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Primary School assistance/advice - Caterham area

(12 Posts)
AfricanExport Tue 29-Jan-13 13:51:17


I am looking for a bit of advice. -- sorry, it's really long!

I have a little boy in year 3 at a local Prep School. He is a bright boy, not saying super super intelligent, but was off the scale in maths for his Ed Psych report and is a Science geek. Language skills excellent with regards to vocab and context etc but at the moment he is not a big reader (this is not a big concern as he is an 8 year old boy - hence I think it's quite normal) Loves Asterix... He is also away with the fairies 90% of the time and has a terrible short term memory. and really, can't be asked with school work!

Socially he is terrible, he just cannot manage to maintain any decent relationships. He has been diagnosed as being hypersensitive, and although not official I am told he's mind 'works a different way' - which I am led to believe means he is on the autistic spectrum but it's very mild. Hence no such diagnosis and I am happy with that. He is also not an athlete .. at all. He is simply not built for it and we have recently discovered that there is a real medical reason why he cannot run fast - although we hope to be able to get the fixed. He also has other health issues which make sport more difficult.

Now the school he goes to now is a lovely little school and for the right children I do think it has incredible merit. Unfortunately I think the right children are often pretty anal and/or sporty, neither or which quite fit our requirements. For years we complained about bullying, it all revolved around f'ing football, and were told it was not happening. Eventually I spoke to the mum ... 4 years down the line, I got desperate.. and within a week, I kid you not!, actions had been put in place to prevent anything further. I have since discovered that, according to my oversensitive child (I understand this is probably half the problem) , this nastiness, funnily enough not from the original protagonist - that stopped in it's tracks!) has pretty much flowed over into other areas and he is now battling to actually shrug it off. I do think they bait him a lot because he overreacts.. The school, as always, claims that there is no bullying at the school. Last year, while his sister was still at the school, he told me he was hiding away at breaktime. The school denied it but she could not find him at breaktime... she could find the rest of his class though. I have also had incidents where he has retaliated against constant niggling and, as he is a fair bit bigger than others, and gets very flustered and panics when he thinks he is in trouble - hence does not properly explain the circumstances... he is immediately blamed.

He also gets left out of the sports fixtures and he wants so badly to be a part of it. I would not mind if there where loads of kids being left out but it's always the same 2 that are left out of everything. I honestly feel that at the age of 8, inclusiveness is far more important than winning the next sports match. In Years 4,5 6 it is far too competitive and I don't expect him to be in those fixtures.. this year would be his ONLY opportunity. I was really annoyed when they left him out the first few times (because it's so blatantly the same boys all the time). I freaked out yesterday when I saw another fixture list... and amazingly I get one this morning with both boys names on it .... which just proves how pathetically ill thought out it all is. I don't particularly want the rest of the team to lose so why could they not give these two boys each a turn when the better players are also there.

When we first took him to the Ed Psych we suggested moving him but she said that it probably would do more harm than good because of his social problems. However I spoke to him today, he is an incredible pragmatic young man, and he tells me he would happily leave the school if he could see just one of the children for playdates... otherwise he simply doesn't care. He has been at this school since he was 3!

What would you do?

Also any advice on a school that can actual cater for the intellectual chess player instead of footballers would be greatly appreciated.


Ladymuck Tue 29-Jan-13 18:25:34

I shudder to think that you've been paying for this.

I appreciate that you want to solve the immediate problem, but I think that any school move now has to be done in the context of what you are considering for senior school options. Have you given any thought to that yet? Even single-sex v mixed etc

narmada Tue 29-Jan-13 20:57:52

Be very very wary of any school that claims not to have any bullying - this is delusional on their part and shows poor understanding of children's social groups.

My first thought was 'get him to a good state school'.There are plenty that are academic and the sports-related pressure will surely be less.

The measure of a good school is how they cater for pupils with additional needs. From what you said, this is in no way a good school.

AfricanExport Tue 29-Jan-13 21:02:56

Hi Ladymuck

Thanks for responding. I had actually aimed the title directly to you i.e. Ladymuck please respond, but decided that was maybe not a good idea.

Well he, since the tender age of 6, has wanted to go to Caterham. However I am no longer sure about that as I suggested looking at Caterham Prep (although god knows how I would afford that) but he seemed to have turned off that after telling me that a lot of the boys at Cubs are from Caterham and they are horrible to him.
His one teacher, who has apparently never called it wrong, reckons he is a Whitgift boy but I have not been there or Trinity (which would, based on heresay, be my current choice). Also the EP told me that she sees a lot of boys like him from Whitgift... not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I would also be happy to look at Reigate Grammer.
He wants to go to RAAS but we would simply not qualify to go there.

Perhaps we should visit a few of the Open Days. I started that with my dd in Year 4 but perhaps we jump into that now. At least then he will have an idea of whats on offer.

We really need a school that is going to challenge him and I don't mean mentally. I actually mean someone who is not going to pull any punches. He is not a boy who willingly does more work than he needs to and the school do not seem to be able to get the best out of him. He needs to be TOLD what to do, otherwise the fairies get him... I know this must make me sound like am SUCH a pushy mum, but really I am not! This is an 8 year old boy who cannot be bothered to even wipe his own bum properly... These things are just not important to him - he even tells me 'Well it's not the way I do things..'. He is my nutty professor.

He's a bit of a loner in that he does actually like his own company but at the same time friends are important to him but I think he often tries too hard and comes across as overbearing. He tends to converse with adults very well, he has an incredible sense of humour, he is quite sharp, but I think it gets lost amongst his peers.

I am really at a loss but I do know that the current situation cannot continue. What really shocked me was when he was not worried about moving schools. I would have expected, that after being there since the age of 3, that he would be extremely reluctant. I moved my dd in Year 3 and she pined for her classmates... she has since made contact with 4 of them again. So after that, this response was quite shocking.....

AfricanExport Tue 29-Jan-13 21:04:09

Hi Narmada

AfricanExport Tue 29-Jan-13 21:21:18

Not sure what happened there.

I did kind of laugh that off, especially after witnessing quite severe bullying at the school previously. I actually pointed that out to the head at the time but still, he insisted.

We really are short on good state schools around here, so the ones there are are full, although I might look at one or two. Being a lapsed catholic with an unbaptised child is not helping my cause. We also have the problem in that we are on a short term tenancy, only a year left, and plan to move out of catchment at that point, we are worried about that.

I went and spoke to the SENCO this morning. She is the loveliest lady and I don't think the school ever considered my son as SEN so has never been looked at. Honestly I would not have considered asking for her previously because I really don't, or didn't, see him as having special needs. He is just a bit on his own little misson in life. I told her straight that I do not think my son is in the right school for him and I would like her advice on what I should do and where I should put him.

I took him to the EP without consulting the school at all, basically to rule out anything as my daughter is SEN. Although a full report was given it didn't really highlight any major issues that would be classified as SEN so I suspect it was just not given to her.

Ladymuck Tue 29-Jan-13 23:58:09

I don't think that it is too early to have a look around senior schools, though obviously your son may change between now and two years hence, especially if you have a good move now. I think that all of these senior schools do encourage the best from the boys, so would be less worried at that stage. Prep schools tend to worry about being overly demanding as parents at this stage have very different agendas (and some use private schools as affordable child are solutions).

Has the EP definitely ruled out Aspergers/autism?

I think you have essentially 3 possible routes open to you, depending on your preferred secondary route:

a) choose your senior school and opt for the most obvious prep for that school, giving your son the best chance at gelling with that peer group. So Caterham prep for Caterham, RSM for Reigate, and Oakhyrst Grange for Whitgift if you want to stay local, Cumnor House if you can manage the school run.

b) choose a prep school that gives you most flexibility including deferring until 13+, if you think your son could change significantly over the next few years. Hazlewood, Oxted, Hawthorns, Bletchingly or again Cumnor House.

c) look at 10+ entry for Whitgift or Trinity, and therefore look for a school that will help him socially, whilst preparing him yourself or with a tutor for entrance exams 2 years hence.

However good an individual prep school is, single form entry schools in particular can suffer from the odd rogue form. In ds2s prep, his class are utterly delightful, but the year below has been so hideous the vast majority of pupils have left. It is definitely worth exploring the make-up of each year 3 with each school carefully: that at least is the benefit of a move at this stage. You should also get a taster day with each school that you choose. That will also give you and your ds a flavour of what the children are like.

Caterham pupils tend to be a fairly confident bunch on the whole, though ds1 has a chess-team, war-hammer team friend who spends most breaks reading in the library. But Whitgift has a large mix, and it may be easier to find his place there. Despite its size, the reports on its pastoral care are generally very good.

AfricanExport Thu 31-Jan-13 10:53:04

Hi again

Sorry for not replying yesterday - did not have access to my computer and typing on the phone is just a mess.

Well, she did not rule them out but rather said that there where signs of Aspergers but very mild.

Anyway... So I popped down to Cumnor House and Oakwood yesterday.

Now doesn't Cumnor House just look fantastic, a little on the pricey side, but very nice. Quite keen on that one as there are lots and lots of boys. Oakwood don't have that many more than where he currently is so I am not sure if that will work, but we can always see. Both schools seem to have a place for him so now we just have to make some decisions. I will definitely research the types of boys in the class a bit better this time around. He is not keen on Caterham Prep, RSM does simply not appeal to me at all and we are at the other one.

I had thought about getting him to write early and I might do that if he ends up in Oakwood,but if he gets into Cumnor House then all options are open to him, which is a nice position to be in. If we end up going state, I am going to look at Roke and Hayes, then I will definitely have him tutored for early entrance exams at both Whitgift and Trinity.

I am not keen on Hawthorns, and Hazelwood, although I have heard good things, is too far away as dd is in a school in South Reigate.

I do think it is so true that you can just get a class that doesn't fit a child. The kids in his class are lovely boys but he just can't seem to gel with them... which is sad for him and just not doing him any good.

Thanks so much for your help. I would not have looked at Cumnor House if you hadn't mentioned it. It seems to be the only school, besides Caterham, that has a high number of boys per year. I think that is what he needs.

user1457436084 Thu 24-Mar-16 15:03:56

Hello wise mums,
I would like to hear Your opinions about Hazelwood school in Oxted and Holmewood House in Tunbridge Wells. We are planning to move out of London and we found these two schools we like. ..
Any opinions, tips, recommendation, gossip?
Thank you!!

LIZS Fri 25-Mar-16 20:46:07

If your dd is a school in Reigate then I wonder why you are so focussed on Caterham area for ds. Do you prefer mixed or boys ? Lots of the local Prep schools play rugby which doesn't suit many sensitive boys. Have you considered Dunottar for secondary as lower numbers may work in his favour.

LIZS Fri 25-Mar-16 20:47:17

Oh see this is a zombie thread. Can I suggest you start a fresh thread for those schools?

user1457436084 Mon 28-Mar-16 22:06:35

Sure thank you.
Sorry: just learning to use mumsnet 😁

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