If you are thinking about changing your child’s school, then the hardest part will be knowing if you are doing the right thing or not. Will it affect your child’s self-esteem or school progress? What if the new school doesn’t live up to your expectations? What information will be shared between the old and the new school? All these questions will be going through your mind and it’s perfectly natural to worry.
But don’t think you are alone in all this. Through my job, parents tell me that they are unhappy with their child’s school and below is a list (and some anecdotes) of some of the reasons for changing schools. For confidentiality, I have used initials of the parents and children.
1. Your child is unhappy.
This was the reason why I changed my son’s school. During his reception year he cried every single day and hated it. It wasn’t one thing that I could pin-point, it was a combination of horrible dinner ladies, teachers shouting, large classes and unruly children. School was a nightmare for him and he preferred to forget about it once he was out the school gate. The day I picked him up from his new school he had a big smile on his face and talked about school all the way home.
2. Your child’s needs are not being met.
This happened with A’s daughter K. K was going to one of the top schools in Luton, which boasted top place in the OFSTED league tables and scored “outstanding” in all reports. But K’s needs were not being met. K suffered from epilepsy and missed many days of school due to this. Also when she was in school she would have mild seizures called “absences” During an absence seizure, the child appears to be daydreaming or switching off. Because most children tend to daydream at times, absences can be very hard to spot. These children are missing out on tiny pieces of information. For example, they might hear the first part of a sentence but not the end. But unfortunately, however many times K’s mother tried to explain this to her teachers, they would not listen. She was falling behind at school and also being bullied because she had a slight speech defect due to her epilepsy. Every time her mother had a meeting with the teachers, she was made to feel as if she was asking too much. They would not listen to her, when she approached them about the bullying, again it was brushed under the carpet. She suffered at the hands of this school until K was in year 4. Then she changed to a smaller school, which felt right for K. And that is where K is right now and I am glad to say, very happy.
3. Your child has been treated inappropriately/unfairly.
A is a bright little 3-year-old and goes to nursery happily. He enjoys the school environment and his teachers say that he has an aptitude for numbers. But yesterday, when his mother went to pick him up from school she was told he got sent to the head. She asked what he did and the teacher said she asked him to put his coat on several times and he didn’t. He wasn’t rude or answering back and was giggling because he thought it was a game. Anyway, A’s mother replied that she did think that he deserved a punishment of some kind, but thought it was a naughty chair level offence and save the head for if it happens again. Then today, another boy who has a past record of aggressive behaviour hit another child on the head deliberately and the boy was crying but he only got a telling off. It’s not the first time this has happened either. A’s mother has decided to change schools now because she didn’t want him to be labelled as a naughty child. She was not happy about the way he was handled.
These are all true stories, and I have heard variations of these from many worried parents. Sometimes it could be that the school has not recognised a learning difficulty in a child. Or it could be that the child is not getting the help they need if they do have special needs. The most extreme case was of a year 6 boy who I tested and found that he had a reading age 5 years below his actual age. And yet the school had failed to give him the necessary support. But by then, it was too late to move school because the boy would be leaving for high school anyway.
I am not against teachers and schools because I think that they do have a tough job. The point I am trying to make in this blog is that changing schools, for any of the above reasons is fully justified. I would love to hear about your experiences, if you have done something similar.