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What are the chances that DD's teachers really do have it in for her?

(22 Posts)
LadyWellian Wed 17-Dec-14 15:01:53

DD has not been having a very nice time over the past 18 months, with various friendship issues etc, but she has hardly been throwing herself into schoolwork as a consolation.

Her Y9 parents' evening was a very uncomfortable affair, mostly involving us saying 'yes, we know she has had a shit year', and DD agreeing to pull her socks up in Y10. So far she hasn't really.

But we do hear a lot from her about x teacher said I was stupid, y teacher said they are going to move me down a set if I don't hand in my late piece of homework, z teacher who I thought really believed in me has said my folder is hopelessly disorganised. Today she was doing a PE activity and they were being assessed. She had a panic attack and says she was basically told to go away and stop making a fuss by her PE teacher. There are two PE teachers and while one has always seemed very pro-DD and encouraged her to do GSCE, the other one has always seemed very anti.

Her school is supposed to be very good, but I think it puts more effort in with the obviously bright/motivated ones. DD is awaiting an assessment for dyslexia as we have been puzzled for years by the gap between her apparent level of intelligence and her educational attainment. Her English teacher last year (who REALLY seemed to hate DD) said DD was obviously not dyslexic but I don't believe this is her area of specialism. Meanwhile, DD is more and more living up to the 'not very bright' label she seems to have been given.

I feel horrible for her. But at the same time there is a shade of a suspicion that if we went to the school about it, they would just say rubbish, it's not like that at all and she is thick, disruptive and a little madam. (NB I don't think she is, but I just don't know. Some of her 'friends' may not be the best influence.)

I suppose what I am really asking is, is it possible that her teachers are ganging up on her? Or more likely that she has a persecution complex? Or that some teachers are behaving inappropriately and others are not, but she is losing the ability to discriminate, or that she is utterly misrepresenting to me what is going on?

She is halfway through Y10 and it would be hugely disruptive to move her now. Plus if she is overdramatising things and actually all that is happening is that the teachers are trying to get her to try a bit harder, moving would solve nothing (this has always been my fear about moving). But how much worse to leave her there to be bullied and belittled for another 18 months, which I can't imagine would translate into a sparkling haul of GCSEs?

Sorry this is so long. I just don't know what to do. We spoke to the school about bullying last year and while it was mostly dealt with OK, one of the teachers mentioned above, who has a SLT position, did effectively seem to be suggesting that DD must have brought it on herself. So that doesn't make them sound great. But again, I may have lost all my objectivity and she might be a little cow. Help!!!

TeenAndTween Wed 17-Dec-14 18:17:24

Over the past years I think most of DD1's teachers have probably thought that she (or more probably I) am an absolute pain. We have done lots of querying things, asking for more details, asking for help, asking for information to be provided a different way.

DD1 is y11. Guess what I got confirmed this week? Dyspraxia.

It is unlikely they have got it in for your DD, but late homework, disorganised folders etc are going to be irritating. I do a massive amount of assistance behind the scenes to ensure hw isn't forgotten, books stay reasonably organised, helping with revision etc. DD just can't do it.

Oh, DD also struggles with friendship as she can't process the to-and-fro of conversations fast enough so often makes comment out of sync with where the conversation is now.

So I guess what I'm saying to you is take a long hard look at what you think the problem areas are and support from home as much as you can. But also do some research and if necessary ask for an assessment.

Iggi999 Wed 17-Dec-14 18:28:05

I'm not seeing how commenting on homework that hasn't been done, work that isn't organised etc is a sign of having it in for someone - if teachers weren't pointing these things out, then they really would have given up on her!
I like some students more than others like any human would, but it doesn't affect the quality of care they receive - if anything I would be harder on the ones I "liked" the most.
The panic attack is a different matter, especially if the school is aware she suffers from these.

Quodlibet Wed 17-Dec-14 18:38:13

I would think it almost impossible that the teachers have it in for her. They may be losing patience, and if your DD's self confidence has already taken a knock and she is feeling persecuted in other areas of her life (friendship) I can see how a vicious cycle could begin where she is incapable of taking any criticism without feeling attacked.

Might it be worth contacting the school and/or a few key members of staff to discuss how they might help you to try to build and support her confidence, whilst at the same time setting in place structures that allow her to catch up?

Quodlibet Wed 17-Dec-14 18:40:12

Also - outside of school are there any measures you could take that would help her build some confidence away from a friendship clique that sounds fairly hard work?

LeBearPolar Wed 17-Dec-14 18:48:01

It is really very unlikely that her teachers have it in for her. If she doesn't hand her homework in and her folder is disorganised, they may well tell her off but this is not the same thing!

I generally find that when teenagers feel this about teachers, it is because the teachers are trying to get them to do something the teenager doesn't want to do. So Student X complains that I am always picking on him for everything = Student X is habitually late to every lesson and I don't let him get away with it. But my telling him off for one specific thing - unpunctuality - becomes in his head my picking on him all the time about everything he does. It's a fairly standard teenage reaction.

constantlyconfused Wed 17-Dec-14 23:14:14

I disagree I think teachers can "have it in" for some pupils. I have had similar experiences I am not denying DD is challenging and does have LDs and some challenging behaviour so I understand their frustrations. The issue is so many cuts equals one teacher for 30 plus teens when one is very needy/demanding/lazy it must be hard so understandably more help and praise will go to the hardworkers that are motivated. Sadly my DD is not motivated and needs a lot of support.DD has been called stupid ,useless and even been told when off ill that the "school was a much nicer place without her and they enjoyed the peace without her" shock
I wish I could offer advice but i'm yet to find the answers.
Its all very well being told "she must buck her ideas up" but getting her to realise is another matter and A part of me feels she will always have the reputation now and will be a self fufilling prophecy .Education doesn't work for everyone and with teachers being harassed to get x many kids x many a-cs and offsted looming patience doesn't last for long.

LadyWellian Thu 18-Dec-14 09:19:47

OK, thanks for your thoughts, all. I am processing them. TeenandTween, interesting about your daughter's diagnosis. Had you gone through years of people saying 'there's nothing wrong with her'? I'm not saying that there is anything diagnosable about my DD and she might just be a teenage PITA but I have a couple of friends who work in further/higher education and they say it is astonishing how many students arrive with undiagnosed dyslexia etc.

TeenAndTween Thu 18-Dec-14 12:25:00

OP. My DD has quite a complicated background, so for a few years we thought she was behind in some things due to that.

But I first raised following instructions etc in year 6, and we were fobbed off then. I didn't really raise it during the first years of secondary but the difficulties became more and more apparent and we dealt with them as they arose, putting strategies in place. The push now was to have something in writing before going to 6th form college.

It also became more apparent reading mumsnet where people were happily saying how they could leave organising etc etc etc to their 11/12 year olds, when I absolutely know that my 15 year old just can't do it independently.

The thing is, at secondary their teachers only see them for 2 or 3 hours a week. They don't have time to see patterns of difficulties which I as a parent could spot.

SecretSquirrels Thu 18-Dec-14 13:12:35

OP your post is very balanced and analytical. Is there someone at the school that you could put all that to and ask for a frank discussion?
You are in a difficult position in not knowing how much of what your DD says is accurate and not being in a position to observe her at school.
Also year 9 is notoriously a year where many DC slack off and push boundaries. Teachers have said to me in the past that they often come down hard on them at this stage to try and nip it in the bud.
Re the panic attack, is this a diagnosed condition or a description of a teenage drama? If it's the former then the school should know and the staff should respond properly. If it's the latter I suspect it's a daily occurrence and teachers try not to make a big deal of it.

starfish4 Thu 18-Dec-14 15:14:30

As SecretSquirrels has suggested, could you approach someone in the school, registration tutor, Head of Year, Head of Keystage. Explain that you're not looking to complain at the moment, but would like to speak to someone about things that have been raised by your DD and hopefully get some general feedback from the school. Could be they are just trying to fine tune a few points in some cases to actually help her. The threat of moving down a set for late homework could just to a threat to make her think - my DD's school give out detentions for late homework without fail, no exceptions, but at least they know how they will be dealt with. Again, I can understand about having organized folders. However, I don't believe it's acceptable to call a pupil stupid. If your DD was having a panic attack, then the way it was dealt with does need to be looked into - will the other pupils back her up - some of them must have been aware.

I had to complain about a particular teacher recently. I told my daughter I would be quoting her and asked her to check what I'd written down, to ensure I had all the facts correct as she understood them, so it might be worth doing that. Firstly, so you know you've got the correct information and secondly it does give her chance to back down if one or two points have got exaggerated and saves her getting into trouble.

SecretSquirrels Thu 18-Dec-14 15:51:20

Sorry just re read my post and I didn't mean panic attacks were a daily occurrence for your DD, but that the nature of 14 year old girls is to over dramatise things and that teachers are used to dealing with that.
Not the same as genuine panic attacks.

LadyWellian Thu 18-Dec-14 15:56:31

Thanks again. SecretSquirrels, I am balanced and analytical for a living, but I'm not sure it always carries over into my parenting, as I feel a bit tigerish and overprotective, having been bullied myself. I had the good fortune of being effortlessly academic, however, which DD does not have.

I think with the fact it is the end of term tomorrow and we have some time away over Christmas, away from the toxic friends, I will try to spend some time with DD to see if she can give me a more objective view of the teachers' attitudes versus her behaviour. On the disorganised folder, that's a bit of a red herring as it's actually a really good folder (for a creative subject) that the same teacher had previously used as an example to the rest of the class.

If I can get DD to explain calmly how she thinks things are panning out, and be really honest about whether she is putting the required effort into her homework, then that will give me a basis for talking to the school after Christmas. I also need to sort out the dyslexia assessment - it is with one of our friends who is a specialist; we just need to nail down a time.

DD has no diagnosed MH issues - I did have a long chat with CAMHS earlier in the year and their view seemed to be that most of her issues were to do with the bullying and if that could be sorted out, she would probably be fine. She has missed a few days of school this term with a recurrent health problem but we are on a waiting list for an operation (which will mean two weeks off school, but we felt it was better to get it out of the way before Y11). The panic attacks are real to her; I have supplied her with rescue remedy and tried to get her to visualise having successfully completed the task, but to no avail - it has happened at least twice during this particular PE activity.

She's my only child and all I have ever wanted for her is to be happy and to achieve her potential, whatever that may be. Unfortunately at the moment I don't think either is the case.

Also I work FT so am blaming myself for not being there more to supervise etc, but she usually maintains she is fine with getting the homework done by herself (and she is nearly 15 so I ought to be able to believe her), or with the things she doesn't think she can do, she works herself up into such a state that nothing I can say is any help.

LadyWellian Thu 18-Dec-14 15:59:03

Squirrels sorry, x-post there, I wasn't being snippy re 'genuine' panic attacks. But I think they are genuine in the sense of feeling unable to breathe, like you are about to die and so on. I have had those and just try to advise DD to remember that it is your mind making your body feel like it is doing stupid stuff, but that oxygen is still going in regardless so you are unlikely actually to die as a result!

bigTillyMint Thu 18-Dec-14 17:07:03

DD had the most awful time through Y11 due to bullying. It affected her whole sense of worth as well as her ability to remain calm and focused, even when it had been sorted, as such. Please don't under - estimate the effect.

I think you are right to give her some time over Christmas to get to the bottom of all the problems. And pm me if it could be helpfulsmile

bigTillyMint Thu 18-Dec-14 17:09:19

Sorry, meant Y11. She is in Y11 and things are much better now. Fingers crossed and breath held!

Want2bSupermum Thu 18-Dec-14 17:32:55

You are waiting for an assessment. I would be speaking to the school about getting that assessment done ASAP (early January) so a plan can be put in place to help your DD turn things around.

I would be siding with the teachers on the issues they have raised with her. Here in the US they have a private course you can send your kids to when they hit middle school where they teach them how to be organized. It is done during term time so they get a whole term of support. My neighbours swore by this course and I had one who kept their kid in it for a year as it took them longer to get the hang of organization. Might be worth asking if there is something like that this that can be organized for your DD.

Good luck, it is very tough when you have a child that is struggling in school.

LadyWellian Thu 18-Dec-14 18:02:18

Thanks Tilly thanks

bigTillyMint Thu 18-Dec-14 18:44:50

Bloody autocorrect - I look a right fool! It was Y10, now Y11grin

And yes, I agree with Supermum - it is really tough when your child is struggling at school. Sympathies.

Feellikescrooge Mon 22-Dec-14 21:02:48

It is not uncommon for a high functioning dyslexic not to be diagnosed until later, even university. It sounds like your DD has become caught up in behaviours/attitudes that create difficulties in the classroom but teachers are used to this in Year 10 and should not be personally abusing your DD. Although where I work not doing your Science homework on a regular basis does end up with pupils being moved down from Triple since they will fall behind.

Is there a peer mentoring scheme at your DD's school, they are often very effective when there is a self esteem issue. I would suggest a friendly chat with HOY to discuss how to support DD.

Do take heart though by Year 11it is normally sorted, this sort of situation is much more common than you might think.

notquiteruralbliss Wed 24-Dec-14 08:53:31

OP, I would speak to the school. It does not sound as if they are doing all they can to ensure your DD fulfils her potential. In my experience, schools don't always do that well with DCs who don't 'fit' and / or are hard work. If they find her 'difficult', and they don't see her boosting the school's results with a string of A*s, they may well have written her off. Don't let them.

sashh Fri 26-Dec-14 15:20:11

Disorganisation is part of dyslexia.

I can see this from both sides but from what you have said she has been put in a pigeon hole of 'pain in the ass'.

If her folder is disorganised who is helping with that? If she isn't organising it then just telling her to organise it will not make any difference if she doesn't know HOW to organise it.

I got my dyslexia diagnosis in my 30s, my mum has some of my written work from high school with red writing telling me to 'stop the talk of dyslexia, there is no such thing' - that teacher certainly did have it in for me.

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