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Dc1 still unhappy

(18 Posts)
RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 11:18:06

Dc1 is in Y8. Since starting secondary, he has struggled with school. He went from a very high achieving loving school child in Y6 to a still acheiving but hating school child.
Last year also saw lots of behaviour issues starting at school too (I know he drove his teachers crazy, not by usual misbehaving but more With true but cheeky answers iyswim).
This year has been better in behaviour POV but he is still really unhappy, looking depressed, unmotivated.

Listening to him, this partly linked with the behaviour of other pupils who are disruptive (which means the teacher can't get on with teaching which clearly ANNOYS him) and partly because the work isn't differentiated enough so he starts whatever work has been given, does it in 10mons and then has to wait for another 20mins for the others to finish....

I am now wondering.
Is it worth bringing that issue to the attention of the form tutor/head of year on the ground that it is impacting on his MH and clearly also has the potential for him to go down the misbehaving route again?
Or is it just too much ask? It will put more pressure on the teachers but with little concrete results?
Or as he is still acheiving very well, has no real behaviour problem in class, then they will consider it a non issue?

TeenAndTween Sat 25-Feb-17 11:26:44

The lack of differentiation is a problem. I would raise that. There is no excuse for him hanging around for ages waiting for others to finish.

Are there any alternative schools?

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 11:35:55

Only one that i would trust but its impossible to get a space there ....

I am torn between waiting it out until next year when they will put in sets (I think in most subjects but not fully sure) or looking at private schools around and ask my parents for help on that.

He had comple telly disengaged last year but lots of talks about how he couldn't afford to do that seem to have done the trick.
He is still very unhappy though.

QGMum Sat 25-Feb-17 11:49:55

I think you should raise this with the school. They should be able to provide differentiated work - that is their job - so don't feel bad about asking. Just explain to them what you have written here and I would expect a good school to take notice and try to improve things for your dc. If they don't then perhaps it is not the right school for him and you need to try to look for alternatives.

RandomMess Sat 25-Feb-17 11:55:30

Are they not in any sets in year 8, that would be very unusual indeed! Is he actually in the correct set and not been put in lower ones due to his behaviour/attitude in Yr7?

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 12:01:01

Asking for differentiated work is a difficult one.
I did ask last year in maths. Was told he was working at the right level. Except that dc1 wasn't making any effort because he was bored so didn't show his true colours iyswim.
His (very good) teacher said it took her until the end of the year to realise how good he was.
Dc1 now has her again this year. Her comments are now 'it's amazing at how quickly he is picking up new things'.
Dc1 is still top of the top set, gets more than 90% in tests. What else can she do to work at his level??

In some subjects, the teachers could differentiate much more (science for example). But the number of supply teachers doesn't help TBH.

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 12:02:34

Nope only maths and french (fast track so they will do their GCSE in Y9 rather than Y11h) are in set. All the other subjects aren't.
I'm sure that science is in set in Y9. I'm not sure how many others are.

RandomMess Sat 25-Feb-17 12:05:29

Blimey that is poor!!!

It sounds as though he needs to be recognised as needing differentiated work...

No private schools you can apply for a full bursary at locally?

Monkeyface26 Sat 25-Feb-17 12:14:31

While a different school would clearly be the best outcome, I think in the meantime, it could be useful for you to get a very clear understanding of which subjects are set next year, and how the sets are established.

Your son is getting demotivated by disruptive behaviour and slow pace of work and he needs to understand that top sets are his ticket out of this situation. Hard work and good behaviour from him now could help him get top set places next year. He is not completely powerless in this - he can help himself here, if he shows his teachers his best self.

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 13:16:54

He knows that Monkey hence the fact his behaviour and attitude has improved this year. And I have no worries he will be in top sets for all the things that are important to him.
But he is still feeling so disenhearten by it all sad
And I think he is also missing opportunities (as in he could do better than he is given the right input)

Maybe the answer is to look for another school....

ScrapThatThen Sat 25-Feb-17 13:22:04

Is he involved in any extra-curriculars at school? I think finding a 'niche' in school to belong in, like the music department, science ambassador, sports leadership, maths challenge etc can be motivating and improve enjoyment of school - could school try to engage him this way?

rainuntilseptember Sat 25-Feb-17 13:24:53

I would never expect a student to wait 20 mins before moving on to new work. 1 minute maybe, even then I'd be asking them to read over their answers or think of (whatever random thing connected to next work). It's hard to believe that happens regularly tbh. If it is a supply teacher they may simply not have any different work to give him. There's also the issue of what he does with the work - if you finish a maths task quickly that sounds good, but if you finish an English one too fast you may just have rushed it/not put enough detail in.
The class really doesn't need to be set in order for him to be given appropriate work. It is a little rich though if he was one of the ones causing issues for the teachers last year to be too upset that others are disruptive this year!

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 14:21:23

Well the disruption was along the lines of making a clever comment that would have been very annoying to the teacher in answer to a question or not getting engaged at all with the work. Maybe talking with the person next to him.
Not starting a fight, pouring water on the workbook of the person next to them, going out of the class crying because you can't sit to whoever it is who's want to sit next to. Or loudly talking over the teacher. All things that have happened to both my dcs this year. So Not quite the same sort of disruption or level of disruption.

YY about the supply teacher not having the ressources. But when they are taking that class for more than 2 months, then surely they should??

No extra curriculum activities at school bar the obvious football and rugby at lunch time. He is also doing some music but that is left at the level of the music lessons.

RandomMess Sat 25-Feb-17 15:03:41

Any chance you can home school??? Sounds like he would thrive on it if you could manage it?

RedAndYellowPeppers Sat 25-Feb-17 15:13:16

Now that would drive ME crazy!!

RandomMess Sat 25-Feb-17 15:47:28

Not sure I could do it...

Silverine08 Sun 26-Feb-17 10:25:09

I would absolutely raise this with his head of house and his tutor and ask for a meeting to discuss. I can't tell from your post whether your son is having these issues in one class or more but nevertheless this is not acceptable.

I have started teaching relatively recently In a secondary school in an area of deprivation where the kids have mostly very difficult home lives. This means that behavior management is a real focus for any teacher.

Even as a new teacher with some very difficult kids on the whole behavior in my classes is good. Before I even started teaching, I was told that behavior issues are nearly always the teacher's fault. Either the work isn't pitched at the right level or the disciplinary and reward system weren't being used consistently. I would say that the only time a teacher can claim that behavior management is out of their control is when they have a few children in their class who are totally disengaged with the work at any level (usually because they have very low ability) and they get detentions so regularly that it means nothing to them. I have one class where I have 5 pupils of the latter type who i have accepted will talk during quiet working time. In order for the class to function I worked out who the pupils were who could still work effectively and ignore the chatter and who couldn't. The ones who couldn't I asked to be transferred to another class.

If behavior is an issue in your son's class to the point where he finds he is not able to concentrate fully or that the teacher is spending a significant amount of time managing behavior rather than teaching then he should be moved.

The other point regarding differentiation is almost even more important. Every lesson should be made up of tasks or activities that are fully differentiated at each step. My classes are set by ability and I make sure that every lesson is differentiated throughout at three levels. No one should feel that the work is either too hard or too easy and there should be more than enough for everyone to work for the entire period of the lesson.

If your son is doing well but feels as if he is not being challenged enough, this is absolutely something to explore. I have seen in other schools lessons differentiated to cater for those with lower ability but not much thought put in to stretching those at the top end of the class. It does feel that the focus is on getting as many as possible to a certain level (or C at GCSE) and very little focus on those who are capable of getting top grades if pushed and challenged. I don't know if your son is in mixed ability or classes set by ability but if he is progressing as expected or above and is causing no issues in the classroom, I would not be at all surprised if the teacher is not providing challenging work for him. I would certainly be asking how they differentiate for different abilities and look at some of your sons work (which if it looks like he's done everything most lessons means he's not being given enough). It might be as simple as moving him up a set if he is in sets but it might require some real pushing if they are not catering for the more able.

In my opinion, even if your concerns seem trivial, meet with the school. This way you are at least on the radar. The head of house will know what is important to you and that you are interested in your sons education. If there is an issue with level of work set, his teachers will have to review their lesson plans and will make sure he is challenged.

I might be really harsh but I think that the only way kids get the education they need is if parents are on the ball and willing to speak to the school directly.

Blossomdeary Sun 26-Feb-17 10:32:39

It sounds as though his unhappiness is more related to the disruption going on in class than to the absence of differentiation. It is this that really matters and would be a good reason for a move. To some degree bright children will make their way academically wherever they are, but being uncomfortable in a disrupted classroom is hard to deal with.

What does he think? Would he like to try another school? Does he have friends where he is whom he would miss?

Childhood is short - and learning can take place throughout life; there is no rush - but having a large chunk of your childhood where you are unhappy is not a good thing.

One of my DC was very unhappy indeed at school (for the opposite reason - she was dyslexic) and whoever said that a family is only as happy as its saddest member hit the nail on the head - it was a dreadful time for all of us.

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