Son yr 7 hates new school(69 Posts)
I would appreciate some advice on how to handle this as I really don't know what to do. Apologies for the essay and dodgy punctuation.
Some background on ds. He is normally very happy and outgoing, did well at junior school academically and socially. I have always knows that underneath it all, he can be quite an anxious person; he doesn't like change and in certain unfamiliar social situations I have occasionally seen him completely overwhelmed. Normally though, he handles most things and people confidently. His year 6 teacher did not believe me when I mentioned that he could be anxious, which demonstrates how he normally manages.
Ds started his new secondary school in September. It is a large all boys state school that achieves reasonably well academically. Ds was fairly negative about the school before he even started - the group of friends he wanted to be with from his old school have gone to another local school, which is massively oversubscribed and we had no chance of getting him into. The impression we have of his new school is that it is very boisterous; lots of boys being quite physical with each other - older lads shoving the younger ones in the corridor. Lots of 'play fighting' that often seems to get out of hand. Discipline could be a bit stronger from what I have heard.
From his first day there, ds arrived home in hysterics - beside himself - saying that he hated it, that it 'wasn't the school for him'. He finds it rough and he says he would prefer to be in a mixed school. He says that no one really wants to talk to him. He will often leave for school crying and arrive home crying. He gets anxious about any exams or tests and has spent a lot of time in the nurse's office - too upset to leave.
Dh and I are at a loss. We have never seen ds so upset. He normally approaches things very positively, but he is so overwhelmingly negative about everything. This is in spite of the fact that since being there he has done well in his tests, achieved at sport and has a new friend with the potential to make new ones (he has mentioned a couple of boys he quite likes). He also has two other lads from his old school in his class who he gets on ok with. No one is bullying him, though he certainly isn't popular (probably not helped by the fact that he is so miserable all the time). We can't help but feel that he hasn't really given it a chance.
We have been in close contact with the school - his tutor is great and has made sure that he is sitting next to his new friend in class and has notified the other teachers that he is having problems. The head of year knows too.
My question is how long do we give this before we accept that it isn't working? It is half term and I have just spent all afternoon consoling ds who is hysterically saying he doesn't want to go back. There is another place available at a school further away. It is not as good academically but it is mixed and ds says he thinks he would be happier there. It would mean a bus ride there and back which would make his day much longer. Do we grab the place and just go for it or do we get him to stick it out for a bit longer? The place will probably get snapped up fairly quickly but others may come up in the future.
Is it harsh to tell him that he needs to keep trying and to approach it all with a more positive attitude? He is in such a state of anxiety I am not sure if there is any point saying that.
He keeps saying he won't be anxious at the potential new school because it won't be all boys and he will be able to handle it better. But I'm not so sure. If he goes to this other school and struggles again, what then?
I’d grab the place immediately and move him.
I’d grab the place immediately and move him.
The impression we have of his new school is that it is very boisterous; lots of boys being quite physical with each other - older lads shoving the younger ones in the corridor. Lots of 'play fighting' that often seems to get out of hand. Discipline could be a bit stronger from what I have heard.
It sounds horrible. Would you want to have to go there every day if you were him? I certainly wouldn't.
I'd move him now while there's a place available.
Your poor son, if he would like the other school, definitely move him now while you have the option, hope it works out well for him.
I would call the oversubscribed school and see what there waiting list is like and ask what’s the movement like on it. If it was short/it moves quickly then I might be tempted to hold on to stay Christmas and hope a place comes up.
If they have a massive list then I would move him to the school which has a space.
I think this is partly why some schools now make it an 'offence' even to brush past someone in the corridor - it's the only way to prevent the shoving which can be very intimidating for yr 7s, let alone the anxious ones.
Deep down in your heart, do you think he is right that it is not the school for him? It can be very difficult to make a decision to move, because as you say the grass may turn out not to be greener. But on the other hand it is possible to spend a long time waiting for things to improve, and what can happen is that they do improve a bit, then they go back, then improve a bit again, it's never quite bad enough to make the move so dc ends up sticking it out.
How long do you have to make up your mind - I imagine it's only a week or so if that?
Y7 is overwhelming anyway, think how small they are compared to y11s
I have an outwardly confident, but sensitive worrier in y 7, who really likes mixing with boys and girls. He'd hate an all boys school environment, and dislikes "lad culture" and "macho" behaviour, of which there can be more in an all male environment.
So I sympathise with your boy.
He sounds pretty desperate, so I would (together with him) get all the info there is about the new school and then decide together.
What does your gut feeling tell you?
Thanks Rainbow and MostPeople - I appreciate the comments. MostPeople - Ds is usually pretty boisterous himself and at his old school was usually in the centre of it all, so part of me thinks that once he got to know the place it might not feel so bad. It's just not knowing if he will get used to it or not and whether to risk it.
Could part of this be the move to “big” school, coupled with leaving his friends? A lot of kids do struggle, they go from a small primary school with young kids, to being in an environment where there is 18 year olds and they find it daunting.
If he moves school remember friendship groups will have been formed already at the new school and it may not be thr easy answer.
I'd move him. A mixed school will have a very different vibe - there's little doubt that girls can be a "civilising" influence. Despite the apparent positives you've mentioned (staff are on board, he's done well on tests, made a new friend) the fact remains that he is utterly miserable and desperate to move.
The new school may also turn out not to be "the one" but in your shoes I'd hate to think I'd not given it the best shot.
Honestly if you’ve given it till half term and he’s still in tears about going I think you probably have your answer.
I’d also follow Duckstar’s advice.
I would try the oversubscribed school, too.
And give them your address - you might be first on the waiting list.
Did you apply for that school and go on the waiting list?
Sorry - lots of new posts while I made the last one!
My gut feeling is that if the anxiety eased he could have a positive experience at the school he is at now - he is a sporty boy who has always been quite physical with his friends (though he gets on really well with girls too). The problem is, his reaction is so extreme that I'm not sure he will be able to get past it any time soon.
The oversubscribed school he wanted to go to originally won't tell me where I am on the waiting list unless I actually apply - this is definitely an option, though I know that available places are like hens teeth! Might be worth a wait. It would mean not going for the currently available place for now.
The new school may also turn out not to be "the one" but in your shoes I'd hate to think I'd not given it the best shot. - I keep coming back to this Rather
I would definitely move him f he wants that. I would involve him in the options. Go back for a short while so you can check if anyone has left school his friends went to, perhaps? My son was very unhappy so I told him we would wait till end of term and he could move then if he still wanted to. he agreed. then he settled and didn't want to move.
Move him, its not normal for a child to be so upset day after day.
I am adamant my ds wont be going to our local all boys school, hes not a "laddish" or boisterous boy and he would sink like a stone in that kind of environment.
I'd move him too.
And also apply to the over subscribed school.
it wouldn't be the end of the world to move again to get to the school you think will really suit him, and if he is settled in the new school you don't have to take up the place.
I am going to apply for the oversubscribed school tomorrow so that we are at least on it's waiting list and also arrange to go and see the school that has a vacancy on Monday - I'd like to see it without ds initially. - he is so emotional about it all, it would be hard to look at it impartially. For the time being, I am telling ds that he needs to make it to Christmas and if he still hates it we will do everything we can do change things for him. Privately though, if we like the school that has a place and he is still miserable over the next few weeks, we will move him. I don't want to tell him this yet as I don't want him to get his hopes up only to be disappointed. It's awful to see him like this.
Hi Gold, do check how long the school will keep the place for you - it may be less than a few weeks (I think it sometimes can be as little as 7 days), and bird in the hand and all that.
ok - you are right. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it won't get taken by someone else over half term. The way I understand it is that I can apply for a maximum of 3 schools on my 'in term' application. Once I have the application open with the oversubscribed school on it, I can add the other school if it seems right for ds. I hope I have got that right. Am going to call our county's admissions department tomorrow.
I would say move. My ds went to a school we both thought was going to be perfect for him. Very impressed with it. Reality was different.
I kept it going too long and the effect on ds was horrendous. (Not as simple as your case as ds has Sen and school weren't supporting him).
He eventually became too anxious to attend. He then moved schools and we haven't looked back.
I would phone the oversubscribed school, and get on their waiting list. If you are near the top of said list, I would probably keep him at his existing school and ask him if he wants to move as and when a place becomes available. This might be quite soon, as parents of DC on the list may not want to move their DC if DC have settled happily elsewhere.
Otherwise, I would probably move him to the school where there is a place. It sounds, from what you write, that DS has decided his existing school isn't for him and, no matter what you/the school do, he won't be happy. A move may be just what he needs. Would also explain to him the travel implications, and do the bus journey with him before accepting the place so that he knows exactly what he is signing up to.
Are you not on the oversubscribed school’s waiting list already.
Where I live if your child doesn’t get a place in the school that was your top choice they are automatically put on the waiting list for that school for the whole of year7.
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