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Changing from state primary to prep at Year 5

(9 Posts)
Auti Fri 13-May-16 10:37:38

Excuse me if I come across as a bit daft, I'm autistic (Aspergers) so often struggle to see the bigger picture.

My DD is currently in Year 4 she is happy there. Her class is full of nice kids, she is doing well.

My DSD is at a state secondary in year 8. She has had sexual harassment there and has been self harming. She described her school as being a bear pit.
DSD lives mostly with her mum, I had no input to where she went to school.

I'm really upset and anxious about what DSD is going through but my hands are tied as are DP's. All we can do is give DSD love, advice and pray she gets through OK.

DSD's experience of state secondary has caused me to panic about DD.

DD although popular and happy in her little primary school, is showing signs of being 'different'.

I felt an independent girls school would be a more sheltered and environment for her. I began sending her to a tutor to prep her for entrance exams.
The tutor assessed her and said she was 2 1/2 years ahead of actual age in reading and spelling and would be a good candidate for sitting the exams.

However DD has struggled sometimes in her sessions with the tutor because 1-1 sessions (at school she's in a class of 32) are so different, she's perfectionist and gets very upset if she gets a question wrong. She also doesn't understand why she's doing non-verbal reasoning when the 'doesn't so it at school'.

We have a good prep school close to us so I thought maybe she would so better there in preparation for entrance exams.
But then I'm thinking what if she hates it there or gets bullied as the new kid in class.

Sorry if this sounds a little incoherent, I'm tying myself in knots trying to do what's best.

Any advice welcome, thanks in advance.

redskytonight Fri 13-May-16 12:42:03

I wouldn't assume that a school would be more nurturing just because it is private. And some all girls schools can be extremely bitchy and pressured. What are your state options like?

I personally wouldn't move a child who was happy at school into a new school at Y5 (very hard age for a girl specifically to make new friends) . You might also want to ask if the prep does specifically prepare for the entrance exams you wish her to take.

I think you need to be clear what you want to do, why you want to do it and get your daughter on board as well.

Auti Fri 13-May-16 13:48:02

Thanks for your reply.

The local state secondary is 10 minutes walk away, rated outstanding and oversubscribed. It's in a leafy 'middle class' type area.
However it is mixed gender and I'm keen to have DD in girls only school after DSD's experience with boys in year 8.

DSD's school is also rated outstanding but in a 'financially deprived' area

strawberrybubblegum Sun 15-May-16 08:02:19

I'd try to get as much information as possible about the specific schools which are options for your DD - and it is the specific school that matters, not whether it's state/private.

Firstly ofsted reports, and ISI (the equivalent of ofsted) reports for the private ones. Try to read between the lines.

Then open days for all the schools which you shortlist.

And also ask everyone you know with children at these schools what they think about them.

The open days for each school will be on their website. State ones may have fewer open days, but will certainly have a couple over the next couple of terms. You will have a chance to ask questions, so you can ask very specific ones about bullying: how much it happens, how they deal with it, who children can speak to, what (if anything) they do differently if it's sexual harrassment. I'd be looking at how they answer as well as what they say, so if your ASD makes that difficult it might be worth bringing someone with you - DP if possible, or maybe a friend. It's really good to have a second opinion anyway, because second guessing yourself is unavoidable!

If your DD can come on the visits, then it would be helpful to take her, although they are obviously during the school day so not sure how that could work. She will have an opinion which you should take into account, and it might also motivate her to see what she is aiming for. Only take her once you've done the sums and are sure it's possible though - in case she falls in love with one you later discount! Possibly worth doing a first round of visits without her, and then only take her to see the shortlist.

Also - don't put down any school in front of her which she might still end up at (say if she doesn't pass exams). Wherever she ends up, you want her to feel positive and excited about it. In each school, you can point out strengths.

This is the right time to do the figuring out - you have time for plenty of visits and thinking!

And finally, whilst I can see why the harrassment is featuring BIG in your mind with what your DSD is going through, don't look only at that when you're looking around the schools. Most children don't suffer such a bad experience, and it's unlikely to also happen to your DD, whichever school she ends up at. But schools are very different, and offer different benefits/are right for different children. Do look at the whole package.

strawberrybubblegum Sun 15-May-16 08:11:53

Oh, and phone the prep to find out whether they would have a space - and if it's this year you're looking at then arrange a private visit (which shouldn't be a problem). Ask them about all the things you are uncertain about!

strawberrybubblegum Sun 15-May-16 08:22:05

Visiting would in no way commit you - and you should make sure you keep it as 'getting more information' in your own mind.

Moving probably would be hard for your DD, so you should only do it if you're sure of your whole way ahead
1. You want X senior school (you might prefer your state secondary)
2. Which is selective (not all private schools are)
3. And you don't think tutoring would be enough for your DD to pass the exams (it might be once she's motivated, especially since she sounds bright. Different private senior schools are more or less selective - you can get a feel for that by asking them and also by searching for threads about that school on mumsnet!)
4. And you think the prep school would provide that extra help as well as being a happy place for your DD

TheBlessedCheesemaker Sun 15-May-16 09:15:19

Forgive long-winded response (I'm a bit aspie, too grin )

One of my DC is a little different (mix of aspergers plus a couple of other things) and would have struggled massively, had they been in state in our local area. The differences (including perfectionst tendencies, noise intollerance and need for rigid structure and rules) only really became apparant after yr3, and got more exposed as other NT kids developed (esp. socially) and DC didn't.

My experience is very positive. School developed coping strategies with me, small class sizes were brilliant, and the absolute intolerance of both bullying and poor behaviour in class meant a calm environment. And the arrival of new kids was never a problem. IME new children arriving every year was the absolute norm - 4 or 5 arriving every single year (and a big jump in year 7).

The only downside for us has been the expectations that DC put on themselves in response to an envoronment where kids are always encouraged to stretch themselves; i have had to keep a continual eye on that and take action now and then to change the thermostat to reduce the pressure overload (all self-induced, BTW, it wasn't pressure from the teachers/peers). DC always had good friends and all the kids took their various differences (social, cultural, langauge, religious) in their stride. Being cruel singled you out, and being arrogant singled you out, but being quirky (or dyslexic or disabled) was no big deal.

Of course, all of that is just very biased opinion based on my own individual experience and the area i live in. We've been lucky and you could be just as lucky in state in your particular area. As the other have said, go talk to the schools. Get a feel, be on your guard against PR hype, and discuss your DD with them and see what they say. Ask in particular for examples of strategies that they have up and running in the school at the moment for dealing with non-NT kids; its a really good way of knowing whether they are doing a good job of dealing with SEN, or just pretending to.

Auti Sun 15-May-16 20:09:09

Wow thanks you two!
Can't respond properly just now sorry.
Will do tomorrow!

Auti Thu 19-May-16 11:56:32

Sorry for the late reply.

I went to visit the prep school and it was lovely.
However DD's struggle with her tutor came to a head this week when DD got herself in a right state during the session. She got a question wrong and was in floods of tears. Both I and the tutor felt continuing with the tutor was of no help.

If she cannot cope with the focus of a tutor, I now think it would be very risky to take her out of an environment where she is happy and doing well.

I also found that the local state school is not only rated outstanding but is a specialist school for autistic children.

So now all round I think it's safest to keep her where she is and then send her to the local state secondary.

I wish we could have sent to the prep school from the beginning but for now I think the change would not suit her, we have missed that boat.

I have also found a group tutoring session which she and her sister could attend. Working in a small group session, rather than one to one would I think suit her better especially with her sister present. Of course the session would also benefit DSD!

Thanks again for your thoughtful replies smile

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