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To wonder when it is bad enough to leave, or change schools?
53

Justonecat · 23/09/2022 13:34

In brief dd is struggling in year 8. She went through year 7 as a shadow of her former self and while we were hopeful that year 8 might be better for her, she just broke down in tears yesterday saying she is having a dreadful time in school. I’m wondering how much time to give this before we need to consider making changes. More details below but this is my question in a nutshell. Sorry that this is so long.

My question to you:

  • how much time do we give this before we need to make changes? I worry that years of this will eventually have a huge impact on her well-being, personality and learning
  • Is it ever an option to ask to change classes? Has anyone done this and how did it work out?



Background if any interest:

Dd just started year 8 after a tumultuous year 7, where she struggled to find her feet in her new school. She hasn’t had social difficulties previously, during lockdown things were of course not great but otherwise she had a happy time in primary school.

In year 7 she started out not knowing anyone in her new school. I believe she approached things with an open mind, and I think she did ok initially as her new classmates voted for her to be a class councillor in one of the first weeks in school. But things very quickly took a turn, she didn’t communicate this to us until the spring term but she became isolated and spent most of the year not having any friends to spend breaks with. We had what I would describe as two major breakdowns in year 7, when she was very upset at home about her life at school.

We spoke to the school and they were very understanding and said they would keep an eye on things but it’s a big school, with lots of other drama in her year, so not easy to monitor. It’s also difficult to address something like this when it’s low level hostility and exclusion, it’s not like she has experienced anything very tangible which could be addressed more directly.

She had a great summer and was eventually back to her old happy self. We were hopeful that year 8 would bring more calm to her year, and that the girls would all come back a bit more mature.


Yesterday she broke down crying. She eventually told me that she is having a dreadful time again. She seems to sit alone most breaks. The other girls are sometimes a bit hostile towards her as well, for example if she asks a practical question they’ll eye roll give her a snappy non answer. They will generally ignore her. There has been a little bit of name calling as well, mostly related to her size. Not nice, but nothing too horrific. It’s not the impact of any specific incident, it’s the sum total of many small unfriendly gestures and the isolation which is becoming too much for her.


Things she/we have tried, or will try:
  • Organise after school get togethers, never any takers (she has a busy after school life doing a sport so she does have other people in her life)
  • Speak to the school who previously offered to discreetly pair her up with someone friendly, we will try this now
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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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PuttingDownRoots · 23/09/2022 13:36

If she is really unhappy its worth investigating other schools.

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Marmaladegin · 23/09/2022 13:41

I would move her in a hot minute. It sounds miserable and like she has definitely given it a fair crack.

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Nomorescreentime · 23/09/2022 13:42

if she wouldn’t be leaving any supportive friendships behind, then I’d be looking to move her. My son is having a similar problem with low level name calling/pushing and shoving in the corridors, but as he has settled into a nice group of friends we have decided together he wants to tolerate it.

better to move now than before GCSE years begin, or her mental health gets further damaged.

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MsTSwift · 23/09/2022 13:44

Move. You’ve given it a good go. Year 8 a good time to move academically as it’s harder after they have done their options. In our small city there is a fair bit of movement between the schools state and private. Dd year 9 and has just absorbed a new girl whose just arrived from another school into their friendship group.

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Justonecat · 23/09/2022 15:37

the difficulty lies in establishing when she has given it enough of a go, and also if the situation is bad enough to warrant a change.

I can confidently say yes to both but my husband thinks she should do more to make friends. He also tells her that she needs to take the long view and understand that in hindsight it might not be as bad as she thinks it is now. It’s a partly selective state school and she did well to get in, and we don’t have any good alternatives in the area, nor can we afford to educate her privately at the moment (we fall in that awkward category where we don’t qualify for any bursaries either).

I'm worried that it’s going to take a toll if we leave it like this. She is only 12 and to think that worst case she might have several years of this ahead, is frightening to me. I am concerned that it will have a much bigger impact than OH thinks. This could shape how she sees herself for years to come. To think that nobody likes you could lead to her not liking herself very much either. She bottles everything up so we only find out when she has reached an absolute tipping point.

OH just doesn’t see the problem, it he doesn’t want to see it as there is no obvious solution at the moment

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SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius · 23/09/2022 15:43

She has given it a whole year, plus the beginning of this term, @Justonecat - I agree with you that she has given it plenty of time.

Dh was bullied and miserable at senior school, and when his parents found out, they moved him pretty much immediately. I have seen two photos of him as a schoolboy - the first, from the first school, shows a pale, unhappy child, and the second, from the new school, shows a happy, confident young man. If you saw the photos, you would assume that there were at least a couple of years between the two pictures - maybe more - but in fact, there is only 6 months between the two images. The two pictures are a clear demonstration of the transformative effect of taking action and getting dh into a school where he was happy.

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RandomMess · 23/09/2022 15:45

Exclusion and low level bullying is bullying. It's time to move her.

Flowers

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Ein · 23/09/2022 15:47

Depending on your other options, I’d move her now. What is happening is bullying.

All she needs is one friend to spend breaktimes with and she’ll probably be fine.

Where are her friends from primary school? If you’re in the same area can you get into a school where she has a friend?

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Foronenightonly01 · 23/09/2022 15:47

Oh I really feel for you and totally understand the sheer difficulty of working out how bad things are or aren’t. My dd had a miserable time in both years 7 and most of 8 …It improved summer term. But she’d phone home wailing that she needed to come home as it was so horrid etc. What made some of it bearable was the school librarian- she had a load of jobs that dd would go help her with at breaktime so she wasn’t totally alone. The staff were all made aware and chose groups/partners for work so she didn’t get isolated during class time. And dd made some more friends outside of school so that it wasn’t the be and end all. Sadly none of us can predict the future - but before giving up I’d get school on board and see what can be done💐

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PuttingDownRoots · 23/09/2022 15:49

She sounds like me at Secondary school.
I only got happier at Sixth form after I moved schools.
I still struggle making friends. I have maybe 4 people who I'd say are my actual friends, one of which is my husband.

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KleineDracheKokosnuss · 23/09/2022 15:49

Move her.

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Sarahcoggles · 23/09/2022 15:52

Would it help to move classes? Has she just not found mates in her class?

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PotatoHammock · 23/09/2022 15:53

Do you have another school in mind? Are there any obvious downsides to this new school? If the two schools are much of a muchness on paper (similar class sizes, behaviour, academic attainment, facilities etc) then I'd move her. I would be more cautious if, for example, the new school were an hour away, or they didn't offer her favourite sport/music club, or there was a reputation for bad behaviour etc.

But in truth, you'll never actually know unless you do move her. Parenting is so hard sometimes.

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ladymalfoy45 · 23/09/2022 15:55

Move her. 18 months of being miserable?
And your husband sounds as if he's blaming your daughter for her misery.
She's tried to ignore it and be brave for 18 months.
18 months of abject misery.

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Hellisotherpeoplesfeet · 23/09/2022 15:58

Have you looked into the practicalities of moving? Do you think she wants to move?

I'd be slightly cautious of the after-school get together idea. Fine if she just needs to get to know people a bit better but if there is deliberate unkindness going on (and it sounds like there is) you risk creating the impression that the problem is your DD not being friendly enough (not true) and inviting round some shit kid who's been unkind at school and now has the chance to be unkind in your home as well. I remember trying this with DS when he was struggling with friends (a little younger than your DD) and realising quickly that I'd basically just forced DS to invite round a child who was actively unpleasant to him, to be unpleasant to him some more. Which is not to say don't do it, just take care.

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HesterAndPearlInBrightSunshine · 23/09/2022 15:59

My daughter was really unhappy in y7. Very similar to what you're describing. We moved her mid year- best thing we ever did. She regained her confidence and is performing academically so much better as a result. Most importantly, she is happy, eating and smiling again!
I was also miserable at school and stayed put. The only thing that taught me was how to put up a front while feeling like death.

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Twonkyboo · 23/09/2022 15:59

I moved ds 3 times in primary until we found the right one for him. He stayed in the first one for 3 weeks. The second one for a year. I wanted to find the right one sooner rather than later. He then settled and went onto high school with his primary class.

He did change class in his final primary school and that made a difference. The first one he was in was too noisy and too many children with challenging behaviour.

If he was unhappy at high school I would have no hesitation in moving him. He is a different person when he is not anxious.

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RinklyRomaine · 23/09/2022 16:15

Bless her. My DD is in a very similar situation, same age. She did make some friends as the only from her primary in y7, but they are a really difficult group. Culturally quite different and a habit of blowing up major dramas which always seem to focus on DD. She never had any of this in primary, and is again this week being ignored and excluded by the entire group. This time because another girl got into trouble for a minor behaviour thing but decided to lie and say DD did it. My DD refuses to take the blame and so is being ostracised again. It's such tough age and has a massive effect on their self esteem. I'd personally like to deal with the lot of them, nasty little tactics, but obviously not.

Mine doesn't want to move although is open to moving forms. Waiting to talk to new form teacher next week as I think we need to discuss it properly.

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jeaux90 · 23/09/2022 16:18

What are your options? Some mainstream state schools just don't work for some kids

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Thepeopleversuswork · 23/09/2022 16:19

I think a year is long enough to decide that its time to move. After a term I would maybe be inclined to stick it out a bit but this is long enough and what you are describing will not be supportive of her education. If you can find a decent local school I would move.

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Porcupineintherough · 23/09/2022 16:19

Marmaladegin · 23/09/2022 13:41

I would move her in a hot minute. It sounds miserable and like she has definitely given it a fair crack.

^^This. Look at alternative schools, esp ones which offer a good range of lunchtime clubs and activities.

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Snoken · 23/09/2022 16:23

The fact that she got back to her normal happy self during the summer is a good thing, it means they haven’t broken her completely yet, so you need to move her asap before they succeed. These things make a long-lasting impact and I see absolutely no reason for sticking it out.

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HavfrueDenizKisi · 23/09/2022 16:24

Oh gosh no you've most definitely have given this enough time.

You have to look to moving her I just don't think things will improve for her socially at this school.

I would be disappointed in the school's answer about the school being big etc so hard to keep an eye on her. That's not the correct response- they should be supporting her and they are not. And for this reason alone it's a move schools situation.

With regards to moving forms (you mentioned changing classes) girls in my DDs school have done this. Moved forms. But usually because they'd made friends in another form and had no friends in their current one.

But ultimately you cannot keep her there. She has told you how bad it is. Please move her. Let her start afresh. Kids move all the time.

That's what I would do in your shoes I think.

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RinklyRomaine · 23/09/2022 16:25

Why does your DH not think over a year is long enough? How long does he want her to be miserable?!

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focuspocus · 23/09/2022 16:26

FlowersYou really have given it a very long good go. Im with you and not your DH at all. A year in a young child's life is a lot.

Ask her if she would like to look at other schools. Even if they are not as good academically she will probably do better if happier.

Her knowing that you have her back and will support and help her to stay or move will mean so much to her. Let it be her choice with your support. I know that from personal experience. I fear your DH's stance will make her feel less supported and more alone.

I'm not sure about the approach of talking to the school and pairing her up. Just because they think another child is friendly or nice doesn't mean they will be especially if they feel they have to do something.

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