To give up on my son's school?(130 Posts)
MNHQ have commented on this thread.
My 8 year old DS has severe behavioural problems at school. In the past 2 years he has been excluded more times than I can count, been put on a reduced timetable once for 3 months and recently again for an indefinite period (so he's currently excluded every Friday)
His reception year at school was fine but when he moved into year 1, the problems started. We relocated due to my work and he moved school when he was at the end of year 1 and things really began to deteriorate.
He had a bad start due to racial bullying which I don't feel the school took seriously and as his behaviour became worse, they resorted to locking him in a small room until he calmed down but would often leave him there until I came to collect him even when he had calmed down.
I fought to get him into a better school which was run by the same head teacher where his older brother attends and for the first term his behaviour improved dramatically. However, over the last year we seem to be back to where we started.
The most recent incident was yesterday where he left school premises (he's never done this before) and the school rang the police. They only called me after he had gone back into school and said they called the police as they are unable to follow him when he leaves school grounds. The police never came so basically if he does this again they will leave my 8 year old son to wander around a busy main road until the police arrive.
I feel at my wits end and I don't know how things can move forward. I have had so many meetings with the school to try and manage his behaviour. He has a teaching assistant and he is extremely fond of his current class teacher but his behaviour deteriorates if neither of them are in school (like yesterday when both were at sports day all day). Next year will be horrendous as he already doesn't like his new teacher for year 4.
I've tried to get him referred to CAHMS several times through both the school and GP but these have led nowhere. His main problems seems to be about becoming frustrated if he can't do his work or if he is told off for something that he feels is unjust (like being told off for talking in class when it wasn't him talking) This leads to him either completely shutting down and becoming mute for hours on end or become destructive and swearing at teachers.
At home he is generally well behaved but we have a very close relationship and I have learned how to ask him to do things in a way that avoids conflict and if things escalate then I know how to calm him down and he always accepts his punishments (e.g losing his electrics, pocket money, can't go to football etc)
I recently had a meeting with someone from parent partnership who attended a meeting with the head and she agreed that some of the things the school were doing were not helpful (e.g if my son walked off they would tell him he's going to a PRU or back to the previous school for which they also run).
He has witnessed DV when he was very young from his father (who is now in prison and he no longer sees) and i found out last year that their father was emotionally abusing him and his brothers (which never made it to trial).
I have asked for counselling but nowhere can provide it for free so my only option is private which I can't afford. The school made a referral to a charity for young carers (after me pushing for a year to try and find an organisation that can help him) but they only offer an outing after school every fortnight and it really isn't set up for children like my son who have behavioural issues.
I've been to CAHMS in the past and done the 6 week parenting course but like I say, his behaviour at home isn't the issue and CAHMS won't deal with behavioural problems.
I feel like the school has given up on him and labelled our family as 'one of those families'. They are extremely patronising to me (comments such as 'well you do so well getting them to school looking clean' etc.)
Not that it should make a difference to how we are judged but although I am a single parent, I have always worked, have a high level of education and am in a professional career but they still seem to treat me like I'm some silly single mother who has messed up her child and assume I'm at home on benefits.
Sorry for the long post but I really do not know where to go from here. Should I move his school for a third time to one not affiliated with this one or leave my son in a school not able to manage his behaviour and potentially letting him leave the premises and not be followed.
Where do I stand legally with their position on this? Surely they have a duty of care to ensure he is safe during school hours and if they cannot manage that then they should call me immediately so I can intervene.
I am so exhausted and upset by this situation
You say he has a ta but is she/he there to support the whole class or specifically assigned to your son? Sounds as though she isn't his one 2 one if she was at sports day without him? I worked very closely with a child who had tendency to abscond but he was my sole responsibility and there was a separate ta for the rest of the class.
Thanks for your reply Day,
No, she is the General TA for several classes from what I can gather. He doesn't have an allocated 1:1 TA and the school say they are unable to fund this.
Who do I go to for help if I have exhausted all options with the school?
Sounds like a PRU might be a good place for him? More support? More help? More time and attention? Is a managed move to a PRU an option?
Have all the exclusions been officially documented ?http://www.ipsea.org.uk/what-you-need-to-know/exclusion-from-school
Anything here ring bells?
If you get some kind of diagnosis for emotional distress / abuse, there will be legal enforceable support that needs to be provided and if the school can't give it due to funding, the council will need to offer an alternative like a specialist school that might be more suitable for him. Could you try to get an assessment for him or even pay for a private one? My friend had to do this as waiting lists were so long (different condition though) and it was well worth the money.
How does he feel about maybe going to a different school? Have you had a look at any other possibilities in the area? maybe you could make an appointment and have a chat with them to see how they are?
I'm so sorry OP. I'm not in the system anymore but what does the school SENCO suggest re assessment? Seeing an ed psych etc? Whether he moves or stays you need a plan they can follow in school. A statement (not the right term anymore) is a nightmare to get but worthwhile if you can.
Calling the police is the right response to a child leaving the school. It's a very difficult situation because a child can be spooked into running if they think Mrs X is 'chasing'.
What strategies do you use at home? When you say you have learned to speak to him, do you offer choices etc?
they can't just exclude him and reduce his timetable to make their lives easier - they have to help him
Have they had an ed psych assessment - have they made any referrals, what support plans do they have in place for him at school? What strategies have they tried?
A PRU would be the very last place I would want a child to be - did Parent Partnership challenge them or produce an action plan?
I went through hell with my child's last school. Problem after problem. They labelled him as being difficult.
After I saw first hand what they were doing to him I moved him out and into a completely new school and funnily enough, all the problems stopped.
I think sometimes if it's not working at school there's a bloody good reason for it and it's time to find a different one.
Check out the ipsea links. There's loads of websites out there that spell out legal rights for children at school.
Does your family qualify for victims counselling from the police regarding your ex ? I would suggest an ed psych assessment but they cost £450
I teach in an SEMH school. They have social, emotional or mental health difficulties. Most/Many of our students have background experiences similar to your son's.
It sounds like your son possibly has PDA or ODD (as much as one can tell from a single post on the internet but having the same/similar problems at two schools could be an indicator) but getting a diagnosis for either of these conditions specifically is very tough (but not impossible). I would suggest applying for an EHC plan and getting the school to admit they "can't meet his needs" (key phrase). I'm not sure a PRU is right for your son.
A supportive setting or an SEMH school would be a better fit.
Dont be frightened of looking at a PRU. You might find it is what your son needs to be able to access education again. Id ask for a meeting with the headteacher and governors if need be. You need to get together a plan. See if they will refer to a PRU.
a PRU should be used as part of an over all support package though -
which involves an assessment of need - this is what is needed first - it's not a long term solution
Thank you all for your replies.
The first school he was at (the sister school of his current school so same head) excluded him for 3 months which was unofficial along with numerous other unofficial exclusions. I was even asked once if they could mark him off as sick rather than excluded which I refused and said I wanted an official exclusion.
I rang the safeguarding team at our local council for advice and the person I spoke to decided to investigate my claims even though I hadn't put anything formally. The head was very annoyed about this and accused me of not acknowledging how much the school had put into helping my son and how I had now made life difficult for them as they had to have 2 members of staff with my son at all times whilst being investigated. I told them I was just enquiring about the amount of unofficial exclusions rather than making a formal complaint but the head was clearly very angry with me.
The exclusion this time was just an email and labelled a 'reduced timetable' on Fridays as opposed to an indefinite exclusion (which it is). The safeguarding person made no findings and no further action was taken.
The plan in place at the moment is that he can go to a room of his choosing to calm down and he is supposed to find the TA but there are no provisions for when she is off sick etc. There are no Ed psychs in our area who will do assessments other than extreme learning difficulties due to lack of funding and GP's don't want to know. Other than that there is nothing and the parent partnership person didn't push for anything else. It's so difficult as I don't know what else is available for him and what his rights are. I will try and look into a private assessment but I don't know if he has anything diagnosable other than being emotionally disturbed.
At home I don't have problems with him and have never seen him do what school describes. If he doesn't want to do something then I will explain his punishment which he accepts. He is a lovely boy at home and that's why I worry that there is something about the school making him act out.
I don't think he wants to move schools but I can't help but notice that they have labelled him a naughty boy and he gets treated differently. I am looking at a school on Friday and will speak to the head about how the handle situations like ours as he might just need a fresh start.
I understand about them not chasing him but I think it's unacceptable to not let me know about it until after he has come back into school. I wasn't at work that day (they knew as I was at sports day)so could have come to collect him or at least talk him down.
I don't want him to go to the PRU and after months of following him around threatening him with the PRU as a punishment when he left class, he now sees this as a very negative place (something the parent partnership pulled school up on and I think has stopped). There is also a long waiting list so they were empty threats.
What else should the school be doing? Where else can they refer to? Should he have an IEP? He just seems to fall through every crack and no one seems to care other than his lovely class teacher.
I'm sorry you've been through similar Toy and I'm glad things are better for you now.
There was someone from the women's centre who did some 'work' with all 3 of my children at school but he had a stroke in between so they had 2 sessions, then a gap of 3 months then another 4 sessions (they only offer 6 sessions). I'm not entirely sure what topics were covered but it was specifically for children in DV
What is a SEMH school? I don't even know if they have them in our area. I have thought about ODD but then surely he would be like this at home also? I honestly think he is disturbed by the things he witnessed as a very young child and also by his dads emotional abuse. I'm not sure if we qualify for anything from the police who to be honest were pretty useless after the allegations against their father. All my children had to give video statements, he was charged and the pre trial said it would be a crown court case over three days for which children would need to be cross examined by video link. No updates from the police over the course of a year, no support offered to my children after giving evidence, nothing! All for CPS to drop the case two weeks before trial (I just got a letter in the post, no phone call that they would be presenting no evidence). Police asked me several times if I was sure I didn't want to drop the case as it would ruin their relationship with their father!!!
As for the PRU, it's only for 6 weeks and then what? Send him back to a school that clearly can't manage him long term. I am worried that if he moves school and gets worse or doesn't improve then we'll be stuck.
His first school (the one he went to before we relocated) said that he has an extremely high IQ and may be a 'genius' (their words not mine). This is why I can't understand his frustration when he doesn't get something right as he's capable academically just not emotionally. He can't deal with not being perfect.
Blue, sorry you explained what the acronym meant. If they say they can't meet his needs but a PRU isn't the right place and we have no SEMH school then where can he go?
Have they offered a manages move? The thing is that school will need him to comply with certain requests. They can't just let him ignore them and then issue a consequence like you would at home. Maybe school isn't the right place at all.
Have they not investigated PDA or similar?
The school have an obligation to assess ur son & ensure he is getting the right support that he needs! I have the opposite of this situation, im having to remove my ds from a school as a group of the children in his class are violent & disruptive. This has affected my Son's learning, confidence and often comes home distressed due to the violence he has witnessed and subjected too. We are making a formal complaint because not only is my son deemed as 'no trouble' so should just get on with it, the children who are violent and disruptive are obviously not being provided the support they need! All children are different but every child deserves a fair chance like everyone else and the right support to suit their needs! I wish there were more parents like you at my ds school, you obviously are working with the school to try and resolve this and make sure your son gets the support he needs. I hope something gets sorted for your ds. Dont give up!
'Unofficial' exclusions are illegal - it is absolutely not ok for a school to do this OP.
Support services vary from area to area - where are you? I can find the local first point number for you if you like (Don't say if you'd rather not, obvs!)
There should be a first point of contact for families struggling - it's called different things in different areas. If you can find out their number, you can probably self refer - its like the tier below social services/CYPS. They should be able to find local support, free counselling and help with an in school plan - often called a SAF, if deemed necessary. Happy for you to PM me if you'd like more details.
Your boy has the most important thing going for him - a mum who prioritised him, took away the abuse and knows how to communicate with him.
They haven't investigated anything diagnosable Wolf. If school isn't the right place for him then where is? I understand he needs to comply, I in no way think that my son shouldn't follow school rules. The reality is that he doesn't and all things in place at the moment don't work. It's now becoming dangerous as my son is able to run out of school. It's very hard to predict what will set him off. Some days he's a model student and can go on that way for weeks. It takes one small thing to push him into melt down which may have not even made him blink on a different day.
I understand that his behaviour affects other children at school and I am mortified by it all. The school recently had a survey and the head had great joy when telling me that nearly 'all' complaints against the school in the section 'does my child feel safe at school' were about my son!
He isn't physically violent with anyone, it's more destruction of property (so he empties board games on the floor, runs the taps, rings the dinner bell etc.) The things he says are truly shocking though and I know he says them for effect (e.g telling a teacher to commit suicide).
Thank you Smile I will PM you. Is the CYPAS different from parent partnership?
Join the discussion
Please login first.