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DD (14) wants to change school, that and an estranged exh and money...(23 Posts)
Need some views please.
DD is a typical 14 year old girl, moody, opinionated, emotional, sensitive, sometimes still adorable and cute. She currently attends a private school paid for by my exh, her father. Her father has an awful lot of money. For various reasons I won't bother going into here (but it's not a particularly unique story) he spends very little time with her but when he does he will spend a lot of money on her. He pays for her uniform and school sundries and trips etc.
DD want to leave her school and go to the high school. I think it's basically a case of the grass being greener in her eyes - the girls are allowed hair down and make up at the high school, they are not at her school. She has a lot of friends at the high school and feels she would be happier there to the extent that she actually skived off school today and went to the high school just to hang about (borrowed a uniform off her friend). Very out of character for her and that is what worries me. She has obviously got into serious trouble at school for this but she doesn't seem to care (again, out of character for her but maybe not for the rebellious teenage stage?)
Anyway, the upshot is she wants to leave and go to the high school. Exh has told her as I knew he would that if she does this then there is no going back - if she doesn't like it he will not pay for her to go back to private school. I can't afford in any capacity to pay for this. I have tried to point out to her that if she went to high school not only would he dad not pay for her schooling he would also cut off paying for uniform, school trips and most probably as a punishment all her pocket money (which is a lot, i.e. hundreds a month). She says she doesn't care she just wants to be happy.
Before anyone says anything I have no control at all over how much money he gives her. He puts it straight into her account.
Anyway, it's her g.c.s.e. years now and I am trying to tell her how important it is that she doesn't disrupt this but I have a horrible sinking feeling that she will purposely sabotage her clean record and good work in a bid to make her dad lose interest in his 'investment' in her.
I really don't know what to do for the best. I want her to be happy but I also don't want to teach her that it's ok to just extricate yourself from life's upsets - you have to just knuckle down and face them head on sometimes. At the same time, knowing her as I do, this could blow over tomorrow.
She says everyone is judgemental at her school and the girls aren't nice but isn't that true of every school at this age? She's been at the school all through her education so it's not like she's just dropped into this situation.
Any thoughts how to talk to her about this and what to do for the best? I'm stuck!
I don't think it will hurt her to lose hundreds of pounds of pocket money - at that age she does not need it. She wants to be with her friends and I think that for teenagers that is an extremely important part of life. Perhaps she is rebelling against your ex husbands attitude towards her and testing his love - if she rejects his monetary based signs of affection will he still show any interest? These are probably the things going through her mind. Personally if this was me I would stand by her and support this decision as it sounds like she is very determined about it. There is no reason why she can't get a good education at a state school and it looks like she is well on the way to screwing up the expensive education if she stays at the private school.
And for you as I can appreciate this must be a difficult time for you not knowing what to do for the best.
Private school education is usually better than state my dd had a former private school teacher and he said the same smaller classes more facilities etc etc your dd needs to know where she is well off
You're absolutely right on all counts fruit . I worry that if she is basing her decision on the fact she has lots of friends at the highs school and they all think it would be great if she went then when the novelty wears off she will might miss her old school and wish she was back and that opportunity will absolutely be off the table. Then who will bear the brunt of her upset? Not her father.
I absolutely agree about the money as well, it's very hard, not least because I really don't want her to grow into a woman who depends on a man for money and seeks one out on that basis because that's what she's used to. The whole reason I can't afford her schooling is because I rejected that lifestyle when I divorced her dad. Maybe I should have took half of everything in hindsight then this wouldn't be an issue.
Moot point now.
How to explain that to an emotional 14 year old girl though abbsis that's my question?
So if she's 14, she's Y10 not Y11? So not the critical GCSE year?
I would take her seriously and treat her like a young adult. Make the decision properly. So... has she had a tour of the school? Formally? Have you discussed what GCSEs she wants to do, and what are options in the state school? (big difference between my private friend and state me: we picked from columns and if it clashed tough, my friend's school wrote what they wanted to do and someone went away to devise a timetable to make it happen.
Has she compared the prospectus for the 6th form? (is her school more relaxed then? Does she like the state sixth?)
Take her seriously - tell her to go and research the results - A level as well as GCSE.
Ultimately I think I'd let her choose - as long as she did the research and the state school wasn't performing badly.
For what it's worth I changed schools in year ten for similar reasons - the town I grew up in had several schools within the catchment area and all my friends went to a different school, I desperately wanted to be with them. It all worked out fine and my GCSE's were not affected by the move in any way. It's easy to assume that the private education may be 'better' but don't underestimate the importance of friendships and social interaction at that age. My point is she can still get a good education at a state school even if it's not necessarily better than the private school.
The thing about the girls at school not being nice... It doesn't sound like she's plucked that out of thin air, if she prefers to be with friends who are at the high school? Before this came up, where were her friends from?
I meant to say in my post above, to set a timescale to it. Agree that it can happen if she wants it to following the research, but only in Jan (or after this half term). If it is something she'll drop in a few days, that might stop her sticking to the idea just to be rebellious.
But do consider that she might not like the school, may be right in trying to cast off her father's control, and that whilst private schools generally have better facilities plenty of children do brilliantly in state schools!
I agree with others, assuming they have any places, have a tour of the school and a meeting with the head. Find out what her GCSE & A level options are. Then agree a date to make the decision, starting after Christmas might be a good time. that should give you enough time to see if it's just a fad or not.
For what its worth a lot of state schools can provide just as good an education as private schools, providing a child want to learn. I personally feel that is your dd is happy, then she is more likely to learn more anyway.
Whilst waiting for the decision to be made, why not get your daughter to give you all the money her dad gives her each month and let her see how you manages without it. If she is used to hundreds a month, she might need a reality check.
btw I think your ex is horrible to threaten your daughter with taking away all her money etc. Do you think he will really go through with it or is it an empty threat just to keep her at her current school.
Thank you all good points. I totally agree that the education could quite possibly be as good as whats on offer at her current school so that's not an issue its more that I think she's making a decision based on her friendships - which again I do think are important - but that will have unusual connotations if you like with regards to the rest of her life and lifestyle. She attended a state junior school for the first year before moving to her current school and the majority of her friends from there went to the high school. I'm going to be really honest and say it's not got the best reputation i.e. conduct of the pupils in and out of school, underage drinking, sexual stuff and the like, but then again whatever goes on there certainly goes on in her current school but perhaps with cocktails instead of alcopops mainly because of loaded showing off parents who like posing with their 14year old children on instagram sharing a porn star martini (I'm not joking). Anyway I digress.
If it was my choice, which I guess it is to some extent, I would have chosen for her to go to the high school from the off because as much as her school is brilliant, I hate snobbery and some of the parents are just up their own range-rover renting arses. And yes to the poster who says would her dad really cut her off, yes he would. He is a CEO of a stockbrokers and would see this as the ultimate waste of an investment
Cabrinha I think your suggestion to mull it over til January is a very good one, as you say it could effectively blow over before then and she could change her mind.
I remember very well the joys of being an hormonal 14 year old girl at school. Argh.
Crucial - what year is she going in to? She shouldn't change schools halfway throug a GCSE course. Schools wont cover the same board or curriculum in the same order.
Offer to allow her to move depending on GCSE grades?
She's just start yr 10 last week
You say about alcopops and cocktails... My friend is in our local police and he said that schools in richer areas have more harder drug problems than poor, and private schools worse again - because of the money sloshing around.
You've just been really disparaging about the parents at her school... so, why might it not be genuine that she feels the same about their children? (I'm not meaning to criticise your opinion of the other parents! Just making the point)
Year 10 is fine, even with a January start she can catch up. But keep that in the discussion - she needs to ask at the meeting what exam boards they do, how much catch up work she'd need to do. Are any exams modular or coursework based with Y10 work counting? She needs to find out what happens about that.
Keep her in the research and decision.
Disparaging about some of them yes. She does feel the same about some of the other children but I don't know if you have girls but they love/hate each other from one day to the next don't they. So the girls that she feels are judgemental of her this week will be her best friends next week Girls (including mine) are so fickle. Some of the parents are lovely I have to say, they tend to be the wealthiest but least showy ones.
My nephew was unhappy in Y8 state, and it just happened that the same Academy group ran the next closest school too. He was actually in the over subscribed popular ex grammar school, on a sibling rule - lucky to be there, best results school in town. But he hated it. This academy group actually allows pupils to swap once, for up to 1/2 a term, without losing their place at the first school. Nephew hasn't looked back.
Is there any chance both schools will agree to her doing a week trial? It might be so sure that the state school is just new and exciting.
But there's a possibility that she'll see a difference in class size and ethos and make a more informed judgement. Maybe, a week of not feeling her make up and hair are done perfectly enough will make her value the rules at her current school?
Mine's only 7, but I am gearing up for what you describe!
I'm not sure 14 is old enough to make this decision - but I am sure it's old enough to be taken seriously.
Sounds like this is quite an effective strategy for your DD to manage to both annoy her twat of a father and get a bit of extra attention from him.
And why did it not surprise me to learn that he's a broker.
Anyway, you've had good advice already but I wanted to add that you should make a taster day at the comp part of the desicion process, if at all possible. The reality of that might make her change her mind, if she'd been making the desicion for the wrong reasons.
If I were you I'd be going into her current school to talk about her unhappiness and see what else they can do to help her feel more settled. They're being paid to educate her in the meantime and should be bending over backwards. My dd1 is also 14 and starting year 10. I've had two phone calls from form tutor and one for HOY already this term. No problems, just them introducing themselves/checking she's settled back in okay.
Also, I totally empathise with her being at a school that you didn't choose and therefore this all feeling somewhat out of your hands. (I'm in that situation too though for different reasons.) But it doesn't mean that you don't get a say on this. You're the parent who knows her best and who therefore is best positioned to help her - as far as she'll let you.
But which school do you feel is better for her? I would be inclined to make her go to the school I chose, as do thousands. If you like her going to the private school buck up and be positive about it. Or on the other hand if you'd rather her go to the other school just do it. You know your daughter.
I would tell her
If you want to go there then you book a tour, do the research about exam subjects/clashes etc and prove to me that it is a good decision.
Do it quickly or she will be catching up too much if they use different exams boards.
Tell her if she doesn't do the research quickly you aren't ruling out moving for 6th form, but only if she does well at GCSE and you aren't moving her midway through GCSE because she will be so much more likely to fail.
Treat her like an adult - which will either prove to you that she is serious, or not.