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To withdraw or not to withdraw

(130 Posts)
Freckle Sat 14-May-05 14:19:13

DS1 has been the target for bullies for over a year now. I have approached the school on a number of occasions and tried to resolve the problem. The school has appeared willing to help and, from time to time, the problem has diminished. However, it has always reappeared. DS1 is a prime target for bullies, in that he is not particularly big for his age, very sensitive, desperate to be liked and doesn't retaliate (for which I take full responsibility because that is how I have raised him). I spoke to his class teacher at consultation a few weeks ago and was very disappointed in her response ("well, there's not a lot we can do about it" and, when I mentioned the name of the main bully, "Oh but he's nasty to a number of children" - so, your point is????). Over recent weeks, there have been a number of incidents, resulting in a meeting with the headteacher, at which he promised a number of strategies. Then, on Tuesday last week, there was a major incident of the bully humiliating DS1 in front of the whole class and his class teacher supporting the bully, following which DS1 was so distraught and upset that he couldn't breathe properly or speak. Teacher has since denied the incident (or at least her role in it), but I am absolutely certain that DS1 has related what happened accurately. There followed a meeting with the headteacher and ultimately on Friday DH and I decided to withdraw DS1 from school until the end of term. DS1 is in Y6 and I took him into school each day to do his Key Stage 2 SATS (done alone in the head's office at his suggestion).

My older sister is the deputy head of a large primary school and she has since told me that, if I de-register DS1, his place at a local grammar school cannot be held for him as he will no longer appear on the local education authority register. They will not be able to hold his place for him as it would be the same as holding a place for a child from another authority. I have contacted the LEA and the grammar school, but have been unable to speak to the relavant people.

Do any teachers have any idea what our position is? I cannot send DS1 back into an environment which has robbed him of any vestige of self-confidence and reduced him to the state he was in last Tuesday. However, although I am prepared to home-educate him for the rest of this term, it is not a long-term option and I do not want him to lose his place at grammar school.

Any advice?? Many thanks.

motherinferior Sat 14-May-05 14:22:32

Freckle, how horrible. How difficult is it proving to get hold of the appropriate officials?

(Sorry, am not a teacher but am just outraged). Also, is it worth taking a slightly different route and talking to ChildLine, which does a lot of anti-bullying work, on your rights?

Freckle Sat 14-May-05 14:32:11

I haven't yet spoken to anyone re our rights as my sister only told me this this morning. I spoke to the LEA and the grammar school yesterday but they have to get back to me next week as the relevant people were not available when I called. I wasn't aware of what my sister told me when I spoke to them so didn't raise it as a specific issue. I haven't yet officially de-registered DS1; merely told the head we are withdrawing him.

The head, although probably not happy about the situation, was not unsympathetic and even told us about a former pupil of the school, now in Y8, who is currently in the local hospital as the result of an attempted suicide, from which I deduced that he was aware of the effect of the bullying on DS1.

I have applied, via the Kidscape website, for a place on one of their assertiveness training courses for DS1, but do not know if we will be successful. I am mainly concerned that DS1 should have some self-confidence when he starts secondary school in September, because there will undoubtedly be bullies there and he has to learn to cope with them in all walks of life, even in the workplace later. My worry now is that, if I de-register him, his place at the school of his (and our) choice will be denied him.

saadia Sat 14-May-05 15:09:07

Sorry Freckle I don't know anything about how the school applications procedure works so can't advise you but I just wanted to say that I think from the point of view of your ds's immediate wellbeing I think you did the right thing. I always think that if my dss (at the moment 1 and 3) go through prolonged or traumatic bullying I would also withdraw them, having seen how many bullying victims attempt suicide. The school teacher sounds at best inept and at worse cruel.

ScummyMummy Sat 14-May-05 15:12:26

Oh Freckle. How awful. I don't have any advice but wanted to wish you and ds the very best of luck in sorting this out.

Freckle Sat 14-May-05 17:38:05

Any teachers know what the situation is wrt withdrawal and further education? If we withdraw now, is he out of the state system for good?

Thanks for all your good wishes and thoughts. It's been pretty traumatic over the last week and, having made what we thought was the right decision, it is very unsettling to be told now that it might be the wrong one.

WideWebWitch Sat 14-May-05 17:48:55

Your poor ds freckle. I don't have any advice but I hope someone else sees this and does. It is outrageous, I'm sorry the school have been so completely rubbish.

andif Sat 14-May-05 17:50:34

Not sure if this specifically answers your question, but good article in the Observer about home schooling a few weeks ago.

Mud Sat 14-May-05 17:51:59

it sounds awful, truly a horrible experience for you all

but I must admit to wondering what happened when you say "there was a major incident of the bully humiliating DS1 in front of the whole class and his class teacher supporting the bully"

morocco Sat 14-May-05 18:14:15

how lovely of you to be so supportive of your son like this - I hope you get the answer you want and are able to continue at the grammar school of your choice. I have read of many children who did absolutely fine and were never bullied again once they changed schools - it can just be bad luck to attract the attention of one particular bully - so don't worry overly about him being a 'prime target' in future.
sorry to be unable to answer your query though

Freckle Sat 14-May-05 18:19:47

Y6 have been doing SATs this week. They had done a paper in the morning and, going back into class in the afternoon, were asked to get into tables of 6. DS1 was on a table with 5 other children when 2 other boys joined the table. The teacher, who was aware of the bullying and how vulnerable DS1 was, decided,in her wisdom, that DS1 should be one of the 2 to move. He indicated that he didn't want to move. Whereupon one of the bullies asked the whole class to indicate whether they thought DS1 should move. The whole class (as far as DS1 could see) put up their hands. The bully then asked people to put up their hand if they thought DS1 should stay. No one put up their hand. The teacher then said "There you are, DS1, everyone thinks you should move, so would you please move".

I'm sorry, but that is totally unacceptable. I, as an adult, would have been destroyed by the rejection of the whole class, but to then have the teacher endorse that rejection is beyond words.

Mud Sat 14-May-05 18:21:38

that's just mean I would want to have serious words with teacher at that treatment poor DS

Tinker Sat 14-May-05 18:21:59

Freckle. I am horrified.

happymerryberries Sat 14-May-05 18:33:59

Freckle, I don't know for sure (not my area of expertise) but I have read on MN that home edded kids can go back into the system for secondary education to fo their GCSEs for example.

One thing that I have wondered about is , is it possible to move him to another class until the end of the year? Even if it was to drop down a year. Not ideal I realise, but it would stop there being so much of a problem in keeping him his grammer school place.

the other thing that night be worth lokking into is assertivemness training classes for him. the school I work in puts children into these if they are the victim of repeated bullying (esp if it is by different children IYSWIM)

This is an awful situation and I hope you get a good resolution soon.

Dior Sat 14-May-05 18:43:01

Message withdrawn

foxinsocks Sat 14-May-05 19:15:04

I don't know the answer to the question but I'm really sorry that it's got this far (I think you may have posted about this before - how sad that the school couldn't resolve this).

As we are in the last term of school anyway, is there no way the school could keep him on their 'register' but have him signed off for some reason? If the grammar school have some knowledge of the situation hopefully they will be sympathetic. I think that Kidscape course is a good idea.

How does he feel about the whole thing? As happymerryberries says, perhaps it would be possible for him to go into another yr6 class for the rest of term (though I think this will draw more attention to him which is probably not what he wants).

Hope someone can help you with some answers.

Celia2 Sat 14-May-05 19:47:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swedishmum Sun 15-May-05 00:33:31

Hi Freckle
What a horrible situation for your son and what difficult decisions for you.
For totally different reasons dd1 is out of school, and will go to grammar school in September. We are currently abroad (for next 2 weeks) so all 3 are down as distance learners. Dd has been excused SATS by grammar school so I would think if they know the whole situation there should be no problem in Sept - personally I'd explain the situation to them, saying you are concerned for your son's safety, and go with their advice. Tell them you are happy to educate him at home. There is certainly no problem de-registering children earlier in their school career then doing 11 plus. I'll be doing this with no 3 on my return - he's dyslexic and will not have the provision at school that I can provide, though I do not feel able to teach him beyond 11 myself. I have every intention of him passing his 11 plus.
I hope you resolve this - I'm sure there's a very straightforward solution. The prime concern is that your son uses this last half term to rebuild his confidence. The grammar school must be able to see that.

Good luck

highlander Sun 15-May-05 03:17:55

freckle, am i missing the point...... why the hell isn't the school doing anything about the bully? Have his parents been contacted? Have you all had a round table discussion?

I feel so sad for you and your DS

Freckle Sun 15-May-05 05:40:50

Thanks everyone. We are bemused by the school's failure to deal with the bullies (there are several of them). They seem to go for the whole class talk/assembly talk approach,which, to my mind, doesn't work because the bullies hide beneath the cloak of anonymity and pretend that it doesn't apply to them.

It has been suggested that I approach their parents myself, but I don't feel comfortable with that. Of the 3 main bullies, only 1 is dropped off and collected by a parent - don't know what happens with the others (after-school club/childminders, I think) and I don't actually know who their parents are.

It isn't really possible for him to move to the other Y6 class as two of the bullies are in that class (the classes get mixed for certain lessons, such as numeracy which is where some of the bullying was happening).

One of the main reasons we pulled him out was that we wanted time to help him regain some vestige of self-confidence before he starts at the grammar school. I've approached Kidscape and, if not able to get on one of their course, will speak to my gp to see if he knows of any locally. A number of strategies have been suggested, such as writing to the board of governors, having meetings with the parents, teachers, etc., but all this takes time and chances are that we would have got to the end of term before anything was achieved. During that time, he would still be at the mercy of these boys and having his self-esteem (not that he has much) eroded on a daily basis.

Although I will be home-educating him, I doubt that we will do a huge amount of new work. I'm going to be trying to build up his confidence and help him learn more strategies for protecting himself against physical and verbal bullying. I have contacted the grammar school and hope that they may have some advice and support to offer us.

tigermoth Sun 15-May-05 07:46:29

Oh freckle, I thought I hadn't seen you around much on mumsnet during the last couple of weeks and now I can see why!

I never realised your son had such a problem with bullying. I bet you are extremelyu relieved it is so near the end of his time at primary school.

I think you are doing the right thing for now in taking him out of school. If your school is anything like ours, I gather the Y6 children won't be doing much actual 3R's work between now and the end of term. Now the SATS are over, it's art classes and PE every afternoon. Your son has done all his exams, so no stress about missing important work.

I am sure ther must be a solution to this de-registering problem. I just cannot see how the grammar school would refuse your son his place if you move him out of primary school for the reasons you state. I am so cross no one was able to reassure you when you asked - I bet you are worried sick! Surely if your so is still with the same LEA, it doesn't matter what primary school he is officially going to. Anyway, what do I know - what you need is official reassurance and get the answer in writing.

I wonder if there's any chance your son could sit in on a few lessons at his grammar school? probably not, but that might be one possiblity.

I have to say, I think the teacher was so out of order in agreeing with the bullies, and I hope he or she realises that was the final straw for you. Later, when you have the energy, I think you should take this further - look at the official complaints procedure.

Not so serious as your situation, but my y6 son has suffered some bullying especially this past year. He has been 'accidently' hit or tripped over, with injuries, 3 or 4 times. There is one boy who is a nasty verbal bully and wind up artist - even I have come under fire from him. From what my son tells me, verbal and physical defiance and bullying has stepped up a gear this year - and this is at a small church school with very strict codes of behaviour. I don't know if this is to do with the age of the boys and the pressure of being in year 6.

I too can't face the parents. One of them gives my sons a lift home in her car (a paid arrangement) and I just can't bring myself to talk to her now.

My son is lucky in that for him there are more friends than bullies in his class. What about your son's friends at school? do you know the parents well? can you talk to them and between you, get your son's friends to stay with him more - that's if you consider letting him go back for the last week or two.

I am saying this because of all the end of term events that will happen. I really feel for you and your son, missing things like the leavers evening, class parties, year 6 play or whatever goodbye events your school puts on.

If you decide going back is just not worth it, it's totally understandable. I am just so sorry you'll miss the nice bits.

Mind you, the bullies at our school will not necessarily have nice memories of their last day at primary. My son tells me, lots of children in his class, including him, are determined to fight them back on the last day. The reasoning is that they will have nothing to lose, as they will be leaving and the bullies are not going to the same secondary schools as they are. I wonder if it's common for year 6s to threaten anarchy like this?

Anyway, I am rambling - I will watch out for your messages and I really hope you get a speedy answer about de-registering and your son feels tons more happier very soon.

happymerryberries Sun 15-May-05 07:59:54

Freckle, if you do decide to home edd I can give you some pointers on what will be covered in Y7 in the grammer school in science.

I can also give you some excellent website resources. Let me know if I can help.

I would steer clear of contacting the parents directly, but that is only my reaction.

Freckle Sun 15-May-05 08:05:17

Thanks TM. If I were removing him to send to another primary, I don't think there would be a problem. It's the fact that I am de-registering him. It effectively takes him out of the state system and this is where the problem is. One option to avoid this might be to have him signed off long-term sick. Might not look good on his record, but preferable to losing his place or having a truancy record.

Wrt his teacher, she has denied her part in the incident. Claims that neither she nor the classroom assistant were aware of what was happening until DS1 left the room in tears. Rather begs the question of what they were doing to be so oblivious to what the class was up to.

Freckle Sun 15-May-05 08:07:39

Thanks, hmb. Any pointers would be gratefully received.

I am not going to speak to any of the parents unless they approach me, at which time I will not seek to hide their child's part in it all.

tigermoth Sun 15-May-05 08:14:02

I see, signing him off as sick seems a viable solution - he's got years ahead to show he's not usually absent from school. Will you need a doctor's certificate?

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