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Is this a normal thing to happen in Reception? (disruptive boy given extra attention) long-ish post

344 replies

imaginaryfriend · 09/02/2008 21:49

I'm going to try to get this in a nutshell but it's quite complicated.

Dd's in Reception with a little boy, I'll call him 'Z' just to make things briefer. Z is a reasonably high achieving boy, he's in the 'top' group at the moment along with dd and 4 other girls, all at roughly the same level (I do parent reading with them once a week so I'm fairly confident about this). Z is an extremely disruptive boy despite being very bright, he's taken up to the Headmaster many times, sent into the 'buddy room', up and down the behaviour ladder. He does some pretty unpleasant things like telling the Muslim girl in the same group that all Muslims are going to go to Hell, telling a physically disabled boy that his built up shoes look 'stupid' and that because he's in a wheelchair he's going to die early. The list is as long as my arm. Dd's always coming home with new tales and Z's frequently the topic of upset for many of the mums whose kids have been physically hurt by him.

So he's a difficult character. The teacher has been giving him one-on-one time for 30 minutes after lunch to 'extend' his literacy and numeracy, a luxury that none of the other children get. Dd, for instance, has had one-on-one reading time with the teacher only once since starting in September when her parent reader was off sick. Z's mum says this is because his behaviour is so bad because he's not challenged enough and he 'plays tricks on people' when he's bored. She believes he's extremely gifted and the school isn't meeting the challenge of his intellect. She has frequent meetings with the teacher to discuss what they can do to give him more yet so far I don't see any change in his behaviour at all.

I, and a number of other mums, are beginning to feel a bit miffed that he gets so much attention when his behaviour is so appalling and that our own children get so little in comparison and I wondered if the teacher's decision to give him this extra tuition was a typical move with a disruptive but bright child. And if so, is it known to work?

I've been wondering whether to see the headmaster about the situation, especially given that dd's parent reader has been away for the last 2 weeks so dd hasn't read to anybody at all for 3 weeks now apart from the group guided reading sessions she does once a week. It seems unfair that the teacher can find 30 minutes once a day for one child and leave others with no time at all for weeks on end.

From what I can gather this is the teacher's first class as she's only just qualified as a teacher.

What would you do? Grin and bear it or go and speak to someone?

Z's mum is very 'pushy', she turns a blind eye to his behaviour problems and is genuinely convinced that it's the school's fault for not keeping him challenged. She said to me the other day that she 'doesn't rate' the teacher. I mentioned that she's getting quite a good deal, especially when there are some children who barely speak English (I listen to the lowest achieving group read and I really feel they could do with the teacher's direction rather than my completely unqualified one) who get no time with the teacher.

It seems to me to be a rather sad condition of our times that the worst behaved child gets the best and the quieter ones who are just getting on with school and doing their best are penalised.

Help me put this in perspective? I've made an appointment to see the teacher next Wednesday and I'd like to go in and say everything in a fair but clear way.

OP posts:
DrNortherner · 10/02/2008 08:32

IF - I see this went on well into the night!
One thing I must pick up on is your comment about how you have not seen Z cry since he was about 2. Well, my ds's hardly cries outside our home either. He is a tough cookie and very fearless. I have observed his behaviour both at home and at parties and I often see other children behaving alosin an agressive way, as kids do when they play. My ds gets a thump and does not cry, he just hits back harder then the other kid cries and my ds takes the bad press.

You really talk about this little guy with such contempt, and it's not on really. It is highly unlikley that Z is getting extra lessons to help with his maths but that something else is taking place, something he really needs.

Tbh, you will probably never find out, if his mother prefers to pretend he is a genius then let her. Maybe she knows what is being said about her son and can't actually confide in any of the other mums as you'll all probably gloat that you were right and he's not clever, just a naughty little shit.

Raise concerns about your own dd of course, but I would advise you to stop speculating about what is happenning with Z.

ingles2 · 10/02/2008 09:47

Wow,..this went on well into the night then.....
Having read the thread in its entirety now, I do feel you should spend less time worrying about other children in the class IF,... you will never know the full story despite what mothers might say. I agree with DrN in that it is extremely unlikely Z s getting attention for anything other than SEN/IEP. Is dd your first/only child in reception? I can remember feeling anxious ds's weren't getting enough time, motivation too at the beginning.
I DO know how you feel to an extent though, I am moving my ds's from their small village school in September to a much larger school. There are a number of children with severe SEN and IEP's and due to the tiny resources, lack of funding this school has, my ds's are by and large overlooked whilst the teaching staff try to juggle their time. I do not resent this,.. infact I feel quite sorry for the teachers and the kids but I'm going to try and do the best for MY ds's. If you feel this is such a problem maybe you should consider moving her, or asking for her to move class if the school has more than 1 class entry and you would prefer an experienced teacher. In the meantime,
relax, keep reading and remember that no parent will admit to having a difficult child

alfiesbabe · 10/02/2008 10:11

Have just come across this thread .... I'm a secondary school SENCO.
I think imaginaryfriend has come in for quite a lot of flak on this thread. The OP is actually very reasonable - she's not slating this boy, but questioning the situation whereby one child appears to be taking up a disproportionate amount of the teacher's time. Now, as a SENCO, I'm the first person to champion the needs of any child with SEN. But at the same time, I think the starting point has to be that all children are equal, and that having an identified SEN does not mean that a child is in any way more deserving. Many children may have issues which make school challenging for them which are never identified as a specific need - eg low self esteem. There is a real danger that this can be overlooked. Also,and this may not be a popular thing to say, but what the hell, it is not always SEN that makes children behave in an unacceptable way. Some children are more aggressive, pushy, selfish, dominant because of their personality. Same with adults. And I'm afraid it's true that those who are 'loudest' tend to be the ones who get the attention. A child with low self esteem who bullies, dominates, disregards the feelings of others, will be noticed because their behaviour has an obvious effect. Another child may have equally low self esteem, but if it doesnt manifest itself in this way, they don't get the attention.It isnt fair, it isnt right, but that's the way it is.
I can't comment on this particular case because I dont know the child (and presumably neither does anyone else apart from the OP) but I think it needs to be put into the context I've described.

Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:12

Just really to back up what others have said- everyone at my son's (DS1) school is surrised to learn he has an actual diagnosis of SN, he's on the auttistic spectru. he is extremly bright in terms of IQ and spoken ability but to a alrge extent its useless bright- no application skills, no literacy skills. he's also a bully and aggressive- its probably hard not to be when you totally lack empathy and social skills (not that I ignore it- we do work on it constantly).

I know parents ahev written to school asking for ds1 to be removed in the past; also many eyasr ago 9this was receptin, he is Y3 now) pre - DX some aprents got up a petition to have him removed . The only actual effect of this wasn't on him- school were very dismissive- but on me, and it was as if I was being ounished for ahvinga child with SN and tbh I still haven't got that confidence back i the playground- I find it far easier to toally detach myself now. Especially as I have 3 kids, 2 with ASD.

I can see how this would be annoying for you- and I am surprised teacher takes child out instead of a TA but I do suspect its part of a statementing procedure. There really is no way that you would know that was going on, even as a parent helped. the best outcome of a statement may be that the LEA pays for a 1-1 to help the child (both of mine have them, for 10 and 16 hours a week) and that would hugely removed the overall burden ofr the class surely? DS1 is a lot betteat school when he has his 1-1.

My toehr point is that if Mum makes such awful comments about asking a child with a frame to be mroe careful then she is perhaps herself the cause of the comments at least and the child should not be blamed for that.

Please don't hink Mum is all ego though- I am viewed as exceptionally demanding I know, it's not a choice issue. After a confrontation I usually go home and weep- I'm naturally the opposite, it falls into the no choice bracket sadly. I can't let my own feelings affect the ds's chances.

I know this has all been said before but being a parent of a child who sounds a bit like child Z, and having suffered for it to some extent, i wanted to say it nonetheless.

You're doing the best you can for your daughter and that's a good thing- if child Z is really affecting the class you might find a letter to the school gets used (though you'd never know of it so be aware of that- confidentiality is everything) in an application for statement. gettinga statement is a long drawn out and difficult process as LEA's usually try to prevent it (cost) so anything helps. But be aware when writing letter that child Z is as much a child as anyone, and deserves the right teachinga s much as anyone else. Especially as this has been goingon since CM days- that rings alarm belsl in itself.

And as for Mum- denial is nto just a river in Egypt, as they say. I still get moments of that with ds1 (now 8) and pretty much live there with ds3, even though he's incontinent,, has very limited verbal skills and probably transferring to SN unit soon. it's amazing what you can convince yourself of as a scared parent.

SilentTerror · 10/02/2008 10:13

Imaginary Friend, I understand completely your concerns.When my middle DD was in reception there was an extremely disruptive little boy from a very 'dysfunctional' background who caused no end of difficulties. Eventually he was excluded and moved to another school better able to deal with his needs,following a violent incident towards another child.
I work in paediatrics myself and could see this child needed more than the school could give.Unfortunately I am not unselfish enough not to resent slightly the impact his behaviour had on the rest of the class.
Am just glad he moved on and hopefully now years later is more settled. The remaining members of the class are now in yr 4 and are happy and settled.

stuffitall · 10/02/2008 10:16

HI IF, I just wanted to press my advice about talking about motivation, because it's the one area where really the teacher is wholly responsible, and in many ways can be overlooked if she is over-busy and a child is not overtly demanding. But it's not that difficult or time-consuming to achieve, putting nice comments at the bottom of the work, or a direct look in the eye and emphatic "well done", that sort of thing can make all the difference. And you wouldn't need to refer to the other kid at all. I know I shouldn't really press advice like this but I know instances when it has worked, and it hasn't annoyed the teacher by talking about it, so the result is achieved without any backs up, iykwim. (When it comes to bullying and mean comments to your child of course you have to bring them into it.)

Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:17

RE Alfiesbabe's post- the self esteem thing amy well be relevant here, if Mum is amking comments about kids with understanding and empathic is she 6really^ with her ds? (she's not AS is she? Sorry! it happens though)- and if she's passing that on, that in itself could be a huge challnege for child Z. if he's getting the same treatment in the sanctity of his own home it oculd even be bordering on emotional abuse that has caused this.

imaginaryfriend · 10/02/2008 10:18

Northerner, with respect, you're speculating too. You're attributing all kinds of characteristics and feelings to me that are perhaps more reflective about what's happened with you.

I don't feel contempt for Z, that's a horrible word to use. The only contempt that's apparent here is from other posters as to my position and my right to have an opinion on a difficult boy. Rather than contempt I feel fed up that for all of dd's education so far he's continually been the centre of attention. And that a child with other kinds of problems isn't taken seriously or given any notice at all. I'm fed up with the situation and I'm fed up with being shouted down for mentioning it.

You don't know his mum either, she's not some kind of victim. I haven't wanted to go into her character on here and I still don't but as you've never met her you have to trust me that she's an extraordinary, loud, confident person who is always at the centre of every school event. And she has no qualms about discussing what she thinks of other children in the class. She rates very few of them, very few of the mums and certainly not the teacher despite what the teacher's clearly trying to do for her ds.

ingles I'm not spending all my time worrying about other children in the class. As I've said, dd has been with Z since she was under 3 and I've never once considered discussing how his behaviour impacts on her.

I started the thread because I didn't understand how common it is that a child gets extra help when they're bright and difficult. And I didn't know if it was fair on other children for a pushed teacher to be using her time like this.

I remain really certain that Z doesn't have SEN.

Anyhow I'll speak to the teacher on Wednesday about dd.

OP posts:
imaginaryfriend · 10/02/2008 10:20

alfiesbabe, I could give you a hug for that post. Thank you so much. I've been feeling very down about how this thread has gone.

OP posts:
Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:23

Oh 9and sorry for multiple postings) your reaction to this is NORMAL. there's a kid in ds1's class- now ds1 is a PITA but this kid is pretty demanding himself, and he goads ds1 constantly. he's been up for dx and claims to be AS but I;d argue about that with his Ed Psych if that's true (probably isn't- mum said a few weeks ago it was dyslexia and ADhd). I laothe the effect he ahs on ds1; there's a post on here somewhere from the day ds1 came home with show shaped bruising froma gang other kid set up to to 'get him' and every time we go to the school for a pick up, he's there mimicking ds1's stims and taunting him.

I ahev mentioned this at meetings with the SENCO but in relaity I fel a lot of sympathy for him. I think this aprticualr kid isn much more a product of his aprenting than anything else. mum is always late, seems to have mental health issues (no idea if she receives support for them or not), he attends even on the coldest days without a coat or even sweatshirt- school nod sagely and have hinted there is social work intervention but obviously they cant tell me whats going on.

stuffitall · 10/02/2008 10:23

She sounds like a "queen of the school". Every school has one. PTA, conversations with the head etc. People find them irritating but it doesn't seem to affect the fact that things just happen to go their way. They are a PITA.

Twiglett · 10/02/2008 10:25

I think IF has been remarkably calm through this and also think people are being kind of unfair by specifically missing the point she is making

I think the point is that EVERY CHILD MATTERS .. means that those who are well behaved also matter ... means that those who are doing ok also matter .. means that those who have SEN but behave well also matter as much as those who don't need additional help do

I think the situation is exacerbated by a competitive blinkered mum and to be honest I'd find it hard not to comment on her child's behaviour ..

and I think you are within your rights to go in and talk about the situation regarding YOUR DAUGHTER .. but not with regards to the boy unfortunately

Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:26

And with due respect- you cant be certain he doesnt ahve SN. he may, he may not, he may be emotionally abused, he may be whatever- but if it takes a PAed 18 months to dx fairly obvious ASD in a child, unless youa re one yourself you cant know

imaginaryfriend · 10/02/2008 10:27

Talking of my dd needing attention, I'm promised to her today so I'm signing off for now.

I want to say it in absolute terms that I really don't think Z has SEN and that if he did the school would be giving him the out of class support that the other SEN children get. I think this is an extraordinary situation.

As I said earlier I have a brother with severe autism so I don't have any desire to belittle the needs of SEN children.

Dp thinks that Z's mum has a lot to do with Z's behaviour, she is very pushy and out-going and as I said is very critical of the school and the other children and their mums.

Anyhow I'll check back later and hope I haven't been slated further as a contemptuous, resentful child-hater!

OP posts:
Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:29

I don't think any of the recent posts do that IF, if you look. Most of us understand your concerns, if we are slightly differnet in what we think MAY be going on.

FWIW support such as other SEN kids get takes a minimum 6 montsh assessment to achieve under statementing law, a big gap to fill time wise.

But as you say, I do feel Mum is a big part of the issue here.

BellaDonna79 · 10/02/2008 10:30

Haven't read all of this thread but WHY do people feel that a child can't just be badly behaved or not a very nice person anymore?

Yes I understand that some children do have very real difficulties and do suffer from AS, ADHD,ODD,Dyslexia, a multitude of different issues for which they do deserve support but some people are simply not particularly nice.

TBH Z and his mother seem to fall into that category. The verbal bullying is, IMO horrific and there is no excuse for that, those were calculated comments designed to get a reaction, even from a 5y/o.

Equally I am sure some children with 'difficulties' of whatever kind are kind, sweet and well behaved.

imaginaryfriend · 10/02/2008 10:30

Twiglett, thanks.

Stuffitall, she is Queen of the School. She is on the PITA and is always in with the Head. I can't tell you how wrong all the posts have been that suggest she's a victim of gossip and is being downtrodden into lying to cover Z's SEN.

Really got to go now. Poor dd.

OP posts:
alfiesbabe · 10/02/2008 10:32

You're welcome IF
Peachy - i think your post is exceptionally thoughtful, and gives some insight into how it can feel as a parent. And you're absolutely right about IF writing to the school. In my SEN files at school I have letters going back to primary school from other parents, describing the impact of the SEN child's needs on the rest of the class. They are an incredibly powerful piece of evidence. Don't feel bad about writing. Try to depersonalise it. The best letters I've seen dont come across at all as criticising the child, they simply list examples of behaviour, and how this has affected the class (eg one letter described how a boy used to throw objects across the classroom, the letter described an injury to a child, and also the fear this behaviour caused). A letter to the school and LEA can be a positive way to maybe get additional funding so that more TA hours are available, and the teacher is freed up to concentrate on teaching.

stuffitall · 10/02/2008 10:33

Yup am with you Belladonna. Good point to not tar all SEN children with the "badly behaved" brush. Which is where some of this seems to be going.

stuffitall · 10/02/2008 10:36

that is, if he's badly behaved, he must be SEN.

Peachy · 10/02/2008 10:38

I hope I haven't tarred all kids with same brush- certainly DS1 is very aggressive but ds2, far more severe in terms of ASD, is a very passive, teddy bear like child. People adore him.... although they do still get upset when they think (usually wrongly- many are not aware LEA funds his support for example) his palce afects their kids. Mind you it does to an extent- class is of 31 as the other reception teacher refused to ahve another TA in her class, so she gets 29 kids, other teacher gets 31, and it averages as the max of 30 per class. but i ahve eprsonally raised this with LEA as I don't think its fair on the other kids either. I don't see why other kids should suffer as a result of being failed by the education system any more than mine should.

chocolateteapot · 10/02/2008 10:45

I knew when I read the title this thread would end up like this.

IF I think you should talk to the teacher about your DD's reading and about her losing confidence etc.

With regards to Z I think you have to accept that it is hard to tell what is going on from the outside. DD has dyspraxia and when I approached her reception teacher in October she said she have approached me with her concerns after Christmas but the reason they don't approach parents earlier is that they like to give children a chance to settle in but that very often parents find it extremely difficult to hear that the school suspect that there may be issues of some kind with their child.

A friend's niece has just been assessed by an Ed Psych at nursery and the report indicates that potentially she does have some behavioural issues. Her mother is a very confident lady who is refusing to take on board for a moment that her DD's behaviour could be unusual.

I also think that half an hour with the TA doing carpet time is fine, they do get tired in reception and it may be a good time for them to relax a little and actually be a positive rather than negative thing.

Don't have any qualms about approaching DD's teacher - you will probably need to a few times over the next few years as things have a habit of cropping up. It gets easier after the first time, hope it goes well.

stuffitall · 10/02/2008 10:48

It was a feeling I picked up from the thread Peachy which I think should be SQUISHED! I had a child who was aggressive with an SEN child due to "his own issues" but I never thought "his own issues" were a reason for not sorting out (ie putting a stop to) the aggression, which I did, very successfully, and in concert with the other mum. (the SEN child was a model of good behaviour by the way!) It's just impossible to generalise.

LadyMuck · 10/02/2008 10:58

I don't think that if he is badly behaved that he must have SEN, but ime when there are behavourial problems in reception, then the teacher will look at a range of management techniques alongside the SENCO.

Of course every child matters, but in a school situation not everyone is going to get 1 to 1 assistance, and I think that common sense would suggest that if certain problem characters can be managed or at least neutralised within the first few months of school, then the whole class will benefit thereafter.

A lot of IF's complaint comes from the belief that this child is getting 30 minutes 1 to 1 maths tuition a day. I think that from this thread, it is fairly clear that that would be very unusual, and is possibly a misrepresentation of what is actually happening, especially as in reception emphasis is usually given to a lot of socialisation skills. IF, what exactly is happening with the rest of the class during this time, and what would have been timetabled for this time?

That said all of my school experience is in the independent sector, not the state sector, so the idea of excluding a reception age loud disruptive physical boy does seem very alien to me. The comments about religion and disabilities are unlikely to be the result of a well-thought out philiosophy at this age, and are more likely to be a misrepresentation of something he heard. In reception ds1 proudly announced to his Sunday school class that he was a Muslim (because the reception aged Sunday school class sit down on a mat at prayer time, and this aspect of Muslim life had just been covered at school the previous week).

Peachy · 10/02/2008 11:09

I susepct (but cannot know) that maths is being used as an in-way into this childs psyche for establishing a relationship, talking, learning turn taking skills, positive reinforcement (DS1 attends a chess club for that)- it's amazing what can be ostensibly crammed into a 'maths' class if the teacher is good!.

Indeed, if its a home issue- maybe even feeling he's worth the time will help?

I don't know why peolpe feel bad about approaching schools with our concerns about our kids, however caused. I find it ahrd (but am very shy anyway), but it seems such a universal problem- yet surely the school can fare much better itself if it is aware of what is going on with kids, how their parents feel, etc? Schools function best when part of an inclusive community and the best ones try to encourage parental approaches in my experience. If any school situation is bothering a parent they should feel its fine to speak to someone.

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