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what do you think dd should do?

(4 Posts)
cory Sat 07-Feb-09 13:11:39

Dd's school operates a system where you are awarded points for work done by a table, that is a small group of children together. The problem is, that dd's table contains one girl whose mum is terminally ill (so the dd has had a fair bit of compassionate leave and is under a lot of stress), one girl whose mum is seriously ill in hospital and one girl (dd) who has chronic health problems and is often absent in consequence. This leads to problems for the whole table: it is harder to organise good group work when people are absent, and of course good behaviour awards do not get handed out to people who are not there (however well behaved they may be).

So maybe you can guess what is coming. The fourth girl, who has no problems, is beginning to make herself seriously unpleasant. One can see her point of view, in a sense: she is missing out on awards through no fault of her own. So naturally, she whinges and complains and blames the other three. It is probably just frustration but she keeps making seriously unhelpful comments, like 'couldn't you at least arrange to be away on different weeks' (yeah, I'll see if I can get my Mum to die next week instead). Dd, while upset on her own account, is getting really worried about the effect she might be having on the other two girls.

This problem is likely soon to be exacerbated as the school is thinking of going into a similar system where reward stickers given a whole table are used towards reward trips. These trips are really good, so dd is worried that again she and her friends will attract a lot of ill will. (I think dd accepts that she won't be going on any herself though her work is very good, as you don't get good behaviour awards for being well behaved in bed). Again, she is more worried about her friends as their situation must be much more stressful.

(At least for one of her friends this is a longterm situation as her mum has been sinking for a long time but lasted longer than anyone had thought possible. Her dd is not actually absent that much, but clearly too much for little madam. My dd's health problems are for life.)

What do you think dd ought to be doing? I have said that she ought to see the form tutor as the other girl's behaviour seems to me to be verging on bullying. Dd however is not terribly confident about seeing teachers as she has had bad experiences in the past. She will not let me interfere and I take her point that I probably ought to keep my nose out of it, since they are now at secondary school. It may of course be that it will just blow over and that she is right, that it is best to leave it. But I'd feel happier about that if it was just her involved iyswim; harder to be robust about other people's children. Particularly when they are in such a bad place. But I have promised I'm not going to go steaming in and do my bull in a china shop impersonation.

Am not complaining about the school, they are very supportive. Though I do feel that the award system is having an unintended effect here. Just wish I had the parenting of little madam for a week. Surely 12 is way too old for such an insensitive attitude?

thirtysomething Sat 07-Feb-09 14:47:47

I'm sure the school must be aware that the award system is unfair for this table given the circumstances so it's odd that they haven't addressed that at all by moving the tables around to balance them? My initial reaction was to say please talk to the school about this as it's something that should be taken seriously...However i get the feeling that the school staff are a bit unobservant if they haven't noticed these issues? Is there any way you could phone them and explain to DD that you want to make some points about the table system rather than the girl involved? If the school mention this girl you can give your opinion; if not, just drawing their attention to the situation itself on the table may be a start?

cory Sat 07-Feb-09 14:53:18

Thanks, thirty, that's an idea. I'll think about it. The only slight worry if they move the tables is if one of these girls then sees herself pitched into by three other girls who think she alone is letting the side down iyswim.

I think the reason for the current table arrangements is that they feel girl A needs the support of dd (probably true) and girl C is supposed to be the best mate of girl D.

But I do think the awards system is putting undue pressure on vulnerable pupils. I wish they'd just let them work as individuals and award them as individuals.

I imagine the nagging goes on at breaktime, which is why the school staff haven't noticed; suppose I can't really blame them for not earwigging private conversations.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Tue 10-Feb-09 17:58:27

Does your DD have a tutor and would she feel comfortable talking to him/her about the situation? If this was my DD I think I would advise her to talk to her tutor and if she was unwilling to do that I would definitely consider doing so myself.

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