is at risk.

BlackeyedSusan Thu 16-May-13 23:07:24

can I suggest that you ll get together and fill in the paent view fom for ofsted as well. one of the questions deals with safety at school. also, write everytime there is an incident. the more you all write, the more evidence there is to get help for the child/school.

ipotty Thu 16-May-13 23:28:53

If most of the incidents are at lunchtime the school can insist that the child goes home every lunchtime. They can put the child in isolation and gradually reintroduce to class. There are lots of measures that can be put in place to address the needs of all the children. I would be asking what the school are currently doing to ensure the safety of the children.

mummytime Fri 17-May-13 06:32:20

My DCs primary is very good at dealing with troubled children. Strategies they have used have included: a pupil always being supervised by an adult, they actually had a rota, and the child was always with: head, Deputy Head, an experienced TA or the school secretary. With most children just working with the child via a TA is enough.

It does sound as if the school is failing this child, and every other child in the school.

FadedSapphire Fri 17-May-13 07:02:49

With ofsted I don't think they will advertise reason for inspection or flag your name for it. Take the safeguarding line and go for it...
LEA and ofsted- double pronged approach- [other child being let down too..... ]

Inclusionist Fri 17-May-13 07:24:33

School should be:

Requesting support from Behaviour Services.
Resquesting EP involvement.
Making a referral to CAMHS or asking parents to do this through GP.
Telling parents to go to GP for medical investigation of underlying causes.
Applying for Statutory Assessment.

I would also expect them to put a full time 1:1 in pending the Statement if the behaviour is as bad as you say. There may well be 'hard to hold' funding available for this, but if not frankly they would have to do it anyway if Health and Safety is an issue.

All of these things do take a bit of time (even recruiting a TA wiling to do full time BESD). Are you SURE they are not doing all this, it is just all in the pipeline so you can't see it yet? They wouldn't be announcing any of this in the school newsletter.

Does your LEA have a Primary BESD School, or even a PRU?

BrienneOfTarth Fri 17-May-13 17:37:24

I wrote the following at about 6:30 and then went to work before pressing "post message" so apologies if these things have been said before or are irrelevant now...

Mass keep-child-at-home day would be a good thing. Pick a single day - midweek not weekend so that it's not dismissed as wanting-a-long-weekend - and arrange for everyone to keep their child at home that day and send a letter to the school office saying that you are keeping your children at home because of concerns that the school is not taking the safety of your children seriously, because they are not effectively being prevented from being harmed by or harming each other, but that you will be happy to send your children to school again next day if by the end of the day there are proper meetings and planning opportunities in place to resolve this situation properly.

If that doesn't work, I would apply for your child to return to school A.

I know you said it is now in special measures but this doesn't mean it should be avoided - it means that it is getting additional investment and support to solve specific problems (some of which make have been fallout from having such a disruptive child). However, your child initially thrived there and it will be familiar and minimally disruptive to go back now the distruptive child has gone.

Moving your child to any other school risks the same thing happening again. However, school A knows the deal and will not accept nightmare child back, so that is the only place your child will be safe.

DeWe Fri 17-May-13 19:43:26

I doubt Ofsted won't be interested unless you've followed the complaint procedure. They almost certainly get malicious complaints, probably many a year, so I'd suspect you'd need to show that you have contacted head and governors and they haven't done anything acceptable before they would follow it up.

Nerfmother Fri 17-May-13 20:02:10

I can't believe that anyone with an ounce of compassion would advocate a mass walk out. Imagine the damage that would do to an already vulnerable child, and then to realise the other parents had sanctioned it?
OP all you can do is act positively for your own child. You are not a spokesperson for the other parents or an advocate for the child. Complain to the head about your child's safety, then the governors, then the LA unless its an academy. Then move your child if you need to. If you are friendly with the family member, give them the details of the sen dept, parent partnership or an appropriate charity.

ICanTotallyDance Sun 19-May-13 11:24:39

Hope it is working out better. My recommendation is that you look into an alternative place for September but are willing to stick with School B if things are working out. Obviously this child is a serious problem. Sometimes people find it hard to believe a kid can be anything more than disruptive, but after experiencing a year with a 10 yr old psychopath (who was eventually "recommended a change of schools") I can totally believe the extreme violence (this girl would strangle children in the playgrounds, throw chairs, draw blood, scream, spit, kick, etc).

You say police can't be involved, but surely if the violence is that extreme, they can be?! Particularly if it is a child at the school who calls them during the school day.

If it is a parenting problem, it sounds quite extreme, not just a special needs child whose family is not coping. Is social services involved?

A severe head injury etc is not okay. If nothing is done by next year, move your child. At the moment School A and homeschooling are the only options where you can be completely sure that your DC will be safe. I doubt homeschooling is an option but if your DC settled well at 2 schools I think he would cope with a third move.

Of course, keep petitioning and escalate. Headmaster not listening? Contact governors. Governors not listening? Contact LEA. LEA not listening? Contact OFSTED. OFSTED not listening? Contact um... an MP?

This is an awful situation. It sounds like this child needs a major intervention and serious help from the medical, social and educational sectors. It is not your job to provide this intervention. You need to focus on keeping your son safe, both physically and mentally.

Yes, school A is in special measures, but realistically your DC will not be doing well academically if s/he is under serious stress from that other child. Moving 4,5,6 times to get away from the child will do no good, and if your son is at a "lovely village" type school I'm not sure how many other schools are around. I would send back to School A.

How old is you child? If DC is going to secondary soon, this may not be such a big problem (obviously still major though) and another move for yr 6 may be disruptive, but if your DC is yr 3 then moving may be the best.

Sorry for the long ramble. To summarise, IMO you should:

-Keep petitioning/seeing the head
-Be ready to move your DC (to School A or School C), particularly if there will be a big outflow from schools A and B you will need to secure a place
-Be prepared to keep your son/daughter home for his/her own safety
-Encourage him/her to be able to call an authority figure (teacher, school nurse, police,) if s/he is in immediate danger.

Good luck with this.

scaevola Sun 19-May-13 11:50:25

I think it might be worth contacting the police. Just because a child is too oung to be charged with a crime does not mean that they cannot be involved and if there has been an event that would lead to charges for an older person, then a Chikd Safety Order can be out in place.

And if the LEA is already involved, depending on what they are saying, involving your councillor (and eventually MP) might be worth it at some point.

spanieleyes Sun 19-May-13 11:59:42

*School should be:

Requesting support from Behaviour Services.
Resquesting EP involvement.
Making a referral to CAMHS or asking parents to do this through GP.
Telling parents to go to GP for medical investigation of underlying causes.
Applying for Statutory Assessment.*

which all needs parental agreement. We have a similar case, the child is a severe problem ( we are the fourth school and the child is still in Reception) but the parents refuse to engage in any intervention at all. They simply state that the child does not misbehave at home and it is all the schools' fault. All we can do is exclude the child ( which we have done) and watch the child like a hawk whilst in school. But even with this we still have had instances of disruption and violence. It is unfair on the other children but at the moment our hands are tied and until we can permanently exclude or the parents move onto another school ( where the whole process starts again) we do the best we can.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now