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Head called child in because not doing enough extra curricular

(20 Posts)
Ragnarhairybritches Wed 28-Jun-17 20:08:13

My DC1 is a scholar, prefect and never been in any trouble. About to move up to the third part of the school.
( This is private education where the school is split into pre prep (r-yr2) prep (yr3-8) and college. (Yr9-16), I'm not interested in anti private ed answers please, long reasons for school choice, paying for it wasn't first choice)
During the working week I'm essentially a single parent with 2 younger children. There have been no end of end of term, and moving up events, meals, camping trips even an art show. DC1 has been to some but not all. The school know we have child care issues as well as money issues (some of these events COST). Today Head and head of college called in DC1 for a little talk. Head has a long history of these, and some parents have removed kids afterwards!
Basically they were praised for being a hard worker etc then told to stop making excuses, not reasons, excuses, they didn't want to listen to them, made to repeat that they will, 'be there'. Made to repeat it several times. These are 'voluntary', fun events. My child is a minor, they do not make these decisions, I and my husband do. No contact has been made with us. Now DC1 is no longer excited about staying to college. We are too late to put them into entrance exams for other schools and are limited as boarding is not something we want.
Are we unreasonable to be angered that DC1 has been dragged in in front of heads for a dressing down for things he is not in control of? Is this normal in schools or are we reasonable to go in and make it clear this isn't not on.
(Name change to avoid id)

wheresthel1ght Wed 28-Jun-17 20:39:45

That is we out of order Nd in your shoes i would be up there having strong words about bullying and intimidating a child.

wheresthel1ght Wed 28-Jun-17 20:39:48

That is we out of order Nd in your shoes i would be up there having strong words about bullying and intimidating a child.

Ragnarhairybritches Wed 28-Jun-17 20:54:17

I most admit we're both livid at the moment, and there's another event on tomorrow that I have to say no to, younger siblings birthday and then I'm away for the night. Worried that DC1 will get told off again when they find out.

SparkyBlue Wed 28-Jun-17 20:56:59

I would be absolutely livid. As you say it's out of the child's control. I would be having very strong words.

CountryCaterpillar Wed 28-Jun-17 20:58:14

sad Oh this is so sad.

MeanAger Wed 28-Jun-17 20:59:54

You need to go in and put the head back in their box. Don't be sheepish. Go in and set them straight that what your child attends outside of school hours is your decision and he isn't to be spoke to again about that.

BertrandRussell Wed 28-Jun-17 21:03:52

It depends. Private schools often put a lot of store by out of school activities. And as a scholar he will presumably be expected to participate as much as possible in school life? Is there anything in the prospectus about what's expected of them?

Ragnarhairybritches Wed 28-Jun-17 21:13:19

The school put DC1 in for the scholarship not us. There have been no letters about what is expected etc. So far this half term alone we have spent £1,000 on these 'extra' events (for 1 child, we have others there!)., 3 trips and a 2 meals, there is an art night and a black tie event still to come, we can't afford it! DC1 has been there 6 years with no issues.
I would also expect them to call US in not the child, what are they supposed to do? Feel bad and nag parents? Surely the adult thing to do is the school call the parents in to say they are not keeping up their end of the bargain? Not make a 13 year old boy sweat?

They should have talked to you, not him, but extra curricular activities will be an important part of the schools culture. Does he attend any regular extra curricular activities, whether in school or elsewhere?

And you're not 'essentially a single parent' during the week angry

Ragnarhairybritches Wed 28-Jun-17 22:24:50

Sorry to make you get the angry emoji out, I have a very supportive partner yes, but no childcare help during the week, therefore cannot be out in the evenings. My sister on the other hand is a single parent but has my mother next door so has more freedom in the evenings than me so that is where I am coming from. Not belittling single parents at all. Sorry if my use of term offends you, confused
DC1 has music lessons at home in the evenings, and has always done the important stuff, plays, open day guides, music concerts, etc. Education based trips. These events he has been called in about have all been end of term jollies. A camping night with the year, a meal, a trip to Alton towers!

Ragnarhairybritches Thu 29-Jun-17 10:22:21

Thank you for your help. Just update on course of action.
We have written politely to say that our DC cannot be held responsible but we are more than happy to come in and discuss any problems.

A fair point has been made by you that as a scholar there are expectations. The problem has been we didn't apply to sit the scholarship, so no form filled in/guidenotes etc seen and officially the award doesn't take affect until Sept so we have had no feedback. We don't know if there's a financial award, or just a big hat saying clever clogs on it. It's a new award so can't ask previous winners parents either! So I think we need to write and clarify what the school expects from their scholars in the way of extra curricular activities (dc already attends voluntary extra lessons at break time and plays two musical instruments out of school, as well as his parents attending almost every away sports match). If this is not enough now (has been for last 7 years) we need to know and discuss it with staff and hopefully this won't happen again.

MyLoveIsLike Fri 30-Jun-17 10:36:35

Name changed to protect the innocent! We have experience of a similar sounding Head. Seemingly reasonable and polite reactions from parents - like your letter, or a call, email or visit in person - are not usually met with a reasonable response from the Head. Parents who intervene even once on their child's behalf about how their child has been disciplined, spoken to or generally treated are not welcomed by the Head. It often leads to being labelled as 'those sorts of parents', the child and family falling very obviously out of favour, and the child being disciplined again for complaining to his parents in the first place. Even a concern raised or a question asked is seen as unreasonably complaining and questioning the judgement and authority of the Head. The child is seen as immature, not masculine enough, clinging to his parents, and the parents are seen as overindulgent and over involved. We are hoping for a better outcome following on from your letter however! Good luck and let us know how it goes.

PhilODox Fri 30-Jun-17 10:45:35

The difficulty is that when you go with this type of school, you're committing to the entire ethos- if that's what they do, that's what the child needs to do. Yes, they're "jollies", but they're shared experiences that your son hasn't been part of, and that is isolating. College will be worried that as a scholar he will already be spending a fair bit of time in solitude, working, and they want to protect his social/emotional health too. Is it day or boarding?

squishysquirmy Fri 30-Jun-17 10:56:14

This sounds like the kind of thing my old school would have done, and it is not OK.
Let me guess, every prize giving etc has to take place in some prestigious, fancy venue that is hard to get to rather than "slumming it" in the school hall?

Yes, there will be a lot of wealthy children at private schools, but it is unfair to assume that EVERY child there will be wealthy. Private schools usually offer scholarships and bursaries, and I think that their charitable status is linked to this (but am not 100% sure). They have to prove that they provide "public benefit", and there is little point in helping less wealthy children out with the fees if they are then pushed out of the school for being unable to afford all the exhorbitant extras.
Might be worth quietly investigating online what this school's claim to charitable status is, and see if the head's behaviour is consistent with this.

squishysquirmy Fri 30-Jun-17 10:59:58

Under Labour’s 2006 Charities Act, fee-paying schools are no longer automatically entitled to charitable status. They must prove they provide benefits to children whose families cannot afford the fees to remain in business.

The charities regulator issued guidance telling schools and other fee-paying charities how they could meet the new requirement.

It said they could theoretically pass the test by offering range of services, including access to facilities, master-classes for local state school pupils and running one of the Government’s academies.

But the document said that providing bursaries – free and subsidised places – was the most straightforward way of satisfying the rules.

“It remains, in accordance with the Upper Tribunal's judgement, that fee-charging schools cannot be charitable if they exclude the poor from benefit and, if established as charities, have to make provision for those who cannot afford the fees which is more than minimal or tokenistic.”

MyLoveIsLike Fri 30-Jun-17 12:37:02

It's not clear to us if the OP's son is on a bursary and scholarship now, or just will be on a new scholarship from September when he moves to the college part of his school. It is certainly true that some schools and Heads are better than others with scholarships and bursaries, both in awarding them and how the recipients are then treated at school. It is definitely worth looking into the school's recent past and present record on these things. Information should be available in the press, online, the school's terms and conditions, and with the Charities Commission. I realise these things are often kept quiet for various reasons, some good and some not so good, but talk to other parents you can trust about what they know. A lot can be gained from sharing experience in confidence, including support. Certainly the school is remiss for not being clear with the OP in advance about the terms and conditions of her son's new scholarship. Do check on this Ragnar, and make sure you get it in writing and signed as a contract, because both sides need to be clear about what you are committing your son and yourself to and for how long, because you will be held to it and possibly more by the Head - or they might even try to renege on it. Scholarships are generally worth around a 10% reduction on full fees these days, in our experience.

Unfortunately at our school/college awards are not always made on merit, but by being favoured by the Head either by close friendship, total loyalty, or by donations or benefits in kind to the school or the Head. It sounds like the OP's son genuinely deserves his award however, so let's hope it all works out very well for him.

Generally, your son and you his parents will be required to take a full part in school/college life. This is especially so if the college is attached to a boarding school, where the culture includes evenings, weekends and trips away. Unless you fall into the favoured category, in our experience, 'scholarly behaviour ' will be expected at all times ie working very hard, making maximum effort, achieving excellent grades, making progress, looking smart and being ever polite, faultless conduct in behaviour, setting an excellent example to other children, caring for others, and generally being an excellent ambassador for the school/college and a credit to it. Not always easy for any child, let alone a young one or a teenage boy! If you are favoured, you can get away with an awful lot however!

On the subject of bursaries, many schools and Heads take a great pride in what they provide, including welcoming those pupils who genuinely do need and deserve maximum financial support. They also take a great interest and pride in what those pupils then go on to achieve, including in adult life. There is also an acknowledgement that ex-bursary pupils might well be able to help the school in the future in return. We couldn't recommend our school to such families, sadly. The Head has been open about wanting to spend the money on other things, and not wanting poor people at the school who do not fit in and can not afford all the extras we do. And yes, I am quoting him, unfortunately.

MyLoveIsLike Sun 02-Jul-17 18:40:27

We are all wondering if there was any response to your letter or the next missed event? Don't leave us hanging, Ragnar!

MyLoveIsLike Thu 06-Jul-17 23:01:27


MyLoveIsLike Mon 10-Jul-17 15:56:43

Have you disappeared on us Ragnar? We hope that your DC made it to the end of term unscathed and happier after your letter and request for clarification, and is feeling more optimistic again now about joining your college. Let us know how things are going if you feel able to. The Head does sound like a bully and your position there slightly precarious, so we wish your DC and you the best of luck with the move

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