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Is school failing my child? I need some advice, I feel like a PITA mum...

(137 Posts)
jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 12:25:21

My son is 7, y3. School sent him for assessment over a year ago as teacher was convinced he had Aspergers: in class he was misbehaving, not paying attention, performing average on his NC levels but showing immense creativity, up and down with friendships... He had an iq test and scored very high on verbal and nonverbal ability (99.6/98.5), and scored 0 on a separate autism assessment. He displayed dyslexic traits that need more investigation. Both doctors said he's very bright but not aspergers, and it's the school's responsibility to provide for him. A year later he is more motivated as his teacher is a bit more unconventional, but his NC levels are still average. He seems to use his own methods, especially in maths, and it's all a bit up and down. He has been getting support to improve his handwriting, and it's better, but still no news on a dyslexia assessment despite me asking on several occasions. I tried to speak to the Head, he just said "he's obviously a really bright boy, but I think there's something else and I don't think it's dyslexia", before sending me to speak to the Stage leader who told me there's no funding for him as other children need it more. I was left quite lost: if Head thinks it's not dyslexia, why aren't we investigating to see what is it, if anything? This was last year, nothing has happened since, really. I don't know what to do, how to support my child. His teacher thinks that he will start ticking the boxes when he's decided he wants to be top of the class. I'm not sure he will. I worry that he's underperforming and this will create a pattern. Any advice or similar experiences, please!

inthename Sun 22-Feb-15 12:43:27

exactly the same happened to my ds at the same age, without the dyslexia. The doctors categorically ruled out aspergers/autism etc and said that ds was challenging one particular teacher because ds had worked out the teachers weaknesses. With a more confident teacher, things improved a lot. Ultimately I looked at activities outside of school to stretch him and then eventually moved to an independent school as they have seperate subject teachers from year 5 which gave ds extra 'input' rather than being challenging for 1 teacher trying to teach all subjects.

pieceofpurplesky Sun 22-Feb-15 12:50:35

The thing is OP the school won't treat your DS as gifted and talented as he is only attaining average scores. It seems to me as if motivation and behaviour are the problem - schools can only go so far as to deal with that as they have other children in the class who also need support. Whilst in an ideal world your son would be dealt with 1:1 the head is correct and there won't be any funding. This may sound really harsh but rather than trying to find a label for your son you and the school need to target his behaviour and lack of motivation - daily report card etc. if he sees you working together you may have more success (apologies if this is already happening). I would push for the dyslexia test (if he has more symptoms that untidy handwriting though). There is a boy in my DS's class whose parents are convinced he has everything going ... From dyspraxia to dyslexia - he is just a normal kids with too much pressure on him ...

JustRichmal Sun 22-Feb-15 12:51:16

If dd were playing up because she had worked out "a teachers weakness", I would be asking her to use her obviously high intelligence to work out that the teachers were there to teach her and others in the class.

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 12:51:41

Thanks for your reply. I have though about going private, but it would be difficult financially! It just seems to me that when schools make g&t provision is just for children who are top of the class/high achievers. He's seen as a bit of an eccentric "creator" by other kids and teachers - right now he's teaching himself origami from youtube - but they're not really providing for him as the "experts" recommended. We were told to speak to the g&t coordinator at start of y3, but now there's no g&t coordinator anymore! How old is your son now, and how's he doing at private school inthename?

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 12:57:55

Thanks, although it does sound harsh. He's only 7, not really misbehaving just in his own world a bit, and really finds it hard emotionally. I wasn't asking for criticism just advice from people who've gone through similar situations and actually understand what I'm talking about.

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 13:01:12

That's my point, pieceofpurplesky, he's got an iq of 140, he's got average results in NC levels: why?

JustRichmal Sun 22-Feb-15 13:29:45

Have you tried directing his interests to academic subjects? Could he try Khan Academy of some of the problems on nrich?

var123 Sun 22-Feb-15 13:41:29

Its hard for us to tell you why because we only have the clues you gave us, and you've already thought these fully through.

You probably have thought of this too, but have you considered that he's choosing to hand in what for him would be a lowish standard of work because he thinks that is what is reqd of him?

Schools often do this thing they called differentiating by outcome which means they leave it up to the child to turn out the standard of work they feel comfortable with. (I am not sure that's how teachers would put it but I can't be bothered to think how to phrase it more diplomatically!)

Anyway the upshot is that some children choose not challenge themselves for one reason or another. It may even be that your child does not want to stand out from his classmates, even if its in a good way. And of course, he's not sitting on the top table.

inthename Sun 22-Feb-15 13:58:00

Just -I wrote that badly, the consultant meant that the particular teacher had a general subject knowledge and ds would ask him in depth questions which the particular teacher told ds he had no idea of the answers.
I have an eccentric creator too, wants to be a prop designer or model maker when he's older
jaws5, he's now yr8, loves it because the school has more time for the creative stuff. Do they do design tech later on as this can really help as an outlet. Maybe see what sort of bursaries are available at schools in your area.

var123 Sun 22-Feb-15 13:58:46

What are his current work targets? Are they things you know he can already do?

What happens when he is challenged by something that is complex but achievable with some effort (i.e. what have you witnessed at home?) Does he crumple, does he just not bother or does he become briefly engaged and appear to be really content?

I think (stating the obvious here!) that the key to making him learn has not been found yet. Its possible that the teacher has a target for every child of 1.5 -2 sublevels this year (or whatever the new system is) and she's not spending time trying to work out how to engage your son as long as he is on target to meet her targets.

var123 Sun 22-Feb-15 14:06:51

IME having an outlier child means that you have to do more than if you have a more middle of the road child. Its because schools don't always take care of the outliers with the same attention they devote to herding the whole class forward.

I have read other posters complain that their children are ignored in favour of children working at the two ends of the scale. So, its either a case of the grass is always greener and no group is completely happy or some schools are good with the middle and others take care of the outliers at the expense of the middle. I think you'd need to have deep knowledge of many schools to say which is right.

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 15:26:56

Thank you for your responses. He is incredibly tenacious with his own projects - at the moment it's origami and making animation films, but he doesn't try fractionally as hard in his school work, at least homework which I struggle to make him do for more than 10m. He's also extremely stubborn, and sometimes I just don't want a fight... We read a lot with him and go to museums, etc. as he loves art and science. But sometimes I pick him up from school and he tells me that while the teacher was talking he was "daydreaming" about the universe and time being the "most important factor". So frustrating. He's definitely an outlier, thanks for the term.

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 15:30:13

Var123, I think you're right and to find an appropriate learning style is what's missing here, yes! I just don't think the school is looking for it that hard. I understand that there are 30 children in the class though...

var123 Sun 22-Feb-15 15:52:47

Unfortunately, it looks like you will have to find the magic words to make your DS want to excel at school work because it would seem that the teacher isn't looking.

Sometimes, its only a little thing that does the trick. So far this year, DS1 has been coasting a little. He doesn't want to stand out as a "nerd" (he's in year 8 so this stuff is beginning to matter). One thing he wasn't doing was showing his teachers that he'd got it - whatever the "it" they were trying to teach that day was. He was also deliberately zoning out so that he didn't have to listen to 2 particular girls continually raise their hands and then ask (what DS thinks are) inane questions. I pointed out that if he wanted to reduce the number of times he has to listen to them, one way was to answer the teacher's question himself.

It proved to be just the motivation he needed. So, he started putting his hand up and now the teachers can see that he can do it and he's getting more of the extension work again.

Rivalry is heavily discouraged in classrooms but sometimes it also works to motivate an able child who is becoming complacent and not trying too hard. DS2 has been comfortably top of his class in maths since he started school. The other children all talk about how clever he is. However, recently, another boy who is very able himself, but who adds to it by doing extra revision every night (or so he and his mum tell me), actually beat DS2 on a test. DS2 was astonished. It was onyl by 1 mark but even so. So now, Ds2 has found his motivation to put a bit of effort in to making sure he's read the question etc.

My point is that different things work for different children and at different times. You just need to find what will make your DS want to deliver the work the teacher is looking for. Maybe it will be something like if you finish your work early and get it all right, then you can spend time on this interest of yours or we'll take you to the science museum etc.

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 16:24:47

Your son's antics made me smile var123 ��! Yes, ultimately I think it's going to be down to us as a family to get that magic formula to get him motivated to excel, I'm going to have to accept that we're not getting much support from school. Does anyone know whether estate schools have an obligation to support g&t children? I know they used to but I've heard that's changed recently.

var123 Sun 22-Feb-15 16:40:11

Every child counts apparently. Also, each child must show progress. Unfortunately, progress is the same amount whether the child is a genius or the opposite. In your son's case the issue will be that he will have been noted as a middle achiever at the end of KS1 so his target will be similar for the end of KS2.

He can always outperform his target, but, it can be a question of how much time and effort the school will put into helping him with this once he's reached the top of the top set. As DS2's deputy head told me last year anything above expected progress is a bonus (and as DS2 had already met all his targets I should just be grateful that they still intended to teach him at all was the subtext).

pieceofpurplesky Sun 22-Feb-15 16:46:56

State schools Re paid to support all children but as I said earlier if your DS is not putting in the effort they can't force him - you, your son and the school need to work together to find what works. My DS is a quirky kid who has average grades but high intellect .... What you have to realise us the two don't go hand in hand all the time

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 17:18:58

I think I've realised that they don't necessarily go together! It reminds me of what I was told by the KS1 leader last year, that "he needs to take responsibility for his own learning". He was 6. Surely this is ok for teenagers - and even then school and parents should try to find out why a kid is underperforming according to ability, but for young children it seems an easy excuse. I'd love to work together with the school, but I feel like a pushy parent who keeps asking with no response...

ooerrmissus Sun 22-Feb-15 17:31:22

OP have a look at Potential Plus. It used to be called the National Association of Gifted Children. It is quite common for very bright kids not to reach their full potential in school. They can advise you on how best to approach the school and have tips for parents and schools on how to help bright kids.

Good luck.

tenderbuttons Sun 22-Feb-15 18:41:30

If not private education, then could you find the money to to get an assessment by an educational psychologist? In your shoes I'd want to know whether it was a learning disability or an attitude that was holding him back, but it will also help a lot with school if he does get some kind of diagnosis, then they will have to listen. And if you have a measure of his ability, it's also much easier to prove to them that he is under performing.

pieceofpurplesky Sun 22-Feb-15 18:42:02

He's your DS jaws - be as pushy as you need! I would suggest a contact book where school write each day a comment in what he focused on and what he didn't. This would help build a picture if where and what methods he responds to ...

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 19:14:11

Thanks all of you for your thoughtful responses! Ed psy is an option, and I'm going to talk to school at again this week. flowers

jaws5 Sun 22-Feb-15 19:21:56

Just looked and read that many schools won't regard private educational psychologist assessments, only LEA. The school has an ed psy who comes in weekly but we haven't been refered to her. Again a catch 22! I'd love to get to the bottom of this and see what we're dealing with, so I'm going to be a complete PITA and write to the Head. Thanks again!

TheBuskersDog Sun 22-Feb-15 19:30:47

pieceofpurplesky, if all parents who thought their children were underachieving asked for a contact book teachers would have to spend half of the afternoon writing in them instead of teaching!

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