School in Special Measures - Unhappy child V. difficult situation.(13 Posts)
Forgive me if this is long, what I'm really looking for in some perspectives on how to help my 9 almost 10 year old DS,
Four years ago DS school was rated as good and while he was in KS1 he was reasonably happy and enjoying school and progressing well. In KS2 he was doing ok but increasingly reluctant to go often stating he was bored (his results are always very positive about him though he is very much an average-good student - ICT/Sport/Science being his best subjects - one big weakness is very poor handwriting which he finds difficult/sometimes painful). Also some friendship issues which were reported to school and dealt with.
Last summer Ofsted inspected the school it was reported as Grade 4 - Special Measures. A few weeks later the headteacher, a lovely caring woman, passed away in tragic circumstances (not unrelated to the inspection). This year I feel his education has been somewhat a disaster. He assigned teacher (lets call her Mrs A) was a deputy head but after two weeks it was not possible to teach the class in the circumstances, so for three weeks he had a supply Mrs B, then Mrs A returned for the second half of autumn term) inter- spaced with odd supply and HLTA. This spring term they appointed a long term supply Mrs C she taught the first half of the term but since half term has been off sick to we have had Mr. D and Mr. E (supply). Apparently Mrs C will be sick for a while so now the school have settled on a plan for the next few weeks of Mr. D (supply) 5 days and Mrs A for each approx 1 day with a few sessions with HLTA.
I have spoken to the school a couple of times now about my sons unhappiness and un-settled nature and they have organised for him to see the school support workerr (a trained TA) which does help, Academically he appears to be doing OK generally meeting expectations.
My main issue is that he dislikes school, is bored, unsettled by the uncertainty of who is going to teach him day and we often have a struggle to get him there. He does not see learning as fun which deeply saddens me as I loved school (most of the time) I have lost a degree of confidence in school we get promises of future improvements and I know they are doing a lot in the background, but by the time they come to fruition he will be in secondary school. Moving schools isn't really an option as all the schools are oversubscribed.
If you have got this far thank you for reading.....advice on how I can improve my sons experience and make him happier and more inspired.
Build his confidence outside school, so he has friendships away from the school environment, that way he can drug a lot of peer politics off.
Indoor climbingNICAS (great qualification to get into uni) and judo are about self confidence and taking that into other areas of your life.
can he use an iPad (great apps for support) and key pad for school work?
Get him a nice fat calligraphy ink pen and print out lots of lined templates to go over and copy, couple of pages of each letter higher and lower, and he will never have a writing problem again, make fun, get I'm writing out his favourite words to stick up.
get him lots of fat pens and pencils, it helps them to stop holding so tight or pushing so hard.
get him a couple of tutors outside school, maths and english, it will help him feel he is confidant in a subject.
I agree with building his interests outside school. My dd doesn't like school all that much - she is year 6 and ready for high school- but she has outside interests that give her a focus. Just as an adult coping with a dull job might rely on hobbies to give their day a lift.
Having a member of staff die is a horrendous experience for children. I worked at a school where a male TA died of a heart attack in the middle of a technology lesson. Both the staff and the children found it hard to cope with. I realise that the school is turnoil, but it's not unreasonable to ask staff what they are doing to support the children and the remaining staff. I suggest you write to the chair of governors.
In your situation I would cut your losses and change your son's school. It will take around two years to bring the school up to standard. Special measures is a savage experience and things will get worse before they get better.
Thanks for all your suggestions lots to think about. We have always encouraged him to do activities outside school at the moment he does football, cubs, tennis and climbing (the sports about 1hr each a week so not full on team training though that may change if his interest in any of them develops further).
He likes his outside activities its just school that gets him down. I've contemplated getting a tutor to see if they could build his confidence (and focus on developing his handwriting) but I've always had the view that you work hard at school, do the homework and then free time should be that to take part in other activities/downtime but now I'm not sure if I would be failing him if I didn't get him extra help.
So many things at the school seem 'jam tomorrow' - new schemes/ways of working are being developed but they are in the future. Its almost summer term and then only 4 more terms before secondary school - I so want him to be inspired and confident about what he can do.
Would be interested in others views about tutoring.
Thanks for all your help and advice its much appreciated.
The best tutors will make time with your child interesting. They will boost your child's self-esteem and confidence. If your child doesn't want to go to a tutoring session, then he is with the wrong one.
I tutor 1:1 and away from the competition of a school setting, children tend to relax a bit more. Paradoxically, this also helps them focus.
Tutoring is an expensive luxury, but it might be worth trying, even for a short time.
A tutor is an excellent idea. Ds had small group tutoring with friends from school. It kept the cost down and the three children were all a similar level with the same issues caused by the same poor teachers. Small group tutoring is more social and ds enjoyed his sessions.
If the school went into special measures in the summer term, then by now there should have been some clear action to improve the school. Under current situation nationally I would have expected that this would include (given the circumstances) an interim head teacher who was experienced and of such a calibre to start quickly to makea difference. Maybe the governing body being removed and replaced by an IEB and thirdly some strides towards the school becoming an academy.
Is any of this happening?
If it is not happening then I would be asking in writing of who ever is in charge. They will also be getting a visit every term from an HMI from Ofsted who will also be expecting to see progress. Ask the school when they have been in, look at the letters written on the Ofsted site. If progress is not happening go onto Parent View on the Ofsted website and say what you think about the lack of progress and get your friends to do the same.
There does appear to be some action, but it is slow to take effect due to the number of supply teachers and staff changes. That is often the reality of Inadequate schools. Staff who are deemed to be not good enough are moved on. Of course, you need better staff in their place but this can take time and they may not be available right now. The other problem will be that the remaining staff are demoralised and inevitably sad and they may not be very receptive to new ideas and embedding them into their teaching. It will take time.
As the school will have been nosediving into Inadequate for some time before the inspection, it is likely your DS has really endured nearly 3 years of this school. It will not change very quickly if the problems are so entrenched. Even if a new HT is in place, miracles cannot be worked. It is highly likely lots of things are wrong.
The shcool will have a plan to move them fromthe Inadequate rating. You can ask to see it. It is good prctice for a shortened copy to be given to parents anyway so you can see what the schoolis aiming to do. Your school seems rudderless and I would start asking direct questions of the Governing Body or Interim Executive Board and see what progres they have made in securing permanent staff.
If your DS says he is bored, it is highly likely that he is not being set work that is challenging or he is switching off. Clearly he needs inspiring teaching. If you canget that elsewhere, I would. However I appreciate the difficulties of finding a school place.
If HMI have visited again, their letter will be on the Ofsted web site. This will give you a clear indication of how well the school is doing towards making the improvement required.
Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions. The plan is that the school will become an an academy with another local school that is 'outstanding' and their head will be exec. Head. This is meant to happen next month however we haven't had much further communication on this to the parents for a month or so - so if we are still on course to be an academy in April who knows.
Though it doesn't sit comfortably with my view of education I am going to do some initial investigation into getting him a tutor esp for his handwriting.
He can be such a lovely boy when he's not at school it's as though school sucks all the joy from him.
I think we knew that the school had gone off the boil a little in the last year or so but no-one was expecting that it would end up in special measures and the poor dear head would pass away as a result.
The poor staff are doing their best and I do considering the circumstances feel sorry for them and hate to make a fuss but then my ds only has one primary education.
PS sorry for typos etc typing on my phone (badly)
DD started this year with a similar supply teacher situation. It unsettled her terribly. Don't underestimate the impact of this.
She now has the most amazing supply. He is way better than any teacher she's ever had (y4). Thankfully he's here to end of the year.
Coincidentally I began her with a tutor. We're in 11+ land. Her maths was my main focus as it's weak for the exam. However, she is flying. She loves her tutor. Admittedly I've struck gold with the tutor. She personalises the work so think maths questions naming her actual friends and family. Comprehension on hobbies and topics she really is interested in.
DD longs for her tutor one on one time every week. It has really boosted her confidence.
I think we are in the same town although I am in a different school, if so, I agree losing your Head was a tragedy . She was a lovely woman. It must be hard on everyone at the school, obviously the staff but also the children. I would assume that the senior schools will be very conscious of the ongoing effects. Keep talking to the school about your concerns . Hope everything works out for you all.
As your ds only has four terms left before secondary school and you say this school sucks all the joy out of him, could home education be an option for you, just to get him through the rest of primary?
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