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Beginning to think DD's self esteem was damaged at primary school.

(13 Posts)
boxoftissues Wed 31-Dec-14 08:52:10

DD was in an unusual cohort at primary school. Her class had a high proportion of extremely bright girls who were also strong characters.

DD was always one of the 'middle runners'. In a less academically strong cohort she would have been in the top third of the class.

She is now at secondary schoool in year 7. What bothers me is her attitude towards her school work. She just doesn't seem to care about trying to do well and is happy to get low to mediocre grades.

Yet she is actually quite a bright girl. I am beginning to wonder if her self esteem has been knocked by 7 years in a cohort of extremely bright and strong charactered girls? At the time she didn't seem bothered that she wasn't at the top or anywhere near the top of the class. But perhaps it bothered her more than I realised and she gave up trying because she felt she simply couldn't compete with the girls in her class.

Any views would be much appreciated. She also had the disadvantage of being the second youngest in the class amongst a large group of Sept/Oct born girls.

boxoftissues Wed 31-Dec-14 09:02:54

She seemed to become the 'class clown' during the latter years. Perhaps that was her way of getting noticed as she wasn't academically noticable nor a particularly strong character.

rabbitstew Wed 31-Dec-14 09:15:40

But what you are saying is that she didn't seem to be bothered about academic work all the way through primary school and now YOU are bothered about this, not that she has changed her attitude. She's had the same attitude throughout. Or at least, that's the way you've just described it!

TheWordFactory Wed 31-Dec-14 09:20:35

OP this might sound harsh, but it seems that your DD has a poor attitude to school work and you're seeking to find the cause at the door of others.

This is something you and your Dd need to own. Then you can fix it.

arlagirl Wed 31-Dec-14 09:20:49

What does the school say? Do they think she's underperforming?

boxoftissues Wed 31-Dec-14 09:50:44

TheWordFactory, you are right. During most of DD's time at primary school I was suffering with severe undiagnosed PND. This culminated in atempted suicide when DD was in year 3. That was when I and everyone around me realised I was very very ill. I subsequently got the help I needed and made a slow but steady recovery to the point where I am now. (There is a long backstory of childhood abuse and neglect, going NC with my parents for 8+ years, etc which I don't want to go into here).

So yes, this situation with DD has been going on for a number of years but I have not been in a position to notice or do anything about it until now.

So, I am looking for help and advice. I have been mulling it over for a while and have only just concluded there may be a self esteem issue so have not yet spoken to her school. I will be doing so as soon as term starts next week.

In the meantime I am looking for ways to support her at home. She is in year 7 so hopefully enough time to turn things around before GCSE's etc.

boxoftissues Wed 31-Dec-14 09:52:27

rabbitstew, you are spot on. DD hasn't changed, but I have.

boxoftissues Wed 31-Dec-14 09:54:33

Although, having said all of the above, we were always reassured by her teachers at every parents' evening that she was doing well and this was borne out by her SATS results in which she achieved mostly level 5's.

PastSellByDate Wed 31-Dec-14 10:57:22


First off I'm sorry to hear of your troubles but glad to know you've 'turned a corner' and are in a better place now.

I think the reality may be that you have a fairly bright girl (Level 5s end of KS2 SATs) is above national expectation - but I also think that you need to be realistic about how strong those Level 5s were and may need to temper your assessment of your child's ability.

I know that pupils performing in English at Level 5c - would be scored somewhere between 50% - 22% percentiles and between 42% - 22% percintiles for 5c in KS2 maths on the bell curve of all English pupils (information from Fisher Family Trust - scroll down to Key Stage 2 sublevels and percentiles, 2014 table: Stage 2 sublevels and percentiles, 2014. Many schools just report the main Level - so you may not be aware of how your child scored in the LEVEL 5 zone - which runs basically from 50th percentile (so performing better than 50% of all English pupils) to 7th percentile (performing better than 93% of all English pupils) - and is a big chunk of the bell curve (for which see Head Guru post of KS2 Data as bell curve here:

So one of the things to absorb is that your daughter may be doing better than most students but is performing within the big bump in the bell curve (which HeadGuru labelled 'average performers') with the majority of pupils. This isn't meant to upset you - but is meant to moderate your expectations - in cold print it's clear that a low NC L5 makes you an 'average performer' but schools are keen to 'sell' to parents that it's a great achievement and not clarify where along the spectrum your child scored.

The good news is that achieving NC L5 at KS2 SATs means it is likely she will go on to achieve B - A* at GCSE: It's not guaranteed of course - but that is the typical trend in the data of thousands of past students progress between KS2 and GCSE results. Of course GCSE scores are changing to a 1 - 9 point scale with 9 being a slightly harder to achieve criteria - i.e. not all of those now scoring A* will achieve this. source:

My advice is this - it's probably preferable to you that you don't make this a battle and try to force your child to do x or y at school or insist they become a dentist (or whatever) - but you can have an honest conversation about why she seems to be struggling (is it all subjects or certain subjects?) - which may not be her fault (she could be in a disruptive class/ have endless streams of substitutes/ etc...).

Most importantly I think you need to win the battle of why does doing well at school matter. I know for our DD1 who's sports, science & maths mad - DH & I have spent time explaining to her she needs to also do well at school work (especially STEM subjects) if she wants to do something in sports engineering. We use that to inspire her - we find out what people doing things she's interested in did for degrees (where they went to University/ what subject they read/ etc...) and what that requires for entry. So if she wants to go onto an engineering course and learn to design things like bicycles or a better golf driver for example - she needs to do maths and sciences and do well (B or Better at GCSE/ and A LEVELS - presumably B or better).

For example, right now we have her watching the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on engineering with DDs - as one it's lead by Danielle George with her brilliant soft Geordie accent and wonderfully pregnant and two she's clearly jolly good at what she does - after one episode DD1 totally worshipped her and wants to grow up to be just like her. Job done really. There are lots of inspiring role models out there - find them and use them to do the persuading for you!


oddsocksmostly Thu 01-Jan-15 17:20:36

If her teachers have always said she is doing well, then she may be working at the right level for her. wouldn't they flag up if she wasn't trying?

Notinaminutenow Thu 01-Jan-15 18:07:29

What were her effort (or commitment to learning) scores like? These are separate to her attainment levels and should be on her end of term report.

It sounds like she has had a huge amount to deal with too - the impact of a parent's depression on children should not be underestimated. If she still managed to achieve level 5 Sats at KS2 she is clearly a remarkable young lady.

Perhaps a chat to her tutor?

Glad you are well.

rabbitstew Fri 02-Jan-15 11:00:40

I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties you've had, boxoftissues, and glad to hear that you are now feeling stronger and more able to deal with issues. I think it is worth approaching the school to discuss how they think your dd is doing and to raise your concerns that she seems to have a poor attitude to schoolwork and a lack of academic confidence that you would like to address, as you feel she needs the support and encouragement. They might be able to give you a bit of perspective on how she comes across at school.

I wouldn't try pinning her attitude on her primary school cohort, as I don't think that would be helpful. What matters now is not what might have encouraged her negative attitude to schoolwork in the past, but that you are there to support her, make her feel secure, show an interest in her, and encourage her to do well so that she can make the most of her life. How you go about supporting her and making her see that working hard at school can have a part to play in future happiness and success, depends on your current relationship with her, her personality and myriad other things, so you will have to try to work that out for yourself - and accept that in the trying, parents get it wrong as often as they get it right and thus have to keep working to find different ways to get through to their kids. The most important thing is never to give up and be defeatist, and never to tell yourself it's too late, however much it gets thrown back in your face over the years!

SapphireMoon Sat 03-Jan-15 16:21:26

Level 5 is great; she is a bright girl.
Some children like being the brightest in a group. others thrive with competition.
My eldest ds quite likes being a big fish in a small pond. It means I will send him to our local secondary where he will probably be in the upper groups for things and not the more middle class school a cycle ride away full of hot housed children.
I wonder if I had put effort in he would do better than the level 5s he is predicted. What I do know is that he loves school and does not feel pressured and squashed.
With your dd, does she seem unhappy? Is she doing well according to teachers? Can you chat to her form tutor confidentially if you are worried?

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