Considering moving your child schools? Read this!

Are you considering moving your child schools? hopefully this post will help.

First off,

You are entitled to want the very best for your child, you should never feel guilty for making changes to better your child’s experience of school.

and begin,

I wanted to write this blog post to hopefully help parents who were considering moving their child schools. Moving schools wasn’t ever something I thought we would do, unless we moved out of area.

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This post will include; a brief background into why we chose to move schools, the process for moving schools and some things we looked for in the new school. If you have already decided to move schools you might find this blog post helpful, new school tips.

A little background…

It all happened when Eilidh began primary 4. Eilidh’s school is a very small school. There was only 22 in the entire school primary 1 - 7. So they’re multi-composite classes (ie several year groups make up one class). We were always so proud of Eilidh getting to go to a small school, it had a real family like feel to it. We loved that we knew all the kids, all the parents and could catch their teacher at the end of every day. A luxury you just wouldn’t get in larger schools.

However since starting primary 4 and moving into the ‘big class’ we noticed huge changes in Eilidh’s behaviour and attitude at home. She wasn’t the happy girl we had just a few short months before, she didn’t put much care into school. Eilidh was one of those girls who would be in tears and filled with worry if she had forgotten anything but she changed to a girl who just wasn’t bothered at all. She wasn’t getting a good sleep at night and found it very hard to settle down to get to sleep. We tried lots of things to get it right but we were totally stuck for what was causing it all. She had become very frustrated, angry and moody - it was like a glimpse into those teenage years. We were very concerned about what was going on. When she came home from school she wouldn’t want to play, she just wanted to play on her tablet or watch tv which was very unusual for her.

That was just at home. We had huge concerns about a couple of things going on at school too. There was a few older boys in class that caused constant disruptions in class meaning that the teacher was spending the majority of her time ‘disciplining’ these pupils. It went beyond just a ‘chatty class’.

I’ll list a few of the things that were most concerning for us;

Swearing in class (the teacher told pupils to ignore this)

Throwing chairs

Talking about sex in class (I say sex, but it was actually pretty incorrect but it filled Eilidh’s mind with things we didn’t want to have to share with her yet)

Spitting water in class

Hitting other children

Bullying amongst other pupils

Searching up parents names in google, checking through private Facebook and Instagram

Using iPads (without permission) during class

What an unpleasant environment for a child to be in.

The school had implemented a new ‘behaviour strategy’ where children would be put on a step depending on their behaviour. One mark and you would be given a warning and reminded of the rules. Do it again and you would be put up a step on the ladder. Anything after that would pupils would be given a ‘mindful moment’ where that pupil would be sent out the classroom, given calming toys and activities to settle them down and reflect on their behaviour. Next would be a reflection sheet home or a phone call home.

Gone are the days children would actually be punished in any real way in school. It seems pretty unfair that the same pupils constantly being disruptive, nasty, bullying and showing disrespectful behaviour have very little consequence. Now I’m not saying that a child should be ‘punished’ in a harmful way but what this behaviour strategy was doing in this small school was showing all the children that bad behaviour didn’t matter and that even if you did do something wrong you would just be allowed to play or the behaviour would be ignored. It also caused other pupils in the class to get pulled into this disrespectful behaviour and created an environment where the teacher had very little control.

There was a complete lack of discipline and respect for the teacher.

We also found that Eilidh’s progress at school was dwindling. She had been on the same reading book for several months (5 to be exact).

When we started to become concerned about the lack of work they were doing during the day I got Eilidh to write down everything that she done each day. There were days she would come home having only completed 3 sums and written two sentences for literacy. We didn’t know what they were doing the with the rest of their time? There were many days they would be doing colouring in or having ‘free time’ on the computers.

In October time we had Eilidh’s first parents evening of the term and discussed our concerns with her class teacher who came up with a multitude of reasons for every point we made. We also asked at this time to see her jotters so we could see the work she had been doing. I noted to the teacher at that point that within her jotter there was so many unmarked spelling mistakes and her hand writing was pretty much unreadable - going back to my above point that she had lost all care for her work.

There were days I didn’t even want to send Eilidh to school because I didn’t know what she would come out knowing next.

In January I felt like it was time I took my concerns further so I sent a huge email to the headteacher labelling all of my concerns (there was much more going on than I have mentioned). I said in that email that I didn’t know what she could possibly say for me to feel confident in the school and it’s staff again.

We had a meeting with the head after which we felt pretty deflated as, to sum up, there was nothing she could do about a lot of our concerns.

It’s not just us either, most parents of pupils in the p4-7 class all have concerns and some are considering moving their children too.

The process for moving schools:

Ok so the process was actually VERY simple. It was a fairly easy decision for us to move school and which one to move to as we were coming back to our catchment school.

We visited Eilidh’s new school and spoke to the head teacher and deputy head. We got a tour round the school and had the chance to ask a few questions.

We later came back with Eilidh for her to have the chance to see what would possibly be her new classroom, meet her classmates and have a look around the school too.

From the moment we stepped into the school we instantly got a good vibe from it. All the staff were so welcoming and friendly.

Once we made the decision to move I emailed the head at her old school to make her aware of our decision. We filled in a new form for Eilidh at her new school with all the basic, generic details. After that it was really a case for the schools to sort out. Her old school marked her as a ‘leaver’ and the new school ‘accepted’ her as a new student.

What to look for in a new school;

Good leadership - like with most workplaces a good school environment comes from the top, of the leadership isn’t strong the school will collapse. Make sure you meet the head and deputy.

Ask to see their behaviour strategies - this was a big one for us. When we asked about the behaviour strategies at the new school it almost took them off guard, as if they hadn’t really needed to use it if that makes sense? They explained their strategy with us and also spoke about how golden time or rewards were earned not given and taken away if deemed necessary.

Find out what their school values are

What a school holds as their values should run throughout the school. It’s basically what they deem to be most important to them as a school. They should have a leaflet or pdf with their values.

First impressions count

How does the school feel when you first arrive? What kind of environment have they tried to create? If your first impression isn’t great, don’t be put off, check everything else out too and visit again at a later date to see if your outlook has changed.

Pay attention to the relationship between the head and the pupils

One of the first things we noticed with the new school is the relationship the Head and Deputy ad with the children. They’re obviously very visible within the school as each child passed the head knew them by name and spoke to each one

Do the kids look happy? Do they show respect?

Check out the playground, what activities do they have? How many staff are supervising the playground?

Rules, are they strict? Do they follow a good structured routine?

Class sizes and is there space for all the children you’re trying to move into the school?

This is obviously a very important point, if theres no room within classes you won’t be able to transfer your child. It was fairly simple for us because we only had Eilidh to move but a friend of mine is considering a move, has three school-age children and the new school doesn’t have space in every year group which must be so frustrating!

Changes we have noticed since the move

Sleeping better

Excited for school

Excited to learn

Taking more care in herself and her work

Her mood has lifted

Less frustrated

She wants to play with Oscar and Matilda

She’s playing more ‘young games’ at home like dressing up and puppet shows putting on dance shows.

I truly feel like there has been a huge weight lifted from her now she’s not in that negative environment. The change in her attitude and behaviour has been a complete turnaround from just a few weeks ago.

When we left the school something I said to the head was that I felt like the school was stealing her childhood from her after we’ve tried so hard for it to be wonderful and carefree (like childhood should be) I genuinely feel like she’s gaining that childhood back. School makes up such a huge part of your child’s life.

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