Difficult Son - will private secondary make a big difference

(25 Posts)
Greystones Wed 05-Mar-14 10:37:31

My son is 10 in july - year 5 at a small independent school which goes up to 11.

He is difficult educationally he has flashes of what he might be capable of but in the main his education is hampered by the fact that he does not listen and still does his own thing. ie reversing numbers and letters out of habit and writting a story about something different to what has been asked. Does not work unless it is something he likes. School is trying hard to address these issues and some but limited progress has been made.

School options are 1. highly selective secondary private for which I don't think he stands a hope and teachers agree.

2. Outstanding secondary state which friends are going to.

Or 3 move to prep connected to option 1 in year 6 and hope enough improvement made to get into option school at 13 as other private options have similar results to option 2.

2 seems a no brainer but is a child like mine more likely to sink at a school like this or would it make no difference. Class sizes are around 25 and top 2 sets all go to Russell Group.

If option 3 means we burn bridges for 2 as unlikely to get in at 13 and but unless manages to get into 1 will end up going to a private school we would not consider for 11 entry as results no better than state option.

I think crux of it is private more likely to get him more engaged?

ANy thoughts or experiences?

LIZS Wed 05-Mar-14 10:46:33

has he ever been assessed by an Ed Psych,if only to eliminate possible issues such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADD, APD etc ? What support does he receive and is it the right sort of support ?

meditrina Wed 05-Mar-14 10:57:00

A couple of questions:

a) how sure are you that you would secure a place at your preferred state school?

b) what is the selection procedure for the feeder prep at 10+? Because if they only take pupils (in the later years) that they think will achieve the right level to transfer to the senior school, then that might scupper your plans if your DS isn't currently at the right standard.

I think LIZS' advice is good. If there are barriers to learning, then getting the support so he can overcome them is going to be the most important thing for him in both short and long term. And if he does then make progress, there would still be time to apply for 11+ entry to feeder prep with perhaps better chances of securing a place.

My first thought was the same as LIZS. Is his performance spikey i.e. good in some things and surprisingly bad in others and/or seems to have very good days and very bad days. Both my DS are dyslexic and your post made me wonder about your DS.

It might be worth getting him assessed sooner rather than later because if there are Specific Learning Difficulties then that might affect your choice of school as you want one with a good learning support department.

My DS have one to one sessions in their prep with Learning Support which has helped and we are looking at Senior Schools for 13+ that are good but not too high pressure. One thing I have seen with DS1 who is 10 (Yr6) is that he is now beginning to develop academically as his SpLD are reasonably well managed. He would probably have failed to get into some schools at 11+ that are realistic options at 13+ because he is maturing and starting to show his true potential.

settledandsmug Wed 05-Mar-14 12:05:29

I would go with option 2. If he has issues with his learning they are more likely to be picked up at state comprehensive.

Putting him under the pressure of aiming for the selective school is likely to be counter productive.

Greystones Wed 05-Mar-14 13:11:33

Thanks to you all for those suggestions.

At the moment no learning support as such and we had been thinking for sometime that Ed Pysc assessment would be a good idea although school poo-pooed this in year three as headmaster said although he wasn't charted he had all the Ed Pysc training. Although writing it down that way make me think that possibly we were wrong to put our trust in him.

I think that aside from schools that this is possibly the priority so thank you.

northlondoncat Wed 05-Mar-14 13:15:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 05-Mar-14 13:50:47

Please get him to a an Ed Pysch and have him assessed by a [private?] OT. M son was diagnosed with dyspraxia at 13 . Lack of concentration is often a sign of auditory processing or sensory processing difficulties. My son behaved well in class, and did alright academically in primary and secondary but he had great difficulty concentrating for long periods on written work, or for understanding complicated instructions, or making inferences. All his problems fit the dyspraxia profile, rather than being because he was lazy or stupid. He has just passed his Grade 3 violin, despite his poor motor skills, and ended up on the C Rugby team. If you do send him to state school there is no reason why he shouldn't thrive but you need to know why he is finding it difficult to achieve - rather than just thinking he needs to work harder or concentrate better - HOW can you help him improve his skills, outside the box of listen and do the work...

My son is at an outstanding State school and they have been encouraging but at the same time, I think any extra help you can provide in the form of tuition or extra curricular will make all the difference, and the school will not necessarily solve his problems. You are his best advocate, as people are always saying on the SN board of Mumsnet!

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 05-Mar-14 13:55:24

To some extent with a state school you have a bit more clout because it is their "duty" to help your child whatever their difficulties, whereas a private school might take the line that you will compromise their place in the league tables if your child is underperforming/difficult, and suggest to you that your child is better off elsewhere.
State schools have to make accommodations for your child, within reason, whereas private schools have no such pressure, unless they are very much undersubscribed or extremely enlightened.

mulv2222 Wed 05-Mar-14 18:00:28

From what you have written you could have been describing my ds last year. It seemed like he wasn't trying, bring sloppy in his work, lazy even. I could see he was bright and articulate so why wasn't his school work up to scratch? Learning support thought he wasn't dyslexic but I got him assessed, by an ed psych who came into school. He is dyslexic but is much brighter than we had given him credit for. His dyslexia was making him look average - heaven forbid smile It was only in year 5 that as the work progressed that he find it harder to compensate.

Definitely get him assessed.

lljkk Wed 05-Mar-14 19:02:09

Option 2 sounds horrendous. All the top 2 sets go to RG universities? They sound like Stepford Children. Wouldn't touch with a bargepole. No room for individuality!

Sorry to read your other choices are so lousy, too. Ds attended a tiny private school which specialised in difficult kids, but their academic standards were poor. Something to check carefully.

TheBeautifulVisit Wed 05-Mar-14 19:19:16

is it possible he's unhappy at his current school?

Has he moved school previously?

TheBeautifulVisit Wed 05-Mar-14 19:20:31

When you say the top 2 sets go to RG universities. How many sets are their altogether?

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 05-Mar-14 21:35:47

I dont think that sounds horrendous (RG and top sets) After all the same teachers are teaching top and bottom sets throughout the school. I think I viewed my son's state school through exactly the same prism when I was looking at which school to choose when he was 10/11.

However, you should bear in mind that your hopes and dreams for your son might change over time, and getting him into a Russell Group uni might not be the sole purpose of his education hmm He might end up in the third set for everything - what you need to find out is whether there would be support for him in the third set, if that is the set that suits him best.

Is the school streamed so that the children are in the third/fourth set right from the beginning or are some subjects unstreamed for a few years? For example in my son's school the history geography art and music are not streamed until Year 10, although Maths is set from Term 1, and English from Year 8. Science and languages were not set until Year 9. You might get a nasty shock if you are judging this school by the performance of only the first two sets, if your child is not actually in them. All the children should be receiving good teaching, that is the test of a good school not just the top sets.

LargeBustedMamma Thu 06-Mar-14 02:33:08

Agree with others who suggest a private ed psych report. When talking about your DS you could be describing my DD! She's an extremely bright girl yet one day she'd be achieving great things, the next she would barely write a line? The ed psych was fantastic & gave instruction on how her new school could help her move forward. With no disrespect to your son's Headmaster, he may have many years of education experience but he's not the expert. Two longstanding Headteachers & numerous teachers missed DD's dyslexia or should I say decided she had a 'touch of ADD' yet didn't think to tell me. Getting an independent report was the best money I ever spent.

All the best OP.

bochead Thu 06-Mar-14 06:33:34

I'd get his receptive language skills checked, simply because all the early years stuff looks only at expressive language so it's easily missed. (Was with my son!)

CAN'T listen is not the same as won't listen. Not processing the sounds of properly b & d is a red flag. It's also very hard to pay attention if you are not able to follow the lesson at the same rate as others due to auditory processing issues. How quickly did he pick up phonics when learning to read?

In your shoes my first step would be to see my GP to ask for a neurodevelopmental assessment, (to screen to see if he has a mild case of something like dyspraxia, social communication disorder, add, sensory processing disorder etc, etc) and an auditory processing one. Only once you've done that would I turn my attention to schools as you'll be in a far better to assess their ability to cater to his needs.

Or if you are 100% sure he doesn't have any mild disabilities look at the school that has the best track record for EBSD pupils in your selection. (Do any of the staff have specific in service behavior management training above and beyond the standard offered as part of initial teacher training).

cory Thu 06-Mar-14 10:54:15

Swanhilda, I think what sounds mildly off-putting about all children in top set going to RG universities is the suggestion that no child ever thinks out of the box and tries anything different: e.g. a specialised course at a non-RG university, musical or artistic training at non-university institution (stage school or conservatoire), work-training, starting own business etc etc.

Sounds a bit dull and unimaginative- as if there was no way an academically gifted child could be successful in anything but the most traditional path.

Slightly on the defensive here: my own dd who has always been in top sets is applying for stage school and my very bright nephew is running a successful carpentering firm which he set up himself straight after school.

Greystones Thu 06-Mar-14 12:02:45

I used a lazy shorthand of top sets going to russel group to indicate high academic standards within a shortish email Of course it goes without saying that an academically gifted or indeed any other child does not need to choose an academic path which can be limiting.

We are all the product of our own upbringing and education and it is sometimes difficult to think outside the box it puts us in (and not to think that our kids are like us)

Thank you for the suggestions about reports I think we will definitely do this as I do think that it is highly possible that there is an underlining cause of his issues - we can then move forward from there.

Swanhildapirouetting Thu 06-Mar-14 12:40:35

Cory I agree with everything you say, especially as a lot of contemporaries were corralled by this RG ideology and were encouraged to do "academic" degrees rather than say, go to Art College, if they were in top sets.
But I think when your child is in Year 5, the only mantra you know is RG RG RG, leading to jobs and career prospects hmm and this is the way that school sell their effectiveness (whether state or private) I suppose it is evidence of an outcome of sorts, and other evidence is more difficult to use in a league table.

MillyMollyMama Thu 06-Mar-14 16:53:54

Would a less pressurised independent school suit? Why does it have to be a highly selective one?

daytoday Sat 08-Mar-14 10:38:52

The idea that your son is 'choosing' to reverse letters do his own thing is red herring. I'd really want to find out why. I second and third all those who say get a private assessment. It will really help your sons self esteem to know there is a reason perhaps and if there is a reason good therapy (salt) could teach him really helpful techniques.

I'd also look at (private) schools which have a cracking reputation for pastoral care as often these go right into seeing what barriers a child has to learning and works on their strengths.

cory Sat 08-Mar-14 11:34:37

I'd book an appointment with SENCO/HoY/pastoral care at each of these schools and explain exactly what the situation is and see how they respond. We did this with dd's SN and it was a pretty effective way of separating the wheat from the chaff: the school we chose was the one where the SENCO and the HoY immediately started bouncing ideas off each other for dd's support. It was the right choice. smile

Stringbean70 Sat 08-Mar-14 21:50:20

Option 2 - state school. So much better for kids with educational needs. Do try to get him statement'd (if he isn't already) - added bonus is that it will mean you can apply via SEN admissions process (much more likely to get in). Suggest you pay for private educational psych report - massively helps in getting statements. All best

Dededum Sun 09-Mar-14 19:14:04

I have an ADD son, much better in good comprehensive. My sociable, sporty NT we are going to send private because for him he will get pushed and run around a lotsmile)

TimeFliesLikeAnArrow Sun 09-Mar-14 23:37:48

Those of you who have had or know about educational psychologist reports - how did you get yours? If we wanted to consult one privately, how would we know who to choose, and would we need to see our GP first? For any assessment of possible APD, would we need to see a psychologist, or an audiologist?

We're at the point of just wanting some kind of assessment of one of our secondary-school aged dc. Several of the things mentioned here sound familiar. We're sure there's something going on and we've got to the point where we just think we really need to get it checked out even if we end up with inconclusive results, and even if the school think we're mad because dc is not disruptive and doesn't appear to be failing so not a problem from their point of view.

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