How long to settle

(12 Posts)
NettleTea Mon 07-Jan-13 23:16:58

DD has just started year seven. She has come from a very small rural school, along with about 8 of her school colleagues, where she was very happy, into a secondary school with around 1200 pupils between yrs 7-11. She has visited this secondary many times during her time at primary, as well as attended transition days, and was happy and excited to be starting.
DD has a medical condition which unfortunately took a downturn during this first term and ended up with a hospital admission for 3 weeks, as well as sick days prior and since, and other appointments. During her hospital stay the school bent over backwards to accommodate her attendance at school when she was able, and she has been given dinner passes to allow her to get into lunch with a friend at first sitting to ensure she eats what she wants. She had an issue with a girl she didn't like, but although now she isn't friends, she isn't worried about her any more. But that really set things off wrong and she decided she didn't like school and when sick she actually faked several more sick days to get out of going.
She is in a tutor group with all the girls from her school apart from one who went to a different school, including her best friend. She has been put in class 1 or 2 for the majority of subjects.
She has been saying now that she hates the school. She won't give much of a reason beyond that she just hates it, she hates the teachers and she feels like she doesn't fit in and that everyone has friends and she is left out, and yet if you ask her she has been spending times with different people and is usually someone who makes a lot of friends. This weekend she had her birthday outing but her best friend was I'll and couldn't make it, but her friend who went to the other comprehensive came along. She loves her school, so now all I am hearing is how she wants to go to this school now.
I have tried to explain to her that it's always difficult transitioning from primary to secondary, that most people are probably feeling the same, especially as the school is a feeder for many tiny rural schools. Also she has come from being the eldest to the youngest, and the big kids are teenagers, which is different from the eldest being yr6s. Also as she has been off sick quite a bit she is bound to feel even less settled than many others, and that can make you feel left out. She says that her old friends are making new friends and she feels left out, but she hasn't acknowledged that she too has made new friends too, so it works both ways. I also said that if she went to the other school the situation would be the same, except that she would be relying on the only person she knows, and that SHE would probably have other friends too. It's tricky because at her primary there were quite a tight group of them, but only 14 pupils in the whole year. She flitted easily between groups and her best friend seemed to change with the wind. Now I feel she is wanting the security of a best friend but doesn't feel that yet, so she thinks the grass is greener at the other school (which is actually bigger than the one she is at, with 80 pupils in a class in some subjects shock I also suggested it was far far too early for her to make any decisions about whether she likes the school or not.
In addition the practicals are that the school she is at has the best reputation in the area - one that people move to get into the catchment area. It is also about 400 yards from our house. Getting to the other one would mean a 10 mile non funded bus ride there and back, and she can barely manage to get up, dressed, do her medication and physio, have breakfast and get out the door for the school next door, and this other school starts at 8.20am 3 days a week.
She just keeps going on and on and on and I am beginning to get cross now. I don't even want to discuss it as it seems that she thinks she is going to wear me down. Also I feel like she has just decided she hates her new school and her frame of mind is so negative that she isn't going to like it now whatever, but given how her character is there is no guarantee that 5 mins into a different school it could be exactly the same situation. Someone just looks at her funny and she hates that one too. She keeps trying to pin me down as to how long she has to endure it before I will think its long enough to change schools. She hasn't even stepped into this other school either, so it's all based on her not having found a peer group, and another child's enthusiasm.
So fundamentally I am asking, how long does it take to settle in ( I know I hated my first year there, but that was 30 years ago) how can I help her shift her perspective to a more positive one, and what do I do about this CONSTANT going on and on about it and nagging as to when/ how/ why can she change schools before I go completely mental ?

Labro Tue 08-Jan-13 09:03:04

Gently explain that she will need to wait as the transfer system doesn't work that way (so it would be at least til Easter/end of this school year anyway. Then, make an appointment with her form tutor and head of year to talk all this through, I'm sure they'll have seen similar before especially with the majority coming from small schools. Make your own enquiries (without your dd knowing) about the other school and find out your LA's policy on in year transfers, some go on about 'managed moves' and such like, so there is normally a distinct procedure to follow and the other school may not have a place.
If after all the above she is still desperate to move, then is the time to start the reality of what its actually going to be like.
In the meantime, tell her you are gathering information and can't give her a time scale/straight answer as you need to do some research. Its also important she realises schools do talk to each other so she'll need to show her current school she can still be 'positive'

TotallyBS Tue 08-Jan-13 09:41:33

I would tell her that she isn't going to be moved. As you have said, there is no guarantee that she won't feel the same 5min into the other school

At the moment she thinks that there is a possibility of her being moved if she keeps up the negativity. So there is simply no motivation for her to make the best of the situation.

crazymum53 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:28:45

I would say to keep her at the current school. It sounds as if the school have been very supportive and understanding about your daughter's medical condition and a new school may not be (it could even be the opposite).

My dd is now Y8 and is at a secondary school of a similar size. She didn't find a group of friends that she was happy with until about May of Y7, having previously "tagged along" with a group of a friend's friends and finding after a term or so that she didn't really fit in. She made these friends (who were not in her tutor group) through extra-curricular activities such as lunch-time clubs and a music group and also attending the Y7 disco. So perhaps something similar will happen with your dd.
Hope this is helpful.

realcoalfire Tue 08-Jan-13 11:43:29

I would tell her that the other school is full. While she thinks she is moving there, she isn't going to put the effort in to making friends and settling in.
Encourage her to get involved in extracurricular stuff , and to put herself out there and talk to people she doesn't know.
I think it is a big mistake for the school to put all the children from one primary in one class.My DCs secondary school is a grammar and is similar in that it takes maybe only 3 or 4 from each primary.It has a policy of splitting them up so they have to make the effort and make new friends.

titchy Tue 08-Jan-13 11:50:35

Agree with last poster - tell her the school she wants this week is full and she is number 27 on the waiting list, so there'll be a long wait and in the meantime she'd better make the most of the current schol.

IndridCold Tue 08-Jan-13 13:16:45

From your OP you it is obvious that you have reasoned everything throught and know what you have to do. Be firm and absolutely clear that she cannot move schools. I'm sure you will argue about it and she'll be furious and think that you are so mean and have ruined her life - but we all know that that isn't true.

We all want to make life as easy as possible for our DCs and never make them unhappy, but that isn't always the best option in the long run. Learning that you have to make the best of what you've got is a hard, but absolutely crucial life lesson. She has been very unlucky to have missed a crucial time due to ill health, but although young she also sounds as though she has more than enough strength of character to get through this and out the other side very well indeed.

Good luck for the stormy time which may lie ahead for you, I don't think it will last too long though!

NettleTea Tue 08-Jan-13 14:52:50

Thanks for all the replies. I agree that she needs to stay where she is, but while she thinks there is an inkling then she is going to crank up the hate of this one, and the nagging for the other - real greener grass syndrome. I think the reality of hard work and being one of the yr 7 squirts after ruling the roost has been a bit of a shock, but also while she holds the negativity she is hardly likely to find anything good to say.
The joke is that people are falling over themselves to get into this school and its only round the corner - the usual thing of not knowing how good you have it until its gone.....
I remember taking a good 2 years to settle in and find my peer group. she has shown interest in attending art club, but now says she is too scared to walk home - and yet i pointed out that if she went to either of the other 2 comprehensives in the area she would have to walk far further on her own, and she says that she would do that to get away from this awful place. Last term she was asking to be home schooled (as this has been a consideration for her brother who is struggling emotionally and is probably somewhere on the AS spectrum) but as she had always previously said she would HATE to be home schooled Ive put the kybosh on that one.
Unfortunately her character and the fact that she has had to have alot of attention due to her condition, has made her a bit of a drama queen and very attention seeking (sorry if that sounds harsh) so I am assuming that its a case of her not being wonderfully happy being turned around into this unbearable awfullness. Hormones are beginning to kick in too. She does have a tendancy that the slightest problem gets blown into a huge disaster where everything is hopeless and we might all as well just give up and die.... Sadly my mother hasnt helped the situation by agreeing with her that she should move if not happy (this of course being the mother who was quite happy to leave both me and my sister at schools which made us desperately unhappy for years, and we were both badly bullied and nothing done to address it .....)

I think a bit of creative info regarding the difficulties in moving, the long waiting lists, the schools wanting a report, and the LEAs involvement might be in order.

and sending her to the disco

titchy Tue 08-Jan-13 15:11:16

I have a ds who tended to look on the gloomy side! One thing I did was to get him to list the best three things about his day before he said moaned about the stuff that went wrong! Might just help get her out of that mindset.

realcoalfire Tue 08-Jan-13 17:32:44

Please try not to worry too much, it is still very early days -especially as your DD had such a disrupted first term .Also I think your DD will put the worst slant on things when she is talking to you.
But I would have a chat with the form teacher

mumzy Tue 08-Jan-13 19:50:35

Just ro sympathise my ds1 said exactly the same thing to me last week. I think it'll take him a year to settle in

NettleTea Tue 08-Jan-13 23:27:56

well today I met a mum of a girl in DDs year who used to go to playgroup with her and we got chatting. her DD is saying exactly the same thing and she has pushed her to join clubs and ask people for their numbers so they can start seeing each other out of school. She and my DD are getting to be friends a bit anyway - we saw them shopping last week, and coincidentally my DD had been chatting with her at break. I think may be knowing others feel the same might help.
I also told her that it wasnt that easy to move, and that I wouldnt even start to look into it until she had demonstrated that she had explored every opportunity to join in and try it out. so we will see how it goes from here.....

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