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Need detacted perspective.

(68 Posts)
rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 21:04:46

We've had a lot of problems (ranging from minor to extremely serious safeguarding issues) with the school dd is in last yr (reception). We even got to the point of looking round other schools but because of logistics with ds already being at a different school we didn't move her. Also she seemed happy on the whole. One of the issues to us was that certainly in reading she wasn't being pushed at all. She's reading ORT level 5 at school (after a lot of pushing) and yet reading things like Charlie and the chocolate factory, Charlottes Web etc at home. Totally understanding them and loving them. This summer she's read her way through the library and loving it. I should point out shes in a yrR/yr1 class so kept the same teacher that she had last year.

She started yr 1 yesterday and although the book sent home for reading was easy the question was a challenge, find the moral in the story. So I thought they've worked out she needs more stretching. Also, at pick up today, her teacher made a point of speaking to me to tell me that they've decided to give her a 30 min slot per week when she can speak to an adult of her choice about anything that is bothering her (she's deals with huge amounts of things at home cos of ds and school didn't support that last year which affected friendships). I came away feeling positive, that they're trying at last. But todays book is easy and there is no challenging question, there is no question at all. Just read the book basically.

Get her to bed, she seems fine. Then whilst getting ds to bed we hear stiffled crying. Go into her and shes in floods of tears. She thought she was going to learn something in yr 1 (her words not mind). She thought that she was going to learn some maths and get to do some writing and spellings. She's apparently not going to the toilet in case she misses the thing she is going to learn. But she's not learnt anything and doesn't want to go back to school again just to sit there being told what the number 28 is and how to spell "and". She has come home with a list of spellings for the whole term today. She can already spell them all. She knows her numbers, she wants to "do sums". She's not taking after me on this, believe me, sounds like an easy life to me not learning in school!

The knee jerk reaction is to go straight to the private school she's been offered a funded place at and somehow work out the travel logistics and keep up with the jones's. But the brain is sort of saying this is only day 2, of course she's not learning anything yet. But then this teacher knows dd, she should know that she can spell all these words, the books are way to easy and she knows her numbers.

So, reading all this and being emotionally detached, what would you do? Would you wait until half term, like you had decided during the holidays, see if things improve and then go into school and effectively give them until Christmas to sort it out? Or would you just cut your loses and move her now and work out the logisitics and keeping up with the jones's issues?

rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 21:06:31

Sorry that was so long. I didn't want to drip feed if possible.

mummynoseynora Wed 07-Sep-11 21:09:09

I have read some of your other threads... If it was me, I'd give the school a chance, arrange a meeting with the teacher / inclusion person / head and lay it out there - she isn't being stretched, she isn't learning - how can WE all help that? Give them until half term, if nothing changes, pull her out

But saying that - I am not yet 'in' the school system... DD starts tomorrow, but she is also bright and into maths etc

MrsGravy Wed 07-Sep-11 21:09:59

I think I would do something in between. Waiting until Christmas seems like an awfully long time for your little girl to be so miserable. BUT you're right, they're not going to be learning much the first couple of days of term. And I wouldn't expect the books to necessarily be consistently of the right level. I'd give it a couple of weeks so she has a chance to really show/remind the teacher that she needs more pushing than she's currently getting and then go in and speak to them.

I have to admit to being slightly jealous of your DD's work ethic mind, my DD (in Y2) complains bitterly that she has to learn things all the time and doesn't have enough time to play!

scotchbunny Wed 07-Sep-11 21:11:07

As you say, it is only Day 2! She needs to settle back into school life, the work will gear up appropriately surely?

Oggy Wed 07-Sep-11 21:16:40

Well, can't comment on all aspects of your post but I can on the reading. Our son is similar here, the school books he comes home with are WAY too basic for his reading ability. We spoke to school about it and they upped him a level but still not much of an improvement really comparedto what he can do at home but we are wary of becoming "pushy parents" about it all (also our situation is different in that our son is a lazy git who loves getting the easy option so he is happy as a lark.

Our approach (for now) is to let him read his easy school books for school but continue with his more challenging exciting books at home on the basis that we are part of his education as much as the school and that it is as much our responsibility to ensure he is challenged (at home if necessary) as the schools.

That said, our son is happy and doing well (as far as I can tell - EYFS scores and our own observations only thing to go on really). If your daughter is not happy then clearly your approach will need to be more rigid than our own has been.

I would agree with others that you need to give the class a chance to get into gear before you can make any definite plans for such a dramatic change to her life.

Sorry, not a huge help.

plinkplonk Wed 07-Sep-11 21:23:58

Why bother send a book home if it is way too easy for her. I would wait a week and then talk to the teacher. If they can't extend, I would move her. Why not really?

rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 21:25:26

scotchbunny I really do hope the work will gear up! But then we have this long list of spellings for the term and I can't see how it is going to for dd.

Oggy We've been going with that attitude on the reading, because she had seemed happy and we knew she was getting the right material at home. Its the unhappiness thats challenging this attitude.

I know its day 2! But she was so excited to go into yr 1 and "learn" something.

Dh has taught her some geography to make her stop crying. She honestly needs to chill out, I can see that, but I don't know how to help her with that. I honestly never worried about not learning in school grin, thats an alien concept to me (who tried to do as little work as possible).

poppycat04 Wed 07-Sep-11 21:34:24

What's the private school like? Have you had a good look round? What does your gut say?! Funny question but I've found my intuition much better at working out where my kids will be happiest than any ofsted report. Are the class sizes much smaller at the private school? And you say the funding is sorted? I'd be thinking very seriously about moving my child... It's not about being pushy but where they would be happiest. If a child is happy, the learning seems to just follow. (typing on phone!)

poppycat04 Wed 07-Sep-11 21:36:03

The extremely serious safeguarding issues are worrying me as well...

Summersoon Wed 07-Sep-11 21:36:19

You say that you have been offered a "funded place" at a private school. While I don't quite understand exactly what you mean by this (some sort of bursary? Didn't realize they exist at primary level), I would talk to this school to find out how long this offer is good for. You don't want to defer a decision, only to find out that the other option has expired. Equally, it does seem early to take a decision after only two days.
Good luck, your DD sounds great!

ZhenXiang Wed 07-Sep-11 21:41:44

You need to talk to the teacher, given that the teacher already knows what she is capable of from the previous year she should be able to provide class work which stretches your child.

I am a teacher and we are expected to be able to provide differentiated work at the level the children are working from, even if that means your child doing work that the other children aren't.

It could be because it is the first week of term and they are focusing on settling into the new class routine, but if you raise your concerns now then it will mean your DD will start doing work she finds challenging when they do move to the regular timetable.

Your DD should be given spellings and reading that are at her level for homework, but they may not have assessed her level again yet after all that reading in the summer holidays given that it is the start of term.

Maybe if you meet with the teacher and provide some examples of books she has read over the holidays and words she can spell that would allow the teacher to provide homework at her level sooner so that your DD would not feel so unhappy.

With regard to moving to the private school I would say hold off and see to minimise the disruption to your DD, just because it is private does not neccessarily mean that they will provide any more challenge to your DD in terms of work.

If after your meeting with the teacher nothing changes, I would advise you meet with the Foundation/KS1 Phase Leader if the school has one or the Head/Deputy to discuss your concerns first before moving your child.

My niece is very bright and struggled in the same way as your DD in YR so her Year 1 teacher gave her Year 2 work so maybe that could be an option for your DD?

In the meantime why not read school book with DD, write a comment and then read some of another book she loves (put page numbers in reading log) and write a comment.

For spellings try this link and scroll through word document to find spellings that you think your DD can't do, so that you can make sure she is still learning while you sort out the work coming home from school.

whatarewedoingtoday Wed 07-Sep-11 21:43:08

My ds is at a private school. Week 1 of Y2, he said 'oh finally I get to learn things now' so I guess Y1 may not necessarily be better in a private setting

rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 21:43:20

Its a 100% bursary and its the only school in the area that does this at primary. It covers fees and compulsory trips. Doesn't include uniform and non compulsory trips. I don't know how long the offer is open for dh probably does.

poppycat the safeguarding issues were eventually dealt with and we've not had any such worries over the last term. But it does pray on our minds.

rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 21:55:48

ZhenXiang Thank you for your reply. With the reading book, we do already read the school book and then read a chapter from the book she's reading at home. I wrote in her reading diary all the books she's read over the holidays.

The teacher will be focusing on getting a new class routine sorted. She's got the new reception coming in on half days so I can see they're not going to be working yet. But dd can't see that.

We've met with teacher before and got nowhere. We've spoken with the head and that got her moved 2 levels but that was it.

We've chatted some more and we've decided that maybe we could encourage dd to write down these feelings and then take them to her chat time. Then at least the teacher will see that she can write and dd will remember what to talk about.

Thanks for the link, I'll have a look at that.

blackeyedsusan Wed 07-Sep-11 21:56:29

it is not day 2 though for this teacher, it is the start of her second year with this teacher.

one child did not come back for y1 at the school we are at, did not even make it to y1 due to issues with learning.

look into the funded place. go for another visit. she could always transfer at the end of infants if the need arises.

the teacher sounds a nightmare (previous threads) personlly, I would have to have a very good reason not to transfer.

missmehalia Wed 07-Sep-11 21:58:39

So has the teacher simply carried on from where she left off at the end of last year? Was this a problem last year? Can't understand why suddenly she's so upset about it (must be horrid for you all). Was she reacting like this last year? Did she think a new year would be more challenging and is therefore disappointed? So many questions..

I would wait til next week at least. Have a few days for settling in, and a weekend to relax. It's great you're giving her the stuff she wants at home, but there are some things I'm wondering whether the school is doing - e.g. paired reading with older children? Open-ended tasks where all abilities can work to their individual best? (e.g. investigative work in maths or book making and other creative language tasks, just to name two.)

I think the questions need to be posed diplomatically, and yet this teacher knows your daughter well, so I think you've got the right to ask whether there are enough challenges for DD - she is clearly very keen to please and make a good impression, as well as being challenged! If you take in with you the books that DD can read independently at home, and ask that she becomes a free reader that might be a start. You could broach other things at parents evening? If by Christmas you're still not happy, definitely consider other options.

I just hope that a private school wouldn't swing DD the other way, and create any sort of pressure for her - she sounds a bit anxious as well as unchallenged (though of course I don't know her, so could have that very wrong!)

rebl Wed 07-Sep-11 22:15:41

So has the teacher simply carried on from where she left off at the end of last year?
Yes, it would appear so but then what about the challenging homework question yesterday and the weekly chat time thats been introduced. That indicates a willingness to help dd, but maybe not stretch her.

Was this a problem last year?
The not learning was a problem to begin with but she decided that looking at all the yr1's in her class then (when she was reception) that you play in reception and learn in yr1. The easy reading has caused problems from the word go.

Can't understand why suddenly she's so upset about it (must be horrid for you all).
Neither can we. This has come totally out of the blue and she was clearly trying to hide it from us because she didn't let anything on and it was only because we were still upstairs that we heard her crying.

Was she reacting like this last year?
Not upset like this. She was very excited about learning in yr1 and hasn't stopped talking about it all summer.

Did she think a new year would be more challenging and is therefore disappointed?
Yes, more so than perhaps we had realised.

missmehalia She is an anxious child and she deals with some very adult emotional things in the home environment which do need to be handled very carefully in the school setting.

We've got no plans for this weekend. We'll stick with the normal weekend routine and take her swimming etc and let her talk. Her best friend was over this afternoon. She's a lovely little girl, they really are suited to each other. The friend said that she loved school because they got to play in the house and its nice to have a friend (dd) who reads all the stuff for her when they're meant to be working so she doesn't have to!!

Iamseeingstars Wed 07-Sep-11 22:18:45

Having been a parent that has wanted my children to be extended at school, they are much older now and I have now realised I wasted so much time worrying.

The teachers work at their levels based on what the children do in the class, and whilst they are supposed to extend, differentiate, I did find this wasnt all the time and my kids spent a lot of time covering the very basics and getting bored.

Whilst repetition is very necessary to ensure the child understands fully what they are learning, I believe they need to be extended to realise that they dont fully understand a topic and then they go back to the basics and relearn from the bottom upwards.

As you say, this is a combined reception/year 1 class, so the teacher has to start at the very bottom to train the reception children, and the year 1 children are just expected to deal with it. It will take a few weeks for the class and teacher to settle, and understand all the kids.

My gut feelings would be to assess what the school will do for my child throughout the whole time there, what the are senior classes like, what are the work ethics, what is the quality of work like that is produced in later years, etc.

If I had the opportunity of private, I would personally take it because they do give children greater opportunities and skills, because parents are paying for this they expect more.

With regards to reading, just read at home, ensure comprehension skills and speech skills are worked on, expression, retelling the story, create different scenarios etc. A lot of schools keep children low on books and I wouldnt waste your time worrying about what they send home. Make sure she reads them so she can talk about them in school but make this a side issue rather than her main reading.

A lot of schools dont emphasise reading books. My own kids never got books home beyond year 1 and they are never ever listened to in school, except for tests.

RosemaryandThyme Wed 07-Sep-11 22:27:20

rebel - it is not day 2 for your daughter ! if she was at this school for all of reception it is day 167 - 167 days of being bored out of mind, of desperately hoping that the next day will be better.
One of my son's is bright he has been skipped from year two toyear three this year as school can not extended him in the class he should be in, from your post your daughter is significantly brighter then my boy.
Phone the private school in the morning and get her started there on Monday, by Wednesday you'll know you did the right thing.

mrsshears Wed 07-Sep-11 22:33:20

rebl I really feel your pain

My dd has also just gone into year 1 and we are in more or less the same situation as yourselves.
I have been waiting for 2 years(dd was also in the nursery unit of the school) for any kind of challenges for dd and its just not happening and my dd is suffering,she is loosing her confidence and enthusiasm.
I'm going to give it a couple of weeks and see what happens for us and if i'm still not happy i will look at other possibilities.
I would jump at the chance of a private school bursary for my dd,i understand your concerns though.

iggly2 Wed 07-Sep-11 22:36:29

I think ORT 5 books (if it is ORT level 5) could have reasonably difficult questions asked about them (retell story in your own words, point out nouns/adjectives/verbs /pronouns/guess what may happen/how are characters feeling....) and you can get them read quickly and read something else. So I do not view that as a problem (unless you feel it is a reflection of how the teacher thinks of your Dd and you are worried she does not know your Dd). However... what would concern me is a child's upset at school. It is however still very early.
PS A 100% bursary is amazing (--seriously how did you do it ?--)!

rebl Thu 08-Sep-11 08:41:29

iggly2 A 100% bursary is amazing (--seriously how did you do it ?--)!
DH called and said we were interested in the school and could we look round and see their fee structure. When we looked round he said that the fees were beyond us. They suggested we bring dd in to have a couple of hours there and us to meet with the bursar etc. At the end they offered a 100% bursary saying that they felt that our financial situation shouldn't prevent dd getting the education they felt she deserved and could provide.

I'm off to work now but I'll be back this evening and answer everyone elses questions. Thank you for all your input. DD has gone to school with her home reading book and says she's going to ask to speak to the teacher and ask when she's going to learn something.

missmehalia Thu 08-Sep-11 08:53:51

I've had a think about this (ex-primary teacher, though the last time I taught was 10 years ago.)

I think what's going on is bound to happen in a R/yr1 class, and who knows when it might stop? Differentiated classwork is almost always compromised, particularly for the brighter ones. This is because they're bright, they often get less of the teacher's attention, even if the work they're given is of the right degree of challenge. The teacher may well be doing as much as one human being can do. How good a TA is is luck of the draw - some are utterly brilliant, some not so. You can/should have higher expectations of a teacher. (As you can tell, I'm not a fan of combined year level classes, particularly while the National Curriculum is like it is. It can be a logistical nightmare, especially with this young age group.)

Do you know any parents of last year's Y1 class, particularly of the brighter children? Have a chat to them and see if your experience is similar to theirs from early last year.

It could be that the private school might have single form entry - just having all the children in the class being the same year as her might be a start in this instance.

missmehalia Thu 08-Sep-11 08:58:36

Sorry, forgot to say - in your shoes I would also speak to any parents of children from the private school that you can find, see what their experience has been (particularly anyone who's had a bursary). It might tell you lots of things socially about the place, too. Let's face it, when I look back on my school years I don't remember too much about the academic side, but I remember an awful lot about what it was like socially, and I think this is reasonably common.

If in doubt, get all the info you can, but don't do anything drastic yet is my view. Whatever happens, if you leave her current school, try to do so on good terms, even if it chokes you. It's unlikely you'd come back, but never say never...

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