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Great school, terrible class........wwyd?

(22 Posts)
Earlybird Fri 18-Jul-14 19:52:48

DD is at a very good private school. Many think it is the best in the area. It is massively over-subscribed, and people seem to think they have won the educational jackpot when their child is admitted.

Dd's class is (and has been for years) a legendarily difficult group of children - disruptive behaviour, mean and clique-y groups, multiple diagnosed learning and emotional issues, etc. Rumour has it that teachers absolutely dread this group of students. This group of children is not typical of other years at the school - and I think school administrators are at a loss. Their efforts at managing the situation have not worked.

For various reasons, many of these tricky kids will not be 'moving on' elsewhere - the parents won't do it as they like the school prestige and ethos, and the school leaves it 'up to the families to decide what is best' (not in the UK so league tables not a factor). We have been waiting/hoping for years for the issues to resolve themselves via maturity, children leaving, etc. But not happening so far.

Would you consider leaving 'the best' and going elsewhere in hopes of finding a better situation? Am a bit scared of moving dd elsewhere, as class personality/behaviour is not something that can be judged on a school tour - so who is to say it would really be better elsewhere?

MillyMollyMama Fri 18-Jul-14 20:06:50

Oh dear! This is exactly the situation we found ourselves in with DD2. It was awful. Fortunately the teachers liked DD and she did well at GCSE but we left. So did 39 of 63 in the year group. Both disruptive, very clever and the straightforward pleasant ones left. Luckily DD was interested in subjects taught far better elsewhere and fitted in at her new school.

However, you are absolutely right. There is no way to judge the new school. You just have to hope the subject mix and type of girl will suit. It only became clear at the last minute how many were actually leaving as some girls/parents never said anything about going, even ones I thought I knew well! I thought it was nearer 20 so very surprised when nearly double that number left. Do you have friendships with other parents who are also unhappy? Lots of our disaffected parents sent their children to the same 6th form as it was a recruiting one. Could you sound out a few more who might be unhappy?

Don't be afraid of moving. If the thought of the next 2 years fills you with dread, then go. Schools seem powerless to help in these situations.

readysteady Fri 18-Jul-14 20:07:41

Bit it's not "the best" is it if it's dysfunctional. I would find a school that suits your child. You are already at a advantage over most people as you are in a position to choose a school. If the school didn't have "the name" would you even consider keeping them there?

FairlyUseless Fri 18-Jul-14 20:12:17

Could you ask to move classes? How does your dd feel? I was in that same 'bad' class but as I worked hard and kept my head down I did well and enjoyed school.

How old is your dd? Is she also taught in sets? Or is it all by form!

Jinsei Fri 18-Jul-14 21:03:49

I would expect a fantastic school to be able to handle a challenging class tbh - if they can't, perhaps the school isn't as good as its reputation?

It's easy to excel when you have a good intake.

I'd move her.

Earlybird Fri 18-Jul-14 21:07:00

Thanks for your thoughts.

DD is 13. If we are going to move her, it will need to be a year from now so she is stuck for the next academic year (again, we are not in the UK so schools run differently here).

There are 4 different classes in each year, but they all intermingle throughout the day and don't move as a group. A significant % of the class is troubled, so difficult to steer clear. (one regular substitute teacher has advised the school not to call her to fill in for this group).

MillyMollyMama - DD is well liked by her teachers, and does well in class. She's not a perfect child (by any means!), but is academically able, pays attention/listens, can concentrate, completes her work well/on time, etc. The teachers regularly ask dd and several other 'good' children to partner up with the disruptive characters - I suppose in hopes that the good influence will rub off. Perhaps that improves the classroom atmosphere in general, but can't see that it directly benefits dd.

There are other parents who feel the way I do - many of them have dc in other years, so am assured this is much more than simply 'typical' adolescent behaviour. As I said, I don't think the school knows how to manage the problems. They bring in the same tired psychologist to work with the problem children, have useless meetings with the parents ( nothing seems to change), and have hired a learning specialist for the children with diagnosed issues. As i am writing this, it all sounds ludicrous.

readysteady - I absolutely would not consider keeping dd at the current school based simply on her experience here. But it is amazing, when I mention the name of the school, many parents with children elsewhere glaze over and say wistfully 'gosh, you are lucky to be there'. If they only knew!

Earlybird Fri 18-Jul-14 21:17:43

An example: one class was assigned a big project that required homework research, and a presentation to the entire class. DD (and some others) prepared well in advance and thoroughly. Of course, it made those who didn't prepare well look bad. So, a few of them took to twitter to make fun of the serious students by name (ringleader has a famous musician father, if that matters). And of course, the school can't/doesn't monitor I expect they don't even know it happened.

Two other children bullied the child of the headmaster. When it came to light, one parent was appalled and forced their child to apologise. The other parent has done nothing - saying they'd 'look into it'.

Earlybird Sat 19-Jul-14 20:17:19

Would anyone sitting around on a Saturday night care to comment? grin

TalkinPeace Sat 19-Jul-14 21:53:08

Ah, the cohort of 2000
what was in the water
right little shits are they not

DS is in a comp and yes, his cohort have been toerags since year R

all you can do is get your child to rise above it

woodlands01 Sat 19-Jul-14 21:55:11

I work in a secondary school where any form of bullying via facebook or twitter would be dealt with in school if it involved other students. If the school do not monitor twitter then screen print anything offensive and go into school with it. Any decent school should deal with this.
If my children were exposed to this in a state school I would move them. If I was paying for them to be in this environment and it was not being dealt with I would move them.

TheSpottedZebra Sat 19-Jul-14 22:02:38

Surely you can only go on what is happening now, which is that your DD is not at a school that is looking after her enough.

Fine, it is a good school, but what good is that on her CV if her grades are lower or her confidence is shot, or she has not learnt how to learn, or has lost her love of knowledge etc etc. Besides, anything could happen in the future, the good name of the school could be tarnished and then she'd be left with neither good CV nor the skills she ought to.

Is she happy?

rollonthesummer Sat 19-Jul-14 22:58:16

The school sounds awful. I wouldn't put up with that at a state school and I certainly wouldn't pay for it. Why are you leaving your DD there? Surely with any school, you can move them at any time?

MillyMollyMama Sat 19-Jul-14 23:38:26

This school just sounds ineffective at managing pupils and setting an ethos they are prepared to stick to. I would not expect my DD to be paired with pupils for class management reasons only. This is a somewhat lazy way to try and manage behaviour. I would find another school immediately.

steppemum Sat 19-Jul-14 23:48:51

In the Uk, bullying via FB and twitter and taken seriously and if necessary the police are involved. The school is not taking control of this class at all.

At 13, I would move her. Forget the 'nice name' what will actually matter in the end are her exam results.

Asterisk Sun 20-Jul-14 08:49:37

Actually, I beg to differ. What actually matters in the end is not exam results, what matters is that a child is not desperately unhappy during the years that make up their last few of childhood. School should not be something to be endured in anticipation of the 'next step'. Earlybird, this is a decision to be taken with your DD and visits to other schools are a good first step so that you can get a feel for whether she'd be happier elsewhere. We're all way too concerned with results over quality of experience.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 20-Jul-14 17:53:43

Have you posted about this issue before? Your OP sounds fairly familiar. So far you have done nothing to resolve the situation, and it sounds like things are only going to get worse. You need to come up with a plan, especially if your daughter is unhappy, and it sounds like the other children could cause her to lose her motivation for learning.

You need to start researching other options ASAP. However, it seems like you are more attached to the "name" of the school and other people's perceptions of it, rather than how good the school actually is.

It is very likely that you will find a better option elsewhere.

nigerdelta Sun 20-Jul-14 18:05:46

The other schools in your area must be pretty dire.
Am I right to remember OP is in southern USA?

Earlybird Sun 20-Jul-14 18:23:37

DD is generally a sunny girl, and she never resists going to school. But a small group of parents (with academic dc) realise things are not improving with maturation, that the difficult children have not moved on elsewhere, and that this is 'how things are, and how they'll be' with this particular group.

I've spoken to dd several times over the last year about moving schools. Initially she wouldn't hear of it, preferring to stay in a situation that was familiar. Recently, she has begun to talk about wanting a change of scenery, and a fresh start so obviously she is now more comfortable with the idea of leaving.

Moving her elsewhere is a process that will take time (remember, private school not in UK). The upcoming year is not a typical 'intake' year, and several months ago I was told by the admissions officer at our 'target school' that there will be no places available until Sept 2015. I'm fairly sure dd would be offered a place at that point, but applying involves a several step process over a period of months (starting in October).

Slow - you have a good memory. I posted about this issue a few weeks ago without much response, so I thought I would try again for opinions. As described above, dd will remain at her current school for the next year.

Can I just say - in case I have been unbalanced in my description - dd is not being bullied. There is some general unpleasantness, but she is not being singled out. There is a significantly larger than normal group of 'tricky characters' in her year, and unfortunately they cast a very long shadow over the group as a whole.

As TalkinInPeace said, maybe there was just something in the water for the group of dc born in 2000/early 2001 grin

queenofthemountain Sun 20-Jul-14 19:01:32

The school could easily sort this out if places there are as coveted as they make out by getting rid of the ring leaders.
I smell a rat.

Earlybird Sun 20-Jul-14 19:07:29

Headmaster sometimes speaks about how Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were true innovators who 'learned differently' and did not do well in a conventional school setting. Neither went to University for very long, and neither graduated. Head seems to think the school should cater to all different sorts of learning styles.

While there may be merit in that, in dd's year, the inmates are running the asylum, so to speak.

spudmasher Sun 20-Jul-14 19:23:31

Hi, Earlybird!! What would Michael Rosen do??
I think you need to make the decision with your DD. Visiting other schools and trying them on for size is the way to go. Experiment with all sorts of different scenarios- schools you'd never previously considered. Remember you are the parent, so you get the final word, but she has to feel she has a say in this.
School can make a massive difference to children,but parenting is the number one factor in determining outcomes. She will be fine.

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Jul-14 22:47:54

I teach in a nice school that nonetheless has some crappy classes. I teach maths, which is set. I once covered an RE class with a tutor group that had a reputation for being the worst group in the year. The class was split between knuckleheads pissing around, being rude and not doing the work, and some nice kids who were desperately trying to keep their heads down and get on with it.
I chatted to one boy who I taught maths to, who said he was so utterly depressed to be in this group with the bad reputation. He actively looked forward to maths lessons which would be with a good set of kids, and he was marking time till GCSE when he could take his options and get away from spending all day every day with kids who don't want to learn. I felt really sorry for him.

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