Secondary school is failing my DD- switch schools or homeschool?

(10 Posts)
mesocortical Tue 28-Aug-18 11:51:25

Dear All,

This will be slightly long so please bear with me.

I have finally had enough of my DD's current secondary school. She will be starting Year 10 next week and I do not think the school is a great fit for her. They did 'surprise' GCSE mock exams at the end of Year 9, without giving us a lot of warning, only 11% of her maths YEAR group passed the mocks, she is constantly being pushed down to bottom set when she is performing brilliantly at home with all the mock practice papers and has a tutor who carries out regular assessments. In her school she got examined on topics which were not even covered/taught yet! The school were phoning us at 11pm the night before the exam to let us know they would be carrying out the assessments the following day to determine which sets to place the students in! The students had no chance to revise, so how is this a fair measure? On top of that, over the summer she has had some boys from her year group talking to her about sex, sending her porn links and while she has told them off she has found it all quite traumatising.

I have already addressed all these issues with the school several times last year and nothing has been done about it! The HOY did not even get back to me when I asked him to clarify the discrepancies in her end of year school report. DD got told off by several teachers because I would write notes asking them to clarify their marking or their teaching; not to mention I found several mistakes in her science lessons which were taught wrong. I know this because I have a strong science background and I teach the same thing to my university students all the time! I did make sure first that she had in fact copied correctly from the teacher, just in case she misunderstood the concept but turns out all students had done the same as her. There are students in top sets who perform well consistently, but DD did have extenuating circumstances as her father passed away last Dec after a long illness. There was also an incident in the school where two kids' parents + families turned up in the school with bricks and knives over an instagram comment, the police had to get involved, somebody got hurt. They also have metal detectors etc installed in the school.

So I have thought that it might be best that I try to switch schools before she starts her Year 10, and if not, then possibly consider homeschooling. The school have made it clear they will not re-assess her or put her in higher sets when the term starts, which means a big disadvantage for her.

My concerns are:

1) What is the likelihood of us finding her a place in South London starting September? We will be applying to several schools and also to those outside our boroughs.

2) I will be having a chat with the new headteacher (the headteachers in her current school end up leaving every year, and currently all her old teachers have now left)- I will try and request that they allow her to study at home but let her sit the exams in the school as a private candidate. Not sure how that will go down.

3) I want her to be homeschooled until we can find her a school place. How feasible is this thought? Her current private tutor deals with this frequently and he was the one who suggested that it's best we homeschooled her so she has a better shot at getting the grades she deserves at GCSEs.

4) Our LA requires us to have a letter from DD's current school to say they have no problem with us deregistering. What if the school objects and insists we send her to school, despite the issues I have already addressed?

5) I am concerned that should we start homeschooling my DD will feel cooped up inside the house- I am hoping there are groups and meetups for other homeschooled kids where the children can form friendships?

6) I am even considering private schools- though I will probably need to take a loan out to cover the cost. We have literally just got done with her father's probate etc and we aren't really left with much to be honest. Has anyone done this and if so, how did it work out?

I will be very very grateful for any advice you guys give- I'm quite sad and wish I had started to look for a place for her earlier!

OP’s posts: |
Branleuse Tue 28-Aug-18 12:03:40

Have you considered one of the online schools

FourFriedChickensDryWhiteToast Tue 28-Aug-18 12:09:02

" DD got told off by several teachers because I would write notes asking them to clarify their marking or their teaching; not to mention I found several mistakes in her science lessons which were taught wrong "

sorry but I don't think you are helping your daughter with this kind of attitude/action.
Maybe an online school or private crammer?

AnotherNewt Tue 28-Aug-18 12:31:17

Term starts next week, so you need to get on to your LEA immediately to find out which schools have vacancies. You might have to ring neighbouring boroughs as well, or the schools themselves (especially if academies or VA). But as 's so close to the stag rm, t's a reason chance that admin staff might be in. That should give you some idea of whether a school place is a possibility, and to decide what you think of any schools which do places and it is reasonably likely. London that some might, as people are always moving and ouof the city, but they might not be in schools that you like))

You'd have to ring private schools directly. In S London, they are all selective, and there isn't time for exam/assessment if you want her to start at the beginning of term. A school might.accept other evidence of academic level (tutor reference?) - you'd have to ask. I doubt very much that they would want to offer a place after the term is fully under way. So if you really are considering this option, get on to it today.

Saracen Tue 28-Aug-18 13:21:49

I don't have a strong opinion about what you should do. It does sound like your concerns are mostly about this particular school rather than school in general not suiting your daughter, so maybe it would be worth trying another.

As you may well know, changing school or starting state school after home ed is quite tricky if you do it much past the beginning of Y10. Schools are very inflexible during the GCSE years and it can be really hard to catch up. They don't really have a good solution for the question of what to do with kids who arrive during this time. You won't know what subjects will be available to her in her new school, or which exam board they'll use, so you can't ensure you cover the right ones.

For that reason I think it would be sensible to look hard for a suitable state school immediately. If you can't find one, or she tries it and doesn't like it, you can always home ed later. But if you start off with HE and decide, say, in April that it doesn't suit, you'll be very hard-pressed to find a school which can accommodate her at that point. Private schools sometimes have more flexible options.

Other points:

"try and request that they allow her to study at home but let her sit the exams in the school as a private candidate" It couldn't hurt to ask but it's unlikely. It will affect their attendance figures. And if the head changes every year, will the new one stick to the agreement made by their predecessor?

"Our LA requires us to have a letter from DD's current school to say they have no problem with us deregistering." Such a requirement is illegal. Since you live in England and your child presumably doesn't attend a special school, you can deregister on demand just by sending a correctly-worded letter to the school. If you are quite sure you don't want your daughter to attend this school, you can send that letter in immediately. If the LA give you any trouble over it, feel free to post back and I will be happy to help you set them straight.

"I am hoping there are groups and meetups for other homeschooled kids where the children can form friendships" There are. TBH it is a little trickier with teens as they sometimes stick with the kids they already know and may be resistant to parents trying to help them make new friends! So I can't gurantee it will be easy. You could join your local home ed group and see what is on offer. There are also likely to be groups which share the costs of a tutor and work toward IGCSEs together. This would be subject specific, so you pick and choose. You can combine this with distance learning or independent study or an individual tutor.

Saracen Tue 28-Aug-18 13:22:43

What does your daughter want to do? Is she as dissatisfied with her current school as you are?

mesocortical Tue 28-Aug-18 18:13:34

Hi there guys,

Thank you so much for the prompt replies.

Just to clarify, I have brought my child up to respect teachers just the way I have been, as teachers are what make our children.

Saracen, yes my daughter is quite upset that even after performing well consistently in her class, nothing is being done, and because staff change so frequently (the entire of last term was handled by supply teachers mainly!) there is no consistency. She suggested she would like to move schools if possible or stay at home and work really hard so she can get the grades she wants. I have got in touch with the LA who basically just told me to fill in CAF for in year admissions or if homeschooling then they will get the inclusion team involved.

You all are right- I really want to exhaust all ways trying to get her into another school and if that fails then home ed, as I do not think I can rely on her current school situation any longer.

I am undecided whether I should a) apply to other schools while making sure she is home ed during this time or b) send her to her current school while waiting to find out about places. Don't think it will take that long to find out, as according to a lot of schools I have spoken to they will know on the first day of term if there are any places available.

Thank you so much once again!

OP’s posts: |
141mum Sat 08-Sep-18 12:38:44

Hi
We have just removed daughter from school, just going into yr11, not ideal but to keep her safe, the school could not guarantee her safety after she was violently assaulted on their premises,we have had to get in home tutors, fantastic support from them, we looked at private school but she would have to resist year 10 again.
She is also about to start her DofE Gold
Anyway does anyone know of any social sites she could join ?
I worry about lack of friends as her so call friends from school joined the bully’s x

ommmward Sat 08-Sep-18 16:33:54

Look up your county/ nearest big city plus "home education" or "home ed" on facebook, and you should find a local community.

NewElthamMum13 Sat 15-Sep-18 20:31:05

How did you get on, OP?
If you're still considering home education, first port of call is the HE Exams wiki at www.home-education-exams.org.uk ; just read the Quick Start Guide and then the FAQ for now. But honestly, it doesn't sound to me like home education would be your preferred route. There is quite a lot of turnover in South London schools and it's not that rare for people to switch at the start of Y10, though far from ideal.

There are plenty of social groups for home educators in South London, but not for that age. By yr 10 most of the home ed teens are travelling off to see their mates and tend not to go to groups much unless they're study groups, and you're quite limited in choice for those. There are part time college programmes for home educated children - these are different from the usual 14-16 college schemes for school kids. You can read about them on the wiki linked above. If I were you, though, I'd keep trying with the school move for now. Home education can be great if you want to do it, but at this stage it's a bit of a slog getting through qualifications even if you're keen.

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