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Time to change secondary school?

(26 Posts)
Horsetachio Fri 10-Oct-08 17:29:42

In our catchment area there are two schools that are really, really crap and one that is the best in the city. Obviously the best one is really hard to get into, especially as its a catholic school and hugely over-subscribed. DS never wanted to go to this school but the alternative was a failing school so I gave him no choice and sent him anyway. I believed it to be the best thing for him.

However since he started we have had nothing but trouble. He has rebelled against the school from the very beginning with anti-religion comments, he got his nose pierced without my permision (school almost expelled him over that), dyed his hair black. On the non-uniform day he went in an iron maiden t-shirt. To the school disco he went in a very anti god marilyn manson shirt.

In a music lesson the kids were invited to take in CD's of their own music as long as it wasn't offensive. He took in white zombie and started it at the line "jesus lived his life in a cheap hotel on the edge of route 66". Again school were up in arms, parents wanted him thrown out. Teachers don't like him and are off with me everytime I have to speak to them. They clearly do not want him there.

The newest thing was an essay they had to write about how religion has played a part in civilisation through the years and how its changed and how society has changed as a result. DS's essay started like this:

At the very beginning, religion was created by man in an attempt to control and manipulate the masses. These days, it is used to excuse unnacceptable behaviour such as terrorism, sexism, homophobia and violence.

It then went on to be more and more offensive... teachers have arranged a meeting with me on Monday and I have a feeling they are going to say they want him taken out of the school.

3 questions:

Can they actually throw him out for this? legally?

Am I being unfair keeping him there?

Would it really harm his education if he was taken out of such a good school and put into a really bad one?

roisin Fri 10-Oct-08 17:34:42

If he's going to an RC school he and you have to accept that certain things go with the territory.

He clearly doesn't and from the tone of your posts you don't either.

We chose not to send ds1 to an RC school because of our and his views on various subjects. Maybe you made the wrong choice?

Horsetachio Fri 10-Oct-08 17:37:26

I did make the wrong choice, but the alternative were crap, failing schools were most of the kids end up with no GCSE's or anything. I just wanted the best for him. I am not anti-religion at all and I thought DS was only saying stuff like that to shock us but it seems he is going more and more that way.

cory Fri 10-Oct-08 19:03:55

Well, whatever the other school is like, this one is clearly not working for him. That was one reasons I did not want one of the religious schools for dd: I am a Christian but she is not and I knew she would be very uncomfortable with the religous atmosphere.

I would pull him out before he gets thrown out, but seize the opportunity to do a deal (all right, we will let you go to the other school, but we expect you to prove us wrong in our fears of what it might do to you academically- we expect youy to work hard, whatever the others do).

seeker Fri 10-Oct-08 19:08:50

How old is he?

fizzbuzz Fri 10-Oct-08 21:43:01

I'm a secondary school teacher...I don't think anyone has ever been expelled for having their nose peirced in our school. Is there anything in the school rules about it?

I am going to take a different tack here. I think your son sounds quite intersesting tbh...isn't it the role of a teenager to challenge anything? Shouldn't it be met with some sort of tolerance??? I mean he hasn't really done anything awful has he?

Played a bit of "rebellion" music. Isn,t that what kids do ? Shouldn't a religious school be able to cope with this sort of stuff...they must see it quite often...Isn't religion often about tolerance?

It is very hard to exclude a kid these days, and aren't religious school meant to take a quota of non-religious kids these days ( I'm not to clear in this area)

Exclusion at our school is usually to do with violence, bullying, drugs or really really disruptive behaviour ( and I mean really disruptive like a long history of events that have seriously disrupted classes....not just wearing a Marylin Manson t-shirt for Gods sake!!!)But permanent exclusion is quite difficult, and I would expect a lot of fixed term exclusions before a permanent suspension

How old is he? I find his essay quite intersting....How bad is the bad school. If he is doing gcses, I would fight to keep him where he is...What does he want?

fizzbuzz Fri 10-Oct-08 21:46:17

Have just re read your post.

An Iron Maiden t-shirt eh? How subversive grin....What on earth is wrong with that??? We had Y8 girls at at our school wearing t shirts with porn star on them on a non-uniform day. I know which one I ( and the rest of the staff would have found the most offensive)

fizzbuzz Fri 10-Oct-08 21:48:22

...and the more I read it, the more I love that essaygrinHe sounds very intelligent

ravenAK Fri 10-Oct-08 21:53:56

I'm a secondary English teacher. I like your ds's essay, just on the bit you've given us. He's started it with a bold statement of opinion - good for him. Does he actually go on to justify his ideas, or is it all just yah boo sucks for the sake of annoying his teachers?

I'd probably want him to stay where he is tbh - good academic education for a lad who is obviously bright, & a bit of safe rebellion's always character forming.

What's wrong with an Iron Maiden t-shirt for non-uniform day? Or dyed black hair?

<am currently sporting both of the above grin>

Heated Fri 10-Oct-08 21:56:47

Surely the school are used to this? Some of the most rebellious, kick-against-the-traces pupils I've know are the offspring of other teachers or vicars!...Actually it's RC isn't it? So not many nun & priest progeny on roll then grin

Imo the way to play at the meeting will be to be supportive of the school and its ethos - then essentially all they have on their hands is a disaffected teenager, the two being synonymous really.

How bad are the other schools?

fizzbuzz Fri 10-Oct-08 22:01:22

In fact, I am quite often asked to offer my opinion on various piercings as part of my job...

Have been invited to admire 2 tongue piercings this week..... grin

And quite often see kids from the Catholic school near me (6th form) wearing all manner of hairstyles, piercings, studs, bondage trousers et all

fizzbuzz Fri 10-Oct-08 22:23:11

Am off to bed in a mo...but cannot keep off this thread.blush

Do you think you are misjudging the teachers. By that I mean, as you don't know much about them you are afraid of the unknown?

Most teachers are in the job, because they like the kids, even the naughty ones (and quite often especially the naughty ones). Most of my colleagues are tolerant and compassionate, not child-hating control freaks, and we all like a kid with a bit of try not to worry about what the teachers think..they will have seen it all before.......

findtheriver Sat 11-Oct-08 12:29:53

I'm with cory on this one.

If the school isnt working for him, then he's not going to feel 'himself', he's going to be on the defensive every minute of the day, waiting to be in trouble again.

TBH, I like the opening of that essay too. And if he got slated for it, then it sounds like no one else wrote an essay that was challenging organised religion - maybe the others all wrote nice, safe unchallenging pieces. Therefore, it sounds as though your ds doesnt have a peer group he can relate to. He doesnt sound as if he's doing really bad, harmful stuff. Having your nose pierced, wearing iron maiden t shirts .... it's not a crime. I would guess he's feeling pretty hacked off with not having a choice over where he goes to school, and feels resentful that you've put him into what fits your idea of a good school, but where he clearly can't be himself.

As cory says, if you allow him to exercise some choice in his life, you can then reasonably expect him to take responsibility for the outcome. He's bright, so tell him you expect him to get good grades. If he carries on like this, he's in danger of underachieving, not because of any problem with the school, but because he clearly isnt happy and comfortable where he is, and I believe a child, or teenager, needs to feel secure to achieve their best. And if he does bomb in this school, you can bet your life he will blame you forever for sending him there!

bagsforlife Sun 12-Oct-08 10:06:00

He isn't doing anything that a lot of teenagers might do in an ordinary school BUT it is a Roman Catholic school and I presume they are going to expect that their pupils are 'believers'. I wouldn't have thought there was any point in it being a Roman Catholic school unless there is basic premise that the pupils are Catholic, or am I being incredibly naive here? So I suppose they can object to the anti-God stuff, but perhaps not the piercings etc, but that will come under other school 'rules' I expect.

It is a horrible dilemma and I would not know what to do either. Certainly he is going to be unhappy and probably under achieve if things go on like this. If you move him to the 'failing' school, he may well be put out that he's not so 'different' (which he is probably enjoying at present school) as all the others but he's obviously pretty bright so he may enjoy being top of the pile at the other school.

2shoesdrippingwithblood Sun 12-Oct-08 15:28:21

sorry can't answer on the school rules part.
but he sounds totally normal to me.
ds always wore band t shirts like iron maiden on non uniform days(once he grew out of rap) he has also dyed his hair black at one time(I did it) he also hates religion.......because I sent him to a good church primary.
it is totally normal for a teen to rebel. And I would be concerned if parents were over reacting in the way you have said. that would make me consider moving him.

fizzbuzz Sun 12-Oct-08 17:47:44

Are pupils epected to be believers? I know their parents are, but surely they can't dictate what the pupils should believe in?

As for the parents wanting him thrown out for his music choice. That is just ridiculous. Let's get some perspective here...

Did he threaten anyone? No
Did he act violently? No
Was he using drugs? No
Was he misbehaving? No
Why should he be thrown out....for acting like a teenager?

FGS, the lyrics are hardly the most offensive thing ever. Waht about rap stuff that uses really derogatory comments?

ScummyMummy Sun 12-Oct-08 18:10:05

I would be very proud if he was my son. As long as he isn't being rude and sneery to anyone about their beliefs, I think he has every right to state his own beliefs and wear whatever is within the uniform rules. Presumably they knew he wasn't a Catholic when they offered him a place? His essay sounds like a great starting point for a discussion and most religious people and institutions I know would be very happy to have that discussion, as long as they didn't feel that anyone was being deliberately disrespectful towards them. If the school is unable to cope with this kind of low level teenage challenge they must be a bit rubbish, imo. As for chucking him out, ask ACE for advice if it comes to that. I really hope it won't. I think he sounds like an asset to the school and I am all for children mixing with those of different beliefs.

MrsSnape Sun 12-Oct-08 21:28:16

The essay sounds like something I would have written and I could also imagine my son writing something very similar.

It's very difficult, when good schools are so hard to come by you tend to do what you can to get them in a decent one. I would have probably tried to get DS1 in our local catholic school despite my athiesm simply because all the other schools are crap and I don't see why he should have to miss out and receieve poor schooling just because

a) we can't afford to live in a better catchment area and

b) we're not religious

fizzbuzz Sun 12-Oct-08 21:36:18

I have taught in good schools, and bad schools.

TBH I would fight to keep him where he is, I ould do everything to keep my ds in a good school

sunnydelight Mon 13-Oct-08 02:27:57

Part of the deal in sending kids to religious schools is agreeing to support the ethos but of course a lot of people want the "good school" and ignore that bit. Maybe the school
would like to offer the place to someone who actually wants a Catholic education.

scaryteacher Mon 13-Oct-08 08:16:10

I'm an RE teacher (without a religious belief, but the subject fascinates me), and I think the start of his essay is fab. I think Richard Dawkins sees religion in much the same light, and presumably the school would engage in rational debate with him?

I would also point out to the teachers that he is writing about religion in general not their Christian denomination in particular. What is offensive about the essay? It is how lots of people view religion, and looking at the history of religion, and current events, he is not wrong. If they can't cope with a challenging teen, then why are they teaching?

If they had any sense they would ignore the piercing (although if it was my ds I would have the stud out and let it grow over) and the T shirts and try to engage him academically. They must also be used to students questioning beliefs and need to turn it around in a light hearted way. After all, freedom of religion or choosing not to believe is one of the basic human rights - see the story about being hanged in Iran for being a Christian and not a Muslim in the Telegraph yesterday and today.

I'd like to teach him, he sounds interesting.

AbbeyA Mon 13-Oct-08 09:06:07

He is obviously an intelligent boy with a mind of his own, he sounds interesting to teach.
You don't say how old he is and how long he has been at the school.
I would say that a good point in his favour is that he won't be easily led and is happy to stand out against the crowd. His attitude appears to be 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'!
I would have a serious talk to him about his future and find out what he wants to do-bearing in mind the long term prospects.

fizzbuzz Mon 13-Oct-08 17:44:29

But his parent's chose the school, and they should support the ethos, it doesn't mean he has to.

As I said I thought faith schools now had to take a certain percentage of non-religious kids, or they are certainly being pushed in that direction. Perhaps someone knows a bit more about this than mehmm. I teach in a comp....but keep hearing on the news about this sort of thing.

faustina Tue 14-Oct-08 06:29:21

my two sons both went through catholic schools and were never treated badly because of their opinions. When ds1 was seven he read the children's bible and argued with his teacher about which section of the library to put it back - she let him put it in the fiction area because he gave a proper explanation for his action.

ds2, now 16 has chosen re at as level and is enjoying it hugely, and I think the teacher is enjoying teaching him despite the fact he makes no secret of his disdain for much of religion. She is one of his favourite teachers

I think if your son is respectful of other people's opinions then they should do him the courtesy of accepting his. It doesn't sound like a very good school to me

findtheriver Tue 14-Oct-08 10:02:24

I must admit I tend to agree with faustina. What is education about? Having an enquiring mind, being able to express your views in an intelligent and articulate way (as this boy clearly is)? Or just jumping through the required hoops without challenging anything?
I think you need to look beyond whether the school is judged 'good' on the surface. Doesn't sound very good to me.

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