Change school dilemma(13 Posts)
My Y3 son went from a medium size infant school to a very large junior school in September. He has not settled in yet. He struggles with his teacher who has a loud and negative approach and also makes sarcastic jokes etc which he takes seriously. He has been partnered with the difficult boys in the class a lot as he is a good influence...this has had a very negative impact on him. He became very very anxious and was debilitated by this to the point of refusing to go to school for several days on and off over a week or two. He has struggled with the more common things of sheer size of the school, changing dynamics with friendships etc and altogether has found it hard. There has been some physical bullying from other boys in the playground on 2 occasions and the school have minimised the injuries. He is exaggerating things a lot now with his anxiety and it is hard to decipher what complaints are real or not. Had this all been addressed sooner I think he would have settled ok however the school did not believe me for several months that he was anxious as he was fine at school. He is now not fine at all at school and they are only interested in pointing out how he is causing it all himself.....The head is very superficial in conversation and wont acknowledge anything. It is very large and i get the impression children really have to learn to sort things out for themselves from day one and they take a step back from a lot of things. If you have a 'weakness you have to learn not to. On the plus side he has some fabulous friendships and we are very much part of the community. He has a great childminder for after school one day which he loves. The school is local and fits in with my younger sons drop off. The extra curricular stuff is great and I think academically it is improving.
Due to his unhappiness we looked around and have found another school almost half the size (90 pan.) It is inconvienant to get to and would be a lot of walking and some rushing to stagger with my younger son's drop off / pick up. There is no after school provision so I have to hope I can change my working pattern which means giving up my non working day and spreading my hours. It will also involve a regular taxi between the 2 schools one day a week when a friend collects who is less nimble than me! He has a couple of acquaintances there from an outside club but the class are right knit having been together since infants, the school serves an estate and most live on this. I don't know how he will fit it. He is very sociable but a bit geeky / not into football etc. He is very sensitive. Facilitating play dates with new friends wiill most likely not be a possibility for a while due to logistics.
I am concerned his anxiety will travel with him as he will encounter similar behaviour from boys in class and in the playground and he will be worse off as he will be without a support network. However the head was great and I have faith in her. The school had a much warmer and genuine atmosphere and is obviously smaller so on one hand i think he will be better placed to address things there if there are underlying anxiety problems.
Anyone with any thought I would love to hear them! I have no idea what to do for the best for him.
Has he done a taster day at the alternative school? That would be my starting point. See what he thinks. If he likes I would move him. I was in a similar situation as a child - my parents didn’t move me. I hold down a good job and have a family etc, but do have issues with anxiety and self-esteem and I do think these stem from childhood. It’s something I am adamant that my child will not go through.
He is Yr3 - 7/8 years old? Things change so much at school and at that age - it has only been 5 months. Yr3 is a big change where they are now no longer treated as ‘babies’ and have to take on a lot more responsibility and be more independent.
Does the school have any facilities like an inclusion centre or library open during break times - usually staffed by an LTA employed to deal with these sort of issues your son has ...
I just think moving him is no guarantee that the issue will disappear and be resolved. Be realistic - how bad is it really? Seems like the basics are there ..
Thank you Catstar. He is adamant he wants to move. Yes we can do a taster day after half term that is a good idea. I think he will like it as the atmosphere is very nice.
Thank you Knack. Yes he is 8. There is a library open at break which he sometimes uses. I do understand your point and I am struggling because i do wonder if we stick with it when he get a new teacher in Y4 he will be more settled there generally and it will all be ok....i wasnt sure really how long we should give it to settle in. He has become very anxious and afraid of school and I am concerned the negative thinking will become entrenched if he stays in the same enviroment for much longer. The main problem I think is the size, the playground sounds like it can be a bit dicey and he generally feels unsupported there and in the classroom. I have struggled with the head and classteacher who have refused to acknowledge these are a factor in his anxiety. Even to say there is nothing they can do about it. He was not anxious when he started this all began after being there for a few weeks and has escalated, it subsides at weekends and holidays etc. The new school is smaller and has a better vibe but i dont want to run away if things can be resolved here. I think the problem is I have lost faith in the leadership and ethos of the achool in my dealings up until now but perhaps j have unrealistic expectations!
Could he change classes within the school instead?
That was explored and would be our preference 2 classes came up from his infant school. We were told a few weeks ago it may be possible despite being something not usually considered which was great. However the school then backtracked and said the other class was full and the remaining 3 classes unsuitable due to high levels of disruptive children in them and him not knowing any other children. The class was at 30 so we ,perhaps naively, understood. This week a child from one if the other 3 classes has been moved into the other class bringing it to 31 whilst my son's difficulties have worsened. I obviously don't know the circumstances of this but i don't think there is much chance of him being moved there now. I have asked for another meeting discuss changing again.
I’d move him.
In hindsight I wish I’d moved my son earlier. He’s a different child now. Difficulties are one thing & to be expected but if there’s is a culture of not taking things seriously from senior management there is no hope.
I am so pleased your son is happier now Alexander. I have heard people say they had wished they did it sooner. I think it is so natural to want to try everything else first before making that upheaval. It is not an easy decision to make and I am glad it paid off.
That really sums up how I feel with the culture and attitude of the head it feels like they have a stance and there is nothing we can do or say to help him and work with the school. It feels unnecessarily adversarial and defensive and I'm not sure that can change. We would have to accept it I think for the sake of staying within the community and some protective factors that may bring him and I'm not sure that's right for him either. Thanks for your responses its really helpful to hear others perspectives.
It's a tough call but I would say move him. It's the beginning of his junior school journey and you both feel he will be happier. I wish I had moved my daughter earlier rather than waiting to her final year. She blossomed in that year
Thank you car. I am glad she was so much happier, before starting secondary especially. It is heartening to hear these difficult decisions have paid off.
This happened to my extremely sensitive DS in yr 2. He went from being happy and popular to really anxious and miserable quite quickly. We tried everything.
Looking back I really wish we had moved him. Things did not get better and I think this was because the Head was not supportive. She made us feel like it was DS's fault and we really ended up questioning ourselves! (we were going through a tough time ourselves -(sudden bereavement) and we certainly weren't thinking straight).
Thankfully we did believe our DS and continually questioned the school and gave them chances but they were not being honest with us. We failed in putting too much faith in what the Head told us. Nothing changed, he disliked the school although was too afraid to leave it and left with anxiety and without many friends.
It seems like you have a very difficult choice but your DS wants to go. I would move him if I were you, I'm sure you will be worrying about jumping from the frying pan in to the fire but how much do you have to lose? The head at the other school sounds very different and I really do believe it changes the whole ethos of the school if you have a good head.
The other thing of course is that if you let the current school know you are looking to move him, especially mid year (AFAIK they will lose money) they may actually take you seriously and do something to help!
Thank you Pootle for sharing your experiences. It sounds very similar indeed.
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