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moving DS to another school?

(11 Posts)
nicnac29 Mon 09-May-16 22:39:21

Hi all, I'm new :-). Excuse the long post but I'm sitting here in tears and don't know what to do for the best.

My DS is 5 and started Reception last September. It's an Outstanding school a ten minute drive away and I chose it over a Good one that is a five minute walk away. I just felt the one we chose would suit him better than the more local one.

He's quite a shy little boy, doesn't find it easy to make friends. but loves to laugh and always has a real sparkle about him. However since starting school he's lost a lot of that. I just can't put my finger on it, he doesn't seem overtly unhappy but he also doesn't seem to be thriving / happy. He will never talk to us about it (which isn't unusual I know!) so we're just picking up on his general demeanour. Socially he usually likes to have one or two close friends but there aren't really any good 'fits' in his class so I think he feels a bit of a fish out of water, and he just doesn't seem quite himself. I had a chat with his lovely form teacher about it last week and she said he does seem to have lost his spark over the last few weeks (she said he used to make people laugh) but that he's not unhappy, is doing well academically, and he's not often alone and isn't giving them any concerns, but she promised to look out for him and we'd work together to try and make him feel more included socially and happy.

As I say I can't put my finger on it and don't know whether its unrealistic to expect him to be more enthusiastic about going to school or not. Are other Reception children enthusiastic? Should they be?

It's a very big school, three classes per year, and the few events they do are very chaotic and overwhelming. They're also changing to an academy and taking on the opening and running of another new primary school in the area that is opening in 2017 so I worry about whether the ship is tight enough, there's a lot going on.

I'm wondering whether to put him on the waiting list for the more local school. We'd be top as no-one else is on it to start in Reception / Year 1. I'm wondering whether knowing the school is closer to home would make him feel more secure along with it being a bit smaller (two classes per year), and they have lots more events / community stuff going on which might make him feel more inclusive. I just think maybe the environment would help him thrive more.

But of course I have no real way of knowing unless we do it and what if it's the wrong thing! What if it's too unsettling for him? Would it be too hard to start again in a year where all the kids already know each other?

As I say, tears and worries. I want to do the right thing for him and feel terribly guilty either way - if he stays at his current school I'm torn up that it may not be working out for him, and if he moves I'll feel guilty for starting him somewhere and then moving him. Help! Anyone have experience of this?

Thanks for listening xxx

helenwilson Mon 09-May-16 23:07:23

Hi nicnac, sorry you are finding this so stressful, it's never easy to know what the right answer is. My advice would be to wait and see how it goes through the summer term. My experience of school is that the summer term is best in terms of activities, end of term treats, sports day, trips out etc. You've done the right thing by speaking to his teacher and having her support will be invaluable, see whether anything improves. my son is in Reception and has recently completely changed his set of friends - he's quite happy but I think that Reception children can be quite fickle with their friendships - maybe your son has experienced similar ? They're also tired, it's the end of the school year and although summer is fun, it's also hot and tiring - the little ones really need their first summer holidays. It sounds as if your son has lots of friends and his teacher sounds great. I'd give it six weeks and see how you feel at the beginning of July - if nothing had changed then perhaps apply for your local school in September if any places become available over the summer. Can you arrange a few play dates or anything ? I'm sure other people will have better/different advice. If you do decide to move him then don't worry too much, children are very adaptable, my older two moved in year 1&2 and settled very quickly. It's just that it's hard to know if the grass is greener elsewhere or whether it's just a blip. Take care, try not to worry xxx

deathtoheadlice Tue 10-May-16 10:31:40

It doesn't sound like you really have enough information - it's hard. But don't feel like you'd have any cause for guilt if you do move him. Children that age are very adaptable. We moved both ours - just told them we had some news, they both had been offered a place at xx school, and they'd start the following week. They were so chill about it. We didn't present it like "oh, don't worry, you'll make new friends" (presents possibility that they won't make friends!), we just said we thought the new school would be a better school for them in the long run, and we'd buy them some new uniform. DD2 was in reception then. Absolutely no reason to feel "terribly guilty" or even close! Equally, though, it doesn't sound like the current school is either brilliant for him or dire enough to need action immediately..
Do you know anyone at the local school?

nicnac29 Wed 11-May-16 11:01:21

Thanks so much both of you for your lovely replies. It's so hard isn't it. I don't cry much and this is reducing me to tears each time I think about it as I feel like I'm messing him around! Though to be fair to me, the school we chose is now very different to when we chose it. Not only is it very big (and growing as the first three class intake moves up through the school) but becoming an academy and opening and running another school in the area weren't on the table when we applied. And now we're there we can see how the size of the school already affects things (albeit not DS's actual academic progress), for example all the events they do are very chaotic, even the after school clubs, as it's so big.

And the more local school is a very different one to when we applied - it's got a new Head now who's doing amazing things and to be honest knowing what we know now about the one we chose, and about the one we didn't choose, I think I would have chosen the more local one to start with.

I've made an appt to meet with the new Head of the local one next week. I'm also going to put DS on the waiting list sooner rather than later and we can cross the bridge of whether he goes if a place comes up. Also we need to make the choices for DS2 come January 2017 so if a place doesn't come up for DS1 before then I think we're going to have to stick with what we have, I don't think I'd want to start my younger one and move him too.

Thanks again for all your help, it's such an agonising decision isn't it! x

bojorojo Wed 11-May-16 11:12:16

I think if he does not have close friends, and lots of chidren do not in Reception, then a quick move might be best. He will not really miss anyone. Lets hope there is a place.

However, do make sure that you really like the school you might swap to. How do you know that is not chaotic at times too! I always like a purposeful ambience for young children, so I do understand what you are saying, but make sure you are getting what you want before you jump ship. As you have anohter child, the decision is important. Would the "local" school be your catchment school so DC2 would get into that one anyway?

nicnac29 Wed 11-May-16 11:44:13

Thanks Bojorojo. The other school has 60 per year so yes I'm sure it has its moments too, but the current one does get unwieldy sometimes. We looked around the local one a couple of times when making our choices in 2014 so know it fairly well. Yes, we'd be okay for getting DD2 into the local one too.

Really appreciate your input, thank you x

tiggytape Wed 11-May-16 14:10:04

I'm not sure the number of classes per year has a big impact unless they have an open plan reception area which could feel chaotic for him. In most schools, children are just with their own classmates all day so there would always be 29 other children whether there were 2 classes per year or 3.
It may also be a case that Year 1 will naturally be calmer and more purposeful.
Do you know how they arrange things for the older children since it isn't that long until he leaves reception?

There's no harm going on the list. It may take a whole for a space to come up anyway. There's no way of knowing if friendships would be a better fit at a new school but the classroom environment is something you can ask about when you visit. I suppose any reservations about moving would be:

- not all children are wildly enthusiastic about school. Once the novelty wears off in fact some are decidedly less keen than they were at the start.

- schools change. The other school is currently 2 form entry. Next year it may be 3 form entry or 4 form entry or become an academy or lose its Head Teacher. Moving can mean being able to choose the features you want in the short term but those features might all change again in a relatively short time

- it is hard to remedy a problem when you don't know what the problem is. It may be that this school is too busy and the new one less so and therefore your son will be happier after a move. But unless you can pinpoint why he's lost his enthusiasm, it is hard to know whether he needs to move and, if so, what to look for in a new school.

It may be that his current teacher can help now that she knows and you can always stay on the list in the meantime

Unicow Wed 11-May-16 14:41:44

My DD never settled in the outstanding school. I moved her due to a house move but she's so much happier now. I would move her.

bojorojo Wed 11-May-16 14:56:41

My elder child was in a class of 66 (before 30 X 2 came in) and it was a hen and chickens classroom - one big one and two smaller ones. It never felt chaotic but the teachers were first class and chaos was not a feature of this school - ever!

There can be a very lively feel to Reception if too many children are not really ready for school and they are falling out with others or playing noisily. My DD would have hated that. Many years ago when I was a governor at a school that now gets vast sums of PP money, their Reception was nothing like the one my DD went to. Not chaotic, as such, but far more children who were unsettled and difficult to manage and who had low attainment on starting school. It can be very hard work!

Check out the local one and see if there is a chance he can start. People do move away so you may get in.

nicnac29 Wed 11-May-16 21:20:37

Thanks so much Tiggy, Bojo and Unicow. All thoughts much appreciated and taken on board! I'm really veering towards the move if space comes up. As you say he hasn't formed any firm close friendships yet, he is shy but as someone said today if he's starting in an established class of 30 where everyone is making a special effort to help him settle in, in many ways that's better than him being one of 30 who are all settling in at the same time. I also think holistically the local one may suit him better - knowing he's closer to home, being able to scoot to school and back (he's dying to do that now but its too far), being able to participate in more school community events etc. I'd have to 'sell' it to him but we'll cross that bridge if / when we get there!

Am still in tears about it as I feel I let him down making the 'wrong' choice to start with but to be honest, as I mentioned neither school is what it was when I applied and I have to reassure myself that I made the best choice with the information we had at the time. I think I could look him in the eye in a few years time and say it was right when we started you off and then it changed so we made what we thought was the best decision for you. I just hope something comes up and soon... keep fingers crossed for us. Meantime we'll concentrate on trying to make him as happy as can be where he currently is, as I'm fully aware that may be where he stays.

Thanks so much again, what a lovely place this is x

bojorojo Thu 12-May-16 17:44:06

We all make mistakes but we evaluate everything we have to go on at the time! Don't beat yourself up about it. I can assure you this will not be remembered in years to come! He is unlikely to drag it up every five minutes and say you were a dreadful Mum!!

My DD2 was at one school for a year - the one the Infant school fed into. It was my intention for her to be thereef or 4 years as her sister had been. However, I did not really feel she settled in. No parties or friends - so it appeared. Head was a dinosaur and a disaster - was appointed after years of being deputy. Teachers leaving left, right and centre. It was not too difficult to move her. Then a former classmate asked if she could come to play and stood, tearfully, on the doorstep and said she really missed DD. News to us! DD never looked back though. Your DS will not either if he gets the chance to move. Good luck.

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