Primary school not meeting DS's needs - persist or leave?(16 Posts)
Hi there - my 6 year old son has been identified as "gifted". (In real terms he is working at 3-4 years above his current age.)
We live in a remote rural community and he currently attends a very pleasant village school - but it is quite small. The classes double up so children spend 2 years in each class, with 30 children in each class.
My DS is in Yr2 but is surrounded by the brand new Yr1 intake - some of whom are still in the "crawling under the desk and annoying everyone" mode. The class is definitely weighted towards the younger children.
The class above is full so there is no option of my DS skipping a year.
My son's teacher is very young and was a NQT last year. The headmistress is very enthusiastic but her background is in secondary education. I don't have much faith in them being able to give him what he needs.
Since starting back at school my son has become very depressed and unwilling to go to school - which is not like him at all. He finds being surrounded by "babies" annoying and he feels very isolated and lonely.
My mind is swimming with options - homeschooling, flexischooling, independent. My family think I should battle it out with the school so that they make adequate provision for him. But I think they have such limited funds and facilities I am not sure what they can do for him. Private schooling really isn't an option for us either.
I am confident of filling gaps academically but I am very worried about this sudden dislike of school. And I obviously hate to see him sad.
Any thoughts or shared experience would be very welcome!
I think mixed year groups can be hard for any child if the balance isn't right and therefore especially hard for a child working so far above their age group. My 6 yr old has just gone into yr1 and we have had (since starting reception) no end of complaints from her about the immaturity of the other children and how they just distract her or try to get her to help them all the time because they can't be bothered to listen. Now the staff in her school are very good and they do seem good with the discipline but we will have to see how it pans out in this class (I think it will be fine - her teacher seems excellent)
PERSONALLY if I was you I would probably be looking to move him long term but if that is the case anyway then you have nothing to lose by speaking to the school and asking if they can address the balance better within the class so that the younger ones are more under control and the older ones can do their work (to be honest I personally think yr1 should be better behaved than climbing under desks and annoying people and if they aren't then they should be learning pretty quickly that this is NOT acceptable behaviour in the classroom.
I think in your position I would start looking round at other schools and checking out likelihood of vacancies.Whilst doing this (quietly) I would make an appointment to speak to the teacher/head/whoever deals with it in this size school and tell them what the problem seems to be. The main problem seems to be the immaturity of the Yr1 children and the disruption to the whole class. So I think that is the issue to tackle first. I would say that he is going off school and is finding it distracting and annoying and he wants to be able to get on with his work. Ask how they could address the issue, how the younger ones will be taught that this isn't how they behave, how the older ones can have time/peace to do their own work. Do they have a different space in the classroom for the Yr2 children so that they don't have Yr1 children getting under the table and being irritating (noise can be blocked out but someone poking you or flicking things at you is harder to ignore).
I am sure this is one that many of us here have had to deal with. You say he is working 3-4 years ahead in real terms, so do you know what NC level he is on? Schools supposedly have to show 2 levels of progress per year to ofsted, so if he did not make progress, the school would not look good. However, 'some' schools play around with the levels to avoid giving the extra help. For instance, if he was working at a level 4, they might say he is working at a level 2 or 3, then it is 'easy' to show the 2 sublevels of progress without putting much, if any, support in. If you are talking about KS1, it also helps their value add figures if they do this. You will need to try and get accurate NC levels from them. Also, look at their G&T policies and try and find out what it says for differentiating when a child is working so far ahead of the rest of the class.
I would second the advice that Periwinkle has given, start to look around at alternatives (with that sort of level of advancement you should be in scholarship or bursary territory) but if you are looking at private I
would only move to a highly selective private school, or you may find that you do not gain much. Only once I had got an alternative would I discuss with the current school, as some schools tend not to like it when you ask for support for a gifted child.
I would also recommend testing (although it is not cheap) so that you know what you are dealing with, it will help you with discussions with your current school and you can be 'up front' with any future school.
Potentialplus.org do testing, but there are many good Educational Psychologists if you ask on here.
"Schools supposedly have to show 2 levels of progress per year to ofsted,"
Two sublevels per year means 2C up to 2A, or 3A up to 4B.
Having read a couple of recent inspection reports from last summer term including the one for my DD's primary, Oftsted are currently looking at progress for all abilities but explicitly highlighting provision, challenge and progress for 'high ability' children.
There's no guarantee all inspections will be like that of course, but it's one of the things the politicians want them to do and Ofsted did publish their 'ground-breaking' (muddled) report on the fate 'high ability' children earlier this year. Heads typically tend to quickly find out what Ofsted are currently looking for so this might be on their radar, but yes whether they have resources to do anything about it...
In the OP's position I would attempt a civilised talk with the Head and base my next move on what I felt about that.
If your DS is the only very bright child in his year group, or indeed the school, there is only so much a small split year school can do.
Our gifted brother and sister went private (mum went to work and they just managed, but transfered back to state for secondary). We have decent secondaries with good sixforms.
The very clever girl, a couple of years later, transferred to a three form entry primary, where she didn't stand out so much and wasn't bullied. This was also the feeder school for a very well regarded faith secondary.
DD2 isn't that clever, but she was very lucky, her class had three other seriously academic DCs and the teachers naturally set work accordingly.
I think the fact that you are losing faith in the school says a lot more than anything else - even if they start making better provision for him, it sounds like you will always be wondering if that is enough. I don't mean that critically, of course you want the best for your son.
For what it is worth, I am an NQT teaching a split 1/2 class (youngest one was 5 less than a month ago). I am very aware of the differences in maturity, but no child is crawling under desks getting in the way (yet). I intend to keep it that way.
Infant class size restrictions don't apply to the year 3/4 class so it might not be true to say that the class above is "full". However moving up to that class may only be a temporary solution.
Thank you very much everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It has given me a lot of food for thought and information to act on.
I am meeting with the Head at the end of the week and will try to explore all of our options before chucking in the towel at this school.
It is certainly true to say that my confidence in the school has taken a knock lately but the Head is ambitious and may well rise to the challenge. As far as I am aware there are only 4 children in the whole school who have been identified as G&T so they really should be able to find space to make provision for their needs eventhough budgets are squeezed.
Many thanks once again.
Agree with lljkk. We've just moved DS from a good village primary with one class intake where they were clearly differentiating as is best practice. But it meant DS was doing maths with the head on his own three times a week and it was socially isolating marking him out as different.
It is both academic and social I think. His learning needs are not being met which is making him very unsettled and bored - and friendships have been hard to come by. We are not native to this rural community so DS's ability is just another thing that marks him out as different.
Meeting with HT was wholly unsatisfactory. She seems well intentioned but there is no real provision for G&T in place - no real clarity about differentiating. It is almost as if they want to keep him contained so that it doesn't complicate the structure of the school too much.
We are starting to investigate other options locally.
I am sorry the meeting did not go well. Did you establish what levels he is working at? If he is working well ahead I think she is going to find it difficult not to put some sort of plan in place (that is if they are truthful about the levels).
Is it worth taking it to the Governors?
Government guidelines on keeping a child within his year group have changed and it is easier to request a move and you have a right of appeal. The dept of education may be able to help with this and tell you which guidelines or maybe potentialplusuk.org.
Sorry that didn't go well. A school which wants to can do a lot, especially at Year 1, but if they don't, then there is little you can do. Especially if the social aspect isn't working either.
I think if you talk to other schools, you have to be completely upfront about his abilities, and the fact that he need more than just differentiation for the top table. If you're going to move, you need to be totally certain that it works.
hadenuff - do you have a link to the new government guidelines. I'd be very interested!
Change school and look into private schools as well as you can be helped with the fees its sad when schools dont do what their suppose to be doing and thats making sure every child is learning and is challenged. I think a private selective school is best for your child because they only take children that pass their tests anyway have a look good luck
Every time I read posts like this, I give thanks that my DD is at a 3 form entry primary and, although clearly bright (and identified as gifted but frankly who cares?) has the benefits of other children also working around her level. I can see it must be so hard if your DC is the only child working a few years ahead of chronological age whereas in a bigger school there always seem a few. OP, I think you do need to look if there are other schools that might be a better fit (state or private) as well as contuing to do as you are and speaking to HT et . Hope things work out for you and your dS.
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