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DS Yr2 does not seem to be settling in school - should we move schools

(47 Posts)
TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 10:33:21

I notice a similar thread on here already but did not want to hijack so.... DS is 7. He is in the top stream in all his subjects so not struggling academically. He finds it easy to make friends with both boys and girls. He is popular. However in his year group there is a core of about four or five individual boys, who are generally quite mean and nasty and aggressive sometimes, and I know this is not purely directed at DS. Their behaviour ranges from being generally rude and bad mannered, to name calling, shoving and fighting. None of these boys are friends with each other, which I think would be easier for DS to avoid them, they all have links with all the other children that DS might want to play with so it is hard for DS to form friendships with other groups of boys he might like to play with.

Other children have occassional problems with two of these boys in particular and some parents have complained. One of the boys thought it would be a nice idea to bring a pen knife into school and threaten to stab people! He does not appear to have been punished for this - all the children missed golden time that day, and the parents may or may not have been told. This boy used to be DS "friend" until recently (until I found out that DS was only friends with him because he was too scared not to be, and that the boy was controlling DS - who is normally quite independent) and we have recently made a complaint to the school about his behaviour towards DS, and his parents were spoken to also. In Reception and Yr1 one of the other boys was horrible to DS for a long time and for no apparent reason and this led to meetings between us and the Headteacher both of those years. Just recently when DS asked to play a game he was told by this boy "this game is about white dogs so only white people can play". We reported this and the boy was made to apologise to DS. He told DS in the playground that he couldn't play a game that he and other children were playing because he has been told to stay away from DS (and I have told DS to stay away from him). My view on this is why should DS be the one to go away when he has not done anything wrong? He also told DS "I am going to have to move schools because of you". When actually DS has done nothing to this boy at all - it is he that always seeks DS out all the time! SO how is that DS fault? TBH I would be glad if he left the school - he is a nasty boy who is horrible to a lot of other people, one parent is taking her son out because of him.

Anyway, the other thing is that DS is not being stretched enough academically - he finishes his work then has to help the other children, he says he is bored. I got him into Year 3 chess club, but that is always cancelled. His Year 1 teacher said he was set for the G&T register, but nothing more has been mentioned. His Reception teacher was a glamour puss who pranced around in stilittoes, shouted at the children and was dismissive and patronising to the parents. His current teacher is aloof and distant - she does not engage with the parents, makes no eye contact and is unapproachable. His current school does not seem to be a happy place, the don't celebrate anything and there does not seem to be any team spirit from either the parents, teachers or students. The more I talk to people the more problems I hear about. I am at a loss as to what to do. The school went from "outstanding" Ofsted prior to DS entry to "satisfactory" . The school round the corner is a regular school - "satisfactory" - but seems a more fun place, with a more caring attitude to primary school life. They appear to do more things with the children and there is more of a team spirit, they have in house school dinners! They have a Year 2 place available and we have a meeting on Monday with the Head Teacher. We also have a meeting on Monday with Deputy head of his current school. So should we make a fresh start and go there - or tough it out at this school. I can't honestly see things improving unless the horrible children leave and the "pool" of children with which DS can make friends with is limited. But whats the guarantee that things will be better at this school?

Sorry this is long. I am at the end of my tether. I cancelled all my clients today so that I could think this thing through.sad

Elibean Thu 05-May-11 10:45:11

There aren't any guarantees, of course....but I have to say, having read (and felt) your post, I would move him, if he is open to moving (I would talk to him about it quite openly, personally). If you feel the other school is more caring and fun, he probably will too.
Is there any reason why you wouldn't move him? You really don't sound happy with the current school. I do think there are times when 'toughing it out' is appropriate - if the alternative is avoidance, for example - but this doesn't sound to me like one of them.
Hats off to you for taking time out to tackle the situation, and I hope the meetings you have lined up help clarify or back up your decision!

Elibean Thu 05-May-11 10:47:00

ps if it were 'just' the group of boys behaving badly, and your ds was loving school otherwise, I would say maybe its time to find new ways of tackling the problem - get some good feedback on coping with bullies, tackling the school etc. But there isn't much happiness about the current school coming from your post at all - hence my response below smile

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 10:54:30

Thanks Elibean. DS is jumping up and down to go to the other school! He makes friends extremely easily and even said to me yesterday "Mummy it is always easy to make new friends and besides I will be the new boy so everyone will want to be friends with me!" Also he is familiar with the new school because his private nursery was located on the grounds and he went there for two years prior to going to his current school. I agree, if it were just the horrible boys - but it is the generaly vibe of the school - I get heartsink at 3 o'clock when I have to go there. Like DS I am friendly with most of the mums who are open and outgoing. I feel out with the two main boys mums over this issue because of course they think their boys are little cherubs angry and that it is me who is being totally unreasonable to object to bullying racist behaviour from them hmm

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 11:31:37

Oh dear, looks like I am on my own with this one then... never mind.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 05-May-11 11:45:10

Go to your meetings at the current school and the potential new one. Hopefully it will clarify any decision you make. Your son may know kids at the new school if he went to nursery there?
It is a shame your son is being 'driven out' and I would make that very clear to current school Head if you do decide to move schools. I would make it clear in writing with a covering letter to the chair of the Governors.
Good luck with whatever you decide.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 11:59:17

Thanks. Gut feeling says move schools. But I was so clearly wrong about his current school, so now I don't know what to do - there are reasons why we did not send him to that school in the first place - ironically we thought he was more likely to have the problems he is currently having there than the school he is in now. I know now it is not about who goes to the school, but about what the school instils in the children. Also realise Ofsted is a pile of poo too - anyone can make themselves look good at Ofsted time - it is purely a check box exercise.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 05-May-11 12:15:07

My ds in year 1 attends a school supposedly in a disadvantaged area [we are a stones throw away!]. Lots of middle class type parents have historically avoided the school. It has recently moved from satisfactory to good re ofsted and I am so glad I gave the school a chance. There is a warmth about the school and my ds is thriving and mixing with children from other cultures and backgrounds happily.
Strangely what other parents have objected too in the past are part of the strength of the school now. It is inclusive and nurturing. Satisfactory schools often don't 'coast' and have a lot too prove and that can in the long term be very positive for the kids. It sounds like the potential new school is closer to you [?] which could be an advantage to your son with developing friendships.
Keep us posted with your decision making!

2BoysTooLoud Thu 05-May-11 12:16:53

Don't know why I kept putting too instead of to blush !!

Elibean Thu 05-May-11 12:59:45

Your gut instincts may have sharpened since last time you had to choose a school - no one gets it right first time, every time! Honestly, I hear both you and your ds wanting to move, but you are understandably anxious about making the change.

Yes, go to the meeting with the new Head, and the old Deputy, and hopefully it will support your new gut feeling smile

Elibean Thu 05-May-11 13:02:24

I cannot imagine daily heartsink at 3pm, that sounds awful.

My dds' school raised a few well-plucked eyebrows when we chose it for dd1 - not 'outstanding' but 'good', and scruffy, and on the local estate. Its just gorgeous, I look forward to pick-up and have got involved (something I never thought I'd do!) and the dds are very happy, and doing well.

I do think first time, we worry more about Ofsteds etc....but if your heart says 'yeay' when you go into the other school, and 'ugh' when you go into this one, you already know the answer smile

verybored Thu 05-May-11 13:19:49

I think the other thread you are referring too is mine. I'm sorry your DS is going through this too, plus with the racism thrown in too.

Funny that we are both doubting ourselves now because w e feel we got it wrong before. It's almost like I am hoping someone will make the decision for me.

All I can say is when we moved DS1 from his school it was very positive and he was saying today how good it was, and basically saying to move DTs to that school!

coppertop Thu 05-May-11 13:27:25

I would move him. Not so much for the individual behaviour but because the school sounds utterly useless at dealing with it. It doesn't sound as though it has any redeeing features.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 13:46:08

verybored - no it wasn't your thread I was referring too - but have just read yours shock. Very similar situation to my DS and as for the "keeping and eye on them" thing - that's exactly what our school says it does. I know from talking to people in older years at the school that this bad behaviour is left unchecked and escalates.

You are all so right - I am leaning towards moving him. The new school is about 10 minutes walk from my house and the current school is about 15 minutes walk. They are both under a mile away, but the new school is more in our "catchment" so to speak.

What gets me is the way Headteacher and class teacher look at me unblinkingly as if they have never heard any complaint against these boys before, and I know for a fact that they receive repeated complaints. One woman I spoke to has yesterday posted her application to private school for her two boys, one in DS class and the other in Reception (the one in DS class is so scared he has lost all confidence and talks to no-one!). WHy should WE have to leave?

How ironic - I am Afro Carribean was born, brought up, went to school in the 1970's and up until 8 years ago lived in London all my life, hardly any black people on TV, or in the school or even in my area - not a single incident of rascism. I come up here and my son has to contend with this - small minded ignorant in bred yokels. This is the 21st century FFS! But to be honest I think it has less to do with that and more to do with the fact that we are not from here, we are both professionals and we are open minded and talk to everyone and everyone adores DS at the school because he is a polite, clever and caring child angry

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 13:50:45

The thing that makes schools "good" in the sense that people don't get heartsink when they walk in, and the kids feel happy is not something that Ofsed can measure. Here in Northampton we have one good school that everyone with a son wants their son to go to - so all the other schools with OK ofsteds don't get a look in. I'm not falling for that again -obviously there are bad schools - but "satisfactory" and improving local schools should be given a chance too. Another irony is that I did not really have a good vibe about his current school when I went to look - I kind of made myself like it because of the Ofsted report. Silly old me eh. I am so angry at the moment, so excuse the ranting.

speakercorner Thu 05-May-11 14:23:03

I would definitely move - sounds like something is wrong. As far as the G&T register goes, though, he may well have been put on it - just ask. I asked my DD's Y1 teacher at the end of the year and she said DD had been put on it at the start of the year.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 05-May-11 14:23:15

Don't beat yourself up TooMuchCaffiene. I agree a good feel about a school is very important but with your first child it really is a case of live and learn. It sounds to me like you are going to decide to move schools - please write all this in a form of a complaint to the Head and Governors after you leave. Maybe even copy letter to LEA. You have been bullied out and that is not on.
I agree 'satisfactory' schools should be given a chance and as a parent you can get involved in their improvement eg PTA involvement/ trying for parent governor.
Again, good luck with whatever you decide.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 14:35:14

Thank you. I fully intend to complain, I can assure you. The thing is DS is very resilient and is only a bit bothered by what is going on - he has other people to play with - but at 7.5 he is too young to go through the mental gymnastics of avoiding the horrible children and to be hypervigilant at all times, particularly as I say the boys involved are separate and belong to other groups of children who are generally OK. So that means it is always likely DS will end up playing a game that one of the nasty boys is in. He is very bright and that is a saving grace and a real boost to his self esteem. For my part I want to spend the afternoons doing other things with DS rather than offering anti-harassment strategies, and getting stressed out over school events.

geraldinetheluckygoat Thu 05-May-11 14:59:45

I had this and moved my son a term ago. He wasn't being bullied, but was unhappy and had problems just fitting in somehow. Couldn't engage with the work, couldnt engage with the teachers and was getting involved in playfighting for which only he was punished in any real way for. It was really, really surprising and worrying for us, as he had never ever had any problems with fighting or getting on with the teachers at his last school. We applied for that school because of its glowing ofsted report. On paper it looked GREAT! I even sent my kids to the attatched nursery, which was not our closest, as I so wanted them to go there.

Anyhow, after much soul searching, we moved him after christmas, and have not looked back, He is so much happier. He has a great relationship with his new teachers, has had absolutely no problems at all with fighting at lunch time, and is so much more engaged in the work in class (he still struggles, but the teacher is very positive about him and I think next year when he needs to knuckle down more, they will find ways to help him in a much more positive way).

I felt just the same as you, sinking feeling at 3, started to distrust the decisions that the teachers were making, etc. I would recommend going with your gut instinct and moving him, especially as ds is up for moving (he sounds lovely by the way!). The school we moved to is also the one that all the white middle class families in my area avoid. As mentioned by other posters up thread, I think the school tries harder to work with the kids to help them all accept each other, there are lots of different nationalities and languages at the school, and I think that the kids have a better understanding of each other because of that.

Sorry for long reply, not very good at being concise. smile

sarahfreck Thu 05-May-11 15:00:50

I would really go with your gut instincts once you have seen the other school!

Elibean Thu 05-May-11 17:00:11

<hobby horse alert> Envy, sadly, is often the cause of bad behaviour - in adults as much as in children. Its a pity we're not taught, at an early age, how to admit to and handle our envy - would save so much aggro.

TooMuchC, it really sounds like the envious/uncontained boys are only a symptom - you're not happy with the environment generally. You were not a fool to try it, what can we do but trust professionals - ie Ofsted - with our first attempt with first children? School is a whole world of learning, not just for kids!

I have no doubt you can use that understandable anger to make some very happy changes - rather than give yourself a hard time wink

Good luck, please let us know what happens next for your ds - he sounds lovely.

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 17:51:26

Thank you all. geraldinetheluckygoat (cool name btw) you have strenghtened my resolve. I did have heartsink again today. DS came skipping out very excited because they had done some work on the artist Kandinsky (one of my favourites too), so we have been on websites looking for abstract art to colour in - a very relaxing afternoon smile - he wants to bring his drawings in tomorrow, and I am taking him down to the Tate at the weekend to see the real Kandinsky's in situ - so I guess they will have even more to envy him for hmm wink smile

I must say I am guilty of that "middle class" thing - I shopped around for what I thought was a good school (on paper it was) and avoided the local school thinking it would be worse.

geraldinetheluckygoat Thu 05-May-11 18:45:36

I did it too. I didn't send ds1 to the school he is at now, simply because there is this weird divide in our area. We live in an area which has a high proportion of Asian families, quite a few polish families, a lot of Italians and a smattering of "white british" ones. There is an unsaid rule that the Asian and Polish families go to one school, and everyone else goes to the other one, or one else where. I sent mine elsewhere, where there was a good mix of lots of different ethnic groups and they did have this excellent ofsted report!!
Well he is at the mostly Asian/Polish school now, infact he is one of two white British kids in his class. I worried that he would struggle to make friends, as lots of the kids didn't speak English as a first language, lots of them go to Mosque after school together and have a lot of shared experiences that DS has no idea about. But actually he has been fine, it HAS taken him a while to make friends, because of the issues above, and because he joined after friendship groups had been made, but he is getting there. Plus the school organise lots of activities at lunch time like games in the playground, so he hasn't struggled with feeling friendless at lunch, he just joins in with the games. He's a changed boy since we changed! Hopefully your new school will do something similar, so your ds can join in with things and find children who are like him smile

Im glad you feel more positive. At our old school there was a sort of hostile atmosphere at pick up time, new school is really friendly. If you go and visit you might find as we did that you immediately think the new one is more on your wavelength...

Have a great time at the Tate!! I wish mine were interested in art, I would love to visit the Tate with them...it's all sea creatures and starwars here grin

thirtysomething Thu 05-May-11 18:53:47

Having taken a child out of an "outstanding" OFSTED school for a whole host of reasons, I have become very cynical about these labels anyway. The most important thing to go in is your own gut feeling and DS' feelings - if the new school just feels better, I'd say go for it....Both my DC were failed by the sparkly, good-on-paper, "outstanding" school - one wasn't stretched enough and lost motivation, spark and confidence, and the other's SEN were totally overlooked and then ignored by the school, again with loss of spark and confidence.

Once you've started to have these kinds of doubts it's time to look seriously at your other options IMHO. Good luck!

TooMuchCaffeine Thu 05-May-11 19:09:02

DH has just taken the form to the letter box grin. DS deputy head, who we have meeting with on Monday, filled out her bit of the form as requested and handed it to DS in an envelope. There was no comment on the form, no frantic phone call bringing the meeting forward to talk about it - that speaks volumes to me, that a school will let a child leave and not even ask why shock

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