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School Concerns in Johannesburg

(15 Posts)
Phoenix07 Thu 04-Jun-15 06:53:13

Ladies, I'm in desperate need of help. Desperate.

My son started at on of Joburg's prep schools, in Grade 0, in Janaury of this year.

He has gone from a happy, friendly, kind, participative, bright child to an anxious child who is actively avoiding school now.

We've had a raft of concerns, which started early in the first term. We've spoken to the school about them, to try and explore what's making him so sad, but they are utterly unreceptive. We haven't gone into school complaining, being negative, etc. We have constantly tried to be collaborative.

He has a young, inexperienced teacher. Her content and planning seems great. However, there is little or no empathy and flex in her teaching, or fun.

I'm happy to share the detail around our concerns in a PM if it helps. We are not being 'precious' about our son, there are some very genuine and valid concerns, which are not being addressed.

Anyway, my son just categorically does not want to go to school. The school will not do anything to help. We've asked them if they will move him to another class (the other teachers are older, more experienced, more nurturing), but they will not.

I am at a complete loss as to what to do. My five year old is coming home with the buttons on his shirt broken because he's chewing them so hard during the day. He says he really likes his teacher, and he's sad because she doesn't like him, and he wonders what he has done wrong sad.

If you are from Joburg, or you are an expat living here, you'll know exactly how difficult it is to get into schools here. I know we need to find an alternative for him though.

Does anyone have any insights or advice?

timetosmile Thu 04-Jun-15 06:56:15

When did you move to Jo'burg?
I'm wondering how much of this is school and how much is transitioning, where more free floating anxieties about the bigger change he may have just gone through often latch onto a smaller but genuine anxiety in the child's mind.

Phoenix07 Thu 04-Jun-15 07:26:05

We've lived here for 10 years, my son was born here. He was so happy at his pre-school in Joburg.

I did wonder if he was struggling with the change and adaptation of going to 'big school' last term. It's not that though. I've had a play therapist try and help him, she's quite clear it's not my son struggling with the change, it's his relationship with his teacher. sad

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 07:31:37

change schools

I moved from a school in the UK (where I hated it and was really struggling) to a school in Joburg (where I thrived) when I was a child. I find the school system there much better than the UK.

If he isn't getting on with the school, move him to another. I don't know which school he is in now (you are welcome to say) but there are lots of great schools in Joburg (though I know they are hard to get in to!)

Phoenix07 Thu 04-Jun-15 07:33:05

We've contacted all the schools in the area, no one has space. I am utterly desperate - I guess we need to go into the schools and plead...

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 07:35:51

which school is it

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 07:43:10

I would get on waiting lists if you can though I find schools there are very much about pleading and campaigning for a place

if this is a private, have you thought about a local school? some of them are very good

Have you had a meeting with the head? I must admit I did find the schools there pretty approachable but I don't know which one you are talking about. I would be concerned about the school as a whole if they weren't worried about my child's welfare though.

I can't remember the rules but does he have to start in Grade 0? You used to be able to not start until they were a bit older

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 07:45:51

I also wonder if you being collaborative isn't helping. Don't forget families there do and will complain smile. Perhaps you aren't being strong enough. I would go in and say you have had an outside appointment with a therapist who has said there is a major issue that needs to be addressed. See how they deal with that. I would be very strong about it.

villainousbroodmare Thu 04-Jun-15 07:51:50

In the meantime I would take him out.
He's only five, you can surely do some reading and counting and games with him. I hate to think of him so unhappy.

Phoenix07 Thu 04-Jun-15 08:35:43

We have raised it with his teacher, with the principle of the junior school and the head. It's basically dealing with Teflon, nothing is acknowledge, no solutions are offered.

Actually, we met with the three of them on Monday. Yesterday the headmaster sent out his weekly news letter. In it he talked about how great the school was, and how first world countries with bountiful resources were struggling.

Then he included a list of quotes from letters people had written to their local councils in the UK, where their poor grammar made the sentences quite funny. Inappropriate though, for a school newsletter. They included things like 'it's the dogs' mess I can't stomach' (people in the UK eat dogs' mess) and 'the kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and want three. Can someone please fix it?' (We have sex on the floor) obviously the brackets are my interpretation, not what was in the newsletter.

He then went on to complain about children not saying 'thank you' for certificates given to them in assembly. My son was given one for 'good manners' on Monday. He didn't say 'thank you' he didn't say anything, he was so overwhelmed and delighted to be given an accolade in front of the entire school.

If you'd really like to know which school it is I will send you a private message.

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 08:42:51

yes let me know

just take him out. You don't sound happy with the school and they aren't listening.

there is a big attitude in SA of 'just get on with it' I find. I suspect they are putting it down to big school nerves and you don't think it's that. If he is so unhappy that he's chewing the buttons off his shirt, I'd take him out today and not send him back.

have you tried the international schools for places/local schools?

Phoenix07 Thu 04-Jun-15 08:49:17

I've sent you a pm foxinsocks.

I guess I'm being stupid and naive, I'd love to think we could resolve it with the school and he could go back, thinking we'd fixed things, not run away from them.

foxinsocks Thu 04-Jun-15 08:57:09

it's not running away, it's doing what's right for your child smile

heather1 Fri 05-Jun-15 21:59:39

When we moved to Switzerland and out my son in a school here I thought he would be ok. He wasn't. And it took me a long time to realise that the staff didn't care. They were not at all bothered. They cared about themselves and having a 'well run' school. They were not at all bothered about the happiness of the children. The literally did not care.
I complained, many times in many different way. It made not one jot of difference
So I took him out. I home schooled him and I waited for a place at the school I wanted. Plus I badgered the new school so they didn't forget that Ds was waiting.
He was happier at home. Yes he missed having friends to play with during the day but play dates can be arranged. He calmed down, he learnt to trust adults again and he started his new school in a better place.

C0smos Sat 06-Jun-15 12:08:32

I'm in a similar situation, been here 9 years and my DS was born here. He's in Grade 1 now.
Your experience sounds awful and I hope unusual for a private school.

What area do you live in? I'm in the northern suburbs.

Can you get him on the waiting list for other schools? A lot of private nurseries do a grade 0 year so could he go back there for a year.

Do you live in an area near any international schools. Lots of people in my area go to the American school, they probably have quite a high turn round of pupils so you might have more luck.

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