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What was your experience of primary education and has it influenced you?

(33 Posts)
Cortina Thu 15-Oct-09 13:39:30

Curious to know whether others feel strongly about the early years at school due to good/bad experiences they've had themselves?

Certainly I am much more involved than my parents and will watch children's progress/happiness at school very closely.

Mine wasn't a good experience and one of the things I always swore I'd do was try to get it as 'right' as possible for my DCs.

Most I've come across are fairly relaxed about the whole thing .

fiercebadrabbit Thu 15-Oct-09 15:12:52

Interesting, dh and I were talking about this last night

He went to a v relaxed school in US until 7, then was moved to a super-snooty boys' prep school in the Home Counties, obsessed with getting scholarships to Eton. One of the masters beat him when he was 9 sad because he was messing around in prep. He developed all sorts of OCD tendencies, probably as a result of his time there - though he says he did receive a very good education.

I went to a v good school abroad in reception, then was moved to a dire primary school where I was ahead of the rest of the class, bored, a bit of a fish out of water owing to being "foreign" and bullied. I didn't realise how much I hated it until my parents pulled me out and put me in a tiny girls' prep school whose academic atmosphere suited me far more.

As a result of convo we decided that though we sometimes doubt our local primary is the best school in the world, we'll keep dd1 there as long as she goes in and comes out smiling and seems to be making vagueish forward progress. Hard when some of our friends with privately educated children keep calling daily to boast about their reading/writing/Mandarin/Latin skills but dh's experience has made him decide most private preps exist purely to feed the next level, and the whole private system is a bit of a self-serving con.

But my experiences equally mean that if we feel the local primary isn't stimulating enough (and I am sure it will be, dd1 is no genius smile we will move her to an academic school. Anyway, having waffled, yes, our experiences are entirely influencing our decisions and the reason I'm more sensitive about schooling than virtually any other child-related quandary

Cortina Thu 15-Oct-09 15:21:50

I can relate to what you say. I am now realising how much support you need to give your DCs in terms of education. It could take over your life if you had 3 close in age!

My face didn't fit and I've always said that DCs shouldn't stand out too much from the majority group at primary if we can help it. Probably not terribly PC but I had years of hell because I was so 'different' and REALLY don't want that to happen to DCs.

My education was also fair to good in terms of quality and I'd like (ideally) to better this for my children. Not always so easy t do this.

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 15:24:14

Message withdrawn

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 15:45:28

I was bullied, and that is something I see as a big positive with my dcs' school, that they clamp down on the bullying far more than schools did in my day. So I tend to give them credit for that; I'm actually quite impressed, because it just wouldn't have occurred to anyone at my school that you could do something about bullying.

Then again, my social skills were far less developed than dcs'.

I was healthy and my children both have a degree of disability, so some things are bound to be different. Dd can't afford to be a lone wolf (which I rather wanted for myself), because she needs the help of the other children to push her wheelchair. Which means she has to be civil to them, in a way I never had to and certainly never bothered with.

My parents were fairly hands-off with the school part of my education (but very into extending it at home). I am probably similar, except where the SN situation has forced a more active approach. My natural tendency is to nod sympathetically and offer a few sage words. But I've had to be a little more active than that.

But a lot of their academic stimulation is bound to come from home, because that's what we do in this house: we read books, we talk about books, and we are both connected with research in a way that teachers can't expect to be. Otoh I think dcs' teachers do add a very valuable dimension.

roneef Thu 15-Oct-09 16:23:15

Sorry to hijack - cory - What do/did the school do about bullying?

I've got a thread going at the mo on this issue.

The school have been so wishy washy but I really don't have a clue about what they should do either.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 16:37:08

I have been in to speak to the school I think 3 or 4 times.

1. The first was in infants when ds kept being hit and pushed over by a bigger and stronger boy in his class. The same boy was doing it to others, but interestingly enough, his mum (who only had her ds's words to go by) thought the others were bullying her son because they were increasingly reluctant to play with him. It ended up with three of us seeing the teacher separately.

The reaction of the school was to speak to the dinner ladies and tell them to keep an eye, and also to speak to all the children to reiterate that they must tell an adult if they or anyone else was being hurt or frightened. I assume words were also had with the boy but I was not told any details. The result was that the pushing stopped and the offender gradually learnt to express himself in other ways.

2. Number two, when ds was in junior school, was quite sad: a little boy whose mum was terminally ill developed problems with anger management and started knocking ds down in the playground (in fact, I think he may have knocked him out cold once, though nobody realised as he came to very quickly). I think the main reason that he picked on ds was that he is small and gentle and a family friends, so it felt safe. Talks were had with the boy, he was given counselling, but also told that this was not acceptable and that he would lose playtime for a week whenever he hurt anyone. And again, a more general talk was given, telling children to look out for each other and involve an adult whenever anyone was hurt or frightened. Interestingly enough, ds told us afterwards that his protector this time had been the bully from infants school, so he had clearly learnt his lesson. All boys are now good friends, though it took a while before the angry little boy learnt to control himself.

3. When dd was in Year 7 last year, a girl in one of the higher classes took to shouting across the playground or the corridor: "you're not really disabled, you're just faking it!". Dd (who was terribly upset as she has been accused by medical professionals of this, pre-diagnosis) went to the head of year herself without involving us. Words were clearly had, the girl was reported to be penitent and there has not been a reoccurrence.

Can't fault them really.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 16:38:34

On all three occasions, I think the most important thing was that the school was confident enough to speak out firmly and say: WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS. WE WILL AND WE CAN PUT A STOP TO IT. I suppose in an aggravated case that might have meant exclusions, but fortunately things did not need to be taken that far.

smallwhitecat Thu 15-Oct-09 16:41:36

Message withdrawn

Broke Thu 15-Oct-09 16:50:18

Hubby and i both went to good to average state schools, in all honesty though i remember very little about it and don't feel i learnt much.
I spent a lot of time gazing out of the window, hence mine are in private with small class sizes to ensure they don't get away with wasting their time like i did.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 17:07:54

Should have added that I didn't really have a negative experience of teachers as a child. Some of them weren't terribly bright, but I was prepared for that as my parents were teachers and very aware of the fact that not all their colleagues were uber-bright. Primary school teacher was brilliant though. And pretty well all of them were kind and well meaning. Corporal punishment had already been abolished, and on the whole I remember a pleasant and respectful tone, from both teachers and (mainly) pupils.

This was in Sweden so option of pulling a child out and going private didn't exist. Otoh schools were much of a muchness, the really awful state schools didn't really exist either. Academically perfectly ok, not exactly up to the standards of my own extremely academic family, but I didn't really expect that: I had already worked out that my family was the odd one out.

excitedforinterview Thu 15-Oct-09 17:09:42

I enjoyed primary school but I think it was a too big school and if you were bright and well behaved you tended to get ignored. I think I did well academically because I could coast well, I don't think I had any deep understanding of various subjects - especially maths.

Teachers were nice though and I had lots of fun and lots of opportunities.

chicorita Thu 15-Oct-09 17:15:57

I loved school and I went to an old fashioned village primary with a very strict headmisstress and teachers but I still loved it. When I think of some of the things the teachers and head did to us, I'd go mad if my dc were treated like that now.

I remember at age 5 being turned around at the school gate and sent home with my 4 year old sister to get proper coats in case it rained hmm Imagine if you drop your dc off at school and 15 minutes later they turn up on the doorstep, teacher said we need a coat.

Acinonyx Thu 15-Oct-09 22:41:45

For different reasons we have the same philosophy as fiercebadrabit. I went to an OK-good state primary. I was several years ahead of my peers though and was left to coast along. My parents were not at all involved and my mother in particualr was hostile to education in general.

As long as dd is happy and making progress we feel we can probably pick up any slack and fill in the gaps. Like cory - I am in research and feel able to push some boundaries (but not others). I've also been a teacher, which helps. If things go sour, we will pull her out and look at other options, such as private ed.

I was bullied at secondary but not primary. I'm not thrilled about the rough play and other Lord of the Flies aspects of school - but dd's primary (which we moved house to attend) does take these issues very seriously.

hellion Fri 16-Oct-09 20:10:42

I enjoyed infants school - although don't remember doing as much work as my ds does.

I had two teachers at junior school (first year and fourth year) as it was at the time, who used to smack a lot. I remember being hit for not getting my sums right, and for not drawing things correctly. I am pretty sure that most people in the class used to get treated the same. There was a bullying problem but it was by the teachers not the children.

Things must have improved - at least my ds doesn;t have to worry about being smacked at school.

pointyhat Fri 16-Oct-09 20:19:03

I enjoyed primary school on the whole. Liked the sociableness of it. Don;t have many clear memories, it washed over me pleasantly enough.

onemoretimetoday Fri 16-Oct-09 20:39:45

I was privately educated from age 4,firstly in a tiny pre prep and then at a very academic girls school. Whilst I was happy at school my overiding memory is being bogged down with homework and my parents saying no to every extra curricular activity I wanted to do because I had too much homework. I was insanely jealous of the children, including my siblings who went to the local state school. As a direct consequence of this my DC's are at our local school and they are having a ball. Most of my friends have children in the private sector and I breathe a sigh of relief when they talk about the amount of homework their DC's have and how they're preparing for exams in Yr 2 and know that I have made the best choice for my DC's I'd be a terrible prep school parent.

Interestingly though,I can't get my head round the children going state at 11, possibly because it's so out of my realm of experience and because at that point I loved school and want them to have the same opportunities.

spokette Fri 16-Oct-09 21:32:15

I did enjoy my primary education but I also have memories of the entrenched racism. I remember one schoolgirl saying to me when I was about 7yo that she wished that people like me would go back to the jungle where we came from (parents are Jamaican immigrants).sad.

Things are much better now when it comes to racism. What it did show me was that despite going to a school in a socially deprived area where expectations were low,I still embraced learning because of my parent's encouragement and belief that I was receiving a first class education when compared to what they got in Jamaica (both left school at 10yo).

Therefore, my DTS go to the local state school which according to Ofsted is only satifactory (but what do they know), even though we could easily afford to send them to private. I believe in supporting my local school and I always help out at the PTA plus I was class rep for a year and have been asked to be a parent governor. I am also working with a teacher to build up a science club because I am passionate about enthusing children about the wonders of science (I am a research scientist).

cherryblossoms Fri 16-Oct-09 22:08:26

Spokette - the racism is what I remember most about primary too.

My dm was Irish and it was not a good time to be Irish. I remember even teachers telling anti-Irish jokes.

It was an almost-entirely white school and I remember the head coming in before a new girl joined and offering a present to anyone who would be her friend. Why? She was non-white (dual heritage Asian-Jewish) and that was what passed for anti-racism in the cultural backwater we grew up in.

Inevitably, we ended up as bfs (and our mothers were both unusually leftie, so they got on too). I always think of it a little wryly; our friendship was forged in the experience of being picked last for netball teams. I think I lucked out though; she was arty and bohemian, even at primary. I think it was that friendship that taught me that being a bit of an outcast was actually no bad thing; it taught you not to follow the herd.

I think the experience has made me sensitive to issues around inclusion. I thank my lucky stars that my dc's school experience is nothing like that. But I find I get overly upset when I see instances of structural exclusion or individual (esp. discriminatory) bullying. I guess I'll never shake off the experience of being that child.

cherryblossoms Fri 16-Oct-09 22:09:43

Sorry, long post. Weirdly I never tell people about that in RL ... .

piscesmoon Fri 16-Oct-09 22:26:29

I went to a very rural, small village school and I loved it. I cried if I was ill and had to miss it.

spokette Fri 16-Oct-09 22:28:43

I know what you mean about articulating this in RL. I don't bother because of the number of times I get some covert put down of "having a chip on my shoulder" and "let by gones be bygones".hmm

If we let bygones be bygones why bother with history and why bother with Remembrance day?

Squishabelle Fri 16-Oct-09 22:30:56

In Primary I was bullied by a girl in the year above and I detest bullying of any sort (even moved house once because of the bully child from hell living next door).

I also seem to remember hating the favouritism shown by teachers to certain pupils.

I also suffered from 'gingerism' throughout!

cherryblossoms Fri 16-Oct-09 23:45:49

[sneaking back - don't want to hi-jack]

[V. insightful, Spokette.]

Acinonyx Sat 17-Oct-09 09:09:02

Spokette - I remember a lot of racism at secondary school but none at primary (I'm mixed race and and went to otherwise entirely white schools).

We have moved to a village - and suddenly I am hearing racist (and other offensive) comments I haven't heard in years - or even decades. Had an 'incident' just this week which makes me really wonder if we have made the right choice.

And I mentioned this to my hairdresser and got the response that people are just way too sensitive about this stuff these days. It has made me feel very alienated and homesick for my international urban village.

I will be very interested to see how dd's school deal with these issues.

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