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DS1 (non-inflatable) lets himself down again

(15 Posts)
Janh Thu 05-May-05 09:48:42

<Big sigh>

This is long, sorry.

DS1 has been taking part in Duke of Edinburgh Gold this year (he's in Y12, will be 16 in July) and had been doing very well, but has managed to get himself excluded from it on the following grounds:

1) on the practice expedition in the Dales, he left his group at Malham Cove during a 20 minute rest to go down the cliff and back up again; apparently this would have got the whole group failed if he had done it on the real expedition because they have to stay together and work as a group, so he did get a warning at the time which is fair enough and he would not have done anything like that (specifically - sigh) again;

2) he missed the beginning of a Sunday group meeting to plan their actual expedition (4 days in Snowdon) to play in a football match. (Before this meeting was scheduled, DH had organised with an old school friend for an old football team to come up from Leics and play a mostly old team here, but with some young ones and DS1 had already committed to play.) He asked the DofE organiser if it was OK to come along later, organiser said it was up to the DofE group; the group said it was fine with them. The meeting was supposed to last until 5, he got there at 2.30 and they had pretty much finished but had left some things for him to plan, which he has done. I don't think he explained to the organiser exactly what the match was though - just said "playing football" ;

3) last Thursday there was a regular DofE group lunchtime meeting which he excused himself from on the grounds that he had some coursework to finish (right at the last minute as usual but that's a separate issue ). However the same lunchtime there was a meeting to vote for next year's Head Boy and Girl and one of his best friends was running for Head Girl and she asked him to go to it for moral support and to make sure she got at least one vote, so he did. This appears to have been the biggest mistake as his excuse of doing coursework was taken to be a lie.

His DofE group still wants him in it but the organiser thinks he is "a loose cannon" (can't argue with that) and the teacher involved - Deputy Head - who has had other problems with DS1 this year says he has "3 warnings" and he's out - wouldn't listen to his "excuses". DS1 will go the Thurs lunchtime meeting today and try to talk the organiser round. (2 of the group had spoken to the teacher on behalf of DS1 before he decided to sack him so that line of appeal is used up already.) His friend was elected Head Girl though so she might be able to wield some influence...???

DH says well, he can see the organiser's point, he is responsible for the group's safety and if he really believes that DS1 is unreliable, and then something unfortunate happened which was down to DS1's unreliability, it would be his fault. I do agree but also feel that they should give him an actual last chance not to be unreliable (the expedition isn't until July so he will have lots of time to screw up again) so I want to write to both teacher and organiser to plead.

What does court of mumsnet think? Some of you will probably remember that DS1 has form as a loose cannon at school (work experience was not a success and the same teacher was responsible for that at the time . DS1 does seem to have a total inability to pick up on signals that he's running out of rope) and he has been fairly stroppy at times this year too so he has little credit despite having some redeeming features - maybe we should just let it go and hope he will learn something this time.

<bigger sigh>


roisin Thu 05-May-05 10:03:17

Oh dear!

I would certainly plead on his behalf, and not just let it go. If the teacher had told him that he would be out if he didn't go to the meeting on Thursday, then presumably he would have gone? From your description it certainly sounds to me that they would be willing to let him have one last chance - I hope so.
There's certainly been a breakdown in communication, and I can't see that your ds1 is going to benefit in any way from being excluded from the expedition at this point.

It will be a fantastic opportunity for him, and a real achievement if he gets it.

coppertop Thu 05-May-05 10:16:43

I think he should have one final chance to prove that he won't let the group (or himself) down. As you say, there is plenty of time left before the expedition. A final decision doesn't necessarily need to be made now. If ds isn't allowed back in the group I somehow doubt that the lesson he will learn is "I brought this on myself by being irresponsible" but more likely to be "No-one listens to me when I tell them the truth so why should I bother making the effort."

flashingnose Thu 05-May-05 10:18:57

Very good point coppertop. I would definitely plead on his behalf.

foxinsocks Thu 05-May-05 10:23:54

your ds sounds a bit disorganised and not great at advance planning but I do think he should have one more chance. I can see though, that if they are worried on safety grounds, you have no choice but to withdraw him from it.

I remember doing these things at school and I know all those meetings are a PITA but it was really frowned upon if we missed any of them with any excuse other than illness. I think they form an important part of the whole award. If he is really serious about doing it then I would go in and speak to them. It doesn't sound like he is being deliberately difficult (other than the lark on the expedition but it sounds like you've sorted that) but just not very good at planning his time. I wonder whether it's the fact that it's the same teacher involved again that is making the situation worse.

Janh Thu 05-May-05 17:00:33

Thanks for those comments, I'm relieved that you do think along the same lines as me, I hate the idea that I'm being over-indulgent.

Unfortunately it seems to be non-negotiable - he has been told he is welcome to do the expedition next year but that the organiser feels he should not do it with this group, mostly I think because of what foxinsocks says about the group meetings being an important part of the whole award so that by missing 2 of them on fairly flimsy grounds he has made it seem as if the group is not as important to him as other things. Both teacher and organiser did listen to the explanations this time, which is good; but teacher pointed out (as have I) that he shouldn't be doing coursework at lunchtime on deadline day, and if he hadn't been he would have gone to the DofE meeting and the Head Girl thing couldn't have arisen. (Well, shouldn't have, but who knows when DS1 is involved.) So I hope he actually will learn the right lessons from this.

Also it transpires that one of the girls is the niece of the teacher concerned; she comes from the Lakes and is living at his house during the week while at school, and she has been nagging him to let DS back in - I think she has driven him to distraction! Which is sort of funny but also sort of not...

Anyway he is sad that he won't be doing it this time but doesn't want us to pursue it (mostly in order not to give the teacher apoplexy ). Also, ill wind time, they have a "management conference" at school in July which he would have missed on the expedition, but he can go to that now.

(btw he is 16 already, he will be 17 in July, brain cells diminishing again )

tamum Thu 05-May-05 17:04:57

Has he put in loads of work already, other than the expedition stuff? If so, could that be used in his favour? I do think they've been a bit harsh on him, but then again I'm biased cos he's one of the nicest teenagers I've ever met

Janh Thu 05-May-05 17:11:51

Aw, thank you, tamum!

He certainly can be very nice - when he's not being a loose cannon or having a testosterone surge (apparently had one of those the other week, he was horrible!)

The other things he has already done can be carried forward - I think he said they have up to 5 years to complete it - so it's not a total loss, fortunately. (Whether the lesson wil stay learned is another matter.)

tamum Thu 05-May-05 17:18:04

Maybe it will be a blessing in disguise? If he could finish it at a time when he has less coursework (hah!) and not have lost anything, and have learnt a valuable lesson (double hah)....

Janh Thu 05-May-05 17:23:24

Let's hope so!

Blu Thu 05-May-05 17:29:53

Don't give up hope, JanH - I am a DofE reject!

Did the expedition and everything - passed because the tutors were in the pub themselves and didn't notice us necking cans of Double Diamond in the car park of a pub in Stoney Middleton, but in those days girls and boys did different activities in one of the sections. the boys could choose an option of athletics, whilst girls did flower arranging. As something of a teenage athlete, I was able to easliy meet the times and standards set out for the boys athletics, and had an aversion to flower arranging.

I made a feminist stand to do the athletics, my Mum refused to support me because she said the point of a challenge was to accomplish something that I found hard, not easy, and i was thrown off!

Sounds like your DS has a lot going on in his life, so perhaps encourage him to take it up again next year when his planning and organisationa skills have matured and he can benefit from actually getting a prestigious award - pah!

roisin Thu 05-May-05 18:09:27

Sorry to hear there's no leniency forthcoming.

I hope it works out well for him and he enjoys the management conference, and manages to fit in an expedition next year ... along with A levels I presume?

Janh Thu 05-May-05 20:46:09

Maybe being a DoE reject wouldn't be so bad then, Blu - I will hold you up as a shining example

Thanks, roisin - actually there really would be less pressure next year, surprisingly - this year at AS level he is doing 5 subjects (+ "Critical Thinking" which is a ½ AS level) and will continue studying after the exams right up to the end of term, and then drop one subject next year; so next year he will only be doing 4 A2 levels, and everything stops after the exams are over so next July he will be free as a bird. Which might well be a better time to do it - if he would just get organised. (Dream on...)

zebraX Thu 05-May-05 20:56:48

I know I'm an ignoramous without my own teenagers to compare to... but compared to the teenager I was, he really doesn't sound that bad, Janh. The DoE thing is supposed to be about taking responsibility, he hasn't quite met the mark & I can see why they're strict..., will it be so bad if he doesn't go for it?

I can also see why the strictness puts some teenagers off! WHISPERS How strict the rules are sounds a bit poncey, TBH....

Janh Thu 05-May-05 21:02:55

No, he's not a bad kid at all, z! And I did think that meself about the poncey rules. It was mostly that he was disappointed to be missing the trip when he has spent quite a bit of time on it and was looking forward to it and does enjoy outdoor hikey stuff. (But also enjoys staying up late drinking beer before I make him sound too poncey himself.)

He will probably go far, one way or another (down, I expect! )

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