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Son not doing well in local state school - what to do? Advice please(9 Posts)
My son is in year 4. He is not on target in many areas, I believe that he is intelligent, I don't think he has any particular learning difficulties, certainly the school have not identified any. Last year he seemed to make some progress, but his current teacher is struggling with him, he won't write, he gets distracted, he distracts other children, he's upset her she tells me, but she doesn't seem to have a plan. We had parents eve last night and I left feeling awful.
I've recently been diagnosed with ADHD, I believe that my son probably also has this. I am going to go to the GP next week and request an assessment, but I think that will probably be a long process. He is verbally bright, good vocabulary, good ideas and understanding of concepts, his handwriting is awful, he's yet to master all the letter forms and frequently puts letters and numbers back to front. His reading is progressing and I think is either on track or slightly below where it should be.
What to do? My options as I see them are to take him out and put him in independent sector, I've just inherited some money and was going to move house, but I could stay put, up my hours at work and just about manage school fees, I wonder if 2 years in smaller classes with better role models would get him up to speed, more confident with learning and seeing himself as an able child? He's currently on a table with children with SEN because that's were the TA is and he needs poking to do anything. I worry one of these children in particular is a bad influence. The only local independent with a bus service is 'selective but not aggressively so' and I'm not sure he'd get in, the other alternative is to consider one with flexi-boarding or extended hours - which I'm worried he'd hate - I've no experience of boarding schools. Localish to us are Cheam, St Gabrials and Sherfield School. It may well be that his poor behaviour will mean that none of these will take him anyway.
Alternative 2 is Kumon classes - I think he will hate that too but it might be an incentive to buckle down if he knows he can stop if his school work improves.
Alternative 3 is status quo but maybe look at non-academic extra curricula that might help him with soft skills, music lessons or sports I had riding lessons as a kid and I'm sure it helped my self-esteem. Previously we've tried a few sports based classes and he's struggled to behave and then decided he didn't want to go back.
Sorry for the epic post - thank you to anyone who's read it all.
If it is the parent's evening that has triggered these thoughts then just sit on them for a while. Talk to the SENDCO at his current school if you can. He's still the same boy as he was before you saw the teacher.
I think your post title gives it all away - state school - you don't want him there. However, if the indie doesn't have good SEN support he's not going to do any better there, far from it unfortunately. It doesn't sound as if Kumon will be his thing either, if he is disruptive in out-of-school classes I doubt sitting for ages and ploughing through worksheets is going to be a fun activity for him!
Does his current school do any screening for dyslexia, if they do Year 4 is probably the earliest that they would consider it but it would be worth doing if they offer it.
I would assess him privately if you can allocate some of your savings to this. There are other experts on this but with a diagnosis in hand, you will be able to push for a plan.
I don't have an issue with state, I'm a state school teacher, my dd is doing well at the local school, but I wonder if smaller classes and higher expectations would help him achieve.
I have been concerned about him prior to parents evening, I just felt after parents evening that things weren't going to get better, I've met with his teacher 3 times already this year! I don't think she knows what to do with him and communication is rubbish, every time I see her she tells me of some incident a week ago that I wasn't told about at the time.
Private assessment is probably not a bad call. I don't think he would been criteria for EHCP though.
His reading is progressing, so if dyslexia is an issue then it isn't severe, his spelling is weak but he gets the phonics okay.
Just spoke to him, many tears at prospect of different school, so we are going to look at key skills sessions for 15 minutes morning and afternoon to see if we can get an improvement and re-assess in a few weeks.
My fear is him continuing to not like school, not do well, make friends with other kids who aren't interested in education and drifting though school leaving without the qualifications to give him options. I know he's only 8 but I see secondary school kids who are so switched off by the time they get to year 7 they never turn it around. I'm scared for him and I want him to start enjoying school.
My DC had private assessments. They aren't bad enough for EHCP either but having the assessments meant we understood what was going on and support them appropriately. School have been pretty good listening too since diagnosis too. Mine don't need much intervention just more understanding and support.
Teacher needs to have a plan; I would hope he would be on the SENCO radar even without a diagnosis based on his refusal to write, distracting others and himself and behaviour that upsets his teacher.
However, funding means that plan may not be able to be supported in a mainstream class if there is no TA to help with any intervention. Has he said why he is disruptive? Why he des not want to write?
I would also agree with the suggestions of the previous poster that a private assessment for your son is a good way forward.
Private schools although as you say having smaller class sizes most likely would realistically not help as many are not really equipped to cater for children who aren't particularly self motivated.
Are there not any other state schools that you could look at to see if they would be more suitable for your son?
Clearly you want your son to have a more positive experience at school than he is currently having and to be treated with more understanding.
I think that he is disruptive because it entertains his 'friends' who will goad him for fun - I've asked for him to be moved away from some but they are all on the TA table! For a while he wouldn't write because he didn't see the point of it, and now i just think it is effortful because he isn't very good at it and producing a messy page of writing isn't much fun is it, not when you could be dicking about and making people laugh. We're in a village and there isn't another school unless we go to the next village and that could be more of the same? I think he's had bad luck and had a string of fairly inexperienced teachers. The school is pretty poor at SEN provision, has actively off-rolled a few kids that I know of and has just cut in half its TA staff (but apparently it's 'outstanding').
To be fair to the teacher she has spoken to the SENDCO, and she does some good things sometimes, she has used timers and had him practice letters on a white board which he likes to do, but she isn't consistent enough and while she understands that he has issues with attention she doesn't understand why he can't behave like the other children.
DH was almost as horrified as DS at the thought of another school and has decided he's going to do reading and writing practice with him each morning before school. We're going to try to get instrument lessons sorted and maybe horse-riding too, having some things he can do might help him with confidence and self-esteem. I'll get a private EP assessment and see if that can help school with strategies. Thanks all. I spoke to some colleagues at work today and a friend whose grown up son has ADHD was so enthusiastic about private school because she thought it was so good for her son, I've friend locally who have sent their children to local private schools and I just don't want to deny him a better education when he's so unhappy.
This parenting stuff is so hard isn't it!
I think you may be thinking that the teaching will be superior in private schools. I am not sure this is the case. As you have alrwady said he is badly behaved in after school clubs they are very unlikely to take him on and if they did will pressure you to remove him if he is causing disruption in the classes. I know you are v worried but I think you need to look at him and the consequences he gets for his behaviour both at school and at home. The teacher is teaching 30 children. Putting him close to the ta is a strategy to help him. I am sure she has tried having him elsewhere. She undoubtedly has spent time encouraging and coaxing him to work. You need to persue the diagnosis if you think it will help but you also need to get behind the teacher and make yoyr son aware that refusal to write and messing about isn't acceptable.