My son is not fitting in at school and it’s all because of one boy!

(50 Posts)
Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 08:26:06

I live in a small village and my son started in the reception year of our village school in September.
At end of October my son and I had a conversation that went like this:
(I’ll call the other boy BoyX so as not to use his name)
My son: BoyX let me play today.
Me: Doesn’t BoyX normally let you play?
My son: No never
Me: well that’s not very nice, why don’t you just play with someone else?
My son: BoyX tells me he’s the boss, he decides who can play and he says nobody is allowed to play with me.
The problem is that BoyX is a big character and appears to in charge (the boss) of the boys in the class and is purposely excluding my son from the group (it is only a small class - so only 7 boys in the class)
I’m ashamed to say that at first I didn’t take this too seriously. I just thought, this is how kids are - you know friends today and then not the next and then friends again! But over the next week my son kept telling me more hasty comments from BoyX so I made an appointment to see his teacher.
To my surprise she said she’d been aware of this issue for over two weeks and they were working with BoyX on his behaviour.
Of course I was upset so we arranged a meeting to discuss what to do. In this meeting they gave us a list of things they were going to do to help - for example putting the boys on a group task to help them to bond and class activities to encourage team work. We then met two weeks later to discuss the results. The teacher talked very positively about the results, but from what my son tells me nothing has really changed. He tells me that he has no one to play with in the playground and so plays on his own and the TA confirmed this. So I’ve been back for another meeting with his teacher and in this meeting she said that nothing new needed to be done because the problem was sorted and suggested my son was making up the comments from BoyX to get attention from my. But I don’t believe this to be true. Yes my son is attention seeking like any other 5 year old but I don’t believe he’s using this to get attention.
So I feel very frustrated with the school I decided to contact my next nearest school and it turns out they have one place free. They have offered this place to me and I now have 10 days to either accept or decline the space. But I’m in a quandary with what to do. My feelings are:
This other school with the free space is a big city school and to get there I’ll have to drive through a high traffic area where as at the moment I walk my son to school. Also the other school is huge, overwhelming so, 75 kids in just the reception year! Plus the catchment area is vast and includes some troubled areas. But on the positive side we do already know some lovely kids that go there so I know my son will have friends from the start.
I’d really love to know all your thoughts and help me out of this quandary. Thank you in advance xx

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Purpledragon40 Wed 08-Jan-20 10:12:13

I suppose 75 kids in a year group sounds a lot to someone from a village with 7 boys in a year group but in London it seems fairly normal. There is nothing wrong with going to a school with multiple classes in a year group. In some ways the larger number makes things better because problems like this don't occur as much.

Though 2 months of clashing with some kids when your 5 isn't necessarily going to be a long term problem.

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 10:43:41

Thanks so much for your advice. You’re right about 2 months of clashing might not mean a long term problem. Definitely the question of if we’ve given the school long enough to work it out has been playing on my mind. It feels like a balanced between giving it enough time to resolve but not so long that my sons confidence is lost. X

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probablynotthesame Wed 08-Jan-20 10:58:47

I would take the approach of not looking at the specific problem but rather how the school are dealing with it. This problem may be forgotten about in a weeks/ months time but inevitably there will be other issues that crop up throughout his time there.
Are you happy with the school and how they are dealing with this as I'd take that as an indication on how they handle things.
In comparison you said you know other children at this other school, how do the parents rate them and their way of dealing with discipline

ConfidingFish Wed 08-Jan-20 11:00:26

My children went to a 3 form entry school so 90 children in a year. That meant there were far more people to play with and the transition to secondary wasn't as daunting.

I went to a teeny primary school with 5 other girls in my year group. I didn't particularly like these girls but that was the only choice. Then going to a large secondary felt like I was drowning, hence why I chose a large primary for my own children.

Did you tell the teacher that the TA had confirmed your son's version of events? I would be concerned that the teacher feels there is nothing left to do. I mean where do you go from there?

JoyceDivision Wed 08-Jan-20 11:03:55

Write everything down, and if there is a messaging system at school contact school bus this method re specific incidents and if your D's displays upset re any of this.

Don't do it verbally, you need to keep a log because ultimately schools have no real way to deal with what can easily become bullying and you need to keep evidence to be able to challenge school at any point your D's is there.

As a parent with a year 6 child in same position from this happening in reception I wish someone had told us how to log and handle this as the little built responsible has wrecked ds mental health and he is gfreefalling, yet due to shit handling and teachers avoiding dealing with things there is no official record of how bad it has been.

MollyButton Wed 08-Jan-20 11:06:22

I'd go for the other school. Bigger school means more choice of friends.

A good friend of mine moved her DS from the very sought after school at the top of the hill, to the one in the rough area at the bottom of the hill and didn't regret it one bit. I nearly moved one of my DC from their highly sought after school to the one I'd done some work in on the other side of town - the only thing that held me back was she had some friends (and I'm still not sure I made the right choice).

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LolaSmiles Wed 08-Jan-20 11:12:12

It you'd be happy with the longer school run then rather than move based on the children in the class, think about whether you're happy with how the school responds to questions and issues.
The current situation will probably blow over, but if you're not happy with how the school have responded then you're likely to be unhappy if and when issues arise as DC goes through the school.
If you think they've done a reasonable job of managing the situation and are likely to ensure that Boy X learns he isn't the class King then I'd stay. If you think it's a bit wishy washy and X is likely to go through school as the dictator then I'd move.

notmoresheep Wed 08-Jan-20 11:36:45

I’d move school.

We had this with DC tiny primary, from chatting to a lot of other parents it seems to be a common issue in small schools around here. If you’re unfortunate with how well the cohort gets along, if there’s a bully or a cliquey child, unlucky DC can be stuffed all the way through. Yes DC friendships chop and change but equally you could be having this same conversation with another teacher in 3 years time and kicking yourself. We moved to a bigger school further away where DC are thriving and have lots of friends. The DC are grouped by academic ability which has made a big difference and they’re better resourced too. Given that time again I’d have moved school much sooner.

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 11:52:58

Probablynotthesame: Thanks so much for your good advice. When we viewed the large school I did explain the whole situation and I was very impressed with all the things they said they’d do it was happening at their school. But I guess with so many more kids in the school these things probably do come up more often.
My village school have been very sympathetic to the issue but I don’t feel I’ve seen much action taken by them.
Thanks again x

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2020BetterBeBetter Wed 08-Jan-20 11:56:18

Is it worth having one last talk with the school, perhaps the head this time? Otherwise, I am going to assume that your son will be going to a big secondary school and think that transition can be easier from a reasonable sized primary. Also, I agree, a bigger primary means more friends and more options if one child is a bully.

Disfordarkchocolate Wed 08-Jan-20 11:58:36

Did the school put any issues in place for breaktime?

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:01:16

ConfidingFish: Thanks for your message. In reply to the bit about the TA. My son told me he’d had no one to play with from his class so was playing with some older girls. I asked the TA if she’d seen this and she pointed to two girls who looks about 9or 10 years. So I told the teacher he didn’t appear to have friends his own age and she simply said she couldn’t see a problem with him playing with older kids. However I question how a friendship with such a large age gap between my 5 year old son and these two 10 year olds happened in the first place? Was my son wondering around the playground on his own and they took pity on him? Ideally I would like him to make friends with his own age group.

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Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:05:50

JoyceDivision: thanks for your great advice to write everything down. I will definitely start doing that.
I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties your child has had and I hope everything works out for you xx

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Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:08:33

MollyButton: Thanks so much for your reply. I’m definitely starting to realise that a large school = more friends to choose from. I never really thought about it before but a large class does really open up your friendship circle. X

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Swinesinsleepingbags Wed 08-Jan-20 12:13:37

I moved mine from a small village school to an four intake school and it was the best thing I did. More friends, four classes to choose from so not stuck with the same problem child all through school. It still has its problems but they seem more able to cope. Also more provisions.

BubblesBuddy Wed 08-Jan-20 12:13:54

In larger schools these issues are actually less frequent. Mainly because DC can find another group to play with. As DC get older they have different hobbies and interests and friends change. These friends can be found in larger schools more readily. Just 7 won’t allow for much sport, music or drama when he’s older. I think you should move and accept school isn’t just for YR and cosy relationships (or not). Let him spread his wings further afield!

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:14:57

notmoresheep: thank you for your reply - it’s really interesting that you had the same problem. Before this all started we thought we had the ideal small school with a small class. I actually thought we were very lucky because some people go private to get small classes but our school is just a normal free school. But now I’m starting to see the disadvantages of the class size too x

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Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:18:33

Swinesinsleepingbags: thanks for you reply. I definitely agree having more provisions is a big draw. The large school has two computer room, our village doesn’t even have one!

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FoamingAtTheUterus Wed 08-Jan-20 12:18:52

God id move him. Seven is ridiculously small, the nasty kid has already established himself as the great dictator of reception class and that probably won't change.

The school sound crap, they should be knocking him down a few pegs and nipping this in the bud.

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 12:20:43

BubblesBuddy: thanks for the message. I think you’re right. I went to a big school myself and remembered having different friendship groups throughout my time there. X

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hiredandsqueak Wed 08-Jan-20 12:38:19

I moved dd from a small primary to a two class intake and it was the best thing I ever did. So many more opportunities, larger classes dilute the big personalities and so don't seem so troublesome, lots more options for friendships. It was further away but the gains made it worth it. I would move your child, if boy X is already seen as boss so early in reception then his hold is likely to get stronger as he gets older rather than weaken.

notmoresheep Wed 08-Jan-20 12:53:43

thanks @Italiamo. I suspect its a common misconception that small state school is like private school because class size, we certainly fell for that but really they don’t compare at all. A private school may have small class sizes but still have bigger year intake which makes all the difference for friendships and interests. A private school with more than eg. 14 in a year group can split the year and also put DC in different groups by ability for certain subjects. A small state school can’t do anything like that, they have one teacher for all subjects (except French & music if you’re lucky) and TA’s are stretched across a school that size so individual attention even for daily reading can come a cropper especially if TA is needed to focus on DC with additional needs. And the small state school can’t provide all the sport, music, drama, resources, specialist subject teachers etc as well as interest clubs and activities that are the life blood of a private school.

You can talk till you’re blue in the face to the school, hopefully they will take it seriously and have a good discipline system but the bottom line is they aren’t there to deal with DC friendship issues and anxiety, just to get them through the curriculum.

Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 13:18:01

notmoresheep: thanks so much for taking the time to write me such a detailed reply, I really appreciate it. You’ve really helped Me to see things from a different view point and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your comment about the teachers not their to deal with “ friendship issues and anxiety, just to get them through the curriculum.” Because I’ve spoken to the teachers about the playground problems and they don’t appear to care but maybe they just don’t see it as their responsibility. Thanks again x

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Italiamo Wed 08-Jan-20 13:20:49

hiredandsqueak: thank you for your message and good advice. I am very surprised that BoyX has such a hold on over the boys already. I really wasn’t expecting problems like this at such a young age but having met the boy I can see he has very strong personality. So I think you’re right - it can only get worse as they get older. X

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