This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
DD so unhappy at her school(18 Posts)
She started in Year 7 in September this year.
It's weekly boarding. She begged me to go there.
She is very unhappy there now. She tells me the other girls are really unpleasant and unfriendly.
She's not found one friend in the entire half term so far. She thought she had but yesterday that one girl told her "she was only acting as her friend in front of the adults." That crushed dd especially since she's already low.
She insists she still wants to board but not at this current school. The school have responded very promptly to every concern and query I've made so far.
So, I think she should stay one term and see how she feels. Meanwhile, I am looking around for other schools. The one day school local to me isn't particularly academic. DD will be able to coast along there happily without much effort.
I just don't know what to do now. Whisk her away from the current school? Half term is coming up so she can have a break from it anyway.
Any advice gratefully received.
Please don't bother with the boarding school judgements please. Really not interested in those.
I think with a boarding school it is even more important to have friends as there is no getting away.
How large is it? Is there any chance she just hasn't got to know potential friends yet?
Either way now you are probably liable for fees until Easter - do check the notice rules so you don't just miss a deadline. Can you afford double fees for a term if you go from this to another private school?
I think I would
- talk to school
- say keep trying to your DD
- try to find out what about the other girls is the issue
- investigate other options where she might fit in better
- give notice at the last minute for the next notice period (probably the end of term?)
- move if you find somewhere, unless she is happy by then
It is not usual to take a while to settle. Can you give it until Easter ? Speak to her house mistress and ask if there are issues as far as she is concerned and how they can support her. Year 7 is still pretty young, is the school near enough she could be a day pupil or flexi/weekly board for a while. Often the number of boarders increases as time goes on. Can she make friends with non boarding pupils?
Why is she so desperate to board?
I would start looking around at any and all schools - boarding or day - and see what you come up with. Was she happy and popular at her previous school? Has she had social problems before, or is it just that she's been unlucky with the selection of girls in her year and house? Pastoral care is SO important - particularly at boarding schools - but in the end the staff can't fix all problems and they aren't around all the time. Boarding can be tough if you don't have friends, because there is no escape at the end of the school day.
Everything is exacerbated when you board with friendships
Having had a miserable three years boarding I’d whip her out pronto
If there’s a place and you can potentially afford 2 sets of fees if you don’t give the full notice period, I’d get her out of there ASAP, put her into the local day school with a view to trying boarding again if she’s still keen at 13.
Get her out - and I say that as someone who works in a boarding school. Boarders who are unhappy break my heart.
Find her a decent day school.
Why is she so determined to board?
If she was at a day school and this unhappy then would you also consider moving her straight away? I agree with some of the above that boarding can really exacerbate social issues - there just really is no escape, and you are far away so can’t be there to hug and help her through it.
You really need to work out what the problem is. Is it the school? Is it the boarding? Is it just the big change of going from primary to secondary (the sheer realisation that things start getting serious)? Or does your daughter struggle in social situations normally?
Some of the above can happen at any school so before moving her you need to work out which it is otherwise you could well end up in the exact same situation and then what do you do? There’s a reason why you and your daughter chose the school in the first place. What’s different? Is it all the girls in her year or just the ones who board (assuming they have day girls). Is it co-ed or all girls?
Sorry, so many questions. The mum in me says just run and pick her up and don’t go back. My head says go and see other schools with her and work out what she thinks she would get there over what she has now. You may well find that it’s the boarding that is the problem and that then makes your decision very easy - move to a day school. It might, however, make her realise that the grass isn’t greener and she’s actually in the right place for her. Is there any way she can be a day girl for a term and see if things improve?
How are the school supporting her and what do they say? Some kids are just not cut out for boarding.
Don’t be put off by schools not perceived as academic. Also don’t be scared to cut your losses and run. Your daughter’s happiness must come first.
I don't have any helpful advice but I do understand her wanting to board - I boarded and loved it and always wanted to board. Not for any sinister reason, I just thought it would be fun.
Good luck OP
Y7s can be a bit judgemental regarding friendships. There are always the popular ones and some that take a while to find their friendship group. This sounds like a small school with a clique that’s formed. How many boarders are there in Y7? Is there no one who is friendly out of a whole year group? Or is she trying to break into the clique?
Schools cannot make girls like other girls. These girls are switched on enough to appear inclusive in front of staff but are brutally honest that it’s really meaningless. I can see why she wouldn’t want to be with such girls but I am surprised that there are no possible friends at all.
Therefore I would look for another school. Bigger ones have a broader range of possible friends.
The School boarding staff are great, I think. They listen and are very responsive.
But ultimately she just hasn't made friends. DD says that in itself isn't a problem. It's the fact she finds them all unfriendly and unpleasant. I'm a bit taken aback by this but she's crying a lot.
So we have an interview at another school on Monday now and I'm trying to schedule in others.
I don't think we can afford to take the hit of double fee for one term! So that is a bit worrying. She can't not go to school meanwhile!
Schools I'm targeting now have both day and boarding option and are a bit closer.
So in reality she has to stay at her current school until Easter if you can’t afford two sets of fees. You’ll need to work with her to get her head around that as it will seem an age away.
I think you are doing the right thing taking her to look at other schools as it shows you are doing something proactive and listening to her.
I do find it a little odd that every single girl in the school is unfriendly and unpleasant towards her though. I am guessing it must be a very small school with only one or two forms if all girls, or are there lots of girls there who have come from the same school? Most of my local girls schools have 60-80 girls in each year. There must surely be one other girl that she can find a connection with in amongst so many? If there’s only 20 in the year though I could understand (but it doesn’t make it right).
You must be really feeling the stress of it all too. Got everything crossed you find a solution that works for you all.
Do you think there might be something which other girls may be picking up on, or could your dd be oversensitive to some comments and behaviour. Have you met the other boarders, invited them out with you after matches etc. Are there any friendlier full boarders who might appreciate a weekend break?
Not many girls would ask to board at a new school aged 11, what prompted her? If she went into this with images of midnight feasts and it being like an extended sleepover with friends could it just be reality of being more independent sinking in, which would be the same elsewhere.
What is the school pastoral team saying about the friends problem - as it sounds as though that is the key? Are they doing anything to try to match your dd with girls who she might get on with?
Agree with another pp that the number of pupils is very important - if it's a very small school that can be a problem.
Just a short in the dark - Is your dd quite 'young' for her age - I think that 11 /12 yr old girls who are growing 'older' can be very uninterested in those who are still 'young', and can see being friends with them as likely to detract from their own social status.. so they keep well away. Sad but true.
Half a term not to make any friendships, even vague and tentative ones, in yr 7 at a new day school is worrying but not necessarily hopeless - it will certainly improve for some, although not all, by sticking it out for a term. I don't really know about boarding and the influence on friendship groups.
If you find a new school, it is possible that they might cover a portion of the notice period fees for you. I have heard of this happening.
Honestly, I'd pull her out. Going through this is hard enough without doing it away from home.
Please login first.