Reduced school timetable ... anyone else had to deal with this?

(66 Posts)
NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 21:27:05

DS1 has been having behaviour problems at school. He started school in Sept aged 4.1 and since then things have been getting steadily worse. He's rude, disruptive, aggressive and violent to his teacher and the headmaster, although he has been doing well academically.

The school have now brought in a range of professionals to help, both at home and at school. Of course, we have been fully co-operative with all of this, as we are keen to see DS do well and get on at school.

Last week we called a meeting with the headmaster as we had not actually spoken with him about DS at all. This was scheduled for Friday. On Weds we were approached by the class teacher and asked to come in to "discuss what we were going to talk about" on Friday.

We did this, and they told us that since DS's behaviour had gotten so much worse since he has been doing full days, they were considering a reduced timetable for him. The headmaster said "I think probably afternoons". We readily agreed to this.

On Friday, they had drawn up some papers with the reduced timetable on, along with three objectives that DS must meet before he is allowed to proceed to the next milestone, and more time at school.

However, far from being afternoons, the first two weeks consist of Monday, Weds and Fri 9am to 10.45. If he meets his objectives, this will increase by 15 mins, and so on. If DS meets his objectives on target, he won't return to full time school until July.

We were assured by the headmaster that this strategy had worked with other kids, so we agreed to it. They said they would send him some work to do at home that would tie in with what the class are doing, but all that came back with him in his bag were two extra reading books.

The reduced timetable started on Monday, and DS had a bad day, mainly because I made a mistake and told him we could go to the local park, take photos and put them in a scrapbook. I thought it would be a good way to get him looking at nature and writing about things and drawing pics of the things we saw.

The SENCO lady at school told me I should not have done this as it made him uncooperative at school and just want to go home. Lesson learned, I thought I will not tell him of anything we will do during his home time.

However, tonight we were visited by the home school liaison officer, who is helping us to learn new ways of managing his behaviour at home. She informed us that it is in actual fact illegal for DS to leave the house during school hours while he is on the reduced timetable!

I was amazed. No one had told us this during either meeting at the school, and it essentially means that me, DS1 and his little brother, who is 18mths, are under house arrest for all but 5 1/4 hours a week! I can't go shopping, I can't take DS2 to playgroup, I can't visit my sister, I can't even take him out for a walk when he needs some exercise.

If I had known this I would have been much more reluctant to sign off on the reduced timetable. We live in quite a small flat and having two kids alone all day, particularly one with challenging behaviour, is going to be extremely tough. I am feeling daunted and a bit depressed.

Has anyone else had this? I feel like I need a little support from someone in a similar position.

OP’s posts: |
teacher123 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:33:04

I have no experience of this, but if that's true, how come home-schooled children aren't breaking the law?

This all sounds to me like a big sham on the part of the school. How on earth would this strategy work if you worked full time?! And only in school for 5 hours per week?! How is your DS supposed to learn anything like that?

How are his social skills supposed to improve with such slow reintegration into the classroom?

I think a word with the schools governors and the LEA might be in order. I cannot see what educational and social benefit such a strategy will have with such a long timescale. I thought you were going to say - mornings only till Easter then full time after that!

Best of luck

teacher123 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:34:16

Sorry posted too soon!

Best of luck approaching the school, and be confident with what you want to see happen. Are you sure this is the right school for him?

NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 21:39:57

I mentioned about home-schooled children actually, as I know that there isn't a legal requirement to have your child educated at all until they are 5, but the home-school liaison lady said that because he has actually started school then he is subject to the law.

It's also true that no one enquired whether I worked at all. As it happens I am a SAHM but I do have a project I am working on from home that will be severely curtailed by this. As I say, it happened on Friday and started on the Monday. It only really hit me over the weekend what a huge impact this will have on our family.

OP’s posts: |
MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 06-Mar-13 21:45:32

I am no teacher/educational specialist (so maybe not much help) but I question how much less time in school will help him get more used to school.

And house arrest sounds hmm

Worth looking at DfE site for guidence?

Sorry you are going through this.

sparkle9 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:48:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

teacher123 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:48:51

It sounds to me like the school have shifted the goalposts and are just absolving themselves of all responsibility. As a school they have a duty of care to help him. As a teacher l honestly cannot see the benefit to your son of being off school so much. I can see the benefit to them. If your son requires extra help in the classroom to deal with behaviour he needs to be statemented ASAP. If it is deemed he needs support then the funding will be provided for a TA to assist him. (At least this was the system when I was last in state sector 5 years ago).

You do not solve a child's behavioural problems by essentially expelling them, which is what they are doing.

You are desperate to help his behaviour (of course!) so you have agreed to something which is not workable for the next 5 months.

You need help with this, go to governors, go to lea ASAP.


sparkle9 Wed 06-Mar-13 21:52:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EmmaGellerGreen Wed 06-Mar-13 21:54:25

That does sound an odd solution.
Could I suggest posting in Primary Education as there are often teachers around who may have good comments.

EmmaGellerGreen Wed 06-Mar-13 21:54:26

That does sound an odd solution.
Could I suggest posting in Primary Education as there are often teachers around who may have good comments.

Glenshee Wed 06-Mar-13 21:56:20

Where is this? Are you in the UK?

I am surprised you were so agreeable up to now, you must have very low confidence about this right now - seek professional advice outside this school.

NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 21:59:17

Thank you so much! I will repost in that section and also read up on the sites suggested.

The home-school lady suggested that we try to make him as bored as possible at home so that he wants to be at school more, but right now this sounds like a living hell!

OP’s posts: |
breatheslowly Wed 06-Mar-13 22:02:52

If you make him bored and trapped in your flat with the prospect of only 15 min more each week you are on a path to creating further behaviour problems. I would be looking at different schools as this one is basically washing its hands of your DS.

lougle Wed 06-Mar-13 22:03:28

You might want to pop over to the SN section. A few people there have been sent down the reduced timetable route.

I think you've been pushed into something you don't understand and I'm not sure the LA would be massively happy.

I suspect that this is because your DS is under compulsory school age.

Did you have any idea that your DS would struggle in this way? What is his behaviour like at home?

ReallyTired Wed 06-Mar-13 22:08:04

"However, tonight we were visited by the home school liaison officer, who is helping us to learn new ways of managing his behaviour at home. She informed us that it is in actual fact illegal for DS to leave the house during school hours while he is on the reduced timetable!"

That is bollox. It is only complusory for your child to go to school after the term that he is five. He is very little and its not unusual for children of his age to do half days because they can't cope. When my son was in reception I knew a little girl who used to go home because she fell asleep on regular basis.

There are home educators who flexi school and they are not under house arrest.

I think that the home-school lady sounds a prat and speaking out her arse.

Has your son seen a paediatrian to rule out any developmental issues. I think you should insist on sending your son full time unless an educational pychologist recommends part time.

pooka Wed 06-Mar-13 22:08:27

This sounds AWFUL and ridiculous abdication of responsibility on the part of school.

With regards to the house arrest I think that is bollocks myself. Some children flexi school, by prior agreement with the school and so attend for reduced hours PURELY in order to spend time being education otherwise at home, at the park, at the local museum or wherever.

Yes, maybe don't tell your ds what you have planned for after school. But no way should you be stuck inside.

pooka Wed 06-Mar-13 22:09:21

X post with reallytired re: flexi-schooling.

NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 22:12:49

His behaviour has been tough at home as well, (ironically) particularly when he is bored. He has a need to dominate everything going on. I think being so young starting school has not helped him and I do think we are in need of professional help.

Shocked to read the Learning Trust guidelines on reduced timetables, they bear very little resemblance to what we were given, possibly because he is so young. Think I might well post in the SN section, was in two minds whether to go there in the first place, as a couple of people have suggested we might be looking at Asperger's or similar, although they also said he is too young to make a diagnosis.

OP’s posts: |
TheChaoGoesMu Wed 06-Mar-13 22:16:24

Is there no other school more suited to his needs? That sounds like utter crap and very stressful.

KarenHL Wed 06-Mar-13 22:20:00

It sounds as if the school are trying to get you to flexischool (unfairly, as it doesn't look as if they are being honest about it - or being honest about what work he is expected to do/what they expect you to do). Either they should provide you with adequate resources and support to help him at home, or you could try to homeschool for some of the time he is with you (if you want ideas of things to do, PM me).

A good read about flexischooling and how it should work is this. However, the Government might be making some changes, so don't take it as gospel.

The way the law stands is that a parent is responsible for a child's education. Most parents choose to delegate that to a school. If the school decide that they want you to teach or be responsible for part or all of a day, it would be fair to say that you can do what you want. When flexischooling, some schools have asked that a family stick to the National Curriculum, to make it easier for them. It might be worth speaking to the LA, to see if there is anything they can recommend. Given that the reduction in hours is something the school have requested, is there any way they (LA) could support some 1-2-1 tuition at home? Having said that, they might refuse if your DS does not have a statement. This seems to be a school-led exclusion, and I imagine is really hard for you. But I don't see how they can insist (on a practical level) on you spending set hours at home. What they are asking sounds like a recipe to make you all miserable. If your DS is unhappy and disengaged at school, how is making him unhappy and disengaged at home (by keeping him cooped up and giving him limited work) meant to make school more attractive? The idea that school will magically become more interesting is laughable IMO. Many children unhappy at school will view home as a refuge.

If you were flexischooling, or HEing there would be no restriction on what you do and when you do it (except for days/times in school). I am not suggesting you should homeschool (not everyone wants to!), but it does work well for many families. To be honest, how would the liaison officer know if you did take them out to the park? It could be argued that staying in one room for the whole day is a form of cruelty - even children at school get to go out for breaks or lunch.

wannabedomesticgoddess Wed 06-Mar-13 22:20:50

Its illegal is it?

So what would happen if you took him to the park?

Would you be arrested for taking your non compulsary school age child to the park?

Its utter crap. I cant give advice on the rest of it. But that woman has told you a load of crap.

I am in N.I and our schooling is different to england. But DD1 is 4.1 and she is only in school 15 hours per week.

lougle Wed 06-Mar-13 22:21:52

He is not too young for anything hmm You are being soundly fobbed off from every angle.

NaughtyDolly Wed 06-Mar-13 22:22:56

This is, believe it or not, quite a sought after school! The only other school within reach is a religious one which would not suit us.

Something else which the home-school lady told us as well: that it is illegal for DS not to be under the care of a dentist and an optitian once he has started school. Is that one true?

OP’s posts: |
Startail Wed 06-Mar-13 22:23:01

He isn't 5, he doesn't legally have to be in school.

I thought the not leaving the house rules were for DCs who had been excluded.

A difficult 4 year old is not going to be any better kept in the house.

Repost on special needs, they are abvery knowledgeable bunch.

ReallyTired Wed 06-Mar-13 22:23:56

"His behaviour has been tough at home as well, (ironically) particularly when he is bored. He has a need to dominate everything going on. I think being so young starting school has not helped him and I do think we are in need of professional help."

It is not normal to be essentially kicked out of reception even for an August born boy. If your son saw a community paediatrian then he/she could rule out any problems like glue ear or speech dificulties. A paediatrain could help you access support groups if at a later date your son is diagnosed with special needs.

Does your son's school have a nursery attached to it. If your son went to a school with a foundation stage unit then he could spend more time in the school nursery and gradually move back into reception. My children's school has a mixed foundation stage unit and the summer born reception boys often spend time in nursery playing and the more advanced nursery children do reception activites.

Has the school actually told you in writing that your son is suspended? Keeping your child inside applies to rowdy teens who have been formally suspended, NOT to four year olds with a reduced timetable. Prehaps citizens' advice bureau can give you advice on appealing against an illegal suspension.

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