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to be utterly pissed off with DS's school? Very long sorry.

(20 Posts)
JustTryingToGetBY Wed 02-Apr-14 17:03:29

DS (12 - Yr 7) spent all day yesterday in the isolation unit at school as I found out when he got home shock. I thought he must have done something terrible but it was apparently due to him getting 3 detentions on one day, 1 for lateness, and the other 2 for talking in 2 separate classes.

I was sent a text on Monday afternoon informing me that he had a detention so contacted the school yesterday morning to ask why as I suspected it was due to lateness the day before but that was actually due to him having an orthodontist appointment first thing on Monday morning which I had forgotten to inform the school about in advance so I just dropped him off at 09.50 with a note explaining why he was late. The school agreed to cancel the detention (I was not aware there had been 2 others issued at that point as the text just mentioned 1). DS being put in isolation was not mentioned at all.

I was quite cross about this last night as DS did not actually have 3 detentions, the other 2 that were issued seemed quite extreme as DS said he was telling other pupils to stop talking to him but he was the one who got into trouble for talking so I rang the school this morning asking to speak to the Head of Year who had decided he would be put into isolation.

The school's behaviour policy does not mention isolation being a consequence of getting 3 detentions, it mentions it being a consequence of bullying, verbal and physical abuse, damaging equipment etc.

I should also mention that DS was diagnosed in December as having a learning disability, memory issues and the cognitive function of a 6 year old. He has had problems with learning and low level behavioural issues since primary school and has been on School Action Plus all the way though. His primary school labelled him a 'difficult' and 'naughty' and other children picked up on that too so much so that I had his classmates coming up to me in Reception Year telling me he was 'silly'.

Primary school were not interested in supporting further assessment until Yr 5 when he was 4 years behind on average so working to Yr 1 level still in most subjects apart from reading as I did a lot with him at home. He was excluded from school trips and generally regarded as 'troublesome'. Due to this and my instinct that there was more to it than that I approached his secondary school SENCO before DS even started there as I was worried how he would cope and to inform them that we were still awaiting an assessment (2 years for a diagnosis!). I was assured that DS would get all the help and support possible. Since then I have had meeting with the SENCO (and given them copies of his assessment with recommendations for his teaching) who has assured me that DS's behaviour was very good and he was to be put in the SN class group as it was smaller as his progress was slipping further behind and he was finding class work difficult. He would also attend compulsory homework club as he was finding it too hard so was refusing to do it at home. I fully supported this. This was due to start 6 weeks ago but DS has told me that it had not. I held off on applying for an LEA statement as as I understand it, I have to prove that the school was giving him all the help they could and I had to give the SN class time to see if he improved. Two weeks ago I emailed the school to ask why this had not happened as yet and finally get a reply today from the SENCO that they can't start it until after Easter. I feel I should have been informed of this instead of thinking he was getting extra support when he was not!

Anyway the Head of Year called me back basically saying that she did not know the detention had been cancelled so 'oh well'. She was very defensive in the way she was talking to me and then mentioned that DS had the highest number of detentions in his year which I was unaware of and according the school's behaviour policy, I should have been called in for a meeting which I had not been. I knew he had had some for not doing homework and was fine with it as a punishment as the school were insisting that his homework was not too hard. She then mentioned that he will be in the SN class soon and in compulsory homework club and I asked why I had not been informed that he was not in that now and she denied I had been told he would be hmm. This was agreed with the SENCO to start from after the Feb half term and two weeks had passed without an answer to me questioning it. She was quite rude and I felt she was trying to deflect her error in placing DS in isolation onto him so I said quite firmly that I was not going to talk to her about and would like to speak to the Headteacher. I thought she was going to put me through to the office to arrange this but she said goodbye and I had to repeat myself again!

I now have a meeting with the Deputy Head tomorrow but feel like I may be overreacting and also that I may have made an 'enemy' of the Head of Year now and DS may suffer for it! I am pissed off that DS has been punished where it was not warranted IMO. His self esteem is very low due to his learning difficulty and how he was treated in his previous school and the length of time it has taken to get a diagnosis. I feel that the school are NOT taking his diagnosis into account at all.

AIBU to very angry about this? It looks like this school is going to be the same as his primary sad.

Flossyfloof Wed 02-Apr-14 17:11:32

Don't think that teachers are so small-minded as to think of you as the enemy and to take any issues with you out on your child. Teachers don't normally work on switchboards and so would not be able to put you through to anyone else. HoY was not really in a position to comment on whether or not SENCo had said he would be in the SN group; take that up with the SENCo direct. It is often pointless going to the HT, you need to try to build up positive relationships with the teachers your son is working with on a daily basis. Go in with the attitude that you want to work with and support the school in their support of your son and it will be fine.

SapphireMoon Wed 02-Apr-14 17:13:56

I would be thoroughly pissed off too.
The school need to respect your sons support needs and in consultation with you, support him.
I don't feel you are over reacting. The school needs to talk with you [as an equal] so you can all work in the best interests of your ds.
A talk about their behaviour policy and your son's individual needs essential.
Good luck.

Nomama Wed 02-Apr-14 17:33:34

Please read Flossyfloof's post again.

If you go in angry the DHead will have to spend a lot of your time talking you down and trying to find common / safe ground so that you can start to work out a solution.

If you go in and explain that you are concerned and need to understand what is happening so you can support your son you will spend all of your time discussing a solution.

On the face of it there has been a problem with communication... focus on getting that sorted.

JustTryingToGetBY Wed 02-Apr-14 18:19:28

Gosh Flossyfoof not a teacher are you by any chance?

I did not think teacher was on the switchboard hmm. I imagined that she was on a phone that had the ability to transfer to another extension as most large organisations do.

She was aware of my question as to whether DS was in the SN class as she was forwarded the email with the question by DS's form tutor 2 weeks ago! She was not at the meeting with the SENCO though so had no right to deny what he had told me.

I have been working with and supporting the school. The impression I have got is that they not doing the same with DS!

I will not need to talked down hmm. I will be getting my point across though and will expect an apology to be extended to DS by the HofY.

Nomama Wed 02-Apr-14 18:27:24

OK! Go in with that attitude and you will get a DHEad in full on defensive mode. You won't be leaving them anywhere to go but on the back foot.

It will not help sort out your problem. You have every right to be angry, but taking it into the meeting will not help you or your son. You will be wasting everybodies time and will probably leave the meeting with issues still needing to be resolved.

State clearly that you are very unhappy with the apparent lack of communication that has left your son, apparently, unsupported and ask what they will do to put that right. But 'getting your point across' and 'expecting an apology' are surely besides the point.

Nomama Wed 02-Apr-14 18:29:52

Oh, and I am a teacher. Flossyfoot may be one too, But surely that means we are giving you an insiders perspective, one that should put you in the best place possible to get this resolved.

There is no self protectionism in my post, teachers can be utterly crap and HoY may well have been well out of order. But you won't get what you need by being 'pissed off'.

Nennypops Wed 02-Apr-14 18:33:30

Can I suggest that you get on to the Special Needs section down the further down the MN website? I really think you shouldn't wait a moment longer but should get your request for statutory assessment sent to the council today. If ds is 4 years or more behind. it really is an utter disgrace that the primary school didn't apply for a statement, and the secondary school has had more than enough time to sort out help for him.

redexpat Wed 02-Apr-14 19:04:38

There are several issues here.
1. They need to clarify under which circumstances isolation is used as a punishment.
2. They need to communicate better with you (although you could also be assertive in this - email the person afterwards to say I think we discussed the following and agreed xyz). It's a good method to check that you have understood what has gone on.
3. The lack of support for your son's SN.

I also think you should tell them about how you feel that your son was ostracised in primary school, and that you really want to avoid the same happening again.

Another useful tip is to keep a communication diary - you can copy and paste the emails in.

Being polite and calm but assertive will get you further than being angry.

Blissx Wed 02-Apr-14 19:20:33

Gosh Flossyfoof not a teacher are you by any chance

Your contempt for all teachers is apparent in this comment, OP. Whist you have not had a good experience with schools and your DS's progress, your anger is in danger of preventing a solution to your immediate problem (I get that impression by the fact that Flossy's points of not worrying about 'enemies', not being offended as not being put through as schools don't have large fancy phone systems and to focus on solving the issue with the HOY and SENCO and not HT just yet, were glossed over by you and you went into attack mode).

I second the advice given by Nomana and Flossy and hope your son's experience of school improves as disruption doesn't benefit anyone.

WooWooOwl Wed 02-Apr-14 20:17:57

In your position I'd drop the point about isolation. It sounds like it was a mistake, but if your ds is being continually disruptive then it probably does need to happen. Two detentions in one day is still a lot, even if it's not as bad as three.

Focus on the SN class and the support that you want your ds to have. If you go into this meeting demanding apologies that aren't going to happen anyway you will just detract from the main issue that you need to get sorted.

sunshinysummer Wed 02-Apr-14 20:39:42

they won't be apologising to him for only getting two detentions in one day rather than three and so being out in isolation, particularly if he has the highest number of detentions in the year group. I would leave the whole isolation thing tbh

the main issue you have is re the support you feel your child should be getting that still isn't in place. I would make that the focal point of your meeting rather than the detention thing. Your main aim is to resolve the SN small group/support issue and you should be seeking reassurances about dates, the specific provision for your son, what the school hope the interventions will achieve-targets etc, ask how you can support them with this at home.

Good luck.

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 02-Apr-14 21:25:07

How frustrating and upsetting that their issues in communication and failure to prioritise your ds s needs has resulted in this problem today.

It's completely understandable that you are pissed off! I agree with the advice to go in gently so as not to get the dep head being all defensive and point scoring - but I see no reason why you wouldn't do this right? It's just you've come on here to vent and gather opinions and not to instantly practice talking to the school!

Anyway, I also think leading with the isolation issue will get you sidetracked - the main issue is that they haven't geared up to help your ds, and they have utterly failed to communicate with you or work with you as a partner.

Why on earth would they think it's ok to tell you ds has more detentions than any other child in his year - this shouldn't be new news to you, why has the meeting that should have been triggered been missed?

I would list everything that's been an issue and ask them what they are going to do differently to stop this from happening again.

I'd also ask you how they propose working together with you to support your son, as leaving you in the dark, not replying to your emails/ questions, failing to communicate with you even about things that would normally trigger meetings (beyond the fact that they're supposed to be addressing ds SN)...

You'll need to move them on from justifying / blaming or whatever they try and do (going on what you've said so far!), to actual actions and a concrete plan. Keep asking them 'yes, but how are you going to make sure this doesn't happen again ' or more positively 'yes but what actions do you propose to move forwards from this / to aid communication in the future'

Good luck, I feel for you flowers

ICanSeeTheSun Wed 02-Apr-14 21:33:48

Why has no one applied for a statement.

As he has the highest amount of detentions, don't you think that needs to be addressed. Go into the school and work together to solve this problem.

Talking in class, regardless of him telling other children not to talk, is still breaking the rules.

rabbitlady Wed 02-Apr-14 21:45:03

if he's in trouble so often, you need to be supporting the school in their attempts to address his behaviour.

have you thought about how your attitude to school and teachers might be affecting your son's attitude and behaviour?

Flossyfloof Wed 02-Apr-14 23:30:58

Please come back and let us know how you get on.

maddy68 Thu 03-Apr-14 01:21:32

Ok. I'm a head of year. Tbh you sound like 'one of those parents'
In my school if a pupil has several detentions they go into isolation. This will be done automatically. The hoy will have no idea that 1 of the detentions has been later cancelled as at the time of issuing the isolation he had three. You didn't bother to contact the school to let them know he would be late for a legitimate reason. Schools are massive and deal with hundreds of students. So detentions are issued automatically for lates.

The other comment you made about staff being able to transfer calls from their phones, we cannot do that. (In all the schools I've been in I've not been able to do that!) in addition, even if they could, teachers are rarely available to simply take calls. Is they are not teaching, they are on duty, with students doing revision, meetings, detentions etc

I don't think the school has done anything wrong to be quite honest. Instead of blaming the school, try backing them up and applying consistant messages about your child's unacceptable behaviour that has resulted in his detentions. by the way, the amount of times I've heard that I was only telling such and such to be quiet when actually they are really disruptive is incredible.

You say you have waited before applying for a statement, that is normal procedure, you have to prove that everything the school has put in place has failed and actually, having isolations helps your case!

evalyn Thu 03-Apr-14 10:09:09

Just to back up what maddy said. 'Sounding like 'one of those parents'', indeed, true I'm afraid;

'[detentions] that were issued seemed quite extreme as DS said he was telling other pupils to stop talking to him but he was the one who got into trouble for talking'. Hmm, well, yes, but ... it's really natural to want to back up DC in such situations, but my advice is to swallow hard, then back up the school as strongly as you can, even if you think DC is in the right. That's not an obvious thing to do, I know. Sometimes it might seem unjust. But it's best for the child. Just as it's really bad for a child if parents are inconsistent re punishments/praise etc., it's similarly very bad for a child if parents and school 'come apart' in the child's eyes.

Your remarks, OP, about 'transferring calls' was also a bit of a giveaway that you have very little understanding of how the 'organisation' that is your DC's school works. Nothing wrong with that - how could you know? But, as I say, it's indicative of an overall lack of understanding.

So what?, you ask. Well, it strikes me you should take heed of what the teachers (yes, for my sins I once was one) on MN have to say. You did ask MN, after all. It's your attitude that's causing most of the problems between your school, you, and your DC. Have it out with the school, head of year, class teachers, whatever, fine. Say what you think. But do try to realign your own attitude to the school so your DC can see you support what the school does. Let the school people know you support them; they'll certainly do their best to support your DC in their turn.

It's hard, I know. (As well as an ex-teacher, I also had a (just one) particularly 'difficult' child of my own, as well as others not so.) You really should try your best, though, for the sake of your DC.

RoaringTiger Thu 03-Apr-14 10:24:32

Have you ever had anyone from parents partnership go with you, offer support or advocate for your child? If not I strongly recommend using them if they are available in your area. I do agree that going in angry is not the best way forward, I've always found it best to make bulletpoints of what I want out of meetings and work towards them....my dd school has been crap, so much so the ed psych had a right go at them at the last meeting. You need to put your level head on to et the best outcome, parents partnership can help with this. Oh and ipsea can help you apply for statementing. Good luck

ToAvoidConversation Thu 03-Apr-14 10:39:59

I would agree with other posters here:

1. Teachers cannot transfer calls. It's possible that it's a function on the phone but as we aren't trained to use it I wouldn't have a clue how. We also are barely ever near a phone to pick one up.

2. 'Telling other people to be quiet'... Sorry but this is normally the oldest line in the book and is usually total nonsense. Sounds like out child is disruptive.

3. It does take a while to get services and changes made in schools. The paperwork is slow and cumbersome.

However,

4. Communication seems poor between you and the school. Is there another way of getting in touch. Some schools allow for email contact although I suppose there are confidentiality issues here too. Teachers often find it easier to pick up emails at the beginning and end of the day.

5. Request an urgent meeting with the depute head and the SENCO co-ordinator together (or whoever you feel needs to be there). If one of them isn't present you will be waiting further time and again time will be lost.

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