The musings of a juggling mother

Rants & raves about life as a woman today, juggling work, home, kids, family, life the universe & everything.

© Mrs Aginoth. The right of Mrs Aginoth to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Should he stay or should he go?

I am umming and ahhing about what to do regarding Mstr A's schooling.

He's at the most local school - just at the top of our road, which is what I really wanted. I tend to feel that primary school is more about learning social skills than academic ones, therefore the ability to walk yourself to and from school, to have friends locally, and to mix with a varied group of people is what i was hoping he would gain by going to the local school.

1) Most of the children there are not very local - that is the lowest criteria when chosing who will be admitted each year (after "looked after" children, siblings, church-goers, special needs).
2)He hasn't made any real friends. Well, actually he has, but they don't seem to reciprocate:-(
3)He is not allowed to walk to & from school on his own - even though I can stand at the end of my drive & watch him until he gets to the lollipop man, who stands directly outside the school gates) it's against school rules!

The other probems I have with this school is its religious aspect. Partly because they converted to being a church funded school within a term of Mstr A starting there, without any information beu=ing given to the parents/prospective parents, let alone consultation, and i would not have applied to a church funded school. It's not that i beleive they are teaching him the "wrong" things. I am of the opinion that beliefs, morals, ethics & attitudes are learned at home, and we will teach him to look at all sides & make up his own mind. He has already shown he is able to do that. But i do feel they are wasting his time. Time which I feel could be far better spent doing schooling type things. Also, the school/governers/head-teacher have got a seriously warped view of what should and shouldn't be allowed. for example, Halloween. OK I get that it's not celebrated in a christian school, but we were forbidden to hand out invitations to halloween parties on the school premisis! And when i suggested a cheese and wine night as a fundraiser for the PTA, I was told no alcohol is allowed on site - and we're talking 9pm adults only here! Just earlier this week we were discussing how to raise £20k for a new roof, and I suggested applying for some grants, but was told no lottery grants, as the school doesn't approve of gambling. But there are no other capital grants available, so talk about cutting off your nose!

but even that would not be enough to make me think about changing schools. All that is really just a grumble.

It's the schools attitude to the kids that i am starting to be concerned about.

For example their belief that they shouldn't approach the parents of children they suspect to have problems, but wait for the parents to approach them. Whenever I talk to Mstr A's class teacher she comments on how many children in the class are difficult. But we don't live in the most sought after area (that's definitely an understatement). Many of the parents are young, uneducated and have few parenting skills. expecting them to notice that their child is having problems & know to come to the school with this is really unlikely. So the children will continue to have problems, and just get worse and worse.

Also their dogmatic approach to learning. I know that they have boxes to tick, but their total insistance that each child MUST start at the very bottom & complete each worksheet/book/etc in order before moving to the next one just bores the pants off even the averagely bright child. Mstr A was sent home with some spellings to learn: Toy, Not, Run, Yes, Box. He can spell two or three syllable words easily. I stood there in front of his teacher and asked him to spell some words at random: Holiday, jumping, roundabout, bookworm. he did them all perfectly, but she (the school) will not allow him to move on to the harder stuff until he has done all the easier ones. they only do them as a group once a week! The same with his reading. he can read books designed for 7-8 year ilds easily. i found him reading a story from a childrens anthology the other day. He was reading it to LMB, so had the book upside down so she could see the pictures & was still just as fluent! But his school books are still the ones with two sentances to a page (mostly because I can't see the point in forcing him to read them to me every night).

But the final straw came today. Yesterday when I asked how he'd behaved, I was told he didn't do anything at all for his cover teacher in the morning, so had to spend all afternoon doing the mornings work. i asked him why he didn't do his work in the morning & he said he was hungry so he couldn't concentrate (his words). Now this could be true, or it could just be an excuse, but since I had very low blood sugar as a child & Aggie is diabetic, I thought I'd nip the exscuse in the bud & sent him to school with a sandwich today. I spoke to his class teacher and was told it was against policy to allow the children to eat anything other than the provided fruit during the day. I pointed out that he doesn't eat the provided fruit (clementine today), or many fruits at all really. I also mentioned that there were many studies proving that blood-sugar level and behavioural difficulties are related - especially in boys. she agreed to give it a go, provided I spoke with the headmaster as soon as possible (he was away today). when I picked him up she complained that he didn't eat it at break time, but said he was hungry half an hour later, so she couldn't let him eat it!

Remember, he is only 5 years old.

I just feel the whole concept of teaching the class to stretch the individual seems to have been lost in translation at this school.

The next school along (approx 0.5 mile away from our house) is the best academic school in the area, is twice the size, has a large sports facility (out school has none), and has just built a special "children's unit" on site. It was a real toss up which one to apply for when I first did so (if I'd known our school was church funded, there would have been no toss!). But I don't know anyone who goes there - who's to say their attitudes will be any different? or even worse? mstr A has no official diagnosis yet.

I don't know much about the procedure for changing schools, but I expect it's long, complicated, and has lots of form-filling. Is it worth the hassle & upheaval of moving schools, as well as the hassle of his school being further away, or should I keep on battling it out with the current school?

I need to decide now, because whichever school he is in this September, will be the one that LMB (and later LMD) get priority at.

what do you all think?


  • At Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:42:00 pm, Anonymous Nanny A said…

    Can moving him be any worse than what he is experiencing now. Deep down your instincs will push you in the right direction. Call or write to the alternative school and see if a move is possible if it is then ahve a talk with Mstr A. and find out if he wouldnt mind giving somewhere else a try. He's a bright lad he might hold the answers for you.

  • At Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:58:00 pm, Blogger Kitty said…

    I'm no expert and I don't have any kids yet, but it sounds to me as though you're very unhappy about it already and if he's not being stretched intellectually now there's every reason to believe that it'll get worse, and the more bored he gets, the more his behaviour may deteriorate.

    My gut reaction was to say move him, despite all the likely hassle involved.

  • At Friday, April 28, 2006 12:49:00 pm, Blogger Sue said…

    Here via Michele's today...I don't have kids but if this school has become something you don't approve of and you feel that mstr A is not getting what he needs, I think the "hassle" will be well worth it. He is young enough to still adapt to another school and another way of doing things and he may benefit. He also may not but you won't know unless you give it a try. I would.

  • At Friday, April 28, 2006 4:26:00 pm, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said…

    Go with your instincts about changing schools. I started out homeschooling, then sent my daughter to a public school, then pulled her out because of abuse in the school. She was with a private tutor, while I single-handedly fought with the school board to move her to another school that was actually closer. Many other parents also wanted to move their kids and were refused. Many sold their homes and moved. It was definitely worth it for my daughter to feel safe, to work more quickly at her own pace, and to be with teachers who genuinely liked children and were compassionate to the needs of small children. Too many people get into teaching because it's not mentally challenging at the lower levels and they can get summers off. They don't necessarily like children or see what they do as important in the lives of the children or their future success in school. You can go to that other school and check it out. If they are receptive to you coming in, by appointment, and speaking to some of the staff, that's a good sign. You also might ask to speak to some of the parents. You never know until you ask. :-)

  • At Saturday, April 29, 2006 2:00:00 am, Blogger mig bardsley said…

    I suppose my understanding of schools and how they work is about 15 years out of date, so perhaps this is normal butI must say it sounds like a exceptionally crap school!
    I can't believe they won't let him do the spelling and reading at his own pace if he's so good. (And btw, how many 5 year old kids will read to their sister...that seems to me to suggest a very high order of social ability!)
    Could you enlist your doctor's support on the blood sugar thing? a high energy drink or something?
    Why don't you go and chat to the people at the other school? (I know, there's never enough time) But they might reveal their attitudes if you know what you're looking for?
    I'm all up in arms! It sounds as though your son is getting a really bad deal. The hassle will of course be awful, but if the other school is better it will be worth it in the end.

  • At Saturday, April 29, 2006 3:33:00 pm, Anonymous smiffykins said…

    def change schools. the sooner you change he will have another 6 yrs at the new school so plaenty of time for his asd to adjust. what is the point currently of him going to school if he is not learning academically and not really making any progress socially? it might be easier to get him before he is diagnosed but it could be worth talking to parents of other special needs kids at the new school to see how they treat them and adapt the curriculum for them.

  • At Saturday, April 29, 2006 8:41:00 pm, Blogger H said…

    As a teacher I can't believe that the school is behaving like this.
    I believe that schools should do all they can to encourage their pupils not hold them back.
    If I were you I'd definately want to move the munchkin away from school if they were doing this. Schools should be adapting the curriculum to suit all pupils individually and setting appropriate targets for all pupils, which this one isn't
    The other school does look better, especially if you can get an official diagnosis for Master A.
    I'm not sure about the procedure for moving schools, I think you need to contact the school you want to move to, but it does vary between LEAs.
    Hope you can get it sorted with out much difficulty.

  • At Sunday, April 30, 2006 10:27:00 pm, Blogger Kerwin said…

    It sounds like you are biased against religion. Any institute you go to will probably have rules you disagree with. They will most likely also do things you disagree with. Parents at the public schools in this area are always grumbling. You may disagree with the lesson plans because they violate your religious, political, or other beliefs. If so you should find a school that best fits your philosophy. Just try not to nit pick as you will probably never be satisfied and your child will have to deal with a constantly changing situation. If you have no problem with the lesson plan the ask your child how he likes the teachers and other students. If he likes where he is then moving may be traumatic for him. It is just one of life’s many problems. May God grant you wisdom to make the best choice for your son.

  • At Monday, May 01, 2006 8:48:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    Kerwin, welcome. if you have a little look around, it's fairly obvious I'm not a big fan of religion, but I would say I'm fairly moderate about it (certainly compared to some atheists). As I said, the religious aspect is just a niggle - but the fact that they changed without consulting or even Informing the parents is a concern.

    he says he likes it. he says he has frieds. he says he likes his teacher. He says he'd like to go to a different school. He says he'd like a different techer. that's the problem with asking a 5 yr old aspie leading questions - they don't really understand what "like" means:-(

    I'm not sure which bit you thought was "nit-picking"? But the reason I'm considering moving him is that i don't think they are allowing him to learn, which will turn him off learning/school & cause long term problems. I'm a great believer in schooling as your best option to take control of & change your own life. I want him to have that opportunity.

  • At Tuesday, May 02, 2006 10:29:00 am, Blogger spindleshanks said…

    i'd move him. I moved my son from a school that had suited him very well in his infant years but didn't allow him to develop as he got older. It was a lovely little school (church of england - which was no part of the problem) and in general I was very happy with the teaching. But he was one of the brightest and most able in the class and there didn't seem to be the resources to stretch him. so he got bored, restless etc. Also, his friendship groups were only school based. He was happy playing with the kids at school, but though we tried intitiating after school play times, and he always had a big party and invited a whole gang of them, it was never reciprocated (not just for him - in general the school cohort lacked that after school social interaction which I think is so important). The school we moved him to was twice the size, further away and academically on a par with his old school. But it encouraged individuality a lot more, had more afterschool activities (both formal and informal) and was much more involved with the local community. I fretted about it for close to a year before I made the decision so he only ended up going there for years 5 and 6 but it was absolutely the right choice - he blossomed literally from the first day and still has very good friends he plays with regularly even though they are now in separate secondary schools. It is effortful, and you can't guarantee the results but you are unlikely to get much happier with the school he is currently at and they seem to have very insular ideas which will cause Mstr A more problems as he gets older, not less. Good luck!


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