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Talk to me about a nurturing school environment

(48 Posts)
childhood Mon 15-Aug-16 12:21:28

DD(5) has been through 1 year of Reception at a private school.

Over the year, DD has become very withdrawn and sad and her confidence has suffered enormously. Any task is met with : I don't think I can do it and often she talks of her fellow classmates being able to do this and that. I try hard to influence her by asking her not to compare herself with others etc., but inevitably, school experience seems to sabotage my efforts.

During the end-of-the-year 1-1, her class teacher implored me to consider "genetic intelligence" being a factor in each child's attainments and that they have to group children to facilitate better teaching. I wanted to leave the room and walk away when I heard the term "genetic intelligence" used while discussing education for 4 year olds.

The school does implicit and explicit performance calibration and group them on their supposed attainment levels (which stays the same for the year). I feel doing this at 4 is not the right approach to primary education. At least, it is not the kind of primary education I want for my child.

So, what are my options?

Home-schooling isn't an option that I can do.
We are in West midlands. The nearest Steiner and Montessori schools are far out. What else can I consider?

We are paying nearly 1000 quid per month for this school and are foregoing a lot to be able to afford it. The class size is 20. The price tag goes with supposed "faciltiies" like on-site swimming pool. We sought none of it; all we wanted was a school which will nurture her as an individual to be a positive, happy child. And it has not turned out to be one.

I am aware that children have to eventually face up to the real world where comparisons and performance calibration will exist. But, I feel that they should face it when they have developed the emotional maturity to process it. Not at 4 yrs

Poocatcherchampion Mon 15-Aug-16 12:39:24

What is wrong with your local state schools? Where actually are you?

JasperDamerel Mon 15-Aug-16 12:43:22

I assume that you've checked your local state primaries. I was considering home education/Steiner for DD but I went to have a look at the primary at the bottom of my street and fell in love. It's such a lovely school that one of the main topics of parental chit-chat in the playground is how fortunate our children are to go there.

No swimming pool, and classes of 30, but a very positive and nurturing environment which encourages children to try new things, and to learn from mistakes, and where parents and teachers work closely together.

eyebrowsonfleek Mon 15-Aug-16 12:47:45

Did you take a selection test when she started?
Why didn't you go to your local state school? I'm a mum of 3 and 2 of them were at the bottom end of the class but were unaware of that until they were older. The only streamed activity was phonics and there were 2 groups so not noticeable at all. Generally, top group were kids who could knew a little about reading and sounds when they started Reception while the other group were kids who didn't know any sounds at all.
A school that keeps children in the same group for the whole year is strange. My experience is that lots of children improve in bursts so academic groups have to be fluid. My son was bottom group in y1 but by Christmas of y2 had risen to the top table as things had clicked for him.

Sirzy Mon 15-Aug-16 12:51:44

You need to visit local schools and find the one with the environment which will suit her.

Ds is at a state school, 40 intake, mixed age classes of 30 - a fantastic nurturing school who really do consider each child as an individual.

midnightlurker Mon 15-Aug-16 12:55:50

Pop her in a local state primary. There will be a broader range of abilities and she will feel more confident.

irvineoneohone Mon 15-Aug-16 12:56:20

I think some children seems behind in reception, but they are not, really.
They are just too young, or some others "get it" earlier than others.
So I think there's always a chance she clicks in yr1 or yr2,and start to progress quickly.

Or if you consider moving her, why not state primary is a option?

birdsdestiny Mon 15-Aug-16 13:34:54

Are they following the eyfs? Any state school will be following this, learning through play, majority of the day spent in this way. Structured teaching on maths and English (e.g letter sounds) done in a whole class for short 15 min bbut there will be groupings for some tasks which are based on children's state of development. There is usually some grouping in most schools for some tasks even in reception so I wouldn't get too concerned about that. More of a concern is that your child appears not to be enjoying the school, reception should be a happy time.

childhood Mon 15-Aug-16 15:56:40

Thank you for all your responses.

Haven't been to any state school so far. So, don't know much. We moved to the area last summer. We are in the far suburbs of Birmingham. Considering visiting state schools now. Our objective of seeking private education were mostly on the lines of, Oh, the teachers will have more time to give the children (in comparison to a resource stretched state school) and in turn that will mean a more individual centric and nurturing education.. But, have learnt it the hard way that it doesn't have to be the case.

Yes, it has been more of a concern that she looks anxious and withdraws into a shell while at school. I spend a lot of time with her after school hours and have tried to understand what is going on at school, including any mild bullying etc. Over the last month, after the school break started, she is sporting a different face certainly. I have tried talking to the teacher during the year, but, she has never had much to add and I have always come back feeling that she is rather clueless about what is going on in the class.

eyebrowsonfleek, no, she didn't take a test, but we had to get a detailed report from her teacher at her previous school/ nursery (in Greater London). I had the same thoughts, children learn in bursts, so, how can you keep them in the same group all through the year..! Her teacher's answer to that Q was that it keeps her life simple in managing her reading groups...(Perhaps, it was an unguarded moment)!!! This is the same teacher who asked me to consider "genetic intelligence"..!

Haggisfish Mon 15-Aug-16 16:03:44

Ime state primaries are much better with the lower end. Personally I would avoid Steiner as I think she may end up further behind.

PosiePootlePerkins Mon 15-Aug-16 16:14:19

That particular teacher sounds lazy and unable to adapt. Children change all the time, and a good teacher will have a very good overview of each child's progress at any given time. Teaching and teachers should be flexible. In state schools you are currently not able to make a judgement about a child's achievement in Reception until they are well settled and emotionally stable. Your poor DD seems to have a very negative self image, exactly the opposite of how you want a child to feel, particularly at the beginning of their education.
I am a firm believer in nurturing a child and providing for their emotional wellbeing. Get this right and the learning will follow. A good state school will provide all of this. I am lucky enough to work in one and would choose it over any private school in a heartbeat.

dylexicdementor11 Mon 15-Aug-16 16:14:55

Check out your local state school as others have suggested. Our local schools are wonderful and I would never even consider going private.

If the schools budget is an issue, you could always give them 1000 pounds a month. wink

Darthvadersmuuuum Mon 15-Aug-16 16:21:09

My DCs went to an 'outstanding' state primary that was incredibly nurturing. I'm very fortunate to live on an area where schools are not oversubscribed and the class sizes are around 25. Both DCs loved their school life. They're happy, confident and doing well. I wouldn't even consider private education for this stage.

birdsdestiny Mon 15-Aug-16 17:32:06

Our local school has begun to look at its provision for year 1, as it felt it was too formal, and are trying to ensure that learning through play is still a key component. They realised that even in year 1 they are still very young for formal teaching as such. I know a number of children who went to private school at age 11 but spent primary years in state school. I am guessing but don't think this was due to financial factors but rather due to the fact that some state primaries are very good. The only note of caution I have is to be sure that your concerns have not influenced your child, I know this is easier said than done!

Autumnsky Tue 16-Aug-16 12:26:25

OP, do look at your state option, a good or outstanding state school would be better. And if possible, get to know the teacher in Y1 in the school you are applying. As the individual teacher makes such big difference.

My DS2 is in a good state school, I think we were really lucky to had a few very good teachers for his reception and Y1. DS2 was in bottom group for both English and math in reception, but he was very happy to go to the school every day. I think he was not aware there was a difference in group until end of Y1, by then, he has already gradually climbed into top group.His recpetion teacher found lots of positive things in him, I remembered one picture they took for DS2 climbed really high in PE, everyone cheered. And DS2 always helped with tidy up, this was praised and mentioned in our meeting as well.

For Primary school, I really think it is good with state provision, of cours you have to find a right one. And then doing some extra after school, no need much.

bojorojo Tue 16-Aug-16 16:07:39

I think you have been rather duped into thinking private must be best and small classes are everything - they are not. The quality of teaching and leadership of the school is everything! You teacher sounds hugely lazy and is putting very young children into convenient boxes. I would doubt the school are paying much attention to the progress of each child and appear to be unable (or unwilling) to differentiate the work other than by setting rigid groups.

I would run a mile and save the money by finding a state school. This may not be easy but see if your local primary school has places. Your local authority should publish a list of which schools have vacancies. As these schools will almost certainly start earlier in September then your private school, get in to see any school with vacancies immediately. They may even be there for an inset day before term starts. You may have to pay a term's fees in lieu of notice but getting a place in a better school is more important (in my view!). Good luck!

Idliketobeabutterfly Tue 16-Aug-16 20:45:59

I'm in Solihull and although my DS is only in nursery (starts reception in sept) I've found the local COE school very good and nurturing. Tbh I'd find another school if you paying a lot and being treated like that. I'd also look at the state schools,

Scarydinosaurs Tue 16-Aug-16 20:54:24

I could weep. Your poor child- what a dreadful way to approach early years education.

Could you speak to the teacher she will have next year to see if her/his pedagogical outlook is more aligned to your own? It could be that she takes the school philosophy to an extreme, and other teachers are more moderate and nurturing.

Idliketobeabutterfly Tue 16-Aug-16 20:58:46

Also if you are in far suburbs of Birmingham you may well be close to schools in other areas such as Warwickshire, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Worstershire, staffs etc (depending on where you are)

beanhunter Tue 16-Aug-16 21:05:27

Where in Birmingham are you? We looked at a number of private schools - bluecoat and ehs in particular and have opted to stay state for our dd starting in September. Some great schools Harborne way.

Saracen Wed 17-Aug-16 22:58:39

I assume the reason home ed isn't an option is because you work? If the idea appeals, for £1000 a month you could easily afford to get someone else to do it for you.

You mention you aren't too bothered about facilities but are more keen on your child having individual attention and nurturing, so that might be a suitable environment. A home educating parent with a few kids of their own might take yours on, going on outings, doing projects, and having lots of chances to play. Some HE parents are quite eager to find a job which is compatible with home educating their own kids.

Such an arrangement would count formally as a childminding setting, rather than a school.

ReallyTired Wed 17-Aug-16 23:18:29

I think it's sad that a five year old feels like a failure. There is often a huge range of attainment in reception due to age, varying degrees of pre school hot housing as well as "genetic intelligence". Private school parents are often very pushy academically and many of those children will have been taught to read prior to starting school.

A state school will have a wider range ablities. Many private schools do not accept/ kick out children with mild Sen. A state primary may have children who would have been assigned to special schools twenty years ago. My guess is that the op daughter might be in the middle academically in a state school.

My daughter's state school does have ablity groups for numeracy and literacy, but they sit in mixed ablity groups for most subjects. The children change tables about 3 times a day so there is never the feeling of sitting on the thicko table. There are ways of differentiating work which is more subtle. Dd's class are set a task and the ta supports the less able and the more able work independently. There are extension tasks for those who finish the work .

springwaters Thu 18-Aug-16 00:09:18

By using the phrase genetic intelligence was she suggesting that you and/or your DH are not intelligent?

Sounds like she was trying to insult you and thought that you were not sharp enough to understand the slur.

ReallyTired Thu 18-Aug-16 08:01:09

Children do vary in their natural ablity even in the same family. At a private school there may be no children with learning difficulties. A bright child may feel Inadequate in the company of a truely gifted child.

Many children who aren't naturally academic have something they excel at. The money you would save on school fees could be used to pay for extra curricular activites. If a child finds something like music, drama or a sport that they enjoy and do well at it can raise their confidence. Extra curricular activites are a good way of making friends outside school.

It takes all to make a world. Some really sucessful people were not top of the class. We need a range of people in society.

irvineoneohone Thu 18-Aug-16 08:18:34

"This is the same teacher who asked me to consider "genetic intelligence"..!"

Wow, is she telling you you are not intelligent, so your dd isn't as well?

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