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DD miserable at school

(10 Posts)
SolveAProblemLikeMaria Sat 12-Apr-14 17:53:43

Hi everyone

Apologies in advance for the long post.

So DD (will be 15 next week) has been at her school since September. She was at her previous school from year 6-9 which sadly closed down. It was a lovely, all girls school and very very small (just 21 in her whole year.) She had a very close group of 6 who I know she misses terribly. She was really happy there, got on well with her teachers, enjoyed her classes etc. She was never the "perfect" student; she'd get into trouble but for little things like forgetting her science overall (organisation has never been her strong point!) or talking too much in class etc, but nothing truly terrible.

Anyway so the school announces at the end of June of 2013 that it would be closing down. As it turns out all 6 from her close group have gone to different schools. She begged and begged DH and I to let her to go one of the schools they were going to but we live quite a bit further out than them. She kept saying she didn't mind the long commute but i could see it being a different story, having to wake up at 6.15 on a cold winter's morning to catch the train/bus. DH and I put her in a local, all girls school (not much different to her previous school..slightly bigger at roughly 45 girls in her year but very similar in a lot of ways.)

She has always been a very sociable girl. Whenever we would go on holiday she'd always always make friends with others in the hotel or villa/apartment complex. She started at her old school at the beginning of year 6 and had friend's over the first weekend of term. Honestly the type of girl who would make friends in an instant. I can't tell you how many times my DH and I would do the whole "this is not a hotel!" saga as she was hardly ever in the house..always was out with friends or at someone else's house.

Anyway, she's like a totally different girl these days. I knew she would take a little while to settle in, but it's been almost a full academic year now and she just seems to have no friends. My mother has been staying with us for a few days and today, she tactlessly says "are you not going out today lovey? You seem to stay in a lot these days" which of course upset her. She doesn't talk about it though..I've tried asking her how school is but I don't really feel like I can ask her about friends without sounding mean. And to make it worse, the other 5 from her group seem to have all settled n really well in their new schools. She says how she's always seeing photos of them out with their friends and at parties on Facebook. DD has been invited to a couple of birthday parties but only the really big ones where basically the whole year is invited anyway.

year 10 just seems to be a really horrible age to move schools. I think at that age everyone has their very close group and don't welcome "newbies". She is also getting in a lot more trouble now and over more than just a forgotten overall. I've had countless meetings with the deputy head over her attitude, latest incident was storming out of a French class. a couple of weeks before that she got upset with her ICT teacher and stormed out, kicking her chair and door as she left. The deputy head actually seems quite fond of her though...I think she knows she isn't a "bad kid" but more an unhappy one. She has actually given a group of them the nickname "azbo" (as in Asbo) as their initials spell it out. I was a bit taken aback at first but she assured me she doesn't mean it in a really awful way..just that they're the 4 she sees in her office the most!

the school is certainly a lot stricter. The thing with her old school being so small (there were 320 pupils from nursery school up to 6th form) meant that most of the girls had really great, friendship-like relationships with their teachers. So it all seems a bit alien to her and they hand out detentions much more easily here than they do at her old school. At first, DH and I thought she was deliberately playing up and not fitting in to sort of guilt-trip us because we wouldn't let her go to the same school as one of her friends. But it really upsets me to see how much she has changed. I'm sure mood swings were bound to happen anyway with hormones etc! But she used to be such a happy, mischievous, cheeky, smiley little thing and now she's just sad or sulky all the time, lives in her bedroom, she actually deleted her facebook page because it upset her too much seeing all of her old friends' photos. And she's getting in more and more trouble. She gets on really well with the deputy head and her English teacher but other than that it's like she is going out of her way to make the teachers dislike her. I am starting to feel really awful for not giving her more of a say about which school to go to sad I don't even really know what I'm asking here..I guess, do you think it will get better? Is it natural for 14/15 year old's to be a bit "off" with new students? I really don't know how much of this is her own doing.

SolveAProblemLikeMaria Sat 12-Apr-14 18:00:17

I forgot to add she also seems to be comfort eating. I'm always seeing empty wrappers lying around etc. and I have noticed that she has gained a little weight (of course I'd never say anything.) I'm just worried that she will carry on like this and lose her confidence even more

Dumplings4ever Sun 13-Apr-14 10:41:24

OP - Have you sat your DD down and asked her what she wants? She may well decide that 6.15am starts so that she can travel to be with her friends are her best option.

You say that moving schools in year 10 may not be such a good idea. TBH it sounds like it would be no more disruptive than leaving DD where she is. When children are content in their social life they tend to do better academically.

If I was in your shoes I'd ring the other school to enquire about vacancies with a view to letting your DD move there.

SolveAProblemLikeMaria Sun 13-Apr-14 10:52:36

Dumplings4ever her school close down, she couldn't stay where she was. And in regard to going to the same school as her friend, it's 15 miles away and I know my dd, those cold dark winter mornings there's no way she'd drag herself out of bed at 6.15 every morning. Plus she wouldn't be getting home til past 6 with afternoon traffic. DH and I both felt that day was just far too long especially with these being her GCSE years.
It's definitely too late to move her now. I doubt we would find another school with exactly the same GCSE syllabus. She's already sat exams and done loads of coursework. I think moving her for the start of year 11 would be a really bad idea to be honest.

BryKP Sun 13-Apr-14 11:02:57

I agree OP. Dumplings4ever I don't think it would be wise to move her for the start of year 11..there would just be far too many complications with exams and exam boards etc. What about subjects like English? Chances are they aren't even studying the same books.
OP it sounds like you made the best decision for her. My sister is 16 and she struggles waking up at 7.30 for school..let alone 6.15!! I agree that a 12 hour day for 14/15 year old's is just too long. Does she do sports etc too? Because I see your point, she'd be knackered.
I see what Dumplings is saying about asking her what she wants but sometimes as parents, we do know best. I think year 10 is a tough age, girls can be very cliquey at that age and it must be especially hard considering her closest friends are all enjoying their new schools. Why not arrange a girls day out? Go and get your hair or nails done, go out for lunch etc and maybe she will open up to you more. Do you think it's a case of everyone just ignoring her and leaving her out, or are you suggesting they make the effort but she doesn't try in return? Sort of to be stubborn because you sent her there? Have you spoken to any other teachers other than the deputy heads, one's that actually see her in class etc?
It sounds like she's just very unhappy, poor thing and it must be hard to see this change in her. I think the best thing you can do is try and have a proper heart to heart.
Is the school very very different to her previous one? and the girls? I had a similar situation in that I was at a very small all girls school from age 8-16 then went to a large 6th form college. It wasn't until I moved schools that I realise how sort of sheltered my school was. I realise how naive I was compared to a lot of girls my age and I'd hear people talking about things that my friends and I just never did!! It seemed we were a lot more "childlike" in a way. Not suggesting your DD is childish or naive or anything!! But perhaps the girls are just very different to her friends and considering there was just 21 in her whole year I can see how it was probably quite easy to sort of form a "role" if you see what I mean. It's not hard to be the funniest/loudest/cleverest/sportiest etc when there's only 21 girls.

It's very difficult watching something like this happen OP. My DD changed schools into year 7 (the usual age of course) away from all her friends at her previous small school. Even now, although she's had ups and downs making new friends, feeling left out, lacking in confidence etc, we now seem to be on the other side of it. She got involved in a few extra-curricular activities at school (CCF, drama) and made friends of different ages that way. Also, her old school friends still arrange to get together every couple of months for a Friday night sleepover. This works wonders - she's excited and happy to be organising it, they all go bonkers when they see each other and its very good for her to have strong friendships outside of school.

I think the moodiness comes with the age, to some extent, but perhaps there are things you could encourage her to do to broaden her interests and perhaps move outside the current year's friendship groups a bit. My daughter's confidence suddenly picked up when she stopped trying to pretend to be like everyone else - then the friends appeared out of the woodwork!

Dumplings4ever Sun 13-Apr-14 11:19:26

I'm assuming that her friends from the old school live locally - can she not see them after school and at weekends?? It may mean that you act as chauffeur a lot of the time but it would be worth it.

The fact that your DD has closed her FB account as she can't bear to see other friends photos/having fun shows how low your DD is feeling. This, for me, is a warning sign (Background - my DD is 17, after year 6 I sent her to a new school away from her friends. Academically she did OK but emotionally things were not good leading to CAMHS involvement and SH issues. Im not saying this to scare you, I want to point out that I'm speaking from bitter experience). Your DD appears to be isolating herself and this is not a good sign.

There really is no easy answer but I'd definitely ask DD about things. Sit her down and ask her where she sees her life heading - and what would need to change to make her happier.

I accept you don't want to tf her between schools so the next step is to find something to help DD get her spark back.

Cerisier Sun 13-Apr-14 11:31:48

OP I do feel for you and DD, it is such a shame she hasn't found a friend to hang out with.

However now it is too late to change school, DD needs to get her head down and just survive Y10/Y11 so that she has some good results to take on to the next stage. I think you should all start thinking ahead to sixth form now. It isn't too early for you and DD to be looking round all the sixth forms you can and looking at the A levels and facilities they offer.

DD might well find a large coed sixth form is more relaxed and to her taste than a small all girls one. Can she find out where her old friends are going and join them again?

I know 15 months more at a school you hate isn't much fun, but it will soon pass if DD focusses on organisation and work.

I hope she finds a good sixth form and has a ball.

Andro Sun 13-Apr-14 19:11:16

Your DD sounds as though she's depressed (or heading that way) - a GP's appointment might be in order. It's easy to say she just needs to get her head down and survive, but if she's depressed it doesn't work that way.

You and your DH made what you thought was the right choice for your DD, clearly it's a choice that has backfired pretty badly for your DD. Sit down with her and acknowledge that you maybe ought to have made a different decision, explain that moving isn't a option at this point because of the exam work she's already done and ask her what she needs to get through the next year and a bit. She probably went into the new school expecting the worst and already hurt because you hadn't taken her wished into account (I'm not judging in any way) and with no friends, a much stricter environment and GSCE work related pressure it has become a self fulfilling prophecy.

homework Wed 23-Apr-14 18:28:18

I agree that she sounds depressed , and gp visit might be in order . Also agree that you sit down and discuss what and where she like to go next . Get in touch with her old friends though a surprise party , get her back involved with them see if she can't move somewhere one of them is going . Please listen to her even if she wants to move and have a long commute for sixth form.

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