aibu to want ds1 to change schools?(22 Posts)
I moved back to the UK after my marriage broke down 6 years ago with my 2 kids. I have settled DS2, now age 11, who has autism, in a small caring through train independent school which I'm happy with. DS1, nearly 13 years old, goes to a different independent through train, selective, higher quality education, better facilities etc. DS2 would not be accepted into that school. The 2 schools are 13 miles from our house & 3 miles away from each other.
My issue is that DS1's school, although supposedly 'better', has a lot of aggro and I don't like it. He's been going there for 4 years, and I've been trying to persuade him to change schools for nearly 3 years. This school creates a lot of stress in my life, and it would benefit our family if both boys could attend the same school. But DS1 is adament he doesn't want to change as he's already had a lot of disruption in his life.
Since enrolling my DS1 at the school, I have been diagnosed with chronic headaches/migraines and driving is a trigger. I have looked into moving house closer to the schools but it's such an expensive area I can't afford it. When we first made the decision to send DS1 to that particular school, he said he'd take the school bus 3 days a week, but we found the service wasn't great and he backed out leaving me having to drive him every day. He's adament he won't do occasional boarding either, e.g. just 1 night a week, because he 'hates' boarding - he says there are so few boarders there's usually no-one of his age to play with so he's bored and lonely.
I feel like I want to put my foot down and tell DS1 that he must move to the same school as DS2. However I do understand that it might be hard for him to be in the same school as his SN brother. Also DS2's school is in the process of expanding and they currently have very few pupils of DS1's age for him to be friends with.
Usually my parenting style is not too authoritarian, more attachment style, so DS1 is definitely not accustomed to me 'forcing' him to make a particular life choice. If I tried to make him change schools he'd likely be very unhappy indeed.
But I'm finding it hard to cope year after year with DS1's school as I so strongly dislike all the aggro. I regret the day I ever enrolled him there.
Anyway, I guess this is more of a WWYD? I don't know if I'm being too soft, or if I should respect my son's choice even though it makes me unhappy?
Thanks for reading this far!!
You are the parent, and you need to make the decision. A 13 year old is most likely to think about impact on them rather than the wider family, giving him the power to veto will always mean he picks something that suits him.
Indeed you have given him three options, get the bus 3 days a week, board for at least one night or attend the other school. All of those are fair options that will improve the quality of the whole family. If your approach is to let him make the decision, then the decision must be made between those options - no others (i.e. not the status quo).
I don't think you are being unreasonable, but there are some life lessons for him to learn - considering the wider family unit, sometimes decisions just won't go his way (think about his long term job opportunities and what he will have to deal with).
I agree with Mouikey.. if he really is adamant he wants to stay there then he gets the inconvenient bus and boards one day a week, or whatever would make your life less difficult. He's 13.. he is hormonally bound to resent your decision , but that doesn't mean he has the power to do what only suits him.
Present the options.. bus and board or move.. make it clear there is not an option to continue as you are. He will probably be unpleasant about it for a while..but he'll get over it!
And actually it is a good life lesson to learn at 13.. his decision has consequences for HIM!
I would have thought the most important factor is how well your son doing at his school, academically as well as socially. He seems to like it and be happy there. Is he learning, developing and progressing?
He has had an unsettled early life so it is reasonable for him to dislike boarding, and you say that the public transport system is unreliable, so again it is difficult for him to be independent. Is the stress this school creates, 'the aggro' you refer to, about you or about him?
From what you say, it would be wrong to send him to DS2's school. It doesn't sound right for him. Surely you just put your foot down over transport and tell him he's going by bus?
You haven't actually told us what the 'agrro' with the school is. Apart from the issue with distance, what are the main issues and why do you dislike the school so much?
If he's happy and settled I wouldn't move him but I would insist on boarding for one or two nights. Forcing a teen into a school that doesn't suit them would be fairly disastrous.
Ultimately it is for you to decide where your son goes to school as you are the parent.
That said, I think moving him from a school where he is settled and happy (and presumably progressing well academically and socially as you haven't said otherwise) against his wishes to a school which you admit may not suit him on a number of levels (not many people to make friends with, for example) is not something I would do lightly. It sounds like he has had a lot of upheaval and that's something to consider too.
I think children's wants and needs should be factored into decisions like this (although obviously it not the only factor to be considered), as they directly and substantially impact on the child.
That said, I can understand your desire to move him to make things easier for your whole family, and your son does need to be aware that the needs of the others have to be taken into consideration too.
I think you need to re-explore possible compromises with your DS before forcing him to move. Put it to your DS1 that something needs to change to allow him to stay at his preferred school and try to involve him in the attempt to find a compromise- hopefully this will make him feel more involved in the decision and also improve his understanding of how to work through problems.
For example, look into him getting a bus again/doing a trial run for a couple of weeks and see how it goes? Perhaps you need to explain to him that either the bus or occasional boarding, even though neither are ideal, are necessary to allow him to stay at his current school and see what he says. Alternatively, is there another school which is nearer/more accessible via public transport which would suit your DS1 better than your DS2's school?
However (and maybe I'm wrong) I would be very reluctant to move my child from a school where they were happy and progressing well to a school they didn't want to go to, especially if I had reservations about being the alternative school being suitable for him. Personally, if I thought the alternative school wouldn't be a good fit for my child I would be extremely reluctant and only proceed as a last resort.
Can you look at local state schools which ds1 could go to independently? Will you be able to continue to get ds2 that distance.
Would he really refuse to get on the bus if you explain that all the driving is giving you migraines?
I wouldn't move him, I would do as Mouikey says.
He is 13 and old enough to get it that there are compromises to be made.
I have a ds who is 13. He would Adamantly refuse to do any of the 3 options, until I told him there was no choice, then e would huff and puff and tell me how unreasonable I am, then he would do 1 or 2 or the 3 options and it would be fine.
On a good day he will give me a cheeky grin and say 'well I have to try and get my own way don't I?'
In other words, a 13 year old is never go to agree to something less than perfect in his world, unless you put your foot down. Once you do that, he will be fine with bus or boarding.
I suggest you tell him you will no longer drive him unless the bus is cancelled. He gets bus. he can chose to board if he wants to.
Or he moves schools.
YWBU to make him change schools from one he is settled at and doesn't want to leave to one that sounds unsuitable.
YWNBU at all to put your foot down about him taking the bus. Unless the bus regularly fails to turn up or it is impossible to get to school on time by bus you need to tell him to get the bus every day or 4 days and board one night - that's his choice.
Tbh it seems mad you are even considering making him change schools instead of just getting the bus and mad you are letting him dictate that you must drive him if it is making you ill and there is the bus option.
However I am curious about how your 11 year old gets to school - is there a special bus for him? If you are driving him every day it rather invalidates everything you've said, as driving to one school quite a distance away isn't going to be fine if driving to two fairly close to one another is seriously impacting on your health.
If the schools are 13 miles from you but only 3 miles from each other then surely you would still have to do the bulk of the journey each day?
Also agree with LIZ that if changing schools needs to be considered you need to seriously consider state options he can walk to or get a more reliable bus to as your younger DS' s school sounds like a last resort if there are very few children your older son's age. It's not just lack of potential friends - the whole set up will be quite unsatisfactory if there are not enough children in his school year to offer a range of gcse options etc.
Will it really make your life that much easier to drive 52 miles a day (13 * 2 * 2) rather than 64 miles a day ((13+ 3) * 2 * 2)?
2 - 3 miles is not a long walk. Could you drop both boys at ds2's school (or drop ds1 somewhere else closer to ds1's school if you pass it) and then he walk the last bit?
I can't see how a school with hardly any kids of his age is at all suitable for a child going into GCSEs. Would he get a decent choice of options?
Could you drop both boys at dc2 school, then dc1 cycles/walks to his school?
Many thanks for your kind replies, much appreciated! Reading through what you all have said helps me think.
Just to clarify - the 'aggro' at DS1's school is: letting the kids out late without any advance notice at all, anything from 15min to more than 1 hour, about 1-2 times per month. Because there is no advance notice, one time I came to collect him, I had just been to the supermarket and bought a whole load of frozen food, DS1 was an hour late out and the whole lot was ruined!
Also, lots of issues to do with food, e.g. releasing kids late from class resulting in them not having enough time to eat a proper lunch, resulting in DS1 is so starving when he comes out I have to bring a whole meal for him in the car.
Also, the school's approach is the 'jam-packed, action-packed, fill up every minute of your child's time, they'll never be bored' approach and this suits neither DS1 nor me. DS1 is small for his age, slender, and totally exhausted by this approach. He needs more food and more rest. He's a kind, homely boy, always has enjoyed home time, and would benefit from a better 'work/life balance'. They'll be ramping it up for his year group when they go back in September and he's told me he's very worried about going back and doesn't know what to do.
Despite all of the above the standard of teaching is second to none and DS1's academic progress there has been excellent, and he is also progressing socially as well. Every time I go to pick him up he always seems to be with friends, I think he's well liked by both staff and fellow pupils. He benefits from the wonderful facilities and enjoys all the sports, he's made it on to one of their squads for one sport and through this developed his physical health & strength.
So all in all, there's some really great things about this school, and some things which are hard to bear. He's got another 5 years there. So it's difficult to know what to do!
13 is a bad age to force a change on a child. If he resents it he could go into a mood and begin to disengage from his education. It sounds like he is doing very well despite the few things you mentioned. Its very difficult for you. If he took a bus would that letting out late thing mean he would miss his bus? Does anyone from your neighbourhood travel to that school and could ye come to some arrangement? I wouldn't force a change. I would force the bus.
Y9 is probably as late as you can do this pre gcse, and less traumatic. Where do other local kids go, is there a space? If you can't commit to another 3 , let alone 5 , years move him local now or review your home situation to move closer. Would it be easier to live local to the schools and drive to your other commitments? Surely he can appreciate the logistical difficulties and it is no good him insisting he will take bus/board just to force your hand if he is going to renege on it.
And are any of his friends moving to other schools for y9, not unusual in the independent sector even from through schools.
I agree with PPs. Tell him he needs to board 1 night a week and take the bus a bit.... Though I do wonder how much that would really cut down the driving?
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