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Clueless - could I please ask your thoughts about my 11 year old.

(21 Posts)
InspirationFailed Sat 08-Mar-14 17:29:53

Hello Everyone,

My eldest son is 11 and in year 7 at senior school. He is a school action plus pupil, he has quite severe (unstatemented) dyslexia, and also struggles with confidence, self esteem and anxiety.

He's a bright boy and has been out in top set for all his subjects, verbally he can manage the work but he is under a lot of stress and pressure as he can't follow what's being written on the board, can't write notes quick enough (and when he does they are eligible) and he struggles with his homework. I have refused to allow the school to give him detention for unfinished homework. It is a constant battle though, and it's changing my little boy. He doesn't like school, and has lost all motivation to even try. We frequently have tears on a Sunday evening.

Added to that, there is a constant low level bullying. He is a prefect, and every PE lesson someone steals his badge, there's name calling, and he has pen marks on the back of his neck and shirt that he tells me has done himself, he came home drenched in Pepsi the other day. There was an incident last week where he was pushed, picked up by his blazer and thrown through a fire door, the bullies were given 2 days of isolation.

I don't know the first thing about HE, I don't know how to start, how it works, am I bright enough to be able to teach him, can I do it when I have a 2 year old and a baby at home? How is it moderated - I honestly have no idea where to even begin thinking about it (and that's without the opposition I will have from my ex, his dad, about doing anything that he doesn't see as normal)

I just don't know where to start, do you think HE would be the best thing to do for him? I don't want him to go through the next 5 years miserable and pressured.

ommmward Sat 08-Mar-14 17:37:55

Eurgh, it sounds just awful. There comes a moment when it is no longer worth putting your energy into fighting the system - you may as well put them into your child instead. Only you can know whether you've reached that point. I doubt very much that he'd resent being removed from this situation...

there is a thread not very far down the page full of resources about home education.

You could also get in touch with your local HE community (let us know if you need advice about that, but I'm assuming you'd rather not put your location out here in public). That will give you a feel for what it's like where you are.

Non home educators will come along and tell you that it's impossible to teach secondary age children adequately at home. Home educators who've done it say that it's fine - it's a question of changing your mind set, with your child, so that you become the facilitator of them learning rather than the person with All The Answers. Have a look at the Teenage Liberation Handbook (there is a pdf floating around the internet).

And keep asking questions smile

InspirationFailed Sat 08-Mar-14 17:53:14

Thank you, I've joined a Facebook group for home educating and posted a similar message on there.

I've been at the school once a week since he started in September, I insist on meeting with the SENCO and being updated on what they are doing for my son. I asked that he he taken out of French ( the poor kid can't write in English never mind another language!) and was told that it was illegal, they are insisting that everything will fall into place when he learns to touch type, he has been learning for 6 months now and still can't do it.

I also keep in touch with his head of year by phone twice a week, they seem to say all the right things and I think their intentions are good but it's not good enough iyswim. He has 3 sessions with a 1-2-1 tutor a week, and his individual lesson tutors are supposed to set aside 15 minutes at the start and end of his lessons to make sure he fully understands the work, and to give him papers copies of the notes from the board. Which doesn't really work as with a class of 35 it's easy to forget, have no time, other priorities.

I just don't think that he is learning. Another option would be to put him into bottom set, which would be so unfair to him, he has the knowledge, he did his entrance exams verbally and scored highly. He will happily watch documentaries, visit museums and castles - he enjoys learning. He spent last weekend watching a Stephen Hawking series.

My main motivating factor at the moment is the bullying - how dare they make my boy cry sad angry. I'm very aware of how senior school can affect the rest of your life, there have been threads on here about how being bullied still affects posters today.

My son knows I will fight for him every step of the way and I frequently email his SENCO saying that homework isn't finished. We have set a limit of 90 minutes per night of homework (which still seems steep to me) focusing on English, Maths and Science, but when it takes him an hour to write 2 paragraphs there isn't much that gets done and of course he gets in trouble for not doing his other subjects.

He is a well behaved boy and goes to school at 8am and doesn't leave until after homework club, trying to do his best and it is never good enough for them. His head of year tells me how brilliant he is, but they don't realise the pressure they have him under. I am due to go into school on Monday to view the CCTV of the latest incident (throwing him through a door) so I am planning to bring up the subject of deregistering him then.

InspirationFailed Sat 08-Mar-14 17:54:19

I'm in Birmingham/Solihull, I would appreciate any ideas about local groups or resources. Thank you.

ommmward Sat 08-Mar-14 18:08:28

Don't bother bringing up the subject with school. If/when you decide to do it, simply take in the letter of deregistration (there's a form one on the edyourself website) and hand it to the secretary. The school will almost certainly try to dissuade you from HE for two reasons : (1) you voting with your feet makes it very hard for them to feel good about their anti-bullying practice and inclusion activities and (2) you will be responsible for them losing several thousand pounds of budget attached to your child for every year he would have been in the school. There is no benefit for them whatsoever in you taking him out.

Aha: for Birmingham, this is the facebook group: here and julienoshoes will answer an email you send here: (which apparently works as a bit of a hub for Birmingham too)

and here's another useful link

HerrenaHarridan Sat 08-Mar-14 18:14:15

Come over to the mn home ed Facebook page.

Lots of other people have been in your position and can guide you through the process.

You've got a bright kid with motivation to learn and it sounds to me like you need to act now before that motivation is lost.

Give it a try, smile

HerrenaHarridan Sat 08-Mar-14 18:21:54

Fwiw in response to your concerns about being smart enough, my friend is he her 3 (14,12,7) she is quite severely dyslexic as is her oldest, the younger twos reading and writing skills are exceptional.
The oldest has a huge range of skills which he may potentially use to make his way in the world and can read fairly well but writes/types with difficulty. He is an incredible lad who I have learnt a lot from.

As ommward said Do no trust the schools opinion on this, the clearly do not know the law, illegal to to take French, rubbish! hmm

InspirationFailed Sat 08-Mar-14 18:54:57

Thank you, I've applied to join both Facebook groups and am about to read through the other threads. It's such a daunting thing to be considering. I've got to ring my ex just after 7pm to discuss it with him, I have a feeling that it's not going to go well, he prefers to bury his head in the sand.

Nigglenaggle Sat 08-Mar-14 19:30:23

Being bullied is horrid sad Poor both of you sad Whatever opposition you face from other quarters, he will always thank you for removing him from that situation, even if he can't bring himself to tell you.

bobbysgirlfirst Sat 08-Mar-14 22:04:15

Hi InspirationFailed
I've sent you 2 PMs about HE in Birmingham/Solihull

saintlyjimjams Sun 09-Mar-14 07:46:42

It sounds awful. My middle son was bullied in primary - it got sorted - but I know if we had the same sort of problems again I would HE.

Because I have to work I already know I would use an Internet school - either interhigh or brite school. But I also know both my younger children would respond well to that sort of environment.

Saracen Sun 09-Mar-14 08:45:35

Removing the need for your son to do most of his learning through the medium of reading, and to demonstrate his understanding by means of writing, will transform his educational prospects.

Many home educated kids were removed from school because their difficulties with reading and writing made it difficult for them to learn in a school setting. Other home kids who've never gone to school at all, and who are given the option of tackling reading whenever they feel ready, come to reading later than schoolchildren do. So there are quite a few HE kids who don't read and write at all, or who don't do it well. Outside of the school environment, this doesn't have to hold them back at all. Their parents typically ensure that they have access to other learning resources such as documentaries, audiobooks, museums, and people to talk to. Ideally there is also someone around who can read aloud to the child when he wants, though in a busy family this may not happen so much.

The bullying alone is reason enough to remove your son from school, obviously. But he will also get a lot more from his education and have an improved self-esteem as a result.

Martorana Sun 09-Mar-14 08:58:59

Just to say as well- that's not low level bullying- that's bullying.

Don't mention deregistering at your meeting on Monday. You don't have to tell them at any point- just keep him home one day and post the letter!

Keep batting everything back to them. If they let him do the entrance exams verbally then they must be aware of his difficulties- how are they going to make sure the measures put in place to support him actually work? What are they going to do? How are they going to do it? When are they going to do it by? Have a copy of their anti bullying policy with you. If you feel inclined, give them a deadline by which they will have sorted things (or not- it's up to you). Maybe go and talk to another school and see what they say so you've covered all bases?

But if he is going to stay at school, pin them down to practical actions and time scales. And chase.

Saracen Sun 09-Mar-14 09:08:13

You don't need anyone's permission to remove your son from school - not the LA and certainly not the school, who are unlikely to have any knowledge whatsoever of home education and may well try to talk you out of it. (I can't believe they told you it was illegal for your son to drop French. If they don't even know about their own area of expertise - school-based education - how likely are they to have a clue about alternative forms of education?)

Your son's dad is the only person who might be able to stand in your way. Do you have a sense of how that will go? Does he really understand the extent to which the bullying and academic struggles are affecting your son? Is he likely to feel strongly enough to want to take you to court over it?

InspirationFailed Mon 10-Mar-14 13:38:26

Thank you everyone.

For some reason I can't access my pm folder, it asked me to log in and doesn't give me a button to do it confused

My ex is totally dead against it, he can be pig headed stubborn at times, and thinks that as it is 'normal' for a child to attend school then that's what we have to do. I've never gone up against him before (I've never had to, we have always agreed on most things) so I have no idea how he will react.

I've just got off the phone to his old SENCO from his primary school, she always said to call if I had any concerns so I did. She is very find of DS and always went the extra mile for him. She agrees that home schooling would be the best option for him, she said she can't stand the thought of his spirit being crushed. She's going to get back to me with some useful contacts and speak to a friend of hers who is also a SENCO but tutors as well for some advice.

I'm waiting for a call back from the dyslexia association in Solihull, who say they have information about grants available if DS is statemented, and other information (although I will be careful here as I'm sure they will just want £££)

My main concern is my ex at the moment. It could get really ugly. We have no formal access arrangement, we've been divorced for 8 years and always just split the time. I think though that it will be my decision in the end as DS is registered as living here and I get the child benefit. That might just be a myth though.

ommmward Mon 10-Mar-14 14:50:26

Get the SENCO to write a letter strongly advising HE and why (you can help her draft it...) and then you have an "official" suggestion of the plan you want to follow, to show to exH?

KatharineClifton Sat 15-Mar-14 13:01:56

The thing is, it doesn't have to be forever. What is right right now, may be different 6 months, a year down the line. Perhaps your ex may accept that angle.

If your ex doesn't like it he can ask the education dept to review your education provision - which they will do anyway routinely (not legal but that is what they do when people let them, which I think most do). It's not hard to show you are educating - it's just what we all do naturally anyway.

Swanhildapirouetting Sat 15-Mar-14 22:22:12

Have you tried posting this on the Special Needs board?
Fwiw we have a very dyslexic ds2 in year 7 on SA plus (he also has Asperger's). We have all homework emailed to us. We scribe a lot of his homework, which has really encouraged him to come up with better work than he would have done if he was just writing it.

The school should be protecting him from bullying sad For us that has been a very important aspect of the school's responsibility as our son has SNs. Part of the bullying may be because he is perceived as a target because he has difficulties with the written work.

We were also considering home edding because of fears over his academic performance deterioating, but when we "forced" the school to make more accommodations for him, he was much happier and more motivated in lessons and trots into school eagerly every day. You could insist that he does far less homework for example. 90 minutes sounds an enormous amount for a child who struggles, and has struggled all day. Ds really wants to please the teachers so it is getting the balance right between doing their best, and not necessarily what the teachers demand.

Swanhildapirouetting Sat 15-Mar-14 22:30:38

I also have a husband opposed to home edding, and we came up with a plan that we would do everything in our power to make school help, and then if that failed, consider home edding by Year 8. I think they do change a lot this year; it is a tough year and sometimes it takes a while before you can see the full picture and what they get out of school (If anything!)

If your child is truly unhappy your ex will/should support you, but he may need some details about the form home ed would take, otherwise it can be a knee jerk reaction to the unknown.

Swanhildapirouetting Sat 15-Mar-14 22:35:40

I wouldn't mention de-registering either. I would just keep pressing for action over the bullying.

VikingLady Mon 17-Mar-14 12:34:01

Can you present it to your ex as a temporary measure, say until GCSEs? Then you can reassess later and when everything is fine (from what I've read on here it generally is!) you can agree to do GCSEs (if relevant to him) at home, school or college, whichever suits your son best. It doesn't have robe a permanent decision, and you would be keeping an eye in his progress anyway which is an informal review process!

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