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Would you move school in this situation

(22 Posts)
GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 20:03:33

This is rather outing to those who know me but I keep feeling like I need more insight. LONG sorry. And this is why I have an in-year admissions thread too if you were wondering.

My son is in year four. In year three, his class teacher went on sick leave after October half term. They used subs in Nov/Dec. A long-term sub from Jan-April, then two part-time teachers from May-July. I was really unhappy with the lack of consistency for the class, especially in Nov/Dec when they used worksheets every day. There was very little communication from the school. At the end of the year I said to the head that all I wanted was their class to have continuity this year.

In September it transpires they have booted the head out, and a new interim one is in.

Now, his yr4 teacher has just announced he is leaving in December. Three other teachers at the same school are leaving. This was revealed in a newsletter which said they have replaced two teachers, and still recruiting for the other two. They have not replaced my son's teacher.

It's such a mess.

I wrote to the chair of governors who came back with a 'we have a plan and everything will be fine' email. Then I had a meeting with the interim head, who I hoped would reassure me. She didn't. They 'hope' to recruit two long-term subs for the two unfilled positions to last out the rest of the year. At the end I asked what she would do if she was me, should I look at other schools. She said she would, to my surprise.

The issue is we live in an area with not much choice. Only two schools have vacancies. I have applied for the one that looks better on paper, ie does much better in SATs and somewhat better in parent opinions, got a good Ofsted etc. Only thing is, the Year 4 teacher there is about to go on mat leave! They haven't got her replacement yet but hope to hire in January. I looked around the school this week and it is otherwise really nice. Small but a nurturing feeling, and their Year 5/6 classes are doing well.

My only other choice is a two-class intake junior school that is recently an academy (in same trust as current bad school) that doesn't fare that well on SATs and got requires improvement in latest (a while back) Ofsted.

My son is generally a bit shy/sensitive, not a footballing kind of kid, bookish and awesome but could get upset if he doesn't make friends. Doesn't seem horrified at the thought of moving though.

The reason I'm rushing to apply to a new school and a bit panicky about all this is I have a daughter who needs to apply to reception in the next month - and she will only get into the same school as him if he is on the roll at the time of application as we are not in catchment for either option.

So if you got this far or skipped to the end, what would you do?

1) Leave sensitive son in current failing school with no year 4 teacher and try to support him at home or with tuition?
2) Or move him to good school that is also losing its year 4 teacher (but trust it to manage that better),
3) Or go to nearly-as-bad school (that admittedly has a good linked infants for my daughter) where there is no teacher movement?

As I say I have applied to the good school but the 'nearly as bad' school allows direct applications so I still have time to apply there too if I change my mind.

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Trampire Thu 06-Dec-18 20:14:47

I would go for option 2 and just grit my teeth about the Maternity leave teacher.

My dd's Year 4 had a bit of a breakdown and left very suddenly in October. They had supply teachers until January but then got a permanent supply in. She turned out to be amazing and now dd is 14 and she still says she was the best teacher she ever had.

It's just all a bit of a lottery. Hopefully the better school will manage it all a bit better.

Trampire Thu 06-Dec-18 20:15:20

My dds Y4 *teacher had a bit of a breakdown.

GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 20:18:48

Thanks - yes at the moment I am crossing fingers we get the place at option two but then I have a moment of panic about whether I’m doing the right thing.

Wish I could relax about it

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Nuffaluff Thu 06-Dec-18 20:22:23

I think you should move him. Everything you say is ringing alarm bells for me (I’m an experienced teacher), especially the bit about four teachers leaving mid year. It’s a sign there is something very wrong. I say this as a friend of mine has gone to work at another school but is going to have to leave at Easter. It’s not just because of her workload stress nightmare, but because the behaviour management policy is unworkable, there is no coherent leadership in terms of what she should be teaching, etc.
I would go for the school you like. Teachers go on maternity leave- it’s just one of those things. That school will probably get something in place soon and it’s only for two terms anyway.
I think your current school sounds like it could be heading for at least ‘needs improvement’, if not ‘special measures’.

GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 20:28:10

Thanks - it’s actually four teachers, one of which is the deputy head (!) and three support staff too. I think it is requires improvement now.

I suppose part of me wonders if they might get a good teacher next year and I’ll regret moving him but ultimately it’s just badly managed isn’t it? I can’t see how it can turn around in the next two years. I also heard a rumour they were moving the year three teachers into year six just to get those kids through Sats (must mean some of the leavers are year 6 maybe?).

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GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 20:29:29

Seriously though, thanks for the reassuring words!

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GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 20:34:24

If it helps for context, current school is a junior with three classes in each year so quite big, but 4 teachers so soon is still quite a lot!

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strawberryredhead Thu 06-Dec-18 20:42:16

I would definitely go with option 2.

OhDearGodLookAtThisMess Thu 06-Dec-18 20:59:37

At the end of the year I said to the head that all I wanted was their class to have continuity this year.

Have you ANY idea how difficult it is for many schools to recruit staff these days? By current trends, it sounds as if you were lucky your child's class was even staffed by qualified teachers.

PermanentlyFrizzyHairBall Thu 06-Dec-18 21:03:54

Bloody hell that does sound unusually bad. There has certainly not been anything like the upheaval in any of my local schools. I would hope there was a school in your area which could do better than that!

GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 21:08:22

Ohdeargod do you think I should be happy in this situation then? Not being tetchy just wondering. That’s actually why I asked in case some people do think I should stay.

Yes I do understand recruitment is really hard at the moment, that’s why I asked for continuity rather than the bestest most perfect most permanent teacher in the world. I was just hoping for anything other than a series of subs! I don’t think that’s too much to hope after a year of that already! In this situation, given the school HAS recruited two, I would’ve given one to my son’s class. However I don’t know the decision making of course. That’s why I went to see the head.

It’s hard.

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GreenTulips Thu 06-Dec-18 21:12:26

Depends

A badly run school with a new head tends to flush out teachers who coast as a new head piles on pressure

A bad school won't attract new teachers

I'd move him to a well run school with all the right procedures and behaviour policies in place Ben if they don't have a teacher - someone will apply!'

GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 21:18:42

I was kind of hoping she would vaguely allude to a purge of bad teachers but she said they all left for 'positive' reasons (ie had other jobs lined up already). Apparently the dep head is leaving education completely. It could just be coincidence that they are leaving at the same time, but after two years at this junior school something is telling me it's morale or bad management.

The real shame is that the linked infant school was really good - lovely teachers, welcoming to parents, good teaching standards. I wanted to like this one despite its reputation. Sadly it's just got worse. I'm sure in the long run it will be okay. They are advertising for a new head now. But I don't think it will be 'fixed' in the next two years.

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Judashascomeintosomemoney Thu 06-Dec-18 21:19:40

100% option 2.
It might go awry depending on recruitment but you do not have a better option in this scenario.
You have an interim head who has been honest enough to say in your position they would move schools. Listen to them fgs. I would not touch another school in the same MAT either.

GenericHamster Thu 06-Dec-18 21:24:24

Thanks Judas. I am also wary of moving within the MAT. My son actually knows a couple of people there that would ease transition but there is something about it I don't like. Perhaps I'm being unfair.

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Judashascomeintosomemoney Thu 06-Dec-18 21:39:20

I have been in a similar position. Complicated by the fact that despite the failings of the primary school, the pastoral care was excellent, my DDs were extremely happy there, DD1 had complicated health issues and DD2 had SEN. It was worth me leaving my DDs there but I had to massively supplement their learning through my own intervention at home and tutors I had to pay for (I was lucky to be able to afford it). I had many friends who had no such issues, did move schools, and not one of them regretted it.

GenericHamster Fri 07-Dec-18 14:30:33

Quick update: Option 2 (ie first choice really) school rang today - he has the place! They usually wait for a letter sent out but after I visited the school this week they knew I was keen to find out so thought they would ring.

Just need to break the news to him (he seemed fine with it, but reality may be different), take him to visit it next week, and decide a start date! The head said it could be before Christmas if he wants but I can't help think it may be better to finish out the next two weeks where he is (plus now I have to change a very red based uniform into a blue one!).

In an ideal world we wouldn't be doing this, but I think it's the best possible next step for us. I hope!

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GreenTulips Fri 07-Dec-18 16:35:29

Before Christmas would be better. He'll have fun things without the pressure of doing school work and finding friends and his way round

It will be an easy two weeks!!

I did the same at the end of the summer term and DD has friends over the summer to play with

GenericHamster Fri 07-Dec-18 16:38:04

Do you think? I'll think it over this weekend. Excited/nervous now.

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AChickenCalledKorma Fri 07-Dec-18 16:47:25

DD2 had two years like this in years 5 and 6. It definitely had a negative impact on her in all sorts of ways. Progress wasn't great, she started finding school extremely stressful due to all the changes and it just felt like there was never a teacher that had enough time to really "get" her.

This was also a school with a new head that was driving experienced staff away. The whole place was in a bad way. By the time we'd worked out that we really should move her, she was in year six and it felt too late.

I'm glad you have the chance to move him. The fact the new head teacher sounds genuinely interested in him seems like a positive sign.

GenericHamster Sat 15-Dec-18 20:37:43

We went to visit the school this week. My son really liked it and one of the kids in his new class recognised him from afterschool club and introduced him to the rest of the class before the head teacher could ( he asked first), which was quite cute. Optimistic now. He’s starting in Jan as only one week left now and he wants to do Christmas dinner and school disco and his old school.

Old school also appeared in the list of 300-odd English schools that are below the government floor standard this week, so quite glad I went with my gut instinct to move him!

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