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WWYD - moved & school place nightmare(17 Posts)
My dd and I moved areas this summer, for a variety of reasons including my relationship with my bf and future secondary schools for DD (she's about to go into Year 6). While I was looking at places to live I realised how poor her education was at her previous "good" school and how much of a postcode lottery schooling really is.
DD has quite bad anxiety around being late for school, and needs to control her school "commute" Because of this we've never lived more than a 10 min walk from her schools (and even then she can have massive anxiety attacks) if she had to rely on public transport it had a longer less controlled journey I really fear for her mental health.
We have an amazing school less than 10mins from our new house, that would be perfect for dd. We've heard that they're will be 2 Year 6 places up but have just been told that we're 3rd on the waitlist. I've applied under social & medical needs because of her anxiety but have been told that they almost never grant them, and even if they do it will only slightly move her up the waitlist (implication was 1st child is a sibling).
We've been told to expect an offer to a school that's a 20min walk away or 5-10min bus but is only "good" and the Ofsted says they're letting their Year 6s down.
If I don't take the offer & we don't get a place at a school were waitlisted at then next offer could be further away, but due to DD's anxiety I know she'll find starting at one school and hoping to go to another really stressful and disruptive.
Her grandmother has suggested we try to find a private school with places rather than send her to another not that great school.
I have no idea what I should do... WWYD in my place?
(Sorry it's so long, didn't want to drip feed)
I would start working on the possibility of the offer being the school a 20minute walk away and working on her anxiety. Do the walk a few times.
She will be changing schools again in a year - where are the nearest secondary schools? How will she travel to it? Use this year to help her manage her anxiety.
It’s never easy changing schools and having to get to know new friends, teachers and routines etc.
20 minute walk will be absolutely fine. She can start walking half an hour, or even forty minutes beforehand and be in loads of time.
Where I live the nearest year 6 place is around a 40 minute walk, and I had one who panicked at the idea of being late to school. She left an hour early.
Her grandmother has suggested we try to find a private school with places rather than send her to another not that great school. Not sure that would be helpful if you're discounting one that's 20 minute walk away because the chances are that's further away. Plus, if it's a good private school there's a strong likelihood it will be full too.
I would say (I have dc with anxiety, one considered to be very bad) that I think it's unlikely that it would come under medical and social as it would be the sort of thing that all schools would be expected to be able to deal with.
I wouldn't start at a school with the intension of moving if a space comes up though. Not for one year, unless she absolutely hates it. If she starts thinking she might be moving any time that will leave her unsettled and find it harder to make friends.
Her last school (which we were 8 mins away from so she had fewer attacks) were awful at handling her anxiety so I don't think all schools can handle it at all and prevention is obviously the best bet.
Secondary school we're ok for because we're in catchment and it's right next door to the Primary we want.
I guess with the private option I feel like if she's being made to be anxious with a longer journey then at least she would be getting a decent education at the private, whereas the one we're being offered their offsted literally says they're failing their Year 6s.
Do you have feeder schools in your area? If so, that's also a consideration when thinking about what school you want to go for, as you'll have to apply for secondary school in October.
A 20 minute walk or 5-10 minutes on public transport sounds like a fairly short cycle ride- is this an option?
My personal suggestion would be to take whatever school you are offered and make it work - surely having her out of school or chopping and changing will be more disruptive for her?
There is no guarantee that a private school will offer any better education than whatever state school you are offered and certainly may not be any better at managing her anxiety.
What are you doing to help her manage her anxiety. Having this much of a panic at being late for school is not healthy. Anxiety is very destructive and once your brain starts in this pattern it can find more and more things to be anxious about. It can spark if not nipped in the bid. She needs to learn strategies to manage her anxiety. "Pandering" to anxiety by making big decisions about schooling based on it will make it worse.
You need to male the best decision you can out of the ones available and get your daughter some help so she starts to learn some strategies NOW. I would suggest looking into CBT and mindfulness for children as a starting point.
Please don't leave this.
I think you are going to need to accept the school that is 20 minutes away. That's not very far really.
If the closer school doesn't have places then she can't go there. You can stay on the waiting list but you may find she settles well into the school you are going to be offered. Have you visited it? Go and see it yourself rather than making decisions based on Ofsted reports.
It's always tricky moving areas. I think you've done ok getting a school 20 minutes away that is rated good.
@MiniMum97 Of course I'm doing something about it! She has a child psychologist and we're working very hard to deal with it so it's under better control for secondary school. In fact the whole move was so we can get her into a supportive, nurturing secondary school via catchment as opposed to sending her to a rough school that has a reputation for poor pastoral care in our old area or putting her through the pressure of the 11+.
We aren't pandering to her anxiety but doing everything we can to help alleviate it as directed by her psychologist & educational consultant who have both said she would do better at our closer, waitlisted school. We are in catchment for secondary so that's all good, we just need to get through the next year with her as unscathed as possible.
I think it’s a little unfair to assume that she won’t get a decent education at the school she’s been offered. Or that a private school will have a better offer.
I agree that it would be a good idea to visit and also to promote it to her in a positive way. Surely a child who is anxious needs certainty about her schooling and a plan to minimise the anxiety by practising the journey, so she gets there in plenty of time.
She may well be worse off in a private school, being under pressure, if she’s struggling with anxiety.
You have played the lottery of school places and at the moment it’s backfired. What a shame your DD has to spend one year at a new school. That will make her anxious and it’s very difficult to make friends. I can see it’s better for secondary but y6 is the worst time to move especially with Sats on the horizon!
Many private schools don’t do Sats so it could be less pressure! Check them to see if this is the case. They may be full of course.
How are they getting a Good rating if they are failing their year 6s?
If the amazing accolade you are giving to the 10minute walk school is based on its outstanding feted then I hope you realise that many "outstanding* schools were inspected getting on for 10 years ago. During which time the teaching staff has probably changed, possibly the head teacher too, and they are now teaching a completely different curriculum. As from last weekend it was announced that schools previously exempt from inspection are back on the list, as a disturbing number have been found to have real problems. I think a number of parents are in for some shocks, I know schools who have coasted for a number of years , relying on reputation (and parental input via tutoring) rather than solid teaching and evidence.
I hope your daughter settles well into whichever school she gets a place at, personally I would go for the 20 minute school, big it up to your daughter, make sure she always leaves in plenty of time to arrive feeling calm and ready to learn. I would forget appealing for the other school, your appeal sounds weak and I don't think it would serve your daughter well to feel unsettled by the appeal process.
I'm not sure why there's this idea that I don't know anything about these schools. I've been to them both. One is an inner city school that gets outstanding in the nursery school but let's it's pupils down in the Jr school. It's in an overcrowded old Victorian building, has very limited after school activities (less than 1 per age group/per day) and an almost nonexistent PTA.
The other school was recently refurbished, has a reputation for supporting students whatever their needs, numerous after-school clubs, an active PTA, a forest school, and put a focus on resilience, complete with a mental health hub & an in school counsellor.
This isnt the first time I've seen this in London. At our old house in 0.3 of a mile in one direction you had a really rough school with no coherence, a problem with rude, rambunctious students, where huge numbers of pupils were ESL with no teacher support, building was a mess, etc and in 0.3 miles in the other direction you had a lovely school, with supportive teachers, strong SEN support, polite, lovely children in a refurbished building with loads of opportunities. Both were "Good" schools.
The difference between these two schools is massive. I've been told they won't take the social & emotional needs, so our only chance is if a place comes up at our desired school, which is a possibility. I'm not going to send her to one school with the possibility of her getting into the better school and needing to change so I think I'll wait for as long as I can before accepting an offer & see what private schools offer in the meantime. Hopefully by the end of the week the desired school will be able to tell me how many places they have & I can take guidance from there.
Are you appealing for the one you want, especially if you have professionals willing to say that they think it would be the best one for her, or just applying for the medical/social category?
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