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What would your dc's school/sixth formhave done?

(29 Posts)
knackeredknees Fri 21-Dec-12 18:21:27

(have also posted in teenagers but not much traffic there)

So, DS suffers from depression. He was first diagnosed 2 years ago and with a couple of months of counselling improved a lot. He goes through bad phases, particularly in the depths of winter.

He's currently going through a particularly rough patch. Much of his unhappiness stems from the fact that he hates his school (highly pressured grammar), and tbh I wish I hadn't persuaded him to stay on till 6th form. Anyway, he did and is due to finish A levels next June. He's underperforming at school and predicted BBC (most people go on to Oxbridge/Russell Group unis with all A/A*s.

On Wednesday I just couldn't get him out of bed at all. I said I'd leave him as long as he agreed to my telling the school what's happening. So I emailed his Head of Year and Matron simply to say that he's been suffering depression for 2 years and is just starting CBT (yesterday) but avoiding ADs.

Since then I have had no acknowledgement from anyone at all at the school.

Is this usual, or would you have expected the school to respond? I did say in my email that the depression is diagnosed as moderate and situational (due to his being deeply unhappy at school).

Although I didn't say so in my email, he is really wound up by the way things are done at school. For example, he was late on Monday due to traffic (6 minutes) and was told off by some bloke who isn't a teacher, I think he's a bursar. DS said sorry. Next day, he was in on time and this same guy (who hangs around by the front gate) said somehting sarcastic to him. DS ignored him (it was either that or floor him, he's so wound up and angry), and the guy stood in front of him clicking his fingers in DS's face and saying Excuse Me! DS managed to hold it together and not retailiate. This is the sort of thing that happens every day.

I know he only has 6 months to stick it out for but God, it's hard!

Muminwestlondon Fri 21-Dec-12 18:31:02

I would have expected an immediate response. I think your email may have gone to the spam box or else each thought the other was dealing with it.

Sounds like you are doing your best to support your son and keep the school informed. The staff really need to be told to be more sensitive where your son is concerned and the twat at the gate seems to have delusions of grandeur and needs a talking to. You are presumably paying fees and you should not feel embarassed in telling the school what your expectations are.

teacherandguideleader Fri 21-Dec-12 19:20:21

If I had received this email, I would have replied as soon as possible. Sometimes this is not until the day after as I don't have time to read my emails at work so I check them at home. Some times I will respond that evening but if I have other things on it may not be until the day after.

If it has been a couple of days and you have not heard anything I would follow it with a phone call - like someone else said it may have gone through as spam - I have this quite often.

Given that it is the end of term I am not surprised you have not had a reply as I know my last week has been manic and time I would normally have to deal with this kind of thing has been taken over by end of term activities. Follow it up with a phone call the first day back, I would however suggest making an appointment with his form tutor and head of year to discuss it properly.

teacherandguideleader Fri 21-Dec-12 19:27:35

Just wanted to add, hope it didn't come across that I thought it was ok the school hasn't replied to you, as I don't think it is. I do think it is something that will be dealt with better in the new term however.

MrsJourns Fri 21-Dec-12 20:23:26

I don't think it's unusual in some highly selective schools. The grammar in our area has a reputation for being very poor on pastoral care, there attitude seems to be we have a waiting list of A* grade students desperate to get in and anyone who rocks the boat or requires some extra support is surplus to requirements. However parents are queuing up to get in because of their excellent academic record.

chloe74 Fri 21-Dec-12 20:32:52

Has there been any 'issues' at the school, could have been bullied? Is there any other schools that he could go to? Even for 6 months it might be worth it.

knackeredknees Fri 21-Dec-12 21:43:54

Thanks for your replies. It's actually a state grammar, not fee paying, and yes, as MrsJourns said, the attitutude is very much that they can afford not to bother about the pastoral side as academically it is very, very successful.

I wasn't sure if it was unreasonable to have expected a reply within 3 days, and it seems that i wasn't, but I do appreciate that the last week is busy. Some sort of acknowledgement, at least, would have been good.

No way of realistically changing for the last 6 weeks, the state comp does a different curriculum for his subjects. No bullying as such, just a very strange ethos of moulding the pupil into an X[name of school] person rather than accepting them as individual people.

I'm really putting my hopes into CBT.

knackeredknees Fri 21-Dec-12 21:45:48

6 months not weeks

oldpeculiar Fri 21-Dec-12 22:09:53

I don't mean to be harsh but as a parent you need to step up to the plate here! Situational depression is not a biological illness it's purely a reaction to hating school....and you have left it 2 years to tell the school!!!

If they had known they could have been addressing the problem and seeing what they could do to improve things for your DS, but if they don't know what's going on how can they? I am just absolutely flabbergasted that you w
ould let your child continue like this for so long, let alone enrol him in the 6th form somewhere that is making him ill!
My DS is in the 6th form at one of the best performing GS in the country and to say that they can't combine academic performance with pastoral care is nonsense.

MrsJourns Fri 21-Dec-12 22:58:12

Oldpecuilar, nobody is saying they can't combine the two, and I'm sure many do an excellent job academically and pastorally, but sadly some are only focused on academic results.

Muminwestlondon Fri 21-Dec-12 22:59:10

Sorry OP I have heard the terms "bursar" but not "matron" at state schools.

It is a bit late now because it is the vacation but I would ring the head of year or at least leave a message at reception for a call back in the new term and go and see them if necessary.

Is there a nice SENCO? The one at DD's grammar seems rather under-employed so perhaps yours would be particularly interested in supporting your son.

Could your GP or the counsellor ring or write to the school to give them advice about how to support your son?

At the very least they need to acknowledge that your son should not be subject to sarky or thoughtless comments or behaviour from staff, and make sure the staff understand that.

BTW DD goes to a superselective (in 6th form) and evidence suggests that the school are very supportive of students with health issues - physical or psychological. Perhaps it is different at boys' schools, I doubt it, however don't be afraid of stating the problem or asking for what you want.

knackeredknees Fri 21-Dec-12 23:56:37

Thank you. I will leave it till after the holidays then see if they respond within a couple of days, and as you say, ask DS if he'd be ok for the GP to write to the school.

I doubt they will take any notice though. A friend of mine's daughter recently had problems there and was told that she had to fit in or find somewhere else.

He's counting down the days till 17th June sad

knackeredknees Fri 21-Dec-12 23:57:20

I think part of the reason for the oldy worldy language (matron, bursar, etc) is that the school dates back to the 1620s.

Mrsrudolphduvall Sat 22-Dec-12 09:40:55

You really must go and discuss with the school.
Dd has mh issues and her school have been wonderful. But I keep them informed and updated on her progress.
A girl in her year attempted suicide and her parents sent her into school the next day...never told the school. Only came to light when her friend saw bandages on her wrist.

gobbin Sat 22-Dec-12 10:13:31

Also, don't put too much pressure on about the grades. Many kids would be delighted with BBC and there will still be choice for what he does next, even if not his original choice. I would be helping him to rethink where he goes next, safe in the knowledge he'll achieve this than stress out for higher grades and fail.

knackeredknees Sat 22-Dec-12 11:51:19

gobbin, yes, absolutely. He has a couple of exams in January and knows he has to do some work for them but I'm not mentioning them at all. He has an offer for a RG Uni which I don't think he's going to make, but looking at a couple of the second tier ones on The Student Room yesterday, I think they wouldl actually be a better fit for him anyway, as much more coursework than exams.

knackeredknees Sat 22-Dec-12 11:55:26

Mrsrudolph that is shocking. What were the parents thinking?!

Mutteroo Thu 27-Dec-12 00:43:35

Oh OP I sympathise with this situation. DD has suffered depression on & off for years & she's currently in a dip again now. Think she may speak to the GP again in the new year, or at least I hope she will! As she's 19 I can't force her to do anything. Yes nightmare is the word I'd use.

DD is kicking herself for not working at sixth form & is now unable to find a job which pays more than the basic wage. This is compounding her self esteem issues, hence why everything is flaring up right now. I would contact your son's school as soon as term starts & it may be a good idea to have a face to face meeting also. The school has a duty of care & I'm sure they want your son to achieve as well in his exams as your son does. Also be aware that your son will be hypersensitive to factors around him & the member of staff who he felt intimidated by, may not have meant his actions to be taken as they were. I'm not Implying your DS is lying but as I've been in this situation I know how my DD sometimes feels wronged by staff when in fact they were trying to be helpful.

Take care OP. I'm sure your son will manage the final few months, but best to get as much support from the school as possible during this time as it will become more stressful for him.

schoolnurse Fri 28-Dec-12 08:32:37

How good is your GP? A letter to the school (providing you DS consents to this) copied into the chair of the govenors would in my experience be helpful. You also need to write to the head master (again copying in chair of govenors) detailing your DS's problems request a meetingwith him head of yr tutor etc. Your DS needs someone in his school who is willing and able to support him over the next 6 months to enable him to successfully finish his school career. Does he have a tutor, a teacher he particularly likes I'm interested that you have a "matron" is it a state boarding school she might be a good person? Is this person a qualified nurse? Have you met her and felt that she's interested and concerned about the children don't assume she is! Finally how much influence does she have IME often not a lot!!
Is your DS under CAMHS if it he sounds like he would benefit from a referral. If he doesn't do as well as he would like can he not do retakes at a 6 th college lots of children I know move these and are significantly happier because they are treated more like adults.

Magdalena45 Fri 04-Jan-13 00:36:54

I've worked in schools, work with young people and am a counsellor and want to say that you and your son deserve better from the school. If they got the letter, they not only should have responded on a moral level. They have a duty of care and legal responsibilities.
I do think you need to talk to them. If your gp is supportive, ask him/her to come to a meeting with the school with you. The school needs to work with you to decide a support plan for him, like an identified adult he trusts to speak to if he's upset, somewhere he can go if he needs to come out of lessons. If there are any staff you feel more confident in, ask that they be part of a meeting.
Camhs may be a good idea but their waiting list can be long.

knackeredknees Fri 04-Jan-13 16:54:52

Sorry for the delay in responding to the last few posts.

I will give the school a couple of days once term starts again, but if I still haven't heard back, will email matron and HoY again. I'll also ask ds if he is happy to ask the GP for a letter to be sent to school.

He has been a different person since term ended. He's still working hard at revision, but also going out with his friends, to parties, doing a lot of running and generally like the old ds.

Sadly I know that as soon as he goes back to school he'll go back into his shell. He admits himself that in study periods he just sits by himself, doesn't make an effort to chat to anyone except a few close friends who he hangs out with at lunchtime.

Most of his friends go to other schools. Interestingly, I was talking to a friend over Christmas whose son also suffered depression for a while and goes to a different grammar school and she said he got masses of support, she received a response to her email regarding his depression within 40 minutes, he felt that the school really cared about him.

I very much doubt that DS's school will actually do anything at all, other than possibly suggest that he leaves without taking his A2s. That's what happened to someone last year as they didn't want her messing up their league results.

Amerryscot Sat 05-Jan-13 08:58:14

Don't email. Go into school for a face-to-face meeting.

creamteas Sat 05-Jan-13 09:37:01

Or if you can't go in, ring them......

If I need the school's attention urgently (I have two DC with ASD) I phone (usually about 10 mins before morning registration) and have always been put through to someone who can help. I only use email for non-emergency issues as it will usually take a few days to get a reply

My DC's school are excellent at pastoral care, The hierarchy of getting their attention is definitely visit, phone then email

Pagwatch Sat 05-Jan-13 09:48:16

I wouldn't be emailing the school about an issue like this.
I would phone and make an appt.
It wouldn't occur to me to leave an issue like this to an email.

If it were me I would ask for a meeting with his tutor (he has a tutor in 6th form I assume?) and his head of year. I would get one ASAP.

senua Sat 05-Jan-13 10:48:58

I very much doubt that DS's school will actually do anything at all, other than possibly suggest that he leaves without taking his A2s. That's what happened to someone last year as they didn't want her messing up their league results.

It is a State school so they have to follow rules and regulaions; they cannot force him to leave. I suggest that you get yourself fully conversant with policies, complaints procedures etc. Know your rights and be prepared to use them. You can turn the above scenario on its head - imply that you will not be obligingly disappearing from the results table and it is in the school's best interest to make sure that DS gets the best grades that he can.
All with a sweet smile on your face, of course.

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